Web Server Architecture
The Web Server Architecture, or layout of a deployment of Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003, varies depending on the context. When you deploy SharePoint Portal Server, by default, two virtual servers, or Web sites in Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS), are used: the administrative virtual server and the existing IIS Web site (on port 80), which is extended to create an end-user or run-time virtual server.
Note There is only one admin virtual server, and it is used for farm-level configuration and management tasks.
You can only have one portal site under a virtual server. This site must be located at the root of the virtual server. A SharePoint Portal Server portal site is essentially a new Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services site collection with additional functionality to include topics, areas, and personal sites. While only one portal site can exist in a virtual server, additional standard Windows SharePoint Services site collections and subsites can be created in the same virtual server.
Topics and areas are used by portal site content managers to aggregate content from other places. Topics allow SharePoint Portal Server to link users to non-portal content such as shared folders, Microsoft Exchange Server public folders, Windows SharePoint Services sites, public Web sites, and Lotus Notes. Areas are containers of topics and nested subareas. The areas within a portal site can be structured into a parent-child hierarchy.
SharePoint Portal Server provides an HTML-based interface for working with areas. This user interface makes it relatively simple for portal site content managers to add and delete areas and topics from within the areas hierarchy of a portal site. SharePoint Portal Server also makes it simple for anyone to use the browser to relocate an area or topic within the areas hierarchy. Areas and topics facilitate aggregation because they make it easy to navigate through content both inside and outside a portal site.
Personal sites provide a Windows SharePoint Services site collection for each user in the portal deployment. When a portal user creates a personal site by clicking the My Site link, SharePoint Portal Server creates this personal site under Personal Sites. This strategy makes it easier to back up and restore shared and personal sites within a SharePoint Portal Server deployment.
About Portal Sites
The portal site offers a centralized access point for finding and managing information. You can use a Web browser with the portal site to perform tasks and search the portal site. The portal site provides access to information stored inside and outside your organization, allowing users to find people, sites, documents, and other content regardless of location or format. It also facilitates people working together on documents, projects, and other efforts by using the combined collaboration features of Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies.
You can customize the home page of the portal site to display organizational news and other important information. From the portal site, users can perform tasks such as the following:
- Searching for information stored in many different places and in many different formats.
- Browsing through content by areas; areas divide content into sets of related information so it's easier for users to find what they want.
- Creating a personal site, called My Site, that provides a personal view of the portal information that is relevant to the user and that lets the user share information with others in the organization.
- Asking to be alerted to new or changing information, such as new matches to a search query, changes to content in an area, or a new site added to the Site Directory.
- Creating or linking to Web sites, including those based on Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services, with collaboration features that let you facilitate projects, document development, and meeting organization.
The portal site uses Web Part Page technology to organize and display information. A Web Part Page consists of reusable, customizable Web Parts such as Search, News, and Announcements. You can easily add or remove Web Parts to customize the portal site for your organization.
In Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003, areas provide a flexible way to both describe and find information on the portal site. Areas define the structure of the portal site as a hierarchy that can be used to intuitively organize and browse the content on the portal site.
Documents, lists, and other items on the portal site and in other Web sites or file shares can be associated with one or more areas by using listings. Users can find information by browsing or searching the relevant areas for those items.
Using Areas to Navigate the Portal Site
You can browse areas from links on the navigation bar of the portal site. By default, all top-level areas appear on the navigation bar, although users with the correct permissions can exclude specific areas from portal site navigation. Top-level areas on the navigation bar tend to be broadly relevant to all users. The default top-level areas are Home, Topics, News, and Sites.
Users with the correct permissions can view the entire area structure of the site in the portal site map, available from the Portal Site Content section of the Site Settings page, including areas that have been excluded from portal site navigation. Users with the correct permissions can also add, edit, move, or delete areas to change the view of the portal site for all users.
As a site administrator, you can add a user to the Content Manager site group. By default, content managers can approve or reject content requests and manage area settings. In addition, as a site administrator or content manager, you can target areas for viewing by one or more audiences.
Creating an effective portal site structure requires planning and some understanding of how others might organize the content. For more information about managing areas, search for About managing content in portal areas on Office Online.
Using Areas in Search
Areas are also used during search to more accurately return search results for search terms related to specific areas. You can scope searches by the current topic or area, or by any area from within the advanced Search Results page. For more information about search, see the Search topics.
SharePoint Portal Server sites share the same security model as Windows SharePoint Services sites, but with the following differences:
- Site rights in Windows SharePoint Services are Area rights in SharePoint Portal Server.
- If you use custom security, the inheritance chain is broken. Subareas then do not inherit the security defined on the parent area.
Topics are a subset of areas used to organize content on the portal site. Topics can also refer to subareas under all top-level areas except the default areas Home, News, and Sites. Topics is also the name of the top-level area that by default contains all of the topics.
