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I have had a ton of feedback regarding my original posting for custom Chrome / Branding of MOSS.

One of the dialogs got very specific and I wanted to share a little more here in an effort to clarify some Best Practices for customizing MOSS.

I want to clarify that product documentation on MOSS is not complete, it is still in B2 bits, and Best Practices are my take on what they should be when it comes to customizing the back-end, and in no way reflects anything directly from Micrsoft at this time.

Many of you are probably very familiar with how to customize WSS/v2 from the old days - including SPS 2003. It was not a pretty picture and was fairly tedious.

Today you actually have a wealth of development-level customization available to you.

OOB (out of the box) MOSS does in fact deploy some extensive core-level components that we DO NOT want to customize. Let me explain...

One of my feedbacks dealt with needing to customize the default.master and core.css for a given site deployment. Can you do this? Absolutely - but it will not be intuitive and it is prone to blow up your environment. There is simply way too much underpinning MOSS - and too many undocumented controls and AJAX to try and exhaust this topic here. Suffice to say, stay away from this approach. It is easy to fall into this thinking simply because of the old days - but your lives have truly been made easier. I'll explain more.

When you create your site collection, like the Internet Presence Web Site in my example, I am provided a set of master pages (MP's) OOB. Let's say I create My Company Site and use the Inet Pres. Web Site template. And I create it on myMachineName:10000 for a port.

Open SharePoint Designer now (which you install separate from MOSS - these bits are in the B2 client download area). File-->Open Site and open http://myMachineName:10000 for the site.

What's absolutely fantastic about Designer is how it provides you a solution view in essence, of your new Site Collection (much like Visual Studio would present your C# or VB or ASP application solution). I think this is a great leap for MSFT and the development community. HOWEVER - I miss C#. Anyway...

Expand _catalogs and you'll find a Master Page gallery here. Expand that and take a look. You find TopNavFlyOuts.master, and also a few others. And yes, there is a default.master as well.

The default.master is the MOSS system-level master page. Stay away from it. MOSS will use it depending on the context of what you are doing / creating in your site. However, you can customize any of the other MP's, or even import your own totally custom MP - and from here you can literally control all of you look/feel.

Some of you already know that when MOSS serves up MP's - it is looking for asp:PlaceHolders in the MP. This is OOB behavior that we have to live with - and it's not too bad. Basically stated, if you want to import a completely custom MP - you must include the placeholders that MOSS will be looking for.

A great way to get started is simply copy/paste all of the placeholders from TopNavFlyouts.master, create a new blank MP and paste them there. Then set them all to nothing.

Now begin your own page layout and setup - simply using the placeholders you'll need at the time you need them (like the Sign-in control for eg).

I have not found a lot of documentation that speaks to these placeholders and the roll they'll play as MOSS matures - but I've resolve how to work with them.

Also, I know hand's-down - the only customizing I can do that is super effective is that of the provided MP's, or the introduction of my own MP's - I do not attempt to customize the OOB stuff (specifically, default.master, core.css, controls.css, etc.).

Also, for the sample OOB MP's you get, you'll find a supporting CSS file in the Style Library-en-us-Core Styles. So, for TopNavFlyouts you'll find a TopNavFlyouts.css, and likewise for LeftNavFlyouts, etc.

Whatever site collection template you choose, you'll see different OOB templates and look/feel. But open that site in Designer and take a look at the MP's available to you. Do not get trapped into thinking you must customize the base-line MOSS stuff.

Finally, feel free to play with creating your own MP's. Just remember to create a corresponding style sheet, and make sure it's stipulated in the Master Page Settings for that site under the Alternate CSS URL.

I hope this helps clarify some things I did not speak directly to in my initial posting.

Posted on Saturday, July 22, 2006 12:04 PM Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS) | Back to top


Comments on this post: Chrome / Branding Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 - Customizing MOSS / Core Components vs. Templates

# re: Chrome / Branding Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 - Customizing MOSS / Core Components vs. Templates
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Mike,
Thanks for this review. I wonder if you have noticed that TopFlyoutNav.master is missing some of the Content placeholders that exist in default.master.

