Which master pages can you edit in Project Server 2007?

A recent support incident showed that some of our documentation didn’t make it clear just what you can and can’t do with master pages.  There are two different types of sites in Project – PWA (the Project Web Access sites) and PWS (the project workspace sites).  For the PWA sites you are limited to making use of the default.master we already supply to give any extra pages the same look and feel, but you are not able to edit these default.master pages.  We also block SharePoint Designer from opening these sites – so you cannot use this tool against a PWA site.  You can however use SharePoint Designer against the PWA workspace sites – and edit the default.master.

The reason for this difference is that it would be easy to break our application by editing our pages – and this would not make life good for a support engineer (and indeed for the customers who manage to break things!).  Also remember that even though the workspaces can be modified you shouldn’t add extra instances lists of the specific project type lists of issues, risks, dependencies and documents.  Details from these default lists feed through to the reporting database – if there are duplicates then this will break the workspace reporting feature.

This topic is covered at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms504195.aspx and this highlights another great way you can add to the sum of human knowledge on MSDN.  BruceVB added some community content based on his experience – and our own Jim Corbin has added a further comment.  Although I wouldn’t necessarily agree that our original document is incorrect – it is certainly not complete in telling you what you can and cannot do.  But even being able to use our default.master on new pages does make it easier to build custom Project Web Access solutions – even if you cannot edit the default.master.

If you do try and update the PWA default.master through Site Actions, Site Settings then you may see the error message "The enablesessionstate attribute on the page directive is not allowed in this page." 

You would need to reset to the site definition to get the site working again. 

Please do use the community content features on MSDN – it certainly does help us to understand how we can improve our content – and thanks again BruceVB for bringing this particular problem to our attention.

Comments (15)

  1. G-Man says:

    How do I customize the look and feel of PWA. I am trying to provide Project server in a hosted environment with customization. I would like to display the custom links in the LHS select pane also would like to hide some of the existing link. Some of the links may not be applicable in my custom scenario.

    Could you let me know if the above can be accomplished.

    thanks for your help in advance

  2. Hi G-Man,

    Quick Launch, under the Look and Feel section on the Server Settings page will allow adding/changing the LHS to remove some of the options.

    Best regards,


  3. Roberto says:

    Hi Brian,

    I have tried hard to update the master page on the PWA site, after reading your post, I realized that it is not possible. How do I change the master page for the PWS site, Do replace the default.master with my master page file or is there a configuration I can make, so that the PWS can point to my master page file.


  4. Ben McInerney says:

    Well, what the Project Server team have done in regards to "protecting" PWA from the developer is ridiculous and counter to every reason for using the SharePoint paradigm.

    Why would you think that a company would not want to brand the site like every other client-facing SharePoint site.  It beggars belief!

    Furthermore, that very ‘protection’ has now rendered my PWA (development) site useless, with a “File Not Found” message after attempting to change default.master page.

    Your documentation is very misleading in cases, so much so it lead me to believe that although you couldn’t select your own master page, you could in fact modify the supplied one.

    Why allow the user (Developer) to see these pages (default.master, DefaultLayout.aspx &etc) (via http://{server}/PWA/_Layouts/ChangeSiteMasterPage.aspx) check them out, download them and THEN when attempting to reload them, immediately give the unrecoverable “File Not Found” site message. (I presume it deleted the original default.master but couldn’t complete the upload of the new version, because you have kept the PWA site safe from nasty developers uploads.)

    Nice one EPM Team!

  5. Sorry you have had this bad experience Ben,

    Hopefully you have already found that you can reset to the default to get your site working again.  

    I can see both sides of this; as a support engineer allowing free reign on the page could cause us some issues – but responsible customers/partners could be given more responsibility.  As for hiding the option – I’m not sure that is possible.

    Best regards,


  6. Pete Arkell says:

    Hi Brian,

    I have almost overcome the restrictions with the PWA interface by using web parts.  Unfortunately the option to edit pages is not available in some of the pages like risks and issues, resource availability, all server admin pages, etc.  Is there any way to edit these pages and add web parts?


  7. Hi Pete,  

    I am not aware of any way to change these as they are not web part pages originally.  You might be able to create a new web part page with the relevant pieces – and your additional web parts.  Adding a quick link for the new page would get it on the left nav bar.

    Best regards,


  8. Ray Letts says:

    Thanks again for good info Brian. You warn against modifying the pwa site page; does this include creating workflow with sharepoint designer or Visual studio? I would think so but just wanted to clarify.

    We have someone who has lost their ability to modify some workflow on an pwa site, even though they created it and others can modify it.

    Makes me wonder how to tell if the pwa site is corrupted.

    thanks for any tips!


  9. Hi Ray,

    Just to be clear on terminology a PWA site is the application page with menus etc. and the workspaces are actually PWS sites – and I think it is the latter you are referring to.  You cannot edit PWA sites as you are blocked – but editing PWS sites should work just fine and certainly adding workflow should be OK.  Not sure what has happened in your scenario – probably need a few more details, and if it gets deep a support incident might be the best approach.

    Best regards,


  10. komala says:


      I want to Customize PWA master page.because ,i need to delete breadcrumb from the master page.

    If any one knows give suggestion.Thanks in advance.

  11. Hi komala,

    We don’t support doing this – but if anyone else is reading and has an "unsupported" offering then feel free to respond.

    Best regards,


  12. Pinto Jacob says:

    How can i reset to site definition as long as I cannot open the pwa page, since while opening it is giving an error as "The enablesessionstate attribute on the page directive is not allowed in this page" . Pls help????

  13. John says:

    How do you edit the text in email alert messages sent by PS Server.  I understand that there are xml files that are editable, but I can’t find them.

  14. Hi John, there is an article in the SDK called Customize E-Mail for Project Server Notifications. The SDK is available is from http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=2672f6f9-7028-4b30-99a2-18cb1eed1abe&DisplayLang=en.

    Best regards,


  15. Azeem says:

    Hi Brian,

    I just modified the PWA master page and started to get the error "The enablesessionstate attribute on the page directive is not allowed in this page". I restored the old version of default master page and the PWA default page is still throwing the same error. I also tried to reset the default page with site definition, still no luck.

    I have logged a support call with Microsoft but I would appreciate if you can tell me your expert opinion on this or if you have any suggestions, please let me know.



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