Right, I’ve had to explain this to various co-workers, and it is fundamental to how SharePoint works, so here we go with how pages work in SharePoint.
Let’s start with the hardest part. There are many types of page in SharePoint, and they’re all referred to as pages. You’ve got:
- Normal pages. These just live in a site; they don’t exist in a Library, they are specific to that site, and they don’t require the publishing features. An example is the Default.aspx of a Team Site (though NOT of a collaboration or publishing site – see below).
- Publishing pages. These are a special type of page. They require the Publishing Features of MOSS, and so aren’t in WSS. Publishing pages have a content type, and always exist in the Pages library of a site.
- Application pages. These are administrative style pages, and exist in the _layouts directory. They are common to all sites/site collections across the entire farm. Consequently, these files should not be changed (though you can add new ones if you want)
- Forms pages. These are a bit different – they’re the pages for viewing and manipulating items in a list. They exist in the hidden Forms folder in the list itself.
- Master pages. Not really pages, but more like a framework that other pages can put their content into. They do have default content though, and this is often used for things like navigation, the Site Actions menu, etc..
There are other complexities, but this is enough to be getting on with for now. Let’s look at each of these page types, starting with Master pages.