This causes problems if you change you site to use TopFlyoutNav, and then try to use any of the DispForm,EditForm or NewForm.aspx. For these, you get:

Cannot find ContentPlaceHolder 'PlaceHolderTitleRightMargin' in the master page '~masterurl/default.master', verify content control's ContentPlaceHolderID attribute in the content page
Left by Bob C on Aug 04, 2006 6:19 PM

# re: Chrome / Branding Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 - Customizing MOSS / Core Components vs. Templates
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Hi Bob,

Yes, I have noticed what you are pointing out. I know too, that I'm far from understanding all of the nuances of MOSS :)

In my work I have found that I should stick with default master page that I choose for a template - and only for the site. I do not change the system (default.master) to reference my master page - I have not had much success here.

As I venture further down Chrome Lane - I am finding that I have a ton to document insofar as the placeholders are concerned. Some of the things I am working through I cannot blog for the obvious reasons - but I will share as much as I can - and I suspect documenting all of the placeholders, variances between site templates, etc. will be one of those blogs.
Left by MikeH on Aug 04, 2006 6:42 PM

# re: Chrome / Branding Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 - Customizing MOSS / Core Components vs. Templates
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Mike,

I copied the missing placeholder tags to the TopNavFlyout.master from default.master, and the pages now render w/o error.
Left by Bob C on Aug 07, 2006 4:36 PM

# re: Chrome / Branding Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 - Customizing MOSS / Core Components vs. Templates
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Hi Mike,

Please mail me word doc at srkallu@hotmail.com

Thanks
Left by Kallu on Sep 12, 2006 1:19 PM

# re: Chrome / Branding Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 - Customizing MOSS / Core Components vs. Templates
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Hi!

Great post. What I wonder is if there's a list somewhere to list all the contentplaceholders?

BR
Tob
Left by Tobias Zimmergren on Sep 26, 2006 5:55 AM

# re: Chrome / Branding Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 - Customizing MOSS / Core Components vs. Templates
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Hi Great post .. i tried to copy the PlaceHolderTitleRightMargin, PlaceHolderBodyRightMargin to the TopNavFlyout.master but now all that happens is the Object reference not set to an instance of an object.
Left by Aaron on Oct 13, 2006 6:24 AM

# re: Chrome / Branding Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 - Customizing MOSS / Core Components vs. Templates
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Hi Aaron,

Are you working with B2 or B2TR?

Also, without seeing your page it would be difficult for me to offer any valid suggestions.

I have not run into that specific error. When I upgraded to B2TR I ran into issues where placeholders in my page were not supported. I changed from TopNavFlyouts to the BlueBandGlass in B2TR and re-applied the approach for the chrome.
Left by MikeH on Oct 13, 2006 8:50 AM

# re: Chrome / Branding Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 - Customizing MOSS / Core Components vs. Templates
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I tried to add the PlaceHolderTitleRightMargin but my whole page is on the right and it still doesnt work any help on here to put it?
Left by curt on Oct 17, 2006 1:26 PM

# re: Chrome / Branding Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 - Customizing MOSS / Core Components vs. Templates
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Hi Curt,

Without knowing more specifics about your setup - I do not know that I could offer anything useful for you.

Whether you're using B2 or B2TR is very important.

What customizations have you done that has brought you to the point of this issue?

There are so many 'little' variables that I would need to know to give you any effective feedback. I see this a lot in the beta news groups too - people make a post but it seems we actually need so much more supporting information before we can begin to provide an effective response.
Left by MikeH on Oct 19, 2006 3:05 AM

# re: Chrome / Branding Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 - Customizing MOSS / Core Components vs. Templates
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all I did was change from default.master to TopFlyoutNav.master, and when I try to add a event or anything like that I get the error messgae, is there anyway around it?

thanks,
curt
Left by Curt on Oct 23, 2006 3:55 PM

# re: Chrome / Branding Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 - Customizing MOSS / Core Components vs. Templates
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Hi Curt,

Revert back to the standard MP's - place default.master back, and use one of the out-of-the-box (OOB) master pages for your approach.

I strongly discourage attempting to do anything with the default.master - primarily because it is the WSS / system master - and it is not a best practice to attempt to modify that one.

You can also deploy your own master and styles/placeholders, etc. We do this as well using a Feature deployment approach.

