Expression Web and Broken Dynamic Web Templates

This is written with the assumption that you are working with your site on your hard drive and NOT editing the site live on the server.

The question occasionally comes up in various Expression Web groups and lists over what to do when pages with a DWT attached do not update when changes are made to the DWT. How can you tell if all the pages are updating? Make a change to your DWT, then save it. You should receive a notice of the number of files attached to the DWT and asked if you want to update them. Click Yes and the pages are updated. You should then get a notice like the one shown below.

Screenshot updated dwt attached pages.

If all pages have updated, the numbers should match. If they do not, not all pages have been updated with your changes.

Manage websites using hidden metadata files in Microsoft Expression Web

Microsoft Expression Web uses metadata to maintain the cross-page dependencies that are required for some Expression Web features. Dynamic Web templates are one of the features along with hyperlink management features and certain site reports.

Certain options in the Site Settings and Properties dialog boxes are unavailable if your site does not have metadata. In order to use these features, you need to add metadata to your site.

Metadata is stored in special folders which are hidden by default. This prevents you from accidentally deleting, changing, or moving them. The folder _vti_cnf folder contains information about every file, such as which links are within the file. The _vti_pvt folder stores all of the configuration information for the site.

To check to see if metadata is turned on, go to Site > Site Settings > General tab. Check to see if the box next to the option ‘Manage the web site using hidden metadata files’ is checked. If it is not, do so now.

Screenshot hidden metadata files option.

Expression Web uses metadata to store information about:

  • Certain file properties such as page title and file size (the General tab on the Properties dialog box).
    View Screenshot
  • Summary comments (the Comments box on Summary tab on the Properties dialog box).
    View Screenshot
  • Certain website reports. NOTE: Reports that do not require metadata include All Files, Recently Changed Files, and Older Files.
  • Pages which are attached to a Dynamic Web Template.

You can easily add metadata to or remove metadata from your site. You can also refresh the metadata and resynchronize the cross-page dependencies that metadata supports by using the Recalculate Hyperlinks command from the Tools menu. Recalculating your site metadata is recommended any time you add metadata to your site.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You cannot remove metadata from a site stored under My Web Sites on your computer.

If the above does not work, some other things you may try to get all of your attached pages to update:

Pat Geary
Copyright © 2012 Pat Geary of Expression Web Tutorials and Templates, All Rights Reserved
Tutorial Written January 2012