Registering your custom site definitions in SharePoint 2007

Posted on 12/3/2006 @ 10:58 PM in #SharePoint by | Feedback | 9658 views

Last night, Carl and I did end up recording the sequel to the first SharePoint 2007 DNRTV show we did earlier. In this episode, I had a chance to talk more about content types, and then I ran through a full-fledged example demonstrating an InfoPath Forms Services based solution solving a real life problem. And then after that I demonstrated creating KPI (key performance indicator) reports based on data collected via infopath forms running in a web browser.

All in all, the show I think, turned out quite well. I will blog about it when it is online.

But, that is not what this blog post is about. When Carl and I were recording, based on a conversation, I had alluded to the fact that you can create your own site definitions and register them within SharePoint 2007. How you ask? It’s a question of twiddling with a bunch of XML files. To which, of course the developer world comes to a screeching halt.

Yes, SharePoint does suffer from XMLITIS, but I have blogged about that as one of the criticisms, and let us get over that.

The real Q is, how can you, register your own site definitions. Well here is how.


First you need a custom site definition. As you may be aware, a custom site definition is nothing but a logical grouping of features, lists, web parts, and a whole bunch of other things, that together make a site. For instance, I could create a custom site definition for a “Blog reader” application. (Speaking of which, in a week or two, the next issue of code-magazine will contain an article from me, demonstrating exactly how to create a blog-reader application a.k.a. bloglines/newsgator etc in SharePoint). All site definitions reside as a bunch of files at the following location.

C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\TEMPLATE\SiteTemplates

(Note: I am almost done reviewing Scot Hilier’s upcoming Apress book on SharePoint 2007. He explains this very well in Chapter 11, and I strongly recommend you picking a copy of it – the book is simply excellent, and yes I will post a full review later).

Now in that directory, there are a bunch of site definitions already created. You can create one of your own, but since this blogpost doesn’t talk about that – go ahead and copy paste, “BLANKINTERNET” to a directory called “Sahil”


Now ideally, the directory “Sahil” which contains the details of your site definition, should contain something meaningful in it – so a blogreader site definition will contain the necessary lists, features etc. But ignoring that, let us next look at, how you can register this new Site definition, in SharePoint.

Now at this path –

C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\TEMPLATE\

You would note a curiously named directory called “1033”. 1033 is the culture number for en-us (US English). Under 1033\Xml, there are a bunch of XML files. Strangely enough, many of them are named as “WebTemp*.xml”. That is where you need to put this new site definition’s information, so SharePoint will understand it. Go ahead and copy paste webtempsps.xml and call the new file webtempsahil.xml. The name is important, since SharePoint will look for all files that match “WebTemp*.xml”.


Now go ahead and edit the webtempsahil.xml file to look like as below.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
_lcid="1033" _version="12.0.4407" _dal="1" -->
_LocalBinding -->
Templates xmlns:ows="Microsoft SharePoint">
Template Name="Sahil" ID="10001">
Configuration ID="0" Title="Sahil's site" Hidden="FALSE"
                  ImageUrl="/_layouts/1033/images/IPPT.gif"                    Description="This is the custom site I was talking about."                   SubWebOnly="FALSE" DisplayCategory="Winsmarts">    </Configuration>

A few things that will jump out at you from the above XML file.

  - ID must be greater than 10000, so your IDs don’t screw up SharePoint’s.
  - You have a whole bunch of other control from the various possible elements, I think the above are self-explanatory.


Now go ahead, and do an iisreset, and try creating a site collection under SCAW (SharePoint Central Web Administration), or a site under a site collection through various means. You should see something like the following in the page that prompts you to create new sites:

Sharepoint 2007 Site Definition 

Note that the text, the image, and everything else has been picked from WebTempSahil.xml.

Now how cool is that J!!? Now you can merrily create your custom site definitions, register them, and create them on a per-demand basis.

In further blog posts, I will cover various other aspects of Site Definitions. Until then, Rock On!!

Sound off but keep it civil:

Older comments..

On 2/7/2008 9:03:40 PM Riaz said ..
thank you very much for your articles. Very easy to follow and just plain nice.

On 11/25/2008 4:09:09 AM mdarwish said ..
Thanks allot,

after I create a site using collaboration publishing template and create some pages with web parts, then i want to copy this site (with it's content and web parts) and past it in the site collection with different names.

Is it possible to do that by creating site definition? Or not?

I appreciate you help

On 8/27/2009 6:15:02 AM Kazem said ..
You made this article easy to read!! Great style.