SharePoint Branding or "Pimp my SharePoint"

One of the things that customers appear to want, and will like about SharePoint is the ability to ‘brand’ or ‘skin’ it. For some reason, it’s something that people always get hung up on – what it looks like, not how it works – and I don’t expect we will have many projects that don’t have the question of branding/skinning/customisation. But what does this mean, how does it work, and what are the limitations? Continue reading “SharePoint Branding or "Pimp my SharePoint"”

SharePoint Branding or "Pimp my SharePoint"

Using a different Master Page on Application Pages

Previously I found (in ‘David’s Blog’) a way of using an HTTP Module in SharePoint to change the master page used by ‘application’ pages. I fiddled with it a bit and made it work properly.

Unfortunately, I’ve lost my code (HD crash) and David’s blog is defunct (I think it died when the SharePoint Blogs site died).

So, some links to similar relevant pages:

Liam Cleary has been looking at it

This page proved useful

And this is a description of the same sort of thing

Using a different Master Page on Application Pages

MOSS, themes and master pages

So, Joel Oleson has blogged a bit about master pages and themes in MOSS. This is an area I think that the SharePoint team have the right idea, but execution is a little short.

My problems are that we have master pages – which is great. And we’ve got seperate master pages for standard pages, and administration pages. Okay, I’m happy with that. However, there is a mechanism for changing the master page for normal pages – but nothing for administration pages. ‘Cos nobody will ever look at them, right?

Then there is the question of master pages and themes. I really like some of the themes that come OOB, much more so than the default ‘blue’ (I like ‘Simple’). But they can only be applied on a site by site basis; there is no inheritance mechanism. And if you use a master page, it’ll probably override the theme anyway. So why have themes? Why not just use master pages?

MOSS, themes and master pages

Master Pages for Admin and global pages

One of the pains about master pages in SharePoint is that when you set one for a site, it doesn’t apply to the admin pages. This can lead to a, um, interesting difference in appearance.

I started looking into overcoming this. Obviously, there is a fairly straight-forward approach – modify the application.master. Ouch. Then, any changes to design in one file have to be replicated elsewhere, with one file in the Master Page Gallery, and one on the file system.

Alternatively, I found a neat solution at David’s blog. This uses an HTTP Module to reset the master page for any pages looking for application.master.

But after following his instructions, my admin pages wouldn’t work. I just got the error page ‘Unknown Error’.

Digging into the logs, I found what was going on – there were 2 content placeholders that the application.master uses which weren’t on my ‘normal’ master page. Make sure you add place holders for:

<asp:ContentPlaceHolder id="PlaceHolderPageDescriptionRowAttr" runat="server"/>
<asp:ContentPlaceHolder id="PlaceHolderPageDescriptionRowAttr2" runat="server"/>

The full list of placeholders used in both files is:

  • PlaceHolderPageTitle
  • PlaceHolderAdditionalPageHead
  • PlaceHolderBodyAreaClass
  • PlaceHolderBodyLeftBorder
  • PlaceHolderBodyRightMargin
  • PlaceHolderCalendarNavigator
  • PlaceHolderFormDigest
  • PlaceHolderGlobalNavigation
  • PlaceHolderGlobalNavigationSiteMap
  • PlaceHolderLeftActions
  • PlaceHolderLeftNavBar
  • PlaceHolderLeftNavBarBorder
  • PlaceHolderLeftNavBarDataSource
  • PlaceHolderLeftNavBarTop
  • PlaceHolderMain
  • PlaceHolderMiniConsole
  • PlaceHolderNavSpacer
  • PlaceHolderPageDescription
  • PlaceHolderPageImage
  • PlaceHolderPageTitleInTitleArea
  • PlaceHolderSearchArea
  • PlaceHolderSiteName
  • PlaceHolderTitleAreaClass
  • PlaceHolderTitleAreaSeparator
  • PlaceHolderTitleBreadcrumb
  • PlaceHolderTitleLeftBorder
  • PlaceHolderTitleRightMargin
  • PlaceHolderTopNavBar
  • PlaceHolderUtilityContent
  • SPNavigation
  • WSSDesignConsole
  • PlaceHolderHorizontalNav Normal master page only
  • PlaceHolderPageDescriptionRowAttr Admin master page only
  • PlaceHolderPageDescriptionRowAttr2 Admin master page only
Master Pages for Admin and global pages