SharePoint 2013 Starter Master Pages – Beta Release

So, I’ve been quiet lately, but it hasn’t been for lack of work on SharePoint 2013… I have a Halloween treat for everyone! A new release of my Starter Master Pages for SharePoint 2013. These will work with the RTM release of SharePoint Foundation and Server 2013, but please consider them beta at this point at least until I get some initial feedback from the community.

UPDATE: All of my starter master pages can now be found here:

Here is a quick FAQ about this release:

Why do we need starter master pages now that SharePoint Server 2013 includes the design manager with the ability to create minimal master pages and convert HTML designs into functioning master pages?

Great question, here are a few things that come to mind:

  • The Design Manager is a feature that is only available with the for pay SharePoint Server license through the publishing feature (also available in SharePoint Online in various capacities). If you have a Foundation server or do not have access to the Publishing feature, you will not have access to the Design Manager
  • The Design Manager master pages do not include any commenting and are not spaced for readability. In some cases the markup is overly complicated for what it does. I have attempted to address all of these concerns with the Starter Master Pages
  • Master pages created with the Design Manager (via new minimal master page or a converted HTML file) are not 100% compatible with collaborative Team sites. This is because of something called the Minimal Download Strategy or MDS which is turned on by default in any team site. This feature speeds up loading of pages by passing page requests through start.aspx and only loading the visual differences between pages. If you apply a Design Manager master page to a Team site with this feature turned on you will see what I call a double page load for each page you visit.
  • If you have an existing branded SharePoint 2010 site and would like to migrate your branding to 2013 you will most likely want to just make the bare minimum of changes. These Starter Master Pages would be good for that scenario
  • If you are skilled with SharePoint branding already from previous versions you may find using a Starter Master Page more familiar than using the Design Manager.

What sort of scenarios are supported with these Starter Master Pages?

I have tried to include a Starter Master page for most scenarios. Here are the master pages that are included and their intended usage:

  • Starter PubCollab – A good starting place for SharePoint Server intranet portal or team sites that may or may not have publishing. Publishing sites and Team sites with MDS both work with this master page.
  • Starter Publishing – An example publishing portal. Not intended for use with MDS / team sites. Simplified markup by removing anything that needs MDS and using a smaller ribbon control.
  • Starter MySiteHost – Starter Master Page for the My Sites host (you will obviously need to work with the MySite host site collection to use this).
  • Starter Foundation – Starter Master Page for Foundation sites or standard team sites. Does not include any SharePoint Server specific code.
  • Starter DesignManager.html – HTML based starter master page for use with the Design Manager in SharePoint Server 2013 (not compatible with MDS / Team sites). I have tried to improve readability and spacing for this HTML based master page. I want to point out one gotcha with this. When you publish this HTML file, SharePoint will reformat and re-tab the source of the HTML file in the process of updating the associated master page. If you want to ensure the nice formatting stays always resave the HTML file after publishing it (be careful because your editor will likely pickup the changes and ask you if you want to keep them).

How do I use these Starter Master Pages?

In SharePoint 2013 you can map a network drive to your Master Page Gallery and from here you can add the whole StarterBranding folder that is included with the zip file. This includes a couple place holder images and the beginnings of a stylesheet… which can all live in the Master Page Gallery just fine in 2013.

Once you add them, if you have SharePoint Server it should convert the Starter DesignManager.html to Starter DesignManager.master and relate the two together automatically. For that one you would edit the HTML file and then publish it before applying to your site. For the other .master files, you can edit them directly and then publish the master page and apply it to your site using the typical methods.

Well that’s about it. Please give them a try and let me know any comments or questions you may have. I’m quite certain they will need to updated in the near future once the community tries them out and sends notes.