Change SharePoint Online root site collection to use the new “Communication Site Template”

My tenant just got the new Communication site template. Thank you @SharePoint

UPDATE! GREAT NEWS MS just release news this week at MS Ignite 2018, they will native support the conversion of the #rootsite to #comsite with a dedicated PowerShell cmdlet, release date soon. which means we don’t need to hack it anymore, stay tuned for release announcement in your tenant 🙂

As I’ve built numerous Intranet sites both with SharePoint On-premises and SharePoint Online, I want to see if I can use the new template on the root team site.

Because the root SPO site is a team site, it turn out no matter what I did I cannot get rid of the left NAV bar, even though I’ve got all the new webparts and layouts.

com01

Tried with PowerShell, still no luck..

New-SPOSite -Title “Comsite2PowerShell” -Template SITEPAGEPUBLISHING#0 -Url “https://jimmydev.sharepoint.com/sites/Comsite2PowerShell” -Owner jimmy@hangconsult.com -StorageQuota 1000

com02

Until Microsoft release a means to change this, my work around is as follows, remember that this works best for new customer or customer with an empty root SPO site, existing customer need to plan a migration of content.

First, create a new site using the Communication Template

com03

Navigate to the “Save site as a template” page, this page is hidden from the menu so use the following URL

https://tenant.sharepoint.com/sites/comsite/_layouts/15/savetmpl.aspx

Give the new template a name | click OK

com04

When completed click “Solution gallery”

com05

Click on the name of the template to download it, save it to a location on your computer, you’ll need it later

com06

In SharePoint Admin | delete your root site collection | then create a new one | for template for “Custom | Select template later”

com07

After the site has been created, start a new browser tab and navigate to the new site.
It will now ask you to choose a template | click solution gallery |

com08

 

Now choose to upload your “template.wsp” file you downloaded earlier | then Activate the Solution

com09

Navigate back to the root site | now choose the “Custom” tab | you should see your template | choose the template | then OK

com10

Wait for it

com11

Choose your SharePoint Security Groups | OK

com12

That’s it enjoy your Root site with the brand new communication template, It’s quite beautiful!

com13

 

 

 

 

 

 

60 thoughts on “Change SharePoint Online root site collection to use the new “Communication Site Template”

  1. Have you had any feedback from Microsoft, or other developers, on this? I’ve come across quite a few people who wished that the root site collection could be converted to a Communication Site, but no one suggested the solution you describe here. Have you encountered any issues since publishing this?

    Like

    1. Hi, haven’t heard anything from MS yet, as far as I can see, haven’t encountered any problems yet. It’s a standard site collection with a template, so i presume it should be fine, unless MS does something weird in the backend.

      cheers

      Like

  2. Hi, I’m having Access Denied when trying to access URL “Save Site as Template” and i create the site and I have full control. Any ideas?

    Like

  3. Do you have any idea how to get a statement from the Office team or someone else at Microsoft about this? I already posted a query about this to the Communication Sites AMA without getting a response. I’ll try on Thursday when I go to the Seattle area Office 365 Meetup at the Microsoft campus, but the presenters this time are not ones who would have any responsibility for this.

    I’d decided since my last posting to go ahead and make a Communication site the root site, so this is frustrating. Of course, I can create a Communication site and treat it as the central site, but then I’ve got this other site, the default root with the best URL, that isn’t doing anything. In fact, I’ll have to ask the sys admin to redirect away from it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Joseph, i totally agree with you, that’s why I’ve created this post, totally waste to have the root URL do nothing, and in the back it’s just a customized site template, the only difference is that now Microsoft is doing the customization and not some random SP developer.

      Like

  4. Just saw this page and this would have been perfect for my new sharepoint site however now i just get access denied. So frustrating. Any chance you can host the template somewhere for us to download?

    Like

    1. Hi Jimmy –
      I need the template but am running into the same error w/ page not available. Could you share the template with me? I can’t access it using the link provided. Do I need permissions to your onedrive? Thanks,

      Like

  5. I spoke briefly with Mark Kashman (Microsoft Product Manager) at a Seattle Office 365 meetup Thursday, and he suggested simply creating a modern page in the default root site collection to get the Communication Site functionality. I’ve since confirmed that this is indeed possible; the page is a modern page with all the same features, including sections, News, Events, Hero, etc as are available for a Communication Site page.

