What’s new in Site Collections in SharePoint 2013!

Since Microsoft released SharePoint 2013 public preview some weeks ago, there is continuous information drip about new goodies coming with the new version of the rock star Microsoft platform. While the foundation remains pretty much the same, in this blog post I will focus on some of the cool stuff coming with Site Collections:

  • The deep SharePoint 2013 backwards compatibility with SharePoint 2010
  • Better support for creating host-named site collections (HNSC)

Site Collection creation process

As I have said, SharePoint 2013 maintains a deep backwards compatibility with SharePoint 2010 which is a really great tool, to be successful when upgrading sites from 2010 version to 2013. Indeed, you can see this compatibility when creating a new site collection through the SharePoint 2013 Central Administration:

· Navigate to the SharePoint 2013 Central Administration in your CloudShare environment. Under “Application Management” section, click the “Create site collections” link.

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  • In the “Create site collection” page you will see the classic form where you can specify the name, description and URL for the root site in the Site Collection, but you can also choose what experience version you want to use: 2010 versus 2013. Therefore, SharePoint 2013 allows you to create pure SharePoint 2013 sites or just 2010 ones if your organization is not ready to use the new user experience and capabilities what in my opinion provides a great degree of flexibility when moving to the new platform version.

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  • So, one question in the air is how this deep integration is possible? Well, there is a short and quick answer: SharePoint 2013 comes with a 14 hive and a 15 hive. The 14 one is maintained in order to provide this backwards compatibility. If you inspect this hive, you will find everything you need in order to create SharePoint 2010 sites in SharePoint 2013 public preview or ensure that upgraded sites work properly.

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Host-Named Site Collections

As in previous versions, SharePoint 2013 support Host-Named Site Collections (HNSC). You can find a good definition for NHSC in this great Mark Arend’s article written for SharePoint 2010: HNSC is a mechanism for consolidating existing web applications into individual site collections, yet retain their existing URLs. This is a feature of SharePoint that allows individual site collections to have their own top-level URL.

So, what’s new in SharePoint 2013 regarding to HNSC? The process for creating a HNSC and adding top-level URLs is really simple and accomplished by using some PowerShell cmdlets as you can see below:

  • To create a HNSC, just open the SharePoint 2013 Management Shell and execute the following cmdlets:

New-SPSite “http://domain.local” -HostHeaderWebApplication “http://c4431163311” -Name “Portal” -Description “Portal de Clientes” -OwnerAlias “domain\administrator” -language 3082 -Template “STS#0”

Set-SPSiteUrl -Identity http://domain.local -Url http://intranet.domain.local

Get-SPSiteUrl -Identity http://domain.local

  • New-SPSite cmdlet allows to create a HNSC adding a host name (http://domain.local in this case) which is a top URL. HostHeaderWebApplication parameter identifies the Web Application where the site collection is being created. Finally, the rest of the parameters are the usual ones needed to create a Site Collection.
  • Once you execute New-SPSite using previous syntax, you will see as a result the URL of the new HNSC and the compatibility level.

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  • In order to add new top URL to a HNSC, SharePoint 2013 incorporates the Set-SPSiteUrl cmdlet. This command needs the URL of the HNSC as input parameter followed by the new top URLs to be added. These new URLs should have an existing domain or alias created in your DNS.
  • If you want to list all the Top URLs assigned to a HNSC, just use the Get-SPSiteUrl cmdlet indicating the URL of the HNSC you are asking about.
  • Finally, if you want to remove a top URL assigned to a HNSC just execute the Remove-SPSiteUrl using the following syntax:

Remove-SPSiteUrl –Url “http://intranet.domain.local”

Once you are done, try to access to your SharePoint site using any of the configured Top URLs and check everything works as expectedJ.

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And that’s all about some of the cool things coming with Site Collections in SharePoint 2013 public preview. You can test them in your CloudShare environment.. Happy CloudSharing!