HOW TO: Change an invalid page layout in SharePoint 2007

2010 12 02 MV to All: This morning I was asked to provision 2 new SP2007 publishing websites based on a client’s existing site template (created by Save Site As Template); historically lots of people have trouble template-ing publishing sites, and this client was no exception. What happens is that during the provisioning process a new (publishing) website is indeed created… but in this case the default.aspx page had an associated page layout which was declared “invalid” by SharePoint during the rendering process.

The result? one of those horrible error pages that make it looks like your entire system is crashing down ’round you ears…

The fix? The site DOES exist, so key admin-related pages to which you need access ARE available – the “fix” is just cleverly navigating through SP2007’s URLs to get at this admin pages, and eventually to the PageSettings.aspx page (WITH all the necessary query string parameters correctly loaded) so that you can set the page layout to something VALID, thereby permitting the default.aspx page to render successfully…

Here are the steps:

1. CREATE a new website, using a Publishing Site Template which you’ve already created;
2. => You’ll eventually get a horrible error message saying this new site’s default.aspx page has an invalid page layout (that’s the problem we’re trying to remedy);
3. TRICK #1: MANUALLY EDIT the URL to browse to your new site, but to /_layouts/viewlsts.aspx;
4. BROWSE to /Pages folder; choose Edit Properties of the (faulty) default.aspx page;
5. TRICK #2: CHANGE the Content Type to “Welcome Page”;
6. => You’ll still ONLY have access to merely the “Edit Properties” menu item for the not-yet-fixed default.aspx page… but you’re on the way toward fixing it;
7. TRICK #3: CHOOSE Site Actions > Manage Content & Structure;
8. NAVIGATE to your new website > Pages, and hover over the default.aspx page… but now you get a NEW menu item “Edit Page Properties” !!!
9. NOTICE the invalid page layout will be clearly displayed in red ink 🙂 ;
10. CHANGE to any page layout which is valid – in my case, Welcome Page with summary links works nicely 🙂 ;
11. NOTICE the change in the displayed page layout thumbnail; SAVE your changes
12. CLICK on the now-fixed default.aspx page from inside Manage Content & Structure…
13. => You should now have a healthy-but-UN-published default.aspx page. PUBLISH IT.
14. => You now have cleverly snuck around in SharePoint’s ventilation ducts to get into the admin pages without actually having to go through the gah-busted (technical term) default.aspx page. Nicely done.

Here’s a gallery of thumbnails with those very steps:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kudos to my esteemed colleague Bart “Bartman” Peeters, who learned this technique several years ago, and only recently passed it onto me. Any beer sent to me should come in pairs, so that one bottle goes to Bartman.




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