    I’m curious to know if you think this would meet the use case requirements.

    Like

    1. On my tenant when I do this I only get the simple modern page, not the new one with the Communication Site features like Sections, News, Events, Hero, etc.

      Any idea why this is happening?

      Like

  6. The major difference I’m aware of is the that navigation is on the left side (not the top as with Communication sites). And given reliance on left-side navigation a page-spanning banner/hero would not make sense. The hero web part is available, but it does not displace the navigation. In effect, there is a two-column format for the page with a very narrow left column reserved for navigation. Is this what you mean when you say that “we don’t get the full page width layout”? I’m not sure that I consider this important for an intranet or central hub home page. Can you tell me why you do?

    Like

    1. Hi Joseph, it’s petty much up too You, I’m a consultant and normally when I build Intranet sites, clients want the whole page width of the landing page for content, and Navigation on Top.

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      1. I can see that clients would prefer top navigation and full page width; I would too. But I gather from other comments here that MS is not permitting root site replacement with a Communication Site (too bad!). For my agency, using a modern page won’t be a deal-breaker, but I’ll be watching to see if MS relents.

        Like

    1. Too bad, I hope MS will give us the ability to create use “modern” site templates as root, if not give us the ability to choose the full page width column layout in teamsites.

      Like

  7. I don’t know if this is still the case, but 1-2 years ago, I heard that using the “Save site as template” was not appropriate anymore because it freezes the definition of the site. Improvements made by Office 365 over time are not applied on sites deployed this way. This is why new provisioning models such as PnP deploys all the artefacts through the API. Since Communication sites are clearly in its infancy, it seems risky to me to freeze its feature set so early!

    Like

    1. Hi Francis, not sure about what you are referring too here, as I understand a site definition and a site template is two different thing, a site definition is something created using custom code, that’s why it’s “unsafe” while site template use standard stuff supported by Microsoft. Well unless microsoft removes the base template SITEPAGEPUBLISHING#0 from O365, if this happens then all #comsites in O365 will go down..that will be pretty bad.

      Like

  8. Hey,

    I received the same Access Denied error following the above tutorial but I got this to work by creating a site using PowerShell.

    “New-SPOSite -Title “your title””

    I then got asked for the url/owner/storage quota. Hit Return.

    Once created, I then uploaded the template from Jimmy (above) and uploaded that to the solutions gallery. Activated the solution then went back to new site homepage and then selected the new coms template and voila!

    Like

      1. Hi Daniel,

        Yes we did, we deleted the root site collection then remove-spodeletedsite in powershell which removes it from the recycle bin. We did this so that we can use the name we wanted.

        Then follow instructions above – create site collection using powershell – give it url/owner/storage quota etc.

        Should work, any more problems let me know.

        Like

  9. Hi Jim, Are you available for short term paid gig to implement this change on our new sharepoint online tenant? Please email at addressed attached to this post if you are available.

    Like

    1. Hi Mark, happy to know that you’re considering my professional services, but Microsoft is actively blocking us,m from using this workaround in new tenants, I’ll recommend you to wait til after #MSIgnite later this month, hopefully we’ll get some news regarding this.

      Like

  10. For people getting the Access Denied op the Save site as template link: enable custom script on self-service created sites. This resolves the Access Denied on the SaveTemplate link.

    You can do this in admin center, but if you don’t want to wait 24 hours, do it with PowerShell.

    https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Allow-or-prevent-custom-script-1F2C515F-5D7E-448A-9FD7-835DA935584F?ui=en-US&rs=en-001&ad=US

    Execute this PowerShell command: Set-SPOsite -DenyAddAndCustomizePages 0

    Be aware that changing this setting has implications on your whole environment. But you can temporally allow custom scripts, save your site as template, an switch setting back.

    Like

    1. Same issue for me. All steps above work perfectly fine, until I’m trying to select the uploaded template from the custom tab. I know that this has been announced, but the workaround seems to be out of order.

