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Our organization has a large number of centrally managed stores. In order to control security, apply storage templates, etc. we decided to implement a "flat" architecture, using independent site collections for each store. Each store has their own collection of documents, completed forms, etc.

I'm running into a bit of trouble figuring out how to centralize their document templates (EG blank contracts). To accomplish this, I've been looking at using a central site collection for Content Search Web Parts to pull from. This seems to work to deliver links to the content and delivers useful features such as filtering on metadata so only documents relevant to a given store are served to their site collection (EG a store that does not offer a service does not see those contracts.)

Unfortunately, there are some usability issues that arise, such as formatting of the CSWP's results, Office defaulting the save location back to the library for the forms, etc. To this end, I have a couple questions, though I feel they're embarrassingly basic.

  1. Am I barking up the right tree with this design? This seems like an intended use case for the features, but the formatting and usability is very clumsy leading me to think I've managed to stuff a square peg into a round hole.
  2. If this is the best way to design this, are there good ways to work around these usability issues? Is there a way to make them function less like links and more like a remote template library?

I've looked at other mechanisms such as using content type publishing and using a document in a remote site collection as the base template for that type, cross site publishing, etc., but each has its own issues. I'm getting convinced I'm missing something basic and I think I just need a little steering to get back on the right course.

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  • I would have suggested Content Type Hub and Cross Site Publishing, but it seems like you already considered (and discarded) those options? May 2, 2014 at 0:59
  • It's entirely possible that's the right way, and I'm just too green to realize it. With Cross Site Publishing, the issue I had was that since the documents are fundamentally blobs, the search system can't carry the information from the publishing site to the child sites. In the case of the Content Type Hub, I believe I had issues with templates not updating when they were updated on the main site as well as issues with using metadata (state, type of contract, etc.) when used as a content type as well as overhead managing types and libraries. I could be missing something obvious though!
    – user24313
    May 2, 2014 at 15:12
  • I don't disagree in that Cross Site Publishing poses unexpected challenges. I implemented a couple solutions with that architecture, and had to overcome complications. May 3, 2014 at 6:41

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