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.