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.