Monday, January 8, 2018

The sweet spot for using SharePoint site designs and site scripts..

Disclaimer: This post is written based on the current functionality being rolled out, and might not be applicable in the future as the functionality evolves.

….is currently Communication Sites.

Read on if you feel like it :)

Site designs and site scripts allows automation to provision communication sites and modern team sites using your own configuration without creating a full blown custom site order and provisioning solution.

If you need the full overview, take a peek at the documentation: SharePoint site design and site script overview.

Basically you can create individual templates for different types of sites. Some sites you might want to show as blue, some as red, some should have some extra document libraries or content types set as default. Or any other number of custom configurations dictated by business requirements. Basically what we’ve done in SharePoint for a long time using different technologies over the years. And when a user goes to self-service a new site, he/she gets to pick which design/template to use.

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The screenshot above shows multiple templates for a Communication Site, and this is the absolute sweet spot for site designs. Communcation sites can only be created from the “Create site” button on the SharePoint home page – forcing your users to pick on of the designs you have made available, and you know this is the one user interface they will be using.

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What about modern team sites?

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As you can see from the above image the designs show up just fine, and here comes the caveat which makes it less sweet. If you create a new Office 365 Group with a modern team site from the SharePoint home page or OneDrive, all is well.

If you however start from: Outlook, Planner, PowerBI or Teams, this dialog will now show, and your site will get applied the default site design (you can configure which one is default). If you only have one design/template, this is perfect, but for other cases, locking down the default Office 365 Groups creation and providing an alternative self-service solution is still the way to go.

Other considerations

Site scripts in themselves have limitation as to what kinds of artifacts you can create/configure, which leads you to still create for example PnP templates to cover the rest.

Chris O’Brien discuss all of this in a recent post, so feel free to read his excellent summary.

Also, if you want to do any kind of localization on your artifacts, PnP is your friend as site scripts does not support this at the moment.

A bonus with site designs is that you can security control which design show up for which users – an awesome feature if you have many designs applicable only for a set of users.

Summary

Taking advantage of the new site designs and site scripts capability is a nice way to give users an out of the box experience to pick different kinds of designs/templates when they create new sites. However, if your users are prone to create a new Office 365 Group with a site from just about any place in Office 365, then site designs will not help you at the moment, and you have to opt-in for a custom self-service solution to ensure you have control of what is created.

The drawback with this of course is that we cannot programatically create an Office 365 Group with a site design of our own choice at the moment, leaving us to use the default basic one, and then configure everything else outside of site designs/scripts – business as usual for the time being :)

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