Review of site elements
Updated: December 20, 2007
Applies To: Office SharePoint Server 2007
In this article:
Elements of an Office SharePoint Server site
There are two categories of elements in sites based on Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, authored elements developed elements:
Authored elements These are the Web pages, images, layout pages, cascading style sheets, and other resources that compose your Web site based on Office SharePoint Server 2007. Authored elements are deployed in the SQL database. In some cases described below, specific types of authored elements may be deployed on front end servers.
Developed elements These are programs and files that provide functionality to a site, such as providing a workflow that implements a business process or providing a site template so that users can create sites of a particular design. Developed site elements are deployed on the farm's Web servers or, in some cases, on dedicated application servers in the middle tier of the farm.
See the Feature roadmap pages included in this guide for links to customization resources for most Office SharePoint Server 2007 site elements. For a detailed discussion of the various types of Office SharePoint Server server-deployed site elements, including technical details, examples, and support details, see SharePoint Products and Technologies customization policy (white paper).
Authored site elements
There are two categories of authored site elements, artifacts and Web content:
Artifacts These are site elements, typically authored using a design tool such as Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007, that create the framework in which your site's content appears, such as its layout and appearance.
Web content These are site elements, typically authored directly in the Web browser or in a client authoring program such as Office Word 2007, that supply the content of your site, such as its Web pages and images.
Authored site elements are typically deployed by using the Office SharePoint Server 2007 Content Deployment feature or the content migration programmable interface. Custom artifacts can also be installed as part of a solution package (see Review of tools and processes). For more information, see Plan content deployment and Content migration overview (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=86999&clcid=0x409).
Artifacts are essential authored site elements for designing and building publishing sites such as corporate Internet presence sites or enterprise intranet portal sites. They provide the framework in which your site's Web pages will be displayed, including the branding of the pages, their appearance, navigation links, and other common elements. Even in non-publishing scenarios, custom artifacts can make Web sites more recognizable, useful, and appealing. An initial set of artifacts are created when you create a new site collection in Office SharePoint Server 2007. By using the Office SharePoint Server 2007 user interface and programs such as Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007, you can modify these files and resources and add new ones.
The following sections describe the three types of customizable artifacts. For links to resources for customizing authored site elements, see the Page design roadmap.
A master page in a publishing Web site defines the outer frame of the Web page. It contains the features, such as navigation links, that you want all pages in your site to share, and it provides a single place to control all of those features. Typically, a site uses a single master page, although large Internet sites might use more. For example, a corporate Web site that is used to publicize more than one product could use separate master pages so that the content for each product is properly branded.
There are two types of master pages: site master pages and system master pages. The site master page is used on published Web pages in your site. It is the master page that site users and visitors see when they view published content. The system master page supplies the layout of pages in the site that implement the user interface for commands —for example, Document Library Settings. The system master page is also used in some team site templates — for example, Wiki Site and Document Workspace.
Master pages for all sites in a site collection are stored in the Master Page gallery in the top-level site in the site collection. Because the Master Page gallery is a SharePoint library, master pages have all the features of documents in Office SharePoint Server 2007, such as versioning, auditing, workflow, check-in and check-out, and content approval.
A layout page is an Active Server Page Extension (ASPX) page that defines a layout for a type of content page. When a SharePoint site user opens a page in a browser, that page's associated layout page is first combined with the active master page, which supplies the outer frame of the page, and then the contents of the page are rendered in the fields (called field controls) on the layout.
You design layout pages to match the contents of a type of content page. For example, if a content page type has two images, the associated layout page should have fields in which to display both images. You can design multiple layout pages for the same content page. For example, for a page with an image, you may have one "image left" layout page and one "image right" layout page.
Layout pages for all sites in a site collection are stored in the Master Page gallery in the top-level site in the site collection.
Cascading style sheets
Cascading style sheets define styles, such as fonts, colors, or alignment, for the various elements of a Web page. In sites based on Office SharePoint Server 2007, one or more cascading style sheets can be associated with master pages. Each master page included in Office SharePoint Server 2007 has an associated cascading style sheet that is stored in the Styles library in the top-level site of a site collection. For example, the Blueglassband master page is associated with the zz1_BlueGlass style sheet.
When a layout page is loaded, it uses the cascading style sheet information from the current master page. A layout page can also include its own inline cascading style sheet definitions. Because it is loaded after the master page, style conflicts between a layout page and a master page are resolved in favor of the layout page.
A Styles library is available in each Office SharePoint Server 2007 site, and you can create your own cascading style sheets and add them to a Styles library. When you do this, you can specify your own style sheet as the alternative style sheet for a site. (You can also link to an external style sheet as the alternative style sheet.) Because a site's alternative style sheet is loaded last, style conflicts between it and the current master page or layout page are resolved in favor of the alternative style sheet.
Web content includes HTML, images, and other resources used to compose the Web pages displayed in your site. Authors create Web page content in Pages libraries in Office SharePoint Server 2007 sites. Resources used to help create Web content are stored in other libraries. For example:
Images This library is used to make images available for Web page authors.
Style Library This library is used to make custom XSL styles and cascading style sheets available for Web page authors.
