A couple of days ago, a user called and said he couldn’t see his publishing pages on the Quick Launch navigation for his site. He had been able to before, but they had disappeared. Easy enough fix – I’ll just go to the site’s navigation settings page and make the necessary updates, right?

Unknown Error?!

Yes… when trying to open http://portal/site/_layouts/AreaNavigationSettings.aspx, I got this wonderful and informative message: Unknown Error. 

After cursing SharePoint for a moment (it’s a love-hate thing for sure), I did some research and found a really great blog post (http://share-point.blogspot.com/2010/03/moss-unknown-error-when-opening.html). Realizing I had to change the web configuration file in a production environment, I coordinated with the production change control board and waited for approval to proceed with the change.

I read the blog again and saw that it mentions the root cause was a page that was deleted but for some reason, not removed from the navigation. My non-developer brain went into high gear trying to figure out how I could find out what page might have been deleted – Ask the Site Owner? Not available. Site Recycle Bin? Nothing there. Site Collection Recycle Bin? Nothing there either.

How about an Audit Log Report? I ran a report and found that a page had indeed been deleted. I then re-created the page and the error disappeared. I was able to configure the navigation settings for the site to meet the user’s business needs. PROBLEM SOLVED!

No, this isn’t really "debugging" – but I thought I’d share this since it enabled me to solve a production environment issue on a busy Monday without requiring any changes to the server or application. To enable audit log reports, go to your Site Collection settings -> Site Collection Administration-> Site collection audit settings.