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Confusion with Site Definition & Site Pages

Posted by Jean Paul on February 17, 2016

One of my co-worker raised a concern over editing Site Pages in Advanced Mode. This is regarding my previous article Sleek Way Of Developing Fully Immersive SharePoint Pages.

The argument raised was “We should not edit Site Definition” due to the reasons mentioned in the article here. Please refer the section on it.


I would like to clarify this here as more people would be thinking the same.


Site Definition vs. Site Pages

The core point of clarification is Site Definition is different from Site Pages.

Site Definition consists of:

· Web Parts

· Workflows

· XML Files

· Lists & Libraries

So Site Definition is a Package of Solution.

For example, Let us take example of Publishing Site Definition.

Publishing Site Definition

As you know Publishing Site Definition provides the following advantages:

· An author can create content using a page template

· Content will be reviewed & approved by Approvers

· Content gets Published

To incorporate all these functionalities, the Publishing Site Definition has:

· Built-in Permission Groups

· Built-in Workflows

· Built-in Pages

· Built-in Code

So, if we are going & modifying the above Site Definition using SharePoint Designer Advanced Mode editing, we are risking the following:

· Future updates to above Site Definition will not be applied

· Future SharePoint upgrades can break functionalities


Normal Mode Editing is done through Browser & only the content in Web Part Zone is edited. Advanced Mode Editing is done through SharePoint Designer Advanced Mode. Here the page area which cannot be accessible in Normal Mode Editing too is editable. This causes detaching from Site Definition formats.

Our Case

Coming back to our case of Site Pages, we are clearly not breaking any functionality. Following are the reasons:

· We are just using a Site Page & not a Site Definition

· We do not use any Site Definition features like Workflows, Approval etc.

· We are inheriting a Standalone ASPX page with less minimal SharePoint tags

The following link too recommends Advanced Mode editing.


The conclusion is we can continue with Advanced Mode editing of our Standalone ASPX Pages.


You can also use notepad for creating the above Site Page. No special requirement for SharePoint Designer.



In this article we have clarified a Confusion scenario with Site Definition & Site Pages.

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