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Site and Application pages

Posted by Clayton James on August 24, 2007

This is a common question I receive:
Why do certain pages in my site display the correct master page, while other pages look totally different?

This is because there are two types of pages in a wss application, site pages and application pages.

Site pages are directly related to a wss site and are customisable for that specific site. They point to the sites master page and live inside the content database.

Application pages are very different. They are physical files on the file system that live in a special directory called Layouts (12\Templates\Layouts). This directory is available to all web applications (in a farm installation) using a relative URL which is created when the web application is created. So this means that all Application pages are available to all sites and each application page is reused by all sites. i.e. The .aspx page at http://moss/_layouts/recyclebin.aspx, http://moss/sites/Sales/_layouts/recyclebin.aspx and http://intranet/_layouts/recyclebin.aspx are all the same .aspx page.

If you customise one of these files then you are changing it for the entire farm. Application pages also have their own master page called application.master that lives in 12\Templates\Layouts.

So, if you are navigating around your site and your sites look and feel suddenly changes then it will be due to you navigating from a site page to an application page (http://moss/_layouts/recyclebin.aspx or http://moss/_layouts/siteesettings.aspx).

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One Response to “Site and Application pages”

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