SharePoint 2010 Site Templates – A Detailed Journey (Part 1)

A tweet came up tonight that I thought I would get my lazy butt doing something about:

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I pointed @tareqsartawi to @toddbaginski’s post Which SharePoint 2010 Site Template Is Right For Me? and while Todd does go over the templates and gives a brief rundown of them, there’s not a lot of meat to what you get with each template.

So for Tareq (and anyone else who’s out there) here’s a more detailed breakdown of the site templates in SharePoint 2010.

This is part 1 of a four-part post as I got past the 2 hour mark and decided I would call it quits with the initial templates. I’ll follow it up with additional posts to complete all of the template descriptions and notes (and link everything together to make it a happy-happy-joy-joy world we live in).

Note, this is a list of the templates you get with SharePoint Server 2010. For SharePoint Foundation 2010, you’ll only find a subset of what you see here (but there’s nothing Foundation has that Server doesn’t). Also there are some templates that will only appear after activating certain site or site collection features. I’ll cover some of those in a bonus post later. Clear as mud?

Creating Sites

When you create a new site you’ll see the new create dialog like the one below (there’s a regular HTML version but you really want to install Silverlight on your client to get the rich UI experience).

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Each category along the site lets you filter down the template selections and selecting any template gives a brief description to give you an idea of what the template is about.

Here’s the rundown on what’s available out of the box (and what is covered in what blog post):

  • Blank & Custom
    • Blank Site (This Post)
    • Personalization Site (Part II)
  • Collaboration
    • Team Site (This Post)
    • Document Workspace (This Post)
    • Group Work Site (This Post)
    • Enterprise Wiki (This Post)
  • Content
    • Document Workspace (This Post)
    • Blog (This Post)
    • Document Center (Part II)
    • Publishing Site (Part II)
    • Publishing Site with Workflow (Part II)
    • Enterprise Wiki (This Post)
    • Visio Process Repository (Part II)
  • Data
    • Records Center (Part II)
  • Meetings
    • Basic Meeting Workspace (Part IV)
    • Blank Meeting Workspace (Part IV)
    • Decision Workspace (Part IV)
    • Social Meeting Workspace (Part IV)
    • Multipage Meeting Workspace (Part IV)
  • Search
    • Basic Search Center (Part II)
  • Web Databases
    • Assets Web Database (Part III)
    • Charitable Contributions Web (Part III)
    • Contacts Web Database (Part III)
    • Issues Web Database (Part III)
    • Projects Web Database (Part III)

There’s some duplication above in the categories but out-of-the-box you get 23 templates (3 new site templates, 5 new site templates based on Access databases). For more details about what’s been added, removed, and updated as far as templates go please see Todd’s original post.

Select a template, enter a title and a url, and click Create and you’re off to the races. If that’s all you need you can be creating sites in no time. Each template has it’s share of not only a look and feel, but also what content is pre-loaded on the site and in some cases, what features are activated as a result of creating that site which light up the site and offer the user some options. For the most part any feature on the system can be applied to any site so it almost doesn’t matter what template you start with, but there are some exceptions and we’ll note them as we go along.

If you want a little more control when you create your site, clicking on More Options brings up a second dialog that lets you enter, well, more options:

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The options are the same no matter what template you choose and I couldn’t find any way to build something that would you let amend options here. Would be nice in the future. The only real advantage here is that you can break permissions on the site before it gets created and use the top link bar from the parent site (which is turned off by default for new sites). Any of these can be done after the site is created anyways.

Note that these dialogs appear in a popup when you select Create Site from the Site Actions menu. If you go the route of Site Settings > Site Administration > Sites and Workspaces then click Create you’ll see this screen in the browser (not a popup):

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This is the more traditional screen you might be used to from 2007. The templates and choices are all the same and this screen offers changing all options, much like the More Options dialog from above. How you create your sites is up to you, typical SharePoint there are just several routes to get to the same path.

Alright, let’s get down and dirty with each template.

Blank Site

“A blank site for you to customize based on your requirements.”

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The core of any SharePoint site, the blank site. So simple and elegant yet devoid of any content. Basically a site you can turn into anything by lighting it up with features. Personally when we build “applications” in SharePoint this is the template we start with. The big difference from the “Blank” site template you got in 2007 is that this one really is blank and doesn’t come pre-loaded with a SharePoint logo dropped on your “blank” site like 2007 did.

Team Site

“A site for teams to quickly organize, author, and share information. It provides a document library, and lists for managing announcements, calendar items, tasks, and discussions.”

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This template is perhaps one of the most used since SharePoint started using templates. Most everyone uses SharePoint for collaboration so this is one of the original collaboration tools out there. In 2010 many things are the same as they were in the 2007 Team Site template. You still have a Shared Documents library, a Calendar has been created, a Task list and a Team Discussion discussion board is here. With 2010 there are some major changes though that make it arguably a better collaborative environment it ever was.

First off everything is a wiki. Keep remembering that. Everything is editable. Remember when you created that first Team Site in 2007 and you wanted to start editing the page but found out you had to drop a content editor web part on the page, open up the right text editor, type something in, then click a few buttons to see what it all looked like? That’s not collaboration. That’s just plain painful.

The Team Site template, along with others, treats any page as a content page. Just click edit and start typing content. Want a picture on your site? Drop a media web part on it and upload it to the automatically created Site Assets library while you edit. Collaboration has never been as simple as this.

Getting back to the template itself, you’ll notice a few new libraries created. There’s a new Site Assets library which allows you to upload media (pictures, video, audio) to the site and use it on pages via the Media Web Part. There’s a Site Pages library that contains all your pages (including the home page) so as you create new content, just drop it in here. The Announcements, Calendar, Links, Tasks, and Discussions you got in 2007 are still created, they’re just not visible on any page so you’ll have to either add them yourself or use the Quick Launch to access them.

