Wednesday, January 9, 2013

SharePoint 2010 Server - Basic Terminologies

Lets take a look into a few basic terminologies that we would be frequently coming across while using SharePoint Server:

Web application: 
It a normal site created in IIS mapped with SharePoint configuration files. It stands as a root (container) for holding Sites and Site Collections. It uses its own content database for storing sites and other data.

Site Collections 
It is a collection of site which is created at the top level inside a web application. Any web application should have compulsorily at least one site collection. Multiple site collection can be created side by side inside a web application.

Sites and subsites
Sites are top-level websites created inside a site collection and subsites are created under these sites.

The SharePoint Farm Hierarchy
Whenever you work in SharePoint Farm you will have at least on farm server with at least one web application, with one Site Collection, made of one website. The idea of grouping websites in Site Collections allows those sites to share contents, administrative settings, security rules, and optionally, users and groups.
The following figure give a broader idea:

Central Administration Site:
It is the default administration site used to manage SharePoint web applications,  sites, permissions, timer jobs, services, backups, etc. This site is configured at the time of installation and serves as the key for all administrative tasks across the farm.

It is the command line equivalent to the central admin site. It can be located at "C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\14\BIN". It provides a very easy way to manage admin operations like restore, backup, export, etc. You can find the entire list of STSADM commands and their usage in the following link.

Site Templates
SharePoint 2010 provides you a list of predefined templates like Team Sites, Meetings, Blogs, etc that enables you to create a website of you choice. Site Templates are template files with .stp extension and can be found in the "Site Templates Gallery". You can create your own custom site template by "Save Site as Template" option in Site Actions tab.

Site Definitions
You can also create your custom site using site definition. Performance wise it is better that site templates because site template are stored in content databases and site definitions are stored in 14 Hive folder.
Site definitions are a little tedious to develop since you develop the site from the scratch. Site definition files can be located at following path in file server.
C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\14\TEMPLATE\SiteTemplates

A List can be thought of as a collection of pieces of information — all of which (typically) have the same properties. This could be considered similar to a database table. For instance, you can have a list of links called "my links", where each item has a URL, a name, and a description.

A Library is a list where each item in the list refers to a file that is stored in SharePoint. Libraries have all the same behaviors as lists, but because libraries contain files, they have extra features. One of these is the ability to be opened and modified through a compatible WebDAV client (e.g. Windows Explorer).

Content Types
It is a set of columns that define whether what kind of content will be stored inside a list or library.
For Example: A list named Employees can have a content type called EmployeeDetails with columns Name, Designation and salary.

Fetaures are pluggable components which are used to extend the functionalities of a site. It is a unit of deployment that generally includes content such as .aspx application pages, list schemas, customizations expressed in CAML.

A Web Part, also called a Web Widget, is an ASP.NET server control which is added to a Web Part Zone on Web Part Pages by users at run time. The controls enable end users to modify the content, appearance, and behavior of Web pages directly from a browser. It can be put into certain places in a web page by end users, after development by a programmer.

Farm Solution
Farm solutions, which are hosted in the IIS worker process (W3WP.exe), run code that can affect the whole farm. When you debug a SharePoint project whose Sandboxed Solution property is set to "farm solution," the system's IIS application pool recycles before SharePoint retracts or deploys the feature so as to release any files locked by the IIS worker process. Only the IIS application pool serving the SharePoint project's site URL is recycled.

Sandbox Solution
Sandboxed solutions, which are hosted in the SharePoint user code solution worker process (SPUCWorkerProcess.exe), run code that can only affect the site collection of the solution. Because sandboxed solutions do not run in the IIS worker process, neither the IIS application pool nor the IIS server must restart. Visual Studio attaches the debugger to the SPUCWorkerProcess process that the SPUserCodeV4 service in SharePoint automatically triggers and controls. It is not necessary for the SPUCWorkerProcess process to recycle to load the latest version of the solution.

Workflows are used to describe the tasks, procedural steps, organizations or people involved, required input and output information, and tools needed for each step in a business process.
SharePoint Workflows are built on Windows Workflow Foundation component of Microsoft Windows, and software developers can create custom workflows by using the Windows Workflow Foundation Designer in Visual Studio. Users can associate workflows with one or more libraries, lists, or content types.

Timer Job
 A timer job runs in a specific Windows service for SharePoint Server. Timer jobs also perform infrastructure tasks for the Timer service, such as clearing the timer job history and recycling the Timer service; and tasks for Web applications, such as sending e-mail alerts. A timer job contains a definition of the service to run and specifies how frequently the service is started. The SharePoint 2010 Timer service (SPTimerv4) runs timer jobs. Many features in SharePoint Server rely on timer jobs to run services according to a schedule.

Application Pages
Application page is an ASP.NET content page hosted in the LAYOUTs directory and inherits from Microsoft.SharePoint.WebControls.LayoutsPageBase. An Application Page is application or farm scoped and requires Visual Studio to customize the page.

Site Pages
Site Pages are stored in the virtual file system in the Content databases. SPFile and SPFolder objects represents Site Pages in WSS object model. A site page is  site/web scoped and can be easily customized through SharePoint Designer.

Service Application
Service Applications (SAs) provide granular pieces of SharePoint functionality to other web and service applications in the farm. Examples of service applications include the User Profile Sync service, and the Search Indexing service.

14 Hive
The 14 Hive is a special folder which is created during Sp 2010 installation. All the important files for supporting Sharepoint framework like web.config, Features, Web Parts, User Controls, Help Files etc are stored in the SharePoint 2010 server file system located at C:\Program Files\Common files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\14 

Content Database
These are databases used by SharePoint to store web application contents. A web application can have one or more content database associated with it.

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