When to use the Portal Site Connection

In the Site Settings – Site Collection Administration, there is an option for configuring the Portal site connection. I have always wondered what this was for and the online documentation does not really cover what it does.

A recent whitepaper from Microsoft,  ‘Information architecture in Office SharePoint Server’ (http://technet2.microsoft.com/Office/en-us/library/902bbfaa-d6cc-4e8b-a1f5-6215168f47681033.mspx ) does give a good example of how it might be used.

For our deployment I’ll show the following example. We will have a site collection for each project site. Each of these site collections will exist under a managed path called ‘/project/’. For those of you that are interested I am choosing to use site collections over subsites mainly as a method of keeping the content databases at a manageable size. (Our company has about 10,000 projects on the go at any point in time.) The disadvantage in this design is that site collections for projects can appear isolated and difficult to navigate back to the root site collection.

So on each site collection (I have added this to the site template) I have set the portal site connection to the root site collection home page. As you can see from the following image, in the top left hand corner it is showing a bread crumb trail back to the root site collection.


The other way I could have provided a link back to the root site collection would be to add a link to the ‘Top Link Bar’ settings also under Site settings. This would provide an additional tab next to the ‘Home’ tab in the picture above. I think that the Portal Site Collection option is better as it provides a context of the root site collection being ‘above’ the project site collection and allows me to save the top link bar tabs for subsites of the project or links to other sites, servers, etc.

Posted in howto, sharepoint
12 comments on “When to use the Portal Site Connection
  1. Ram Kaushik says:

    Nice post that clarified the use of this somewhat abstruse feature – thanks! Additional question: I guess this approach only links back one level. I am also leaning towards site collections rather than sites for the excellent reasons you mentioned plus independent security settings. But then, navigation deeper down in a site hierarchy becomes difficult, right? Bread crumb cannot be configured multiple levels..? Thanks for any insight..

  2. Gavin Adams says:

    Hi Ram.
    no it wont build a bread crumb trail as you go deeper.
    Of course there is the standard bread crumb trail as you navigate within the site just underneath the top link bar.
    I always thought that between the top link bar and the standard bread crumb trail that would be enough to navigate within a site collection. Then use the Portal site connection for that very purpose to move out of the site collection to the root site or top level portal.

    I guess the other option with the portal site connection is to point it to the sites directory if you are using one of those in the root site collection.

    Thanks for your post and for reading my blog.

  3. Eva Rossa says:

    Hi Gavin

    Do you know a way of enabling this for every MySite creation? Seems like each user will have to this manually via their own site. Would be nice if this link is added automatically for when MySite is created? Or even better this could be re-populated to existing MySite users so that we don’t need to send instructions to every existing users?

    Please let me know


  4. Mohammed Mehmood Hussain says:

    Great Post Gavin,
    It really help me a lot. I was bit confused portal site connection is not visible since i m the owner of site not an site collection admin.One has to be Site collection admin to make use of this option.

    Mohammed Mehmood Hussain

  5. Jeremy Williams says:

    Eva- To configure this for NEW My Sites, go to your ‘mysite’. Then strip out the URL leading you to your site. (i.e. if MySite is http://www.mysite.mycompany.com/jeremy; strip it down to http://www.mysite.mycompany.com/) Add “_layouts/settings.aspx. You’ll be presented with the familiar Site Settings menu; set the Portal Site Connection, and you’re good to go. For existing site, you’ll have to enable it individually on each site.

    As another note with this feature; when using it on a WSS3 only install of SharePoint, the Add to ‘My Links’ button will appear under the Action menu for your libraries and lists.

  6. Shola Salako says:

    Interesting post, Gavin! I use the Portal Site Connection feature a lot, and like you, I use site collections over sub-sites in order to separate content databases and increase data recovery times.

    Question for you: do you know of a way to programmatically add portal site connections on a bunch of existing site collections? Also, I am thinking of creating master pages that would be applied to various future site collections: can I programmatically add the portal site connections in the master page code?

    Thanks in advance and best of regards,


  7. Oktay Sert says:

    Thanks for post Gavin. For multiple portal sites (more than 2 🙂 ) lots of people using global navigation or links web part. Portal connection is realy not well-know subject.

  8. Sameer Dhoot says:

    I am trying to do the same thing and i want to do it in a template level and only when Root Site is being created. I tried to use the ExecuteURL node of onet.xml but it only works for sub webs and not root sites. What would other way of doing it. I was thinking od Site Provisioning handler in the configuration elements of webtemp.xml file. Can you on anyone guide me to a good example on this.


    In order to set the Portal site collection for all site collections i used the code written by Bill Baer here http://blogs.technet.com/wbaer/archive/2007/07/23/programmatically-modifying-portal-site-connection-properties.aspx


  9. Kim says:

    Is there any way to make the portal site connection relative? Different urls for the Intranet and Extranet and navigation breaks for the external users.

    • gavinadams says:

      Hi Kim,
      it’s pretty much what you see is what you get.

      I do like the idea of doing different links for each zone though.
      That’s a great idea. I’m going to chat with one of our developers and see what he thinks.


  10. […] I always wondered what’s this link and how can I use it. I also found there’s a good blog and article here. […]

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