Just getting going on using Jamf to manage iPads with our school district. (total newb here)
We've got a lot of schools, a lot of devices, and a lot of different apps. The few schools that I've rolled into so far seem to want slightly different user experiences, starting with home screen layout. The other day we deployed a bunch of apps and then I started to work on the home screen layout profile and put everything where they wanted... mostly.
Just for giggles, I wiped a device to see how fast and easy I could get the device back to that state. The apps all installed fast, my dock items appeared, the few items I set to go to the beginning of page 1 all appeared in the right order, the apps I didn't define in the home screen layout all fell into place in the remainder of page 1, and the folder I set for page 2 appeared there, populated with the apps I wanted in it. I thought "wow, jackpot".
But then I noticed that if I make a small tweak to that profile, when it pushes out to the device, all of the apps that I didn't specifically define a spot for end up on a third page. I was hoping that I could put what I want at the beginning of page 1 and then let undefined and new apps fall in afterwards without any specific assignment, but that doesn't appear possible. Am I missing something?
Question 2 - If I hadn't of tweaked that profile, is there some sort of schedule when the iPad would have checked in and updated itself to this inconvenient change?
I've not messed with Home Screen Layouts much, but here's how I understand it. There are two important things to understand about the layout profiles. 1: They save everything detail about the pages you set in the profile, including empty spaces. 2: They are not persistent; they make their changes once then go away. I'll quickly break down the two scenarios you encountered.
When you wiped the iPad, it got the layout profile before any apps were there and did three things: created any folders needed, reserved spaces for all of the apps that you had configured in the layout, and emptied the spaces you had empty in the layout. This meant the apps with reserved spots fell into said spots when they installed, and any without reserved spots fell into the first available empty space. The emptying of the spaces is the key here, as once those spaces are emptied they are treated just like any other empty space and can be filled with newly installed apps.
When you made the change, and it processed on the already set up iPad, it followed the same steps, including emptying the spaces left empty in the layout. This results in all non-configured apps that are already installed being pushed to the next available spaces(in your case these started on page 3 since it wasn't touched by the layout) so that the empty spaces in the layout can be emptied. If you were to have installed a new app after applying that change, you would see it fall into an empty space on page 1 as you saw before.
As I understand it the home screen layout is a one-time change that isn't enforced afterwards(most likely because home screen layout isn't collected in inventory so there would be no way to compare the current layout to the configured one to know if enforcement is necessary). The change you saw on the iPad probably because of the change you made to the profile. My suggestion would be to use the "Distribute to Newly Assigned devices only" option when making changes to a home screen layout.