When you create a site collection in SharePoint based on the OOTB starter template "Collaboration Portal Template" you get a series of sub sites such as "Document Center", "News", "Reports", "Search" and "Sites". Typically if your organisations has just installed SharePoint or are evaluating SharePoint this "Collaboration Portal Template" is the first place an end user will start their interaction with SharePoint.
One main point to note is that the slight variation of the available templates under the "Publishing" tab in Central Administration and on an existing SharePoint site which has been based on the "Collaboration Portal Template" which is available the first time you create your starter site collection in the Central Administration Site when you first install and configure SharePoint. Typically this is done by your SharePoint Administrator at the beginning.
|Available via Central Administration|
Available via an existing SharePoint Site
I want go into too much details about these templates now since the point of this post is to highlight how you can list all your SharePoint sites in the "Site Directory".
One of the Site Templates that you can use to categorise and view all of your SharePoint sites is the "Site Directory" Template. Often the Site Directory template features and functionality are not used effectively due to the not so apparent configuration options that you or your SharePoint administrator need to configure to ensure that any SharePoint site and site collection created in your SharePoint farm is categorised and listed to provide you with a list of all sites. Effectively you can almost create a global categorisation of all your sites in your SharePoint deployment.
This process involves some thinking and a few configuration options that I will highlight. Scenario: You want to create a single list of all your SharePoint site's that are being used in your organisation and you also want to minimise the overhead of categorising these manually. You also want your users with rights to create sites the ability to categorise the sites they create when they are creating them.
Master Site Directory
To ensure that any site and site collection being created within your SharePoint farm is listed in your "Site Directory" you need to add/configure the URL of your "Site Directory" in Central Administration. Go to Central Administration and to the Operations Tab. Under "Global Configuration" click on "Master site directory settings".
Once the URL of your master site directory has been set you can enforce the listing of new site collections in the Site Directory and ensure that you capture the correct Categorisation meta data for your sites. This settings effectively provides the Global location for your Master Site Directory. You may think that this is all it's required to list all the sites in the Site Directory but you also need to configure this at your site collection level in your deployment.
Site Directory Settings
Next step involves that you configure the "Site directory settings" to capture site categorisation when users create sites in an existing site collection. Go to Site Settings and select "Site directory settings".
Once you configure the settings in the next screen accordingly you can enforce your site's to be listed in the Site Directory and capture the correct meta data against your sites. One decision that you may need to make is if you should allow users to create "Site Collections". Site Collections effectively provide isolation and portability. In large deployments particular types of sites depending on their use and functionality maybe better created as Site Collections. For users to be able to create site collections Administrators need to enable "Self-Service Site Management" for the SharePoint web application.
Once you enforce the listing of sites and site categorisations any site that is created by an end user will always be listed in the "Master Site Directory" .
To add some context to this consider this scenario. In my example I have a SharePoint Intranet/Portal where all employees are directed to access organisational information. The Intranet/Portal provides access to various functional business applications such as Collaboration sites and document management sites etc. The URL of this SharePoint site is http://intranet/ In this deployment my SharePoint Administrator sets the Global Site Directory setting URL as http://intranet/SiteDirectory in Central Administration. I want all sites created within my organisation to be listed in this directory. Since I am the "Owner" of the Intranet I can enforce this at the Intranet/Portal level.
Furthermore certain departmental leads have the "Create Site Collection Permission" and are allowed to create own "Site Collections". The authority to create site collections is delegated by IT to these groups. Since the global setting enforces all sites and site collections to be listed in the "Site Directory" users are able to find any new site that is created in my deployment.
Also any new SharePoint web applications that are created in my Farm can be effectively listed in the Global Site Directory since the global setting enforces new Site Collections created via Central Administration on the same Farm to be listed in the Site Directory. When a new Site is created under the existing site structure the site can now be categorised and listed in the "Site Directory"
Once the site is created the site is listed under the correct Category.
Site Directory Links Scan
Another most often overlooked functional part of maintaining the Site Directory is hidden away in Central Administration. This is called "Site Directory Links Scan"
Effectively you can check for broken site links and get a report as well as update your site description listings in the Site Directory using Site Directory Links Scan. Site Directory Links Scan is available via the Operations tab in Central Administration.
The site property update is automated to reflect any changes you may apply to how the sites are categorised and listed in the Sites list in your Site Directory.
Once you have enabled Site Directory Links Scan you can also go to your SharePoint Site and from your Site Directory site select Site Settings and "Scan for Broken Links" which will initiate a manual scan. This will search the "Sites" list located in the Site Directory site for any changed or broken links.
The scanner will provide you with options of what View you would like to scan and update you of the Scan progress.