Note that the Getting Started section that’s added to the site is just content. It’s not a list behind it, it’s just HTML content that you can edit, delete, or use.

Document Workspace

“A site for colleagues to work together on a document. It provides a document library for storing the primary document and supporting files, a tasks list for assigning to-do items, and a links list for resources related to the document.”

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The document workspace is pretty cheesy and basically a carry-over from 2007. It was always intended to be a site where you would collaborate around a single document (aggressively) and I always thought it would well in a publishing environment. Create the document, everyone works on it, there are discussions around it and tasks assigned to take care of parts of it.

There were even facilities in Word to attach the document to a workspace (or create the workspace) when you saved the document. However say in the last 5 years I have yet to create a site with this template, other than demos (and this blog post). Perhaps it could still work for say a manuscript with multiple authors or a manual or training guide but I think 2010 has more to offer with Document Sets than to use this aging template.

At least they got the Announcements web part on the home page.

Group Work Site

“This template provides a groupware solution that enables teams to create, organize, and share information quickly and easily. It includes Group Calendar, Circulation, Phone-Call Memo, the Document Library and the other basic lists.”

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If you remember 2007, there was an after-market release called Group Workspace Board. It was a Microsoft template and offered the ability to essentially create an in/out board site. Trouble is that it didn’t work very well, service packs sometimes broke it (or the server) and it was never upgraded. Well, it’s back (although I’m sure they rebuilt it from scratch so pay no attention to the comments above). Basically the Group Work Site is a uber-enhanced blank site with some content added (after all, isn’t that what all sites are?).

The Group Board is a pretty slick template and centers around a group calendar, which is really just a normal calendar but the regular Event content type has been removed and replaced with two new content types for 2010, Schedule and Reservations and Reservations. Basically if you’re looking to use SharePoint for a reservation system (reserving fleet vehicles, meeting rooms, books, or anything you want to track) then this template might work for you. At the very least, create one to see how the Group Calendar is setup and you can rebuild your own in your own site. It’s a nice Content Type that probably deserves its own post as there are a lot of great features you can get out of it.

Note that because the Group Calendar is really just a Calendar, you can connect it to Outlook but if you’re looking to use SharePoint as a meeting reservation system tied into the resources available in Outlook (like you might today) you’ll be out of luck. The two are not connected but they use the same terms so you might get confused over using them for the same purpose.

Enterprise Wiki

“A site for publishing knowledge that you capture and want to share across the enterprise. It provides an easy content editing experience in a single location for co-authoring content, discussions, and project management”

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Remember everything is a wiki? Good. You’re still reading. Well, everything is a wiki but there’s still a template with the name Enterprise Wiki. I guess sticking “Enterprise” in front of something makes it that much more important?

The Enterprise Wiki is pretty much what you got in 2007 when you created a Wiki site. The old Wiki site template is gone and this stands in it’s place. Even though you can edit any page on a site, this template is specifically setup for building a wiki. While it can’t compete with Wikipedia, Confluence, or any of the real enterprise wiki’s out there it’s a nice place for putting together group notes about a subject. You could put together a blank site and just keep creating pages but then there’s the navigation element and having to deal with inserting hyperlinks onto pages, etc. The Wiki template stays true to the (albeit weird non-standard) Wiki mark-up SharePoint established in 2007 and lets you cheerfully link pages together with a simple [[My New Page]] mark-up.

In addition to what we already had in 2007, there are some new features that light up the Enterprise Wiki template. Namely ratings and categories. The rating system is the same that’s built into 2010 but it’s embedded on each page template along with a category picker. This allows you, after adding content to a larger site, be able to navigate content by popularity or categories (configured through the managed metadata services).

While the mark-up hasn’t changed much, a wiki page is just like any other page in SharePoint so you can embed pictures, video, tables, web parts, and SharePoint lists right onto the page. This makes the experience of building out a knowledge base using the Enterprise Wiki a more palatable experience and lets you be a little more creative without being overly constrained.

Blog

“A site for a person or team to post ideas, observations, and expertise that site visitors can comment on.”

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Blogs are like wikis in SharePoint. They’re just OK and better than editing content editor web parts, but still fall short of a full blown blogging engine like dasBlog or WordPress. However in 2010 things have got a little better (don’t get too excited, I said a “little” better).

Overall the presentation is cleaner, looking more like a blog like we traditionally know it. Permalinks are native now and overall the blog template sucks a little less than 2007. Instead of editing the blog page right on the site, you’re forced to edit in a popup window with a diminished rich text editor. You can still insert images and video but it’s a little less seamless when you edit blog posts this way. Still the basics are there, categories and comments, RSS feeds and the ability to edit your blog from a blogging tool like Windows Live Writer or even Microsoft Word (and publishing from Word while giving an uneasy odd feeling, sucks a little less than it did).

While things are better than their 2007 counterparts you might still want to look at the Community Kit for SharePoint – Enhanced Blog Edition or customize the existing blog template if you want to focus on blogs in your organization. There are a lot of features in SharePoint 2010 that are native that really should be stock with the blog template. Why can’t I rate blog entries? Where are the tagging features? These things can all be done relatively easy even from the browser with no coding required. Just remember to save the template and make it available to your users (time for an Enterprise Blog template anyone?).

Wrap-up

Well, that’s it for now to get the ball rolling. Let me know your thoughts. Hope that gets things going and helps out. More templates to come later! Enjoy.

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