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SharePoint 2013 Cross-Site Publishing Overview: Part 1

Hey everyone! My name is Seth Bibler and I’m a Program Manager on the SharePoint team. I’m really excited to be telling all of you about one of the great new features that we have been working on for SharePoint 2013. Cross-site publishing (in this post, I will refer to it as XSP, even though it is not an official feature name) is the tool that enables you to write content in one place and surface it in other places through search. You’ll be able to generate sites in some new and exciting ways. And for the first time, XSP breaks down the site collection barrier—content can be shared across site collections, web apps, and farms!

In a previous post, Josh began by talking about what’s new with modern web experiences. He introduced our fictional business, Contoso Electronics, which intends to use SharePoint 2013 for their new sales websites. They have a library of sales article webpages. These articles must be able to be viewed on the Internet by anonymous users, as a part of a public site. On the public site, they want the articles to look and feel the same as the rest of the site without having to reformat each articles’ HTML. Search-driven content is just what Contoso Electronics needs, and XSP is a big part of their solution.

In this post, I introduce the concepts behind XSP. In my next blog post, I’ll go beyond what Contoso Electronics wants to do and describe some of the kinds of sites that can be built using XSP. But first, let’s start with the basics.

The basics

There are a few logical components to consider:

  • An authoring site is where authors go to create and host content; think of it as the source in XSP. This is where a list that is marked as a catalog lives.
  • A catalog is an attribute that you can add to a list or a library in the authoring site. Marking a list or a library as a catalog makes the content easily accessible to other site collections.
  • Search is the engine that connects your catalog to a publishing site.
  • The term store holds metadata terms that are used to organize content for publishing on target sites.
  • A publishing site is where visitors go to see and read content.

Figure 1 is a quick diagram that shows just the basics of XSP.
 
Diagram showing the basics of XSP

Figure 1. Basic cross-site publishing environment

Managed Navigation is a feature beyond the scope of this blog post, but to understand how the Term Store fits into this picture, its use should be briefly described. To organize the content on the authoring site, a managed metadata site column is used to categorize the articles by type. These tagging terms are used on the publishing side to build up a navigation structure and as part of the search query that is used to pull the article data. Figure 2 shows articles tagged on the authoring site and then surfaced on the publishing site.

Artucke pages tagged in an authoring site collection, and published in another

Figure 2. Article pages tagged in an authoring site collection, and published in another.

This ties directly into Contoso Electronics’ solution. They have a secure authoring site. Its pages library contains sales articles that they want to show on the Internet. They added a metadata site column to the pages library and ensured that all the pages were tagged appropriately. After that, they shared their pages library as an anonymously available catalog, which search indexed on the next crawl. On the publishing side, they then connected to the catalog, pinning the tagging term set into navigation. Finally, they customized the automatically generated category and item detail pages, which have content search web parts that query the search engine, and published the pages. And now they are actually showing sales articles on the Internet based on a search query!

Contoso Electronics' basic cross-site publishing environment

Figure 3. Contoso Electronics’ basic cross-site publishing environment

Perhaps this may seem a tad mundane—we are just talking about sharing content across two sites using search. But think again! We are sharing content across two sites using search! This opens up many new possibilities for publishing in SharePoint. That’s incredibly cool, but this is only the beginning.

What you can do

Have you ever written something multiple times, just to have it in multiple locations? Imagine that you’re working on a small number of sites that all need to show content from a common library. For example, Contoso Electronics created their Internet site for the United States, but they  also want to put up a site in Canada. XSP can be used to author in one place, and then present the content in many other locations, too!

Cross-site publishing to multiple sites consuming the same content

Figure 4. Cross-site publishing to multiple sites consuming the same content

In terms of implementation, this is just an additional new publishing site, connected to the same catalog. Some styling can still be applied—master pages, page layouts, and display templates—but both Internet-facing sites are showing content from one catalog, and it was fairly painless to stand up!

It is perhaps best to think of XSP as a set of tools that we built to help you build these sites. Anonymous search access, managed navigation, tagging term sets, friendly URLs, content search web parts, category and item detail pages, result sources, and query rules are all features that you can configure separately. But now, with XSP, you can more easily share content across sites, site collections, and farms.

Most of the features that I just mentioned will be discussed in upcoming blog posts and documentation.

Getting started with XSP

I really hope that you’ll try and love what XSP helps you do. Please take a look at the documentation we’ve published already. More is on the way, but these articles can help you to get up and going:

TechNet
Plan for cross-site publishing in SharePoint Server 2013
Configure cross-site publishing in SharePoint Server 2013

MSDN
Cross-site publishing in SharePoint 2013

Coming up next

Configuring XSP is an advanced publishing scenario. In my blog post next week, I’ll explore some of the possible site topologies.

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