How We Fixed a Very Weird Blank Page Problem on a Joomla Website

A large company (that we have worked with before) emailed on us on Friday morning and told us that they were seeing a blank page on their homepage. When we visited the website we noticed that the page was almost blank. In fact, there was some content on the website. But the main component and all the modules were not showing. Hmmm…

The backend was working and so we logged in and we set the error reporting to Maximum in the global configuration settings. We then cleared the cache and checked the website but the problem was still there. Yet another hmmm…

So we followed our guide in order to ensure that all the errors were displayed, but still, the same blank page appeared. Again, the page wasn’t entirely blank, a JavaScript widget appeared on the bottom right (that JavaScript widget was actually a plugin).

We started suspecting the plugins – and so we switched the template to another template in order to see what happens, and what happened was that the website worked, and this is a definitive sign that the problem is not caused by a plugin (since the same enabled plugins run on all templates).

After switching back to the original template, we realized that we were left with 3 suspects: The component the home menu item points to, one of the modules, or the template. The component that was used on the homepage was a core Joomla component, which is the com_content component (the home menu item was pointing to the “Featured Articles” view). Additionally, none of the other pages were working (and some of the other pages were using different components) so we dismissed the component as a potential suspect. So, we moved on to the next suspect: the modules. The modules were actually quite easy to rule out, as the only thing that we needed to do was to run the following query in phpMyAdmin after selecting the database that powers the Joomla website:

UPDATE `#__modules` SET `published` = 4 WHERE `published` = 1 AND `client_id` = 0;

As you can see in the above query, we set all the published field of all the enabled modules to 4 (we didn’t want to set it to zero because if we did that, then we will re-enable the intentionally unpublished modules once we re-enable the modules that we just unpublished).

We then visited the website and it still didn’t work despite the fact that we disabled all the modules (we re-enabled the modules that we disabled using the following query: UPDATE `#__modules` SET `published` = 1 WHERE `published` = 4 AND `client_id` = 0; ). This meant that the problem was definitely the template. A closer look at the template revealed that it was a Helix template with some corrupt settings. So we asked the system administrator to provide us with a previous backup copy of the database, and then we copied the template’s settings from the #__template_styles table from the backup database to the #__template_styles table on the new database. That fixed the problem!

But why did the problem happen in the first place?

We don’t know what caused the data corruption to happen. We just know that it happened. We do suspect, however, that it was caused by a bug that is triggered when saving the settings to the template. Unfortunately, we were not commissioned to investigate further on the cause of the issue so we can’t give a definitive answer.

If you’re having the same problem on your website, then try following the above process in order to narrow down the location of the problem. If you think that our process is not that simple, or if you think it’s too technical, or if you just think that you need help, then please, contact us! We are here to help. Our rates are affordable, our work is neat and professional, and you can always, always rely on us!

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