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Site Definition in SharePoint

By Dhananjay Kumar on Jan 08 2009
This article will explain about Site Definition, why we do need custom site definition ?and how to create and deploy a custom site definition.
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Site Definition

  • Site Definitions are the foundations on which all sites and user templates are built. 
  • Site Definition is collection ox XML and .aspx file.
  • Site Definitions are predefined components needs to be included when a site was created in SharePoint server.
  • Site Definition contains information of Web Part , Lists, Features and navigation bars to be included in the site.
  • Customizing Portal Sites and other SharePoint sites using Site Definition is most appropriate for third party developer and SharePoint Administrator.
  • Site Definitions requires access to a file system of the Web Server.
  • Server administrator must be also involved in deployment of Site Definitions. 
  • Custom Site Definitions are Version and Upgrade independent. 
  • Subsequent upgrades to SharePoint products  and technologies may overwrite  existing Site Definitions. Using Custom Site definition exclude site from potential upgrade issues. 
  • To avoid Unghosting  , Custom Site Definition is to be create.
  • There are two options to create it
    1. Create New Site Definition File : Either Start from Scratch and create files one by one  or Copy an existing Site Definition and modify it.

    2. Copy a Site Definition and change it in Visual Studio:   We can make copy an existing site definition and modify it in visual studio to create new site definition.

  • The configuration of this site definitions are defined in XML file which is available in

    C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\TEMPLATE\1033\XML folder.

  • In the file system these definitions are available in C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\TEMPLATE\Site Templates.

  • Each of these site definitions consists a XML folder and a Home page (default.aspx).

Steps to create custom Site Definition

1. Log on as an administrator

2. Browse to C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\TEMPLATE\SiteTemplates.

Copy STS folder-> Paste it at same place -> Rename it as TIGER.

3. Open the folder Tiger

4. Search for default.aspx

5. Open default.aspx in notepad.

6. Modify code. Here we need to add code for site definition.


<%@ Page language="C#" MasterPageFile="~masterurl/default.master"    


ublicKeyToken=71e9bce111e9429c" %> <%@ Register Tagprefix="SharePoint" 

Namespace="Microsoft.SharePoint.WebControls" Assembly="Microsoft.SharePoint, Version=, Culture=neutral, 

PublicKeyToken=71e9bce111e9429c" %> <%@ Register Tagprefix="Utilities" 

Namespace="Microsoft.SharePoint.Utilities" Assembly="Microsoft.SharePoint, Version=, Culture=neutral, 

PublicKeyToken=71e9bce111e9429c" %> <%@ Import Namespace="Microsoft.SharePoint" %> <%@ Register 

Tagprefix="WebPartPages" Namespace="Microsoft.SharePoint.WebPartPages" Assembly="Microsoft.SharePoint, 

Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=71e9bce111e9429c" %>

<asp:Content ID="Content1" ContentPlaceHolderId="PlaceHolderPageTitle" runat="server">

          <SharePoint:EncodedLiteral runat="server" text="<%$Resources:wss,multipages_homelink_text%>" 

EncodeMethod="HtmlEncode"/> - <SharePoint:ProjectProperty Property="Title" runat="server"/>


<asp:Content ID="Content2" ContentPlaceHolderId="PlaceHolderPageImage" runat="server"><IMG 

SRC="/_layouts/images/blank.gif" width=1 height=1 alt=""></asp:Content>

<asp:Content ID="Content3" ContentPlaceHolderId="PlaceHolderPageTitleInTitleArea" runat="server">

                    <label class="ms-hidden"><SharePoint:ProjectProperty Property="Title" 



<asp:Content ID="Content4" ContentPlaceHolderId="PlaceHolderTitleBreadcrumb" runat="server"/>

<asp:Content ID="Content5" ContentPlaceHolderId="PlaceHolderTitleAreaClass" runat="server">

<style type="text/css">, .ms-pagetitleareaframe {

          height: 10px;

} {

          height: 100%;


.ms-pagetitleareaframe table {

          background: none;

          height: 10px;




<asp:Content ID="Content6" ContentPlaceHolderId="PlaceHolderAdditionalPageHead" runat="server">

          <META Name="CollaborationServer" Content="SharePoint Team Web Site">

          <script type="text/javascript">

          var navBarHelpOverrideKey = "wssmain";



<asp:Content ID="Content7" ContentPlaceHolderId="PlaceHolderSearchArea" runat="server">

          <SharePoint:DelegateControl runat="server"

                   ControlId="SmallSearchInputBox" />


<asp:Content ID="Content8" ContentPlaceHolderId="PlaceHolderLeftActions" runat="server">


<asp:Content ID="Content9" ContentPlaceHolderId="PlaceHolderPageDescription" runat="server"/>

<asp:Content ID="Content10" ContentPlaceHolderId="PlaceHolderBodyAreaClass" runat="server">

<style type="text/css">

.ms-bodyareaframe {

          padding: 0px;




<asp:Content ID="Content11" ContentPlaceHolderId="PlaceHolderMain" runat="server">

          <table cellspacing="0" border="0" width="100%">


             <td class="ms-pagebreadcrumb">

                   <asp:SiteMapPath SiteMapProvider="SPContentMapProvider" id="ContentMap" SkipLinkText="" 

NodeStyle-CssClass="ms-sitemapdirectional" runat="server"/>




             <td class="ms-webpartpagedescription"><SharePoint:ProjectProperty Property="Description" 





                    <table width="100%" cellpadding=0 cellspacing=0 style="padding: 5px 10px 10px 10px;">


<td valign="top" width="100%" colspan="3">

<WebPartPages:WebPartZone runat="server" FrameType="TitleBarOnly" ID="Top" Title="loc:Top" />




                      <td valign="top" width="70%">

                                <WebPartPages:WebPartZone runat="server" FrameType="TitleBarOnly" ID="Left" 

Title="loc:Left" />




                      <td valign="top" width="30%">

                                <WebPartPages:WebPartZone runat="server" FrameType="TitleBarOnly" ID="Right" 

Title="loc:Right" />









              <td valign=”top” width=”100%” colspan=”3”>

                 <WebPartPages:WebPartZone runat="server" FrameType="TitleBarOnly" ID="Bottom" 

Title="loc:Bottom" />  





7. Register new site definition to SharePoint.

8. Open the folder

C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\TEMPLATE\1033\XML

9. Copy the file WEBTEMP.XML and save it as WEBTEMPTIGER.xml. here make a note that , we need to append name of folder which we created in step 2 ( in this case it is tiger) to WEBTEMP. So here name would be WEBTEMPTIGER.xml

10. Open WEBTEMPTIGER.XML in notepad and replace it with following content.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>

<!-- _lcid="1033" _version="12.0.4518" _dal="1" -->

<!-- _LocalBinding -->

<Templates xmlns:ows="Microsoft SharePoint">


  <Template Name="TIGER" ID="10009">


    <Configuration ID="1" Title="Tiger Definition" Hidden="FALSE" ImageUrl="/_layouts/images/Eye.GIF" Description="Tiger Site." DisplayCategory="Custom" AllowGlobalFeatureAssociations="False" >    </Configuration>




Make sure here ID should be greater than 10000. It must not collide with id of any other Site Definition.

11. Restart IIS. Go to Start->Run->IISRESET

12. Now you would be able to see this Site Definition inside Custom category.