Creating site collections using Office Dev PnP provisioning framework fails

Bronze Contributor

For our customers we are provisioning SharePoint sites using the Office Dev PnP materials. For our solutions we prefer provisioning using the Provisioning Schema above using the Office Dev PnP PowerShell commands, therefor we are transferring as much PowerShell code into our provisioning templates. At the moment I am trying to transfer our site collection creation meganism from PowerShell to the provisioning schema, but run into errors.


In the past I was creating Site Collections using the Office Dev PnP New-SPOTenantSite command. On the documentation of the Office Dev PnP Provisioning Schema, located at, I found that also an element regarding Site Collections do exist. Based on the information I've created this small provisioning template:


<?xml version="1.0"?>
<pnp:Provisioning xmlns:pnp="">
  <pnp:Preferences Generator="OfficeDevPnP.Core, Version=2.5.1606.1, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=3751622786b357c2" />
  <pnp:Sequence SequenceType="Synchronous" ID="PROJECT-SEQUENCE">
    <pnp:SiteCollection Language="1043"
                        Title="Test Site from PnP provisioning schema"




When I execute the following command, I'm presented with a NullReferenceException



$O365Cred = Get-Credential ""
Connect-SPOnline -Url "" -Credentials $O365Cred
Apply-SPOProvisioningTemplate -Path .\SiteCollectionTemplate.xml


Apply-SPOProvisioningTemplate : Object reference not set to an instance of an object.
At line:1 char:1
+ Apply-SPOProvisioningTemplate -Path .\SiteCollectionTemplate ...
+ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    + CategoryInfo          : WriteError: (:) [Apply-SPOProvisioningTemplate], NullReferenceException
    + FullyQualifiedErrorId : EXCEPTION,SharePointPnP.PowerShell.Commands.Branding.ApplyProvisioningTemplate

Any idea why this happens?

Is creating site collections also supported using the Office Dev PnP Provisioning Engine?


6 Replies

Hi @Harold van de Kamp,


Are you trying to create the site collection with the apply-SPOProvisioningTemplate?


Apply-SPOProvisioningTemplate expects an existing site collection with a root web to apply the template to. The templates that you apply should be genrated with the same base template used as where you apply the template to.


So for example is your template is generated from a team site then you will need to make sure that the site you are applying the template to has been created for the base team site template.




Pieter is right it seems your site collection is not created yet. did you add code to provision the site collection?

Thank you @Deleted and @Pieter Veenstra


Yes, in the past I already succesfully created site collections using the SharePoint UI or Office Dev PnP New-SPOTenantSite command, before I provisioned the site templates using the Apply-SPOProvisioningTemplate. The Apply-SPOProvisioningTemplate reference an XML-file with the configuration located in a <pnp:ProvisioningTemplate> element. It seems this still is needed.


I'm still wondering: Why does the provisioning schema also includes elements regarding site collections, as described at 

... </pnp:SiteCollection>

@Harold van de Kamp, are you using the New-SPOTenantSite -template switch? Or are you creatig a site collection without applying a base sharePoint template?

Trying to use Pnp provisioning framework to apply site template on existing created site collection or subsite is working.


However, I also could not see any usage of pnp:SiteCollection tag within pnp:Sequence


Wondering how to make use of this using c# code. Any suggestion on this.

You have to understand not all nodes in the schema are implemented in the code. The team asks in a community call which nodes have to be added or removed to come to a version of the template. After that it is still to the community to develop it. 


In may there will be a new Schema 2017/04 if i am not mistaking. Which will have other newer request so if you are interested it may be a idea to become a contributer.