Introduction to SharePoint Templates

As we have already mentioned on this blog, SharePoint plays an important role in the Office 365 package. It has many different values and uses, one of them being the increase in productivity.

SharePoint makes it possible for everyone to effortlessly automate mundane tasks and increase the quality of collaboration within teams and the entire company. Most organizations use SharePoint in a similar way: they create a series of intranet sites with different stakeholders who are given access to quickly store, share, and collaborate on specific business documents.

However, creating each intranet site from the ground up can be a time-consuming job. Luckily, SharePoint offers custom and pre-built templates for speeding up such processes.

In this article, we at Share IT are going to introduce you to SharePoint templates and all their wonderful advantages. You won’t have to waste a lot of time ever again on mundane and repetitive tasks if you master the ABCs of creating and using SharePoint templates.

What are SharePoint Templates?


As you have probably already guessed on your own, SharePoint templates are prebuilt definitions created to support a particular need within the SharePoint environment. It’s best to think of them as blueprints for intranet sites.

You can create your own templates to capture your customizations, so they can be quickly applied to other SharePoint environments, or you can use SharePoint’s already existent and available templates to quickly setup intranet sites.

The choice is yours.

Saving sites as templates and using them for future projects is a great option because it allows you to deploy proven solutions immediately and save a lot of time on building project from the group up.

Pro Tip

While we’re on the time-saving subject - when you need to develop a SharePoint site on your own, our advice is to always primarily focus on the available templates.

There are many different templates you can choose and use as your own solutions to cover specific business requirements. However, most templates still rock that the classic look and feel, so you need to further customize them to make them a bit more modern.

But that’s not a big issue because SharePoint makes it possible to tweak existing templates to your liking. It’s far easier to edit a certain template a bit than to create your solution from scratch.

The Mechanics


When you save a SharePoint site as a template, you're saving the overall framework of the site. This means its lists and libraries, views and forms, and workflows.

Depending on your needs and preferences, SharePoint templates can contain additional components as well. They can also include the content of the site. For instance, you can save the actual documents in data libraries or lists, if you want to. This could be quite useful for future sites where you plan to reuse the same information. Neat, right?

However, you need to be careful here because SharePoint doesn’t allow you to create templates that are larger than 50 MB. There's a storage limit that has to be respected. So, be selective with what you want to save in your template.

Apart from lists, libraries, forms, workflows, content types, and actions, there are certain features that you cannot store in a template.

To help you fully understand how to create proper templates, we have created a list of all the elements that cannot be saved in a template:

  • customized permissions
  • running workflow instances
  • list item version history
  • workflow tasks associated with running workflows
  • people or group field values
  • taxonomy field values
  • publishing sites and pages
  • stapled features.

Everything else is supported by the system.

When you create a site template, the features and the content get saved as well. To make those features available next time when you use the template, you need to activate them separately. This is not an issue if you’re not trying to use the template on different versions of SharePoint. If you are, then you have to accept the fact that certain features and content probably won’t show.

So, How Does This Work? How do I Save/Upload My Site as a Template?

Once you create or edit your template and decide that you want to keep it for further use, the first thing you do is create a (.wsp) file that you can store in your Solutions Gallery. It’s important to keep in mind that when you’re saving a site, you’re only saving the main site, not its subsites. To save those as well, you will have to repeat the process for every site individually.

Creating a (.wsp) file is quite simple. All you have to do is click on the gear icon that symbolizes your Settings Menu, and then in “Site Actions” section of the menu, click “Save site as a template”.

Once you do that, be sure to name the file to avoid unnecessary future confusions, and maybe add a little description to it just to be sure.

To include the content of the site in the site template, select the “Include Content” checkbox. Once again, the limit is 50 MB, so be sure that you check your file size before continuing with the process.

As soon as you become sure that your file is under the size limit, click OK to save the template. SharePoint will provide you with a message that states "Operation Completed Successfully" to confirm that the job is done.

Click OK and go back to the Solutions Gallery to view your template.

From there, you should go back to the Site Settings and open up the “Web Designer Galleries” section. There, you will see the Solutions options. Click on it and you’ll notice a new menu.

In this part of the menu, you will see if your template is currently active or not. To activate it, open up the Activate Solution Confirmation option in the Commands group, and then click Activate. Click its name in the solutions gallery, and click Save. And voila - your template will be downloaded.

To upload your template, open up the Site Settings again, but select the Sites and workspaces option under the Site Administration menu. Click the “Create feature” there and then, in the New SharePoint Site dialog, enter your chosen Title for the page, a Description, and the URL.

Once you finish adding all the details, the next step is to press the Custom tab under the Template Selection field and click on your saved template. After that is done, set the desired User Permissions and Navigation options, click “Create”, and you’re done.

Simple, right?

Over to You

Once again, thank you for taking the time to read our latest blog in its entirety. As you can see here, SharePoint is a great product that just keeps on giving. Templates are just the tip of the iceberg. SharePoint has a lot of cool options to offer that could help you save a lot of time and increase productivity. We plan to cover more similar topics on this blog in the future. So if you’re interested in SharePoint-related content - be sure to stick around.