Tools used to deploy authored elements of sites
The primary tools used to deploy authored site elements are:
The migration APIs
Content deployment copies content from a source Office SharePoint Server 2007 site collection to a destination site collection. The entire source site collection can be copied, or a subset of sites can be copied. In either case, content deployment is incremental by default, deploying only changed pages and related assets (such as images). A Quick Deploy feature supports deployment of a single page by authors.
Because authored elements, such as master pages and layouts, are content items that are stored in a document library or gallery, they are deployed along with the Web pages, graphic files, and other content that composes a SharePoint site. For example, if a site is published as an Internet presence site and, in the authoring site collection, a change is made to a master page or cascading style sheet, that change will be deployed to the production site collection along with any new or changed content pages. For more information, see Review of tools and processes and Plan content deployment.
SharePoint Products and Technologies content migration provides a highly flexible set of application programming interfaces (APIs) that support migrating content and its dependencies into Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 sites. The content can originate from another SharePoint site or from an external source.
SharePoint content migration is based on an export/import model. First, the developer exports the custom Web site data, dependencies, and site structure into data files that are rolled up into one or more content migration packages. Then, an administrator on the destination farm imports the content migration package, and its contents are unpacked, and the data, dependencies, and structure are reconstituted on the migration target.
The content migration object model APIs are contained in the Microsoft.SharePoint.Deployment namespace. They are flexible, and you can migrate an entire Web site, a subset of a site's contents, or even a single list or library item.
For more information on the migration programming interfaces, see Content Migration (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=103094&clcid=0x409).
As described in the Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 SDK, a solution is a deployable, reusable package that can contain a set of features, site definitions, artifacts, and assemblies that you can apply to a site, and can also enable or disable individually. Solution packages can be used to package artifacts such as layout pages and master pages, but not general Web content, and deploy them to authoring, pilot, or production farms. For more information, see Review of tools and processes.
Typical developed elements of sites
When Office SharePoint Server 2007 is deployed, a set of programs and files are installed on the servers in the Office SharePoint Server 2007 farm that provide features used by site administrators, authors, designers, or users. Developers can develop and deploy additional programs and files to provide custom features or support for tasks done in Office SharePoint Server 2007. Also, third party developers and vendors offer a range of developed elements that you can deploy. For a complete list of Microsoft Certified Partners and Microsoft Gold Certified Partners, see Solutions directory (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=103095&clcid=0x409).
This section describes some typical types of developed site elements that are typically implemented and deployed for use with Office SharePoint Server 2007.
Web Parts are ASP.NET controls that enable site users to modify the content, appearance, and behavior of Web pages directly from a browser. When users modify pages and controls, the settings can be saved to retain a user's personal preferences across future browser sessions.
Office SharePoint Server 2007 includes many predefined Web Parts that you can be use to provide additional functionality to site pages, including:
Content Query Web Part, which displays a dynamic set of items based on a query that is built by using a Web browser.
RSS Viewer Web Part, which renders a Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed.
For information about developing custom Web Parts, see Working with ASP.NET 2.0 Web Parts and Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=103096&clcid=0x409). (Note that this content is useful for both Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and Office SharePoint Server 2007 development.)
Workflows implement business processes on documents and items in an Office SharePoint Server 2007 site to help members of an organization collaborate on documents and manage project tasks. Implementing workflows in sites helps organizations adhere to consistent business processes, and they also improve organizational efficiency and productivity by managing the tasks and steps involved in business processes. The workflow functionality in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and Office SharePoint Server 2007 is built on Windows Workflow Foundation, a Microsoft Windows platform component that provides a programming infrastructure and tools for development and execution of workflow-based applications.
Office SharePoint Server 2007 includes predefined workflows that implement common content authoring and business processes. For example, the Approval workflow sends a document for approval before publishing it, and the Issue Tracking workflow routes an issue to team members for resolution.
For information about developing custom workflows, see Developer Introduction to Workflows for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and Office SharePoint Server 2007 (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=103097&clcid=0x409).
A list definition defines the schema for a SharePoint list. By installing and activating a list definition, you make it available for site authors to create lists of the new type. For more information, see How to: Create a Custom List Definition (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=103100&clcid=0x409).
Tools used to deploy developed elements of sites
You use the following primary tools to deploy developed site elements:
A solution is a packaging mechanism for deploying customizations for SharePoint Products and Technologies. A solution typically includes .NET assemblies, deployment files such as resource files, images, or other helper files, templates or definitions for sites and lists, and files to support the required configuration of custom elements on the farm's Web servers. Solutions are the recommended form of deployment of developed customizations into a SharePoint site environment, because they can be deployed, upgraded, and retracted. You deploy solutions by using the Stsadm command-line tool. For more information, see Review of tools and processes and Development Tools and Techniques for Working with Code in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=101494&clcid=0x409).
A SharePoint Feature is usually installed as part of a solution package. It provides a mechanism for associating related executable files, schemas, site and list definitions, and other resources into a module that can be administered as a single unit in Office SharePoint Server 2007. You can enable or disable a feature at the Web application, site collection, or individual site level. For example, if you deploy two workflows in a solution, including them in a single feature enables you to administer them as a single unit, and including them in separate features enables you to administer them individually. For more information, see Review of tools and processes and Development Tools and Techniques for Working with Code in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=101494&clcid=0x409).
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See the full list of available books at Downloadable books for Office SharePoint Server 2007.