SharePoint 2010 All-in-One For Dummies
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When you need to develop a SharePoint site to solve a problem, be sure that you start with a solid understanding of the available site templates. It's often much easier to start with a site template that almost does what you want and then develop it from this starting point than to develop everything from scratch.

Before you start building custom applications for SharePoint, having a solid working knowledge of its various components is a good idea. (After all, you wouldn't try to design a house without having some knowledge of how the plumbing works, right?) The best way to get to know SharePoint is to start with a basic Team Site, then further develop it so you understand what the templates are doing. Then you can expand to explore other templates as you build your SharePoint knowledge.

Creating a new site is as simple as clicking Site Actions (gear icon)--> Site Contents from the parent site and then scrolling down to the bottom of the page and clicking New Subsite. On the New Subsite page, you provide a title and a URL, and select a template (in addition to some other configuration options). The template you choose determines how your new site will be preconfigured. A parent site is simply a site that holds another site.

Site templates are included in SharePoint Online:

  • Some templates are used only for creating a Site Collection (a container for subsites).
  • Some templates are used only for creating subsites.
  • Some templates can be used for both.

A site collection is a special SharePoint site that allows you to separate key aspects of the sites contained within the site collection. For example, you turn on features at the site collection level, which makes those features available to all sites within the site collection. On a technical level, SharePoint separates site collections by using different databases. This allows for separation of security and users, because two different site collections use two different databases.

Templates for subsites only:
  • Publishing Site: A site used to publish content. The site template is used for subsites that need the publishing functionality provided by the Publishing Portal template.
  • Publishing Site with Workflow: A site for publishing web pages on a schedule by using approval workflows. It includes document and image libraries for storing web-publishing assets.
  • SAP Workflow Site: A site designed to work with SAP that aggregates all business tasks for users.
Templates for site collections only:
  • Community Portal: A site that can be used to contain community sites. In other words, an aggregation of communities.
  • Community Site: A site where members of the community can come together to discuss topics and interact with each other.
  • Compliance Policy Center: Contains policies that are used to manage when documents can be deleted after a certain period of time.
  • Developer Site: A site where developers can create, publish, and test apps designed for Microsoft Office.
  • eDiscovery Center: A site designed for legal matters and investigations where the preservation and search ability of content is critical. The site is also designed for exporting of content for legal compliance.
  • My Site Host: Used to host the personal sites functionality of SharePoint, also known as OneDrive for Business, as well as the personal profile pages of users.
  • Publishing Portal: This template offers a starter site hierarchy (grouping of SharePoint sites) for an Internet site or a large intranet portal. You can use distinctive branding to customize this site. It includes a home page, a sample press-releases site, a Search Center, and a logon page. Typically, this site has many more readers than contributors; it's used to publish the Web pages by using a process for approving new content known as an approval workflow.

    By default, this site enables content-approval workflows to provide more control over the publishing process. It also restricts the rights of anonymous users: They can see content pages but not application pages.

  • Team Site – SharePoint Online configuration: A Team Site that is preconfigured to allow users to share content with external users.
Templates for both subsites and site collections:
  • Basic Search Center: This site provides SharePoint search functionality, including pages for search results and advanced searches.
  • Blog: This site works like an Internet blog; a person or team can post ideas, observations, and expertise that site visitors can comment on.
  • Business Intelligence Center: A site that can be used to present content focused on business intelligence.
  • Community Site: A site where members of the community can come together to discuss topics and interact with each other.
  • Document Center: You can manage documents centrally for your entire enterprise from this site.
  • Enterprise Search Center: This site provides the SharePoint search capability. The Welcome Page includes a search box that has two tabs: one for general searches and another for searches for information about people. You can add tabs, delete them, or customize them with different search scopes or specified result types.
  • Enterprise Wiki: You can use this site for publishing knowledge that you capture and want to share across the enterprise. Use this site to edit, coauthor, and discuss content, as well as to manage projects.
  • Project Site: A site used for managing, discussing, and collaborating on a project.
  • Records Center: A site for managing digital records. The site is optimized to handle the routing of documents and determine whether documents can be deleted or modified or must be retained with their original content.
  • Team Site: A site on which a team can organize, generate, and share information. It provides a document library as well as lists for managing announcements, calendar items, tasks, and discussions.
  • Visio Process Repository: A collaborative site on which teams can view, share, and store Visio process diagrams. It provides a document library (with version control) for storing process diagrams as well as lists for managing announcements, tasks, and review discussions.

Microsoft is constantly updating SharePoint Online with new features and removing old features. If you see a template not listed here, then Microsoft might have recently added it. Similarly, if you see a template here that you can't find then Microsoft might have removed it.

When you create a new Site Collection, you can also choose the Custom grouping that allows you to choose a template for the new site collection later after you have already created it.

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