      Like

  11. Hi Jimmy, great post and initial workaround!

    I am building a SP intranet for a BU of 80 people and I planned to use the communication site template as a ‘landingspage’ as a quick fix, as it serves our needs and to avoid from writing code (I am a newbie to SP and don’t write code, they made me responsible for this project because I’m young and ‘good with technology’)

    Reading in the comments, I understand that it does not work anymore. In your last comment you state ‘pefully we might don’t need to apply this hack anymore’. Do you have any updates on that? Are you referring to the ‘hub site’, and when can we be expecting this?

    Like

    1. Hi Koen, “Hub sites” is the right direction yes, but I’m not sure if we can replace the root SC with a hub site yet. The roadmap info says it’s Q1-Q2 2018. I’m trying another fix, maybe it works, if yes I’ll update the post…. 😉

      Like

  12. great work around! but the only down site since it’s a template all the features will be locked and if MSFT publishes new features to communication sites then it wont be available.

    But still great work around and hope MSFT see’s this blog. I am looking the way to create communication sites from the templates for a new site collection from a long time.

    Like

  13. I succesfully appied this workaround and created a Communication site on the root of my SharePoint Online tenant. As others, I’ve experienced the issue with the top navigation on my Communication site. People that didn’t use this workaround also experienced this issue. But as announced, MS fixed it!!

    https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/SharePoint/Navigation-on-Modern-Experience-Pages-breaking-Site-Elements/td-p/120997

    But my Communication site created on the root still has this issue. When I create a new Communication site using the UI without any workaround (so under the sites managed path) the issue is not there anymore. So this workaround has the negative side-effect that updates (to comm site on root) are not applied. Better not use this.

    Like

    1. Hi Bastiaan, thanks for the feedback, not sure about the top navigation issue you’re having as I’m not using that feature. But I can confirm that the regular navigation in #comsite to other sites is not broken, all elements works as expected, all my sites are modern sites, either Team or Com site.

      Like

  14. I got a Communication Site to load under my primary tenant (thank you). However, the search function at the top seems to be completely broken. Not sure if the template export/import accounts for mapping that search bar to the right place. My end goal is to have a modern communication site that can search *all* of my tenant sharepoint content by default.

    Like

    1. Hi Jeremy as far as I the search box that we see is by default like that, the default place i’ve seen with a search scope all is probably the SharePoint home page or classic search center, drop me an email and maybe we can work it out, cheers

      Like

  15. To me it feels like Site-Designs and Site-Scripts are the way to go here – maybe this was the end goal for Microsoft to allow people to create Communication sites based on that same template. Reading the following guide it seems appropriate to me – I just need to confirm the correct TemplateID for a communication site:

    https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/dev/declarative-customization/get-started-create-site-design#use-the-new-site-design

    Like

  16. I just followed this solution and it worked great. Few gotchas for me was using powershell set the denyaddandcustomepage 0 flag on the site I was trying to save the template from AND on the root once it was recreated. I kept getting an Access Denied error until I set that flag on the root site.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. We discussed this with Vesa from the SharePoint engineering team.

    They know it is a problem and so.ething they are working on. It is technically a hack and modifying the root to a comminications site is not supported at this time.

    He says there are technical reasons why you should not do it as root has some special config which he could not go into. Setting this as a comms site may well break in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. A simple alternative is to a redirect on the root site to the communication site. The best redirect would be a ‘link to a document’ linking to that comm site homepage. This on you set as the default homepage of the root. Eh voila.

    Like

  19. I have a classic root in a government space that cannot be changed. I can build communication site collections off that root. So “https://******.sharepoint.com/sites/home” is created as a communication site and much more attractive than building a modern page off the root of a classic site. But now I want the communication site to be the root at “https://******.sharepoint.com” without latency on the redirect.

    I just opened a question here, but not much response:
    https://sharepoint.stackexchange.com/questions/248101/redirect-from-the-root-home-to-a-collaboration-site-home-in-sp-online

    Any help would be much appreciated!

    Like

    1. Hi Mate, MS just released news this week at Ignite 2018 that they will support native converting of root site to #Comsite, we don’t need to use this workaround in the future. Watch our for release announcement in your tenant. “Soon… was all they said”.

      Like

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