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Experience Sitecore! | StackOverflow: Need clarity on Sitecore template values, standard values, and branch templates

Experience Sitecore!

Martin Miles on Sitecore

StackOverflow: Need clarity on Sitecore template values, standard values, and branch templates

One more question from a developer startin with Sitecore, who had a point of confusion between templates, standard values and branch templates (link to the original question on StackOverflow).

When creating a data template: what is the difference between just filling in the values on the template, and adding standard values? Don't both become default values whenever you create an instance of that template? If I want to make sure each item of a template has a certain value, which should I use and why? When is it appropriate to just fill out the value on the template, as opposed to adding standard values?
Branch templates: I need to create a group of items whenever a single item is created, and it sounds like branch templates are perfect for this. However, I recently read that instantiated items from a branch template stop inheriting the moment they're created.

For example, I have a branch template called Store, and create an item based off of this called Walmart. I then add features to the Store by adding new items, but Walmart doesn't get those changes? If this is problematic to my situation. I really need to keep all instantiated items in line with the branch template, and give them the new features. If my understanding is correct, how can I get around this?

I decided to answer and it seems to be a pretty good explanation:

Templates. For mature .NET developer it would make sense to think about templates as about C# classes - they define the data structure for the items that would be created on that particular template. Like classes in C# they may be inherited, but unlike in C# multiple inheritance is supported with them. Official documentation on templates is quite descriptive and handy:

Standard Values is a kind of blueprint prototype item for your template. You create some default values that will be auto-filled as soon as you create an item of that particular template. Standard Values item is a child item of a template definition item. You may also use tokens - dynamic values like $name, $parentname, $date, $time, $now, $id and others (you may also create your own tokens). Please read more about standard values:

enter image description here

Branch templates allow you to re-produce a sub-tree on instantiation, not just one item, but also some children (and children of those children) as you specify in branch template itself. As on screenshot below, whatever is selected within red frame will be created as a result of branch template instantiation:

enter image description here

Also, Sitecore items can't inherit from values set in a branch template. They will always default to the values in the original template's standard values. This is a limitation of branches (as described in this SO question:

As far as I understood your case, you should have a branch template called Store (somewhere underneath /sitecore/templates/Branches) and within that item reproduce exact structure that will be created on when template is used to replicate into a new branch in your content. Again, you may use tokes all around branch template (at any level) - they would be replaced with actual values. Likewise, when you use your Store branch template to create Walmart, you may auto set its display name to Walmart by using $name token.

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