It’s been a few quiet months here on my blog, as I have been hunkered down, knee deep in XSL and custom SharePoint pages for a client project. All of that work has given me some insights on how those mysterious aspx pages that SharePoint generates actually work, and I thought it would be a good idea to do a series of posts on those mechanics.
One of the key things that I’ve realized is that nothing that SharePoint generates for you is inviolate: it’s just code, and you can make any changes that you’d like. That said, there are certain minimum structures that SharePoint looks for. (I won’t go into that here, but check out Heather Solomon’s information on minimal master pages, etc.)
There are many things that you might want to accomplish that SharePoint just doesn’t give you a way to do from the interface, either in SharePoint itself, or even in SharePoint Designer. Most of the standard Web Part parameters are exposed in those interfaces, but there are even some of those that you might want to tweak in code, and if you find that the default Web Parts aren’t doing it for you, you can create your own, or utilize my favorite tool: the Data View Web Part (DVWP).
The bottom line is that while at first glance it’s all a mystery, like most development arenas once you "get it", you can do pretty much whatever you want to do.
Next up: High Level Page Structure.