SharePoint content deployment woes

A little Google searching for issues related to MOSS content deployment will quickly reveal this as a buggy (to be kind) SharePoint feature. I personally have had a lot of frustration trying to use it. The good news is that the Infrastructure Update released in July 2008 has solved many of the content deployment problems I experienced. Though it is still not without issues, content deployment will now at least copy the stuff from one farm to another more-or-less reliably. We have found that for new pages or other objects, you may still need to go into the target site afterwards and tweak a few things, so always check the new items on the target site immediately after a content deployment. Updated items, e.g. content changes, don’t seem to have any issues thus far.

Here are the links to the Microsoft KBs for the updates. Note that as MOSS is based on WSS, you’ll need to apply both updates, first for WSS then for MOSS (you will see this in the documentation).

WSS 3.0 (Windows SharePoint Services) Infrastructure Update

MOSS (Microsoft Office SharePoint Services) Infrastructure Update

I was directed to these updates after breaking down and calling Microsoft for help. :) Out of that conversation came a couple of other things:

  • You should always create the target site collection with the Collaboration/Blank template. I saw mixed information on this on various blogs; some recommended creating a truly empty site collection using an stsadm command (there is no GUI equivalent). I found after applying the updates the Collaboration/Blank template seemed to work fine, but here is the stsadm command just in case:
    stsadm -o createsite -url -ownerlogin login -owneremail email
  • stsadm -o export and stsadm -o import is equivalent to doing a content deployment from Central Admin. The advantage of stsadm is that it creates fairly detailed yet oddly nebulous logs in good old text files, which can help pinpoint problems a bit easier than wading through Central Admin screens to view errors. Either way, the information appears equivalent to me and I suspect Central Admin just captures the information from the same logs stsadm generates.
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