Changing the default page of a site
Recently I had a requirement to create a new site to replace a page that we had been using. Fine. No problem. Piece of cake. However, the layout had to match the existing page exactly. Ummm....fine....no, wait....what does that page look like again? Turns out the page we had been using was based on the Blank Web Part Page (with a header, footer, right side bar, and some other rows) and did I mention that the page template itself was modified to add a web part zone down the left side to match the one on the right? OK, this gets a bit trickier. Turns out that none of the site templates use's this page by default.
I suppose I could create a new site template that matches the page exactly but being who I am (AKA lazy) and being under a rather tight deadline I decided to look for a different solution and luckily I found one. The Welcome Page setting. You may have noticed this on the home page under Site Settings (click Site Actions, Site Settings, Modify All Site Settings and it is under the Look and Feel column). Well that is perfect.....almost. Turns out that this does not show up on most site templates by default. So close and yet so far.
Luckily I happened to remember that there is a feature that can be enabled on each site called Office SharePoint Server Publishing. Guess what that does? Right, it allows you to change the Welcome Page. It also does some other things like give you check-in/check-out/versioning of your pages but that is just a nice side effect =)
Once I turned that one for my site I was able to copy the existing page over to my site and then set the Welcome Page to that copied page. Worked liked a charm (after changing a few hard-coded links. Geez, what freaking lazy developer put those in there!)