Site Structure in SharePoint

Every once in a while, when I am explaining something about technology to one of my clients, it seems as though it might be of general use, and I turn it into a blog post.  This is basic stuff to anyone who knows much about SharePoint, but maybe it will be useful to someone.

Here’s some information about how a typical SharePoint site is structured:

  • The “folder” for the site lives on the server at http://servername/sitename.  Like folders on your hard disk, sites can be embedded, like http://servername/subfolder1/subfolder2/sitename.  It’s not really a “folder”, but a virtual one; for all intents and purposes, you can think of it as a folder, though.
  • The site’s default page is default.aspx.  This is what the user sees if they navigate to http://servername/sitename.  The developer can also build other pages at that level to do other things.
  • Any lists that are part of the site are contained in a subfolder called Lists, so something like: http://servername/sitename/Lists/listname.  Think of a list as a table in Excel (which it very closely resembles, even under the covers).
  • Every list has a set of pages that give the user access to it in different ways, based on the security settings.  The default pages are:
    • AllItems.aspx – Shows the user all of the items (items are rows) in the list.  This page can allow the user to access multiple views of the same content (different sorts, different subsets by filtering, etc.).
    • DispForm.aspx – Displays a single item to the user.
    • EditForm.aspx – Allows the user to edit a single item.
    • NewForm.aspx – Lets the user create a new item.
  • Depending on the type of list it is, there are other .aspx pages as well.  (Calendars have a calendar.aspx, etc.)

Custom pages that you would develop to interact with a list are, by convention, also stored in the http://servername/sitename/Lists/listname folder.  Frequently, a developer will also develop a page that replaces the functionality of a default page, say DispForm2.aspx to replace DispForm.aspx.  It is considered bad form to edit the default pages directly; one should create a new page that will replace it and change the settings of the list to use the new page instead.

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