Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New version of the Site Template Configurator utility

This posting is a brief announcement of the new and enhanced version of my Site Template Configurator utility, which I first introduced several months ago in another posting of mine. You can download the source code of the utility from here.


Here is a short list of the changes and enhancements in this new version:

  • The tool is now capable of generating “wsp” packages and also has commands for “wsp” installing and uninstalling, both in two flavors – local (for a single machine farm) and farm (launching timer jobs on all machines in the farm). The “wsp” generation and handling functionality neatly packs the custom site templates that you create and make them easy to deploy to other SharePoint farms (see the notes about the “wsp” generation below).


  • The “Generate artifacts…” and the “wsp” export and install/uninstall commands are now available in the context menu of the “project/root” node of the left hand pane hierarchy. The “project” menu in the program’s toolbar now contains only the file handling commands for the “template project” file.
  • The “project/root” node now contains an extra property – “SiteTemplatePrefix”. This allows you to specify a common prefix for the newly generated site templates’ folders in the “TEMPLATE/SiteTemplates” system folder. If you don’t specify one the tool will use long and ugly Guid containing names as in the previous version.
  • The source code comes with two “sln” files – one for Visual Studio 2008 and one for Visual Studio 2010. The tool also compiles for both SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010.
  • The tool now displays a “close warning” prompt if you have modified your “template project” and want to exit without saving the changes.

And several handy notes about the tool:

  • The tool uses the “makecab” Windows utility to create “wsp” packages, so you need to have it installed on the machine where you will use the utility. Alternatively on machines with SharePoint 2010, the tool may be compiled to use the SharePoint 2010 built-in CAB file support (the functionality is not publicly accessible, but the tool’s code uses a couple of reflection tricks to make use of it). In order that the tool is compiled to use this, you need to specify the “SHAREPOINT2010” compilation symbol in the project settings for the projects in the Visual Studio solution.
  • Specify appropriate values in the “SiteTemplatePrefix” and “StartTemplateID” properties of the “project/root” node. The latter specifies the starting ID value of the “TEMPLATE” elements in the generated WEBTEMP*.xml file – make sure, that you don’t have several projects that use one and the same starting or overlapping ID values (these should be unique in the SharePoint farm). Use the “Generate artifacts …” command of the “project/root” node and then carefully inspect the configuration files (and the subfolders that they are placed in), that the tool generates – make sure that when these get copied to the TEMPLATE/SiteTemplates and TEMPLATE/1033 system folders, they won’t overwrite existing files there.
  • Check the “IncludeLists” and “IncludeModules” properties of the “template” nodes (the nodes with blue icons). These have the value “false” by default, which means that the “List” and “Module” elements from the ONET.XML of the base template won’t get executed for your custom template. If you don’t have the “IncludeModules” property enabled, and you don’t have a custom feature that provisions another default/welcome page for your site template, the sites based on this custom template will end up with no default/welcome page.