HTH's...
Left by MikeH on Oct 23, 2006 4:19 PM

# re: Chrome / Branding Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 - Customizing MOSS / Core Components vs. Templates
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Sure would like the entire document with images.
Please email to: kenwood@thesportsresort.com.
Secondly, how does one 'join' this blog?
Left by ken wood on Nov 01, 2006 4:59 PM

# Branding MOSS 2007 Sites - Links
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Here are some helpful links that will guide you in the process of branding MOSS 2007 sites. It's better...
Left by All About SharePoint on Nov 04, 2006 5:36 AM

# re: Chrome / Branding Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 - Customizing MOSS / Core Components vs. Templates
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Any known problems with making a copy of default master page and customizing that? That leaves the base default.master in the system and overlays the custom MyMaster.master on top, yes?

Left by Len Gilbert on Dec 07, 2006 9:30 AM

# re: Chrome / Branding Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 - Customizing MOSS / Core Components vs. Templates
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Could you send me the original Word Document? Thanks!

stacy.springer@idjc.idaho.gov
Left by Stacy Springer on Dec 07, 2006 2:29 PM

# re: Chrome / Branding Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 - Customizing MOSS / Core Components vs. Templates
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Hi, could send a copy of the Word doc for this entry. thanks.

dwilsontt@gmail.com
Left by Dale Wilson on Dec 11, 2006 12:41 PM

# re: Chrome / Branding Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 - Customizing MOSS / Core Components vs. Templates
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Hi, Kindly provide both of your articles in word format. I need specially the images in the first article. naveedullahk@hotmail.com
Left by Naveedullah on Feb 28, 2007 1:23 PM

# re: Chrome / Branding Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 - Customizing MOSS / Core Components vs. Templates
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Please send me the branding word document with all the images to vishkash@yahoo.com. Thanks.
Left by Vishal Patel on Mar 07, 2007 11:17 AM

# Branding MOSS 2007 Sites - Links
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Here are some helpful links that will guide you in the process of branding MOSS 2007 sites. It's better
Left by All About SharePoint on Mar 11, 2007 5:56 AM

# re: Chrome / Branding Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 - Customizing MOSS / Core Components vs. Templates
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Great post. Can you please send me the word document that shows your customized site screenshots. Thanks!
Left by Ian O'Neal on Jul 05, 2007 1:20 PM

# re: Chrome / Branding Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 - Customizing MOSS / Core Components vs. Templates
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Great post. Can you please send me the word document that shows your customized site screenshots. Thanks!

ian@appointlink.com
Left by Ian O'Neal on Jul 05, 2007 1:37 PM

# re: Chrome / Branding Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 - Customizing MOSS / Core Components vs. Templates
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Hey Mike,
How relevant do you find this with the RTM version of MOSS? In B2TR I had made the mistake of pulling default.Master into SharePoint designed and mildly modifying it. Let's just say the resulting carnage has kept me from ever doing it again.
Generally, i have been pulling down Default.master into Sharepoint designer, then saving it back up under a new name, then modifying this master page as I see fit. You can then test it out in your dev environment by assigning your site that Master page in the site settings. Once complete I have pushe it into a MOSS Feature and packaged it so I can readily deploy to staging and production systems. I have used this on a few deployment with pretty good results so far.
I am curious if you have run into any issues with tht type of approach or if you had maybe some better ways to accomplish the same thing.
Left by RM on Jul 20, 2007 7:28 AM

# re: Chrome / Branding Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 - Customizing MOSS / Core Components vs. Templates
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Hey RM,

I've made it a practice to never mess with the default.master since the alpha bits - I learned those lessons early!

The deployment I do here introduces a modification to one of the publishing master pages supplied with the publishing portal site definition.

The demo is fairly simple and simply conveys a clean approach to customizing and even creating master pages for MOSS.

The ciritical note is to understand what placeholders SharePoint expects to be in 'every' master page vs. what you can leave out.

WSS is even more primitive and creating master pages here is fairly different than doing so in MOSS.
Left by MikeH on Jul 20, 2007 8:20 AM

# re: Chrome / Branding Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 - Customizing MOSS / Core Components vs. Templates
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Hi Mike,
It's a great post. Could you please send me the word documents with the images?

Thanks,
JM
Left by Joseph Mathew on Apr 10, 2008 11:26 AM

# re: Chrome / Branding Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 - Customizing MOSS / Core Components vs. Templates
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Well, I have used the default.master and modified it. Since you don't recommend this; how would you suggest I get the original default.master back? I haven't had any problems yet; but from what you are saying, it can be.... Any ideas???
Left by TKE on May 07, 2008 3:37 PM

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