We have had sites built with custom branding, webparts placed and defined (Summary Links Web Part for example). There are 4 different sites in total. I was then tasked with turning those sites into a Templates that can then be used to create a new site
(or site collection for a couple of them) that is identical to the proof of concept. After some reading and trying a few different scenarios, I ended up creating the sites as Site Definitions. The Site Definition's ONET.XML was copied from the STS Site Definition.
Then within each ONET.XML I added any site features that were activated within it's respected proof of concept site as well as web features. I then added a feature in a seperate solution for each template that adds the webparts to pages and any custom lists.
Another feature in that solution was an Activation Receiver that set custom search settings and set which master page to use. I then created a branding solution that contains all the different masterpages, page layouts, images etc. In each ONET.XML, the Branding
Solution feature was added to webfeatures and the templates related configuration and default content features were added as well. All that appears to work fine and I was able to create site collections and sites that matched the proof of concept sites on
The next step was the entire structure of what the production site sh
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