The Death of the Master Page in SharePoint

For years, the branding community has been told to use the Masterpage to create consistent experience across SharePoint. This was great, but it also required a change of thinking from regular web development to also being able to understand how to copy and alter an OOTB Master Page to include new controls and the .Net framework to be able to accomplish your goals.

This was our staple through SharePoint 2007 through SharePoint 2013 on prem. Since the release of SharePoint 2013, Microsoft has been saying that we should no longer be using custom master pages to accomplish our goals. If we are no longer allowed to use master pagesm what are our options for creating custom experiences in SharePoint and O365?

We have a few options available to us.

  1. Alternative CSS
    The Alternate CSS URL can be located in the Master Page Setting in Site Settings. You can create your own CSS file to alter just about everything in SharePoint from colors, sizes and placement of elements in SharePoint.
  2. Themes and Composed Looks
    This is the OOTB basic branding capability available to us. We can create our custom font files, color files using the SharePoint color palette tool and background images that will work throughout SharePoint in both publishing and collab sites.
  3. Javascript Injection (embedding)
    By embedding js using a custom action, we can provide additional functionality to provide an extended view of the world for our experiences.
  4. Client-Side Rendering
    Client-Side Rending gives us the ability to alter the list-template using javascript to create unique experiences for displaying list content. It is implemented through the jslink url in the list edit webpart view.
  5. Display Templates
    By using Display Templates, we can use HTML and Javascript to create unique search-based experiences for users.

With these options available to us, there is still every capability to create unique experiences for users. It does require more knowledge around javascript, but still leaves a wide variety of options to suit most our needs.

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