Thursday, 18 June 2009

Import Publishing Sub Site as Site Collection

Any farm administrator will eventually feel the need to restructure when they watch in horrid fascination as their once insignficant sub sites grow to monster sites. Current MOSS limitations such as the 15GB limit for the stsadm import/export operations mean that unless you're using a terrifically expesnive 3rd party migration app you need to act fast before things get out of hand

The obvious solution would be to export the site(s) in question and then reimport them to an empty site collection. Yes, that would seem obvious, but it's not quite as straightforward as you might assume. What really compounds the matter is if you happen to have enabled the publishing feature on your source site.

After many days of disappointment and incoherent error messages I finally returned to Gary Lapointe's brilliant blog - SharePoint Automation. Gary has developed dozens of custom stsadm commands in order to fill the cavernous and aching void left by the default offerings. One thread in particular, Subsite to Site Collection, deals with this pesky issue and also includes his own hair-pulling frustration with the out-of-the-box limitations to achieve this. BTW, the solutions he provides are not strictly supported - but they work where nothing else will and are very easy to use.

In my case I simply deleted every failed test and started from scracth using the gl-convertsubsitetositecollection operation. All I had to do was provide the source site and destination URL and the command did the rest.

stsadm -o gl-convertsubsitetositecollection -sourceurl -targeturl http://mydomain/destination -nofilecompression -owneremail -ownerlogin "mydomain\me" -nositetemplate 

This exports the source site, creates the destination site collection and site (based on source site template), and activates any features. The source site was a Team Site with publsihing and several custom features enabled. The only thing I did was create the managed path but this command even has a flag for that!

The only thing it doesn't appear to do (yet) is allow you to specify a new content database. I've already put my request in for this and hope to see it soon. If this helps someone, please thank Gary - not me! :)

Monday, 15 June 2009

Renaming SharePoint Site Collections (the Secret of Managed Paths)

Everyone knows, or at least should know, that SharPoint sites (formally referred to as Webs) can be easily renamed with either stsadm -o renameweb or through the GUI.

But what about renaming site collections?

Well, the short answer to that question is no. Site collections cannot be renamed, at least not those on managed paths.


Hosted site collections using host headers can be renamed using the stsadm -o renamesite command but it is limited to hosted sites only.

e.g. ->

Yes, another massive limitation of the current SharePoint version. But the real culprit - and what makes this all the more confounding - is managed paths. If you've never had any real experience with these little beasties then I envy you. But get ready to put your hard hat on because we're going in.

You can create a managed path for a site collection using one of two options - "Explicit exclusion" or "Wildcard inclusion" - but not both! The limitations of this will become obvious soon.

Let's say you want the following structure for your site collections:

- where both groups and team 1 are site collections.

This cannot be achieved conventionally. The reason is because to create a site collection at the managed path of /groups it must be set to "Explicit exclusion" - meaning you cannot create site collections below this path.

And if you create the /groups path to use "Wildcard inclusion" then you can only create sites below this path. Make sense?

i.e. domain1/groups/my_sitecollection

This means that site collections can have no distinct hierarchy. Not that this matters given that they are treated as separate entities and current version web parts are unable to query across site collections anwyay!

So is there a workaround to both these limitations? I'm glad you asked. ;)

The following refers to explicitly renaming a single site collection which uses "Explicit exclusion" only. Depending on your needs you can use "Wildcard inclusion" for ensuing site collections.

To rename a site collection you need to:

  1. Backup your exsiting site collection using stsadm -o backup.
  2. Create a managed path of newpath "Explicit eclusion" using the new name you want.
  3. Restore the site collection to the new URL using stsadm -o restore.

To create a virtual URL hierarchy you can:

  1. Create a managed path of newpath/newsite "Explicit exclusion".
  2. Create a new site collection using this path.

Yes, it's true! MOSS will allow you to create a managed path in this form, despite the explicit exclusion on the original /newpath path.

Great isn't it? Now, whether this is intended or flawed behaviour, or a good idea or not is another matter entirely. ;)

Either way - good luck! And may version 14 resolve these and many other issues we're plagued with.