Site Templates in SharePoint 2010 - dummies

Site Templates in SharePoint 2010

SharePoint 2010 provides loads of templates you can use for creating sites. By far the two most popular are the team site and publishing sites. But SharePoint offers a lot more choices beyond those two. What’s more, your company can even create site templates that are specific to your company.

The term site template is overloaded. Technically, the site templates provided by Microsoft are site definitions, which is just an XML file that describes how to create a site. Site definitions reside on the file system. The site templates that you create from your sites are just Microsoft cabinet files that contain the objects required to stamp out a new site.

Site templates are stored in the site collection and can be shared easily with other people. A site template is tied to one of the underlying Microsoft site definitions. A site template creates a new site using the Microsoft site definition and then builds out the site using the objects contained in the cabinet file.

SharePoint provides dozens of site templates that fall into a handful of categories. Within each category, the templates are basically the same only with slight variations. Each category is optimized to serve a different audience or function.

Team sites are almost always the de facto standard for collaboration sites used for project teams. Publishing sites are usually used for public-facing websites.

The following table outlines the site template categories, lists the templates you can except to see, and when you should use them.

SharePoint Site Template Categories
Category Templates You See When to Use Them
Blank & Custom Blank Site When you want an empty container
Collaboration Team Site and Meeting Workspaces When more people will contribute content than read it; also
when you want basic layouts
Content & Data Blog, Contacts Web Database, Personalization Site, Document
Center, Publishing Site, Enterprise Wiki, Visio Process
When you need a site that specializes in content or data
Search Basic Search Center, Enterprise Search Center When you need a site to display search results
Tracking and Web Databases Assets Web Database, Charitable Contributes Web, Projects Web
When you want to use a Web-based database to create track of

If you’re creating new site collections, you see a slightly different set of categories along with a few additional templates. Also, the templates you have available to you are dependent on how your company has licensed SharePoint and what features they have turned on.

In a publishing site, you can control which templates can be used to create site templates. On the Site Settings page, click the Page Layouts and Site Templates link.