Karine Bosch’s Blog

On SharePoint

Site Scripts & Site Designs – the new way of building Site Templates

During the past few years, we have seen passing by many ways to provision site collections in SharePoint Online. This is also due to the pace in which O365 and SharePoint Online evolve.

The new kid on the block is Site Designs and Site Templates to provision O365 groups. Out of the box, you can create two types of modern team sites: a modern team site and a communication site.

Since spring 2018 we can build our own custom templates on top of a modern team site or communication site. Once deployed to the O365 tenant, the new templates become selectable when creating a new team site or communction site:

The fun thing is that you can see what is provisioning during site creation:

The templates must be written in JSON.

In May 2018 I presented this topic on the Techorama conference, but a lot of functionality was still missing. For example, you could create site columns based on Text, Note, Number, Boolean, User, or DateTime. For all other data types, or if you need to precise a format, you have to define your column in XML. BUT you could only use the XML format for columns on a list or document library, not for a site column. The only way to solve this issue, was to work with Azure functions, which can be called by a Flow, which can be triggered from within a Site Design.

Thanks to the summer update, this is solved now: you can now add site columns using XML through the createSiteColumnXml action. There are a few other additional actions, but this one is the most important to me.

You can find the official documentation here. And there are also a lot of samples on GitHub. These samples demonstrate everything that is possible with Site Scripts & Site Design.

There are still a number of disadvantages to it:

  • This creates an O365 group, not a Team
  • You cannot create sub sites using this technique (but that’s not surprising as Microsoft tends to move away from sub sites, and favouring hub sites)
  • You can have only 30 cumulative actions and/or 30K character limit per site design
  • You can deploy max 100 different site templates to your tenant

I hope that the first issue will be solved in the near future. Additional functionality will be announced at Ignite. I’m really looking forward to it!




September 6, 2018 - Posted by | O365

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