Woah XSLT is huge in SharePoint … Captain obvious strikes again.

Ok so I guess anyone who’s done a decent amount of SharePoint front end work is laughing at me right now (Yip i think i can still hear the giggling through the Inter-ether), but I’ll perservere none the less cause I think the only way you get along in this gig we all share is to admit when you don’t know and to ask a few questions when your peering into what could quite possibly be a bottemless abyss of technical bligle-bleh (new word just trying it out now.

So I started playing around with designer … (waits for laughter to cease). Previous to this I’d avoided the tool (mostly) cause I’d heard and experienced that most of the work you produce with it is hard to replicate/backup due to database (un)ghosting in SP and the fact that you have to work on a live sharepoint instance. Though mostly I imagine it could have been related to me loving my nice familiar VS 2008 tools and not wanting to take a walk in the dark scary forest.

And so we go on …

I updated a NewForm.aspx page using the designer to meet a requirement to add some new fields to the form. Things started to head down hill from there. I’d decided to work on a copy of the current page by saving it as a new file name ‘NewPage_mod01.aspx’ but despite this Designer some how made this new page the live page. This scared the bejezzus out of me as I quickly had live-users asking me why the page was broken (NOT GOOD) 😦

I found I could back track this behaviour by deleting the new pages, at which point SharePoint would go back to using the pre-existing page. I’m yet to find out what lever is making these changes but believe you me I’ll comment if I do find out. So far I’ve found a context menu associated with the SharePoint list that allows you to associate it with specific pages but when I make the changes to this dialogue no changes are reflected on the SharePoint farm 😦

Anyways … the context of all this is that to make the modified changes work I discovered you had to look deep into the question ‘what makes a form in sharepoint’

The answer (so far).

Content Type
PageForm (eg NewForm.aspx).

Inside the NewForm.aspx are things to explore like

  • ListFormWebPart
  • DataFormWebPart
  • ContentEditorWebPart

The DataFormWebPart is in turn broken down into.

  • DataSource (Items from a SPLIst for example)
  • Parameters (like they sound)
  • XSL (New it had to crop up eventually.

I guess the intersting thing I observed (and will continue to investigate) is that XSL/HTML will allow you to pretty much do anything you want to the SharePoint visual/logical layout/presentation. Of course I’m exagerating a little bit and this is likely to be limited by other aspects of the SharePoint architecture and my own technical boundaries, but still to find out how simple it is at its core is somewhat exhilirating.

Sorry for the long post, but I felt there was quite a bit of context for my endpoint.

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