SharePoint 2010 Cross-site collection navigation menu

One of the few things I was really hoping would be fixed in SP 2010 was the ability to have a navigation system that incorporated security-trimmed links from multiple site collections.
In SharePoint 2007, you can only have a common site navigation across a single site collection. As a site collection is the smallest possible database "bucket" you can store information in, you need to make sure that sites that will contain lots of content are located in their own site collection – which means if you have a team site generating lots of docs, images & / or videos (such as a training site) you have to fudge the menu system. Most people using an intranet or internet site expect to have a common menu system across a single hierarchy, so this restriction degrades the user experience.
Unfortunately this has not been improved upon in SP 2010, which is a real shame… but there is hope. In 2010, you can create your own service application. Using this architecture, it would be possible to create a custom Service Application called "Common Menu" that gets applied to the Web Application and replaces the existing menu system for all site collections within the web application with a common menu. I’m punching above my weight here though – I don’t know how to code, and this would require a bit of development. However, it would be a sellable product for a third party – which is part of the reason the designed the Sevice App architecture that way in the first place.
Some of the issues that would have to be overcome:
Ensure Security Trimming
How to make it efficient – cache with configurable timeout / rebuild cycle?
How to hook into security and site hierarchy changes – Site hierarchy ok, SP security ok, AD Security Groups much harder
How to disable it from inheriting within specific site collections (so you could still have an uncluttered menu system where people "work")
There’s probably others too…
Maybe we’ll see this widget come from someone like Bamboo Solutions? 🙂

About Brad Saide

I'm a SharePoint consultant. I'm also slowly going bald, seem to have a permanent spare tyre around my waist and enjoy socialising with friends over a beer or 10. The last 2 may possibly be related. Started working with SharePoint when the first version was in limited beta release (participated in the Technology Adoption Program while at Woolworths) and have been committed to the adoption of the technology as a business enabler ever since.
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8 Responses to SharePoint 2010 Cross-site collection navigation menu

  1. Dave says:

    Brad, This is really sad news 😦 I have been trying to find out if SP 2010 supports cross-site navigation with something as simple as a tick box!! This now means i might aswell carry on trying to get SP 2007 cross-site navigation working. Can anyone help on this? I keep reading about "MapProvider Class" and XML but can’t find out where to do this?!?! This is so annoying for something that should be so simple. I really need to get on with this project and this is really holding me up as I need to get this sorted before i design the hierarchy of the site! HELP!!

  2. Clarke says:

    Dave,I’ve shown how it can be done in MOSS by creating a feature, making a couple of changes to the default.master and leveraging an XML file. You can see the steps on my blog at It isn’t 2010 but maybe it’ll help point you in the right direction.Jay

  3. Brad says:

    Thanks for the feedback Clarke. I was more hoping that there was a "switch it on" style approach with security trimming. We’re working on a feature currently that may form the codebase for this type of solution. We’ll have to see…

  4. Ethan says:

    Infowise has a product that will do the job, including the security trimming.You can check it out on Infowise web site:

  5. Brad says:

    Very Nice Eitan – looks like just what I’m trying to describe. Well done!

  6. dan says:

    We’ve been developing a Document Library Explorer solution at which supports cross site collection navigation. The intent for this web part was to aggregate documents saved in different site collections, such as Knowledge Base libraries, or multi site collection team documents. Security trimming is partially supported so far. If there is interest we can fully implement it. Also if please leave any suggestions for further improvements that you may want to see.

  7. Brad Saide says:

    Hmm, well I was more thinking of a solution that replaced the Site navigation menu, not a x-site collection content query web part which is not too difficult to build up (at least the devs that work for me have already done it once 🙂 ).
    Thanks for the info tho…

  8. dan says:

    Brad, you are correct. Although the CQWP is not cross site collection OOB, you can do some coding to build your own or use the BCS with data sources. The LVWP would work OOB since it accepts urls as a parameter. This would solve the data view issue. The navigation part is a tad more complex, but still doable.

    The QueryT Document Library Explorer web part is similar, with the advantage of combining a customizable navigational tree view on the left side and a list view on the right side. Also in order to improve the whole user experience the post-backs were replaced with bare bone jQuery+Ajax calls.

    Once you have the business logic to deal with cross site collection queries in your code (or web part), conceivably you can add some jQuery on top to display new navigational items in the site navigation area.

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