Ghosting and reGhosting

Most of us by now are aware of the basics of Ghosting and Site Definitions

  • We know ghosting refers to the process whereby a database reference to a single set of files (the site definition) is made when creating a site in SharePoint as opposed to a physical duplicate.
  • We have learned that ghosting helps boost performance and reduce file storage needs.
  • We have learned that the true benefit of site definitions and ghosting is seen when updating a large number of sites via a single set of files.
  • We have learned that a page becomes “Unghosted” when we open and save it in FrontPage 2003.
  • We have learned from Fitz that SharePoint 2007 has big plans to help relieve the pain of unghosted pages.

The reality is that many of us have unghosted pages now and unfortunately not everyone will be able to have SharePoint 2007 right away. In the absence of that there are some really great solutions out there which deal with unghosted pages.

I made a post a couple of months back about the new version of reGhost.NET by Matthew Cosier

I finally had a chance today to install and try out the latest reGhost.NET application. I have to say from a user-experience perspective I was very happy with everything from start to finish.

The application is just as fast an easy to install as it is to use. On top of that (to the best of my limited testing/knowledge) it really seems to work. If you have not yet had the pleasure of trying this application I would highly recommend it.

In just a couple of minutes and 3 or 4 steps you are on your way to re-ghosting those unghosted pages!

Screenshot 1

Screenshot 2
Screenshot 3

Overview from the got dot net workspace:

This has been tested with WSS SP2 + SPS SP2, please let me know if you have any other problems using other configurations.

This version will also tell you exactly which site the particular page came from before reghosting it, making a great choice for those large commercial sharepoint databases with hundreds, thousands, millions of ghosted pages (we hope not that many).

Download the instructions and reGhost.NETapplication

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3 Responses

  1. Shane Perran says:

    I agree for the most part Dustin, experience has taught me though that having an underlying “custom” site definition even if it’s unmodified can really save people a lot of time.

    For example:

    We recently rolled out a SharePoint Portal Server 2003 installation for a very well known software vendor.

    These guys had more than 150 products which were spread out amongst developers, testers and support across several countries.

    They wanted fast-rollout and consistent elements so we met with all the teams and settled on creating ‘out-of-the-box’ templates complete w/ custom theme.

    We rolled out all 150 sites in no time once we had the templates customized. A couple of weeks later something came up and they wanted to push a change out to all of these sites.

    In that situation site definitions are basically the “only” way to get the job done fast. Otherwise they have 150 sites ‘in use’ that have to be deleted, template updated and then completely re-rolled out.

    To be honest I was unaware that pushing out a change to a site deployed on a “Custom Site Definition” was un-supported.

    To be perfectly honest I have not had any issues to date (knock on wood) with people actually “needing” to have identical websites so it’s really been a moot point. For that matter I have honestly had limited need to ever create site definitions and I have done some fairly extensive customization jobs.

    Cheers and I hope things are going well for you!

  2. Bob Fox says:

    I have used both this and Ghosthunter and like them both equally. One benefit I have found with ReGhost is that it can sit on your desktop as opposed to living as a webpart on your server.

    Bob Fox

  3. “We have learned that the true benefit of site definitions and ghosting is seen when updating a large number of sites via a single set of files.”

    I have to point out that you’re not supposed to do this; Microsoft (through Fitz and others) made it clear that you’re not to touch a site definition file if there are sites deployed against that definition. This is one of the main reasons why the ghosted versus unghosted argument is flawed. Plus, this tool (and any other re-ghosting tool) touches the database, also unsupported. :)

    Sorry to threadjack here, but it had to be said. :)

    Disclaimers aside: This tool does exactly what it says, and it does it will little fanfare. I’ve seen it in action, and for those of us who don’t mind doing unsupported things (well, that’s just about all of us, right?! :P), it’s a great tool to have in your toolbox.

    Readers may also be interested to know that the next version of SharePoint Designer allows you to “revert to template” right from the UI (same thing as re-ghost). Built right in!

I would love to hear from you.

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