What to Do if Expression Web Does Not Update Some of the Files Attached to a DWT

Why aren't some of the linked pages updated when I change a template?

What to Do if Expression Web Does Not Update Some of the Files Attached to a DWT (ie, Template)

by Christopher Heng, thesitewizard.com

Normally, when you change your website design in a Dynamic Web Template (or "DWT" for short) in Expression Web, the web editor automatically updates all the pages derived from that template when you save the modifications. I was asked by a visitor, who had been using Expression Web without problem for many months, why that suddenly stopped happening one day. "My problem," he said, "is that when I now make changes to my site template, only 9 of over two hundred pages that are linked to it are shown as still attached. Why aren't the other pages shown as attached, so that they can be updated when changes are made?"

This article answers that question.

How Information About Files Derived from a Template (DWT) Can Be Lost

In order to work its magic of seeming to know which files are derived from which template, and being able to automatically update all relevant pages whenever your template changes, Expression Web actually saves extra information about each file as you create them.

If you were to open up your local site folder (the copy of your website that is stored on your own computer) in Windows Explorer, and if you have configured Windows to show you all files, even hidden ones, you may see that it has two additional (hidden) folders which you did not manually create, namely, "_vti_cnf" and "_vti_pvt". (Note: you will not see those folders if you have not specifically configured Windows to show you hidden files.)

For each page that exists on your website, a special configuration file of the same name is created in the "_vti_cnf" directory, containing information such as the links in the original file, the DWT file used, and so on. Your DWT file also has its shadow equivalent here. It contains, among other things, a list of all the files that are attached to it (ie, derived from it). Expression Web uses the information saved in these files to keep track of which files it needs to update every time you modify your DWT.

The web editor's user interface calls the files in these hidden directories "metadata files". In fact, it even allows you to disable the generation of such files from its settings.

If Expression Web has lost track of which files are linked to a DWT, one of the following situations (or variations of them) may have happened.

Whichever the case may be, this is a problem that you can fix from within Expression Web. That said, if the underlying cause is due to your hardware failing, or some program that automatically runs behind the scenes and "cleans" the disk, you may end up facing the same situation again in the future.

How to Force Expression Web to Update All Files Linked to a Given Template

  1. Before we force Expression Web to regenerate the "_vti_cnf" data, let's make sure that you have not disabled its ability to create them.

    Start up Expression Web and click "Site" on the menu bar. In the drop down menu that appears, click the "Site Settings..." line.

    A dialog box with the title "Site Settings" will pop up. Make sure that the check box for "Maintain the site using hidden metadata files" has a tick in it. If not, click to put one there, then click the "OK" button.

  2. Click "Tools" from the menu bar, followed by "Recalculate Hyperlinks..." from the drop down menu that appears.

    The "Recalculate Hyperlinks" dialog box will be displayed. Click the "Yes" button in that window. Expression Web will then proceed to recreate the required files. The entire process may take some time, depending on the number of pages you have and how big each file is.

Once this is done, the problem should be fixed. Update your template in the usual way, and save it. Expression Web should now be able to display the correct number of files attached to the DWT and offer to update all of them.

Copyright © 2018-2020 Christopher Heng. All rights reserved.
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