What are Role Based Templates?

I have a side project and every time someone reads the certain bit of it where it mentions role-based templates, I get blank stares.  Every time I mention them in passing to other SharePoint people, I get “a what?”.  Which to me I find ironic because few a few months ago the blogging world went gaga over 40+ role based templates released by Microsoft.   So here is my definition for a role based template to help associate the name with something we are all familiar with.

A role-based template is I think a very accurate name.
Role: a role within an organization or a purpose.  So for example, executive management, helpdesk, project, sales, employee events, etc.
Based: Forming or serving as a base
Template:  a SharePoint template

So it is a SharePoint template that serves as a base for a specific role.   I really like the idea of role based templates.  I think they can be highly effective and useful especially in large SharePoint deployments. If there is a need to deploy multiple sites/webs that will have the same customizations and tone, most people customize the site and save it out as a template to be used for other sites that have the same need.  That is a role-based template. It is a very common concept, just seems that the name is relatively new or unknown.  I first heard it at TechEd 2005 when a session speaker hinted about the coming MSFT application templates.

Some sample practical applications for use:


    • Within your organization, there are several processes and procedures for managing a project.  Create a WSS site, remove the default web parts on the home page and add a library for documentation templates, a task list, and a custom list to report timelines and progress.  Save the site/web out as a template.  For each new project, use the template to create the project WSS site and the library, task list and custom list are all available from the start.


    • Within your organization, you need campus specific WSS sites. Create a WSS site, add the weather web part, a custom list for employee activities, an announcements list for upcoming fund raisers and an office calendar for reserving conference rooms. Save this site as a template and then quickly create sites for each campus in your organization.


  • Within your organization, several departments run a helpdesk for end users. Create a WSS site, add an Issues list, a library for resources, a contacts web part for 2nd and 3rd tier support. Save this site as a template and promote usage of it within the departments to help streamline and manage their helpdesk tasks and knowledge.

What I like most about the application templates that Microsoft has provided is that they are at their core, a pool of ideas.  They help you visualize how to turn the standard WSS site/web that gets created into something truly customized and useful for your specific purpose.  It capitalizes on a couple of the greatest benefits of SharePoint, customization and flexibility.

Role based templates are about recognizing your needs, customizing a site to meet those needs, and then packaging it up for fast reuse to help save time, money and resources.   They are an effective way to capitalize on one of many ways to transport your SharePoint customizations around from site to site.


WSS Templates for Download
» WSS Application Templates available for download
» WSS Application Templates PREVIEW (Check out the applications without having to download and install first!)
» WSS Application Templates SINGLE FILE DOWNLOAD (Download all the applications in one zip file [20MB])

Past Posts
» Microsoft releases 40 WSS Templates for public consumption
» Suggestion for the MSFT Templates
» User Beware… MSFT’s WSS Templates