Well it’s that time again, a new version of SharePoint is about to be released for general availability, and with that I have some new starter master pages for you to use for custom branding!
If you haven’t used my starter master pages in the past, the TLDR is that they can be used to apply custom UI / branding to SharePoint sites. They make the job easier than if you just start by editing one of the default Microsoft master pages because I have spaced and tabbed them out nicely, included readable comments for what I think each section does, and stripped out any of the extraneous styling and formatting needed to support the default SharePoint layout.
If you HAVE used my starter master pages in the past, a few things have changed, most importantly I’m moving them to GitHub for this release and I’m hoping everyone in the community can help test and make them better by using the GitHub community features. You should know however that I’m a GitHub beginner, so I’ll probably have to get used to all of that.
For more information on these techniques see:
- Branding SharePoint 2013 with CSOM Code
- A Look at the PnP Responsive UI Package for SharePoint On-Premises
- Microsoft’s Patterns & Practices Resources
All that being said, there are some downsides to just creating your own custom master pages (whether you use my Starter Master Pages or not). Primarily you need to be very careful with updates from Microsoft. This is particularly challenging if you intend to brand Office 365’s SharePoint Online, which can get UI updates at any time without warning… and ultimately your customized master pages could break with this new code. On premises SharePoint 2016 is a little safer when it comes to these updates, you have more control over the update process, but just know that early indications are that Microsoft will be making new features available to SharePoint 2016 as time goes on, and you may be in the same boat as Office 365 with the exception of being able to decide whether you want these updates applied to your on-premises SharePoint server.
At the end of the day, I think if you are doing light to medium UI / branding changes to team sites, you might be better off skipping master pages. Alternatively if you are tasked with making a fully custom intranet portal with full branding I think master pages are likely going to be your best bet.
Check out my Starter Master Pages at GitHub:
Also, my SharePoint 2013 and 2010 Starter Master Pages are also still available at CodePlex: