Creating List Instance: Object Reference not set to an instance of an object


This one is a bit of an old issue but some of my posts are just to remind me of a time that I got stuck in the past. Also if it helps someone else then great.

It is possible to create a feature which creates an instance of a SharePoint List when its activated. However, sometimes you only want a list to be created on the Root Web of a site collection.


Well the XML for specifying a ListInstance as a feature has an attribute called RootWebOnly which I thought I could use to only allow the ListInstance to be created on the RootWeb.

Unfortunately when you do that you get a message like the following in your SharePoint ULS Logs when the feature is activated:-

Feature Activation: Threw an exception, attempting to roll back. Feature ‘FeatureName’(ID: ‘xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxx). Exception: System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object.
at Microsoft.SharePoint.SPListInstanceElement.ElementActivated(SPFeaturePropertyCollection props, SPSqlCommand sqlcmdAppendOnly, SPWebApplication webApp, SPSite site, SPWeb web, Boolean fForce)
at Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPElementDefinitionCollection.ProvisionListInstances(SPFeaturePropertyCollection props, SPSite site, SPWeb web, Boolean fForce)
at Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPElementDefinitionCollection.ProvisionElements(SPFeaturePropertyCollection props, SPWebApplication webapp, SPSite site, SPWeb web, Boolean fForce)
at Microsoft.SharePoint.SPFeature.ProvisionElements(SPFeaturePropertyCollection props, SPWebApplication webapp, SPSite site, SPWeb web, Boolean fForce)
at Microsoft.SharePoint.SPFeature.Activate(SPSite siteParent, SPWeb webParent, SPFeaturePropertyCollection props, Boolean fForce)

The offending Feature ListInstance element is below:-

 1: <?xmlversion="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
 2: <Elements
 3: xmlns="">
 4: <ListInstance
 5: Id="AListId"
 6: Title="A List"
 7: Description="A List 
 8: Description”
 9: Url="Lists/ListUrlHere"
 10: OnQuickLaunch="FALSE"
 11: RootWebOnly=”TRUE”
 12: FeatureId="xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxx"
 13: TemplateType="45100"></ListInstance>
 14: </Elements>


To fix the feature activation remove the RootWebOnly=”TRUE” from your ListInstance element manifest file and instead move the RootWebOnly=”TRUE” into your List’s schema.xml.

To ensure that the list is only provisioned at the root web of the site collection change the Feature.xml to use Scope=”Site”


Thanks to Dennis who picked up my mistake in this post which stated that the RootWebOnly attribute should be moved to the feature.xml.

Issues with Custom List Schema and Editing Field Settings (Cannot Perform this Action)


Why is it that when you have a deadline looming then you have a problem which takes an age to fix?!

Well I hope that if you have the problem that I had then this post will help you fix it a bit more quickly!


The problem occurred within a custom list definition which held a lookup field. When the field settings were adjusted, using Settings->List Settings, modifying a field and clicking ok, an error message would be displayed.

“Cannot Perform this Action”

This error message fills me with dread as you have very little information to help you discover the problem.

Some background information, the field was in a custom list created from the custom list feature found in the SharePoint HIVE.

The custom list schema was updated with a unique content type and some additional fields were added. This content type was a list content type which was derived from the Item Content Type and had the ID: 0x0100[GUID]. The content type was stored inside a folder /Folder/Contacts.


The solution was found by examining other custom list schemas that I have created in the past. The difference was that mine was using a Folder and it didnt have the tag:-

<ContentTypeRef ID=”0x0120″ />

So I added this ContentTypeRef, which is the reference for the Folder content type within the <MetaData><ContentTypes> element at the top of the schema.xml file.

A redeployment of the feature with updated schema.xml updated the schema.xml file in the 12 HIVE and the issue was fixed, fields could now be edited and updated.

I hope this helps save someone a few hours!