As with the other default top-level areas, the Topics top-level area appears on the navigation bar of the home page of the portal site. The Topics top-level area can be removed from view on the navigation bar, and can be deleted. Areas within the Topics top-level area behave like other areas and are managed the same way.
The Topics top-level area can be seen as a default example of an area hierarchy that includes areas that most customers who implement a portal site will find useful. Those areas may not fall into the other default top-level areas of the portal site. Topics often contain highlights of other areas or frequently used content. They tend to be more narrow than other areas, often limited to a single subject. However, as with any area, you can add listings to more than one topic area, if appropriate.
If users don't know which main area on the home page to browse for the information they need, they can go to Topics to see information organized under different topic areas. The Topics area is also a good place for subject matter experts to use when they want to organize and publish information about a particular subject. Like other areas, topics can contain lists, discussion boards, document libraries, and other features that enable people to work together.
You must be a member of the Administrator, Web Designer, or Content Manager site group to add, edit, or delete a topic.
About My Site Personal Sites
My Site is your personal starting point for viewing and contributing to your organization's intranet through the portal site. It provides a place to save and share your work, a way to find and connect with other people in your organization and see their work, and a way to customize how other people in your organization see your work. To view My Site, click My Site on the navigation bar of the portal site.
Viewing Information from Personal Sites
Your personal site has a private view that contains information of interest to you. This view contains content targeted to you based on your membership in a particular audience. For example, if you are a new employee, you might find links to key training resources. From the private view, you can also organize and access your documents, view and manage your alerts and alert results, link to interesting people and information, view your e-mail inbox, and maintain a calendar — all from a single place.
Sharing Information from Personal Sites
Your personal site has a public view that contains information that you share with other users. The public properties of your user profile are displayed on this page, along with links and sites that you decide other users might want to see. Your most recent shared documents also appear automatically in the public view of your personal site.
The public view of your personal site is a convenient way for you to manage the way that other people in your organization find you and your work. You can easily update your public profile, provide appropriate shared links, and share documents and other information. You can send a link to your site to other people in your organization.
The public view of your site is not the only place where you can share information with other users. Your personal site also includes all the functionality of Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services sites. You can create document and picture libraries, calendars, surveys, tasks, and other SharePoint lists. You can create other pages on your personal site and provide links to those pages on the public view of your site. Any of the documents you create in your personal site can be shared with other users by adding them to public document libraries.
Connecting with People Using Personal Sites
Just as you share information with other people in your organization through the public view of your personal site, you can also find and connect with other people through the public views of their personal sites.
When a user name appears in the portal site, you can click the name to view the public view of that person's personal site. Everything that a person chooses to share is available for you to see. You can see a person's shared links to sites, people, and documents that might help you to get your work done. You can also see what information you have in common.
Customizing Personal Site Information
Depending upon the rights granted to you by the site administrator, you can customize your personal site information by adding and removing Web Parts, changing the layout and appearance of Web Parts on the private view of your personal site, and add links to the action pane to certain kinds of information.
Site administrators can determine the level of personalization to allow users to have on My Site. They can define the number and scope of Web Parts to allow users to add to their pages and to what extent users can add or remove those Web Parts. They can modify the shared view of My Site to customize the default appearance of personal sites. If they have the Manage Audiences right, they can also target content to users based on membership in a specific audience.
Extensibility and Programmability
As a developer, you can use the SiteData object model to create and customize areas and topics. For more information, see the Reference section in the Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies 2003 SDK. The SiteData and Topology namespaces contain several classes that help you accomplish the tasks mentioned in this topic.
Note The User Profiles object model allows you to work with My Sites, and the Search object model allows you to customize search. The Security object model allows you to add users and roles and assign permissions.
In addition, you can create your own custom area templates. By default, there are six area templates:
- News home
- Site directory
For more information on creating your own custom templates, see the Platform section of the Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies 2003 SDK.
Following are important points to be aware of when working with areas and Windows SharePoint Services sites (SPWeb object in the object model language) in SharePoint Portal Server.
- Areas are backed up by an SPWeb object. When you provision an area, you will also provision an SPWeb object.
- A portal site collection can have any number of areas and SPWeb objects. The areas themselves can contain any number of subareas under them. Subareas are just areas under another area.
- When you provision an SPWeb object for an area and if you already have 20 areas in the top-level site, then SharePoint Portal Server randomly places the areas in one of the placeholder folders. Examples of placeholder folders are C7 or C8, and so on. Placeholder folders appear in the URLs. Also if you remove one of the first 20 areas, the next new area will be created at the root and not under a placeholder folder.
- SharePoint Portal Server can load-balance portal sites across different content databases, but individual sites always live within the same database as their parent portal site.