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CHAPTER 7 CUSTOMIZING SITE NAVIGATION
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Figure 7-6. Visual Studio DataGrid Property Builder Next I ll change the color scheme of my DataGrid to provide a more professional appearance. This is easily done by again right-clicking the DataGrid in design view, selecting Auto Format from the context menu, and selecting one of the predefined schemes shown in Figure 7-7.
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Figure 7-7. Setting the DataGrid s color scheme We also need to include a reference to the standard WSS style sheet so that we can format the various components on this page using the same CSS classes as those used by standard SharePoint pages. To do so, add the following statement to the MyExtranets.aspx file:
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CHAPTER 7 CUSTOMIZING SITE NAVIGATION
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<Link REL="stylesheet" Type="text/css" HREF="/_layouts/1033/styles/ows.css"> For best effect, I ll set the CssClass or Class property of the text, DropDownList, and DataGrid controls to ms-WPBody. The page should now look as shown in Figure 7-8.
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Figure 7-8. The formatted MyExtranets page The MyExtranets application is now ready for use in a Page Viewer web part on any site in which we want to provide a nicely formatted list of subsites.
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Displaying the List in a Page Viewer Web Part
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In this case, all extranet users start on http://localhost/allclients and navigate to their extranet sites from there. All that s required is to drag a new Page Viewer web part onto the http://localhost/sites/AllClients/default.aspx page, setting the page location as shown in Figure 7-9.
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Note The web page location entered into the PageViewer web part is relative, so it begins with
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_layouts/.... This is important because it determines the context in which the MyExtranets
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application will run and thus the list of subsites it will return.
CHAPTER 7 CUSTOMIZING SITE NAVIGATION
Figure 7-9. The My Extranets landing page with the MyExtranets application displayed
Figure 7-10. Completed My Extranets page
Summary
In this chapter, you learned how to customize the built-in Quick Launch menu using style sheet settings and modifications to the default.aspx page of a site template. In addition, you saw how to create a replacement Quick Launch menu using a .Net server control that provides you with complete control over the appearance of the menu. Finally, you learned how to create a My Extranets page that provides a convenient home page for your extranet users, giving them easy access to any extranets they have rights to access.
CHAPTER
Creating Custom Site Templates
ne of SharePoint s most powerful features is its support for custom site templates; you can use it to generate multiple sites with a consistent look and functionality. This feature is particularly important in an extranet environment, in which you need the ability to create new client sites quickly and/or apply updates to a group of sites. You can use SharePoint site templates to control the following: Style sheets and headers for site administration pages .aspx program files you want to include in a site (for example, default.aspx) Web parts you want to include on each web part page in a site Lists and document libraries you want to create as part of the site In addition to the templates, you can customize the base .aspx files such as default.aspx or allitems.aspx, which are executed when SharePoint displays a site. Although these files must be edited with care, learning how to modify them allows you to quickly alter the behavior of all sites that inherit from a given site template. This makes it possible to efficiently administer hundreds or even thousands of sites.
Five Methods of Site Definition
There are essentially five methods you can use to create a SharePoint site or modify its characteristics: Method 1: Use the browser-based interface to add, remove, or modify web parts and lists. Method 2: Use FrontPage 2003 to add, remove, modify web parts and lists, or alter the look and feel of the underlying web part pages. Method 3: Save an existing site as a template through the web interface, and optionally install that site template using the STSADM utility.
CHAPTER 8 CREATING CUSTOM SITE TEMPLATES
Method 4: Create a new site template in Collaborative Application Markup Language (CAML) and select that site definition when creating a new site. Method 5: Write a .NET program that uses the SharePoint SDK to create and customize a site, and add or edit web parts and lists. Each of these methods has its benefits and drawbacks. As shown in Figure 8-1, you can think of them forming a continuum, with the first method requiring little technical knowledge and providing limited impact and control; ending with the fifth method that requires the most technical knowledge, but provides the greatest impact and control. Table 8-1 describes the pros and cons of each method.
Figure 8-1. The five methods of site definition It s important to realize that each of these methods has its place, and none should be considered the preferred method for all situations. There are times when you will want to modify a single web part on a single site, in which case you should choose the first method. Other times you will want to perform some custom page layout on a single site, which you can accomplish more easily with FrontPage 2003. The third approach allows you to package the edits to a site made using either of the first two methods so that you can create new sites in a single step. The fourth method is the one SharePoint uses out of the box to create new sites, and is the one you ll find documented in the SharePoint SDK. Although it is more difficult to master, it minimizes database access and improves performance. This performance edge can be important if you are supporting an extranet with a large number of active sites. You can use the fifth method to create utilities to automate the creation of sites that require moderate-to-complex customizations as part of the site-generation process. An example of this might involve the news feed XML web part that I showed you how to create in an
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