Too many times I have been asked to provide a SharePoint portal solution with little time for preparation and customization. When you are starved for time and have to demonstrate a prototype solution to a client, you are pretty much left with the out-of-the-box SharePoint features. Most of the time, that just isn’t custom enough for the client.

The biggest problem with this is that the View and Edit forms for items in SharePoint are simply not customizable outside the SharePoint designer. For libraries and lists, the View page is determined to show too much irrelevant information, and you have to rely on the scarce amount of form validation (required fields) and zero form manipulation on the Edit page. This had caused me to either spend more time on prototypes than I preferred, or forced me to demonstrate more basic features than I was really comfortable.

And then I discovered a trick. Because pretty much all SharePoint pages are built of modular Web Parts, you can add the following to the URL the any page and force it in to Edit mode:

&ToolPaneView=2

That little trick pops up the Web Part tool pane and puts the page in familiar “Edit” mode. Not only can you add standard SharePoint Web Parts to Edit and View forms, but you can use the Content Editor Web Part (inserted and hidden at the bottom of the form) to add JavaScript enclosed in <script> tags for DOM modification. This is great for hiding fields, providing more advanced client-side form validation, and¬†general branding on pages that were previously unbrandable. And it is all done straight through your browser.

This great for a prototype or demo site but be careful though, as Microsoft does not officially support this on Form pages. For a full-fledged project do it the right way in SharePoint Designer. But if you are asked to build a site demo rapidly and need a little more than the basics, this is the way to go! It works in MOSS as well as WSS. Enjoy!

Need to test the height of this box....

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