Application templates are out-of-the-box custom scenarios tailored to address the needs and requirements of specific business processes or sets of tasks in organizations of any size. They can be applied to a task, such as managing a help desk or tracking a marketing campaign, to easily create a dedicated Web-based application for a more efficient and effective way of working.
While application templates can be used to solve particular business needs, they also provide a starting point for partners and developers looking to build deeper SharePoint-based solutions. The templates make use of Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 capabilities and are compatible with Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007 to help make customization easier.
Application Templates for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 are separated into two groups, site admin templates and server admin templates, providing the right combination of integration with the platform and ease-of-deployment within an organization.
As Chris has blogged about, one of the things we're working on for TFS Orcas is support for WSS 3.0 - it's a huge leap over 2.0 in many areas, and we're hoping people will really like it (especially as we're willing to install it for you during out setup!).
When I initially heard about the "Fantastic 40" templates, I was excited because now the effort to make a WSS install more useful for a particular customer will be much simpler. Customers with WSS 3.0 can pick the template they consider the closest to their need, load it up in the SharePoint Designer, tweak as they need, and they're good to go! You can see demos of the 20 site admin templates by clicking on the template names in the left navbar.
In particular, even outside of the TFS space, I've had situations in the past like my sister-in-law wanting to setup a SharePoint site for a girl scout troop, a friend wanting to set one up for his son's boy scout troop, or a former boss wanting to set one up for his daughter's soccer team. Now they can get most of the way there with very little effort!
Even in the TFS space, everyone customizes TFS in the ways they need to, and it's exciting to see that efforts by the WSS team are helping lower the required effort as we move forward.
BTW, if the templates sound exciting, make sure to keep an eye on the Community Kit for SharePoint project as well! Their User Group Edition (UGE) demo site is looks very impressive! I'd certainly encourage any TFS groups out there to consider it as a starting place for their own sites 🙂
nit-pick-of-the-day: with my install of Microsoft Office Communicator 2005, if I have a lot of conversation windows open and want to close them all, I right-click on the group in my task bar and choose "Close Group". But there's (apparently) a bug in Communicator handling that situation. Today I had 16 total in that group (15 conversation windows and Communicator itself). I had to do the Close Group 5 times (well, technically 4 times and one Close), as the number of windows dropped to 8, then 4, then 2, then 1, then finally 0. See a pattern?