WSS v3 Site Customization

I am not sure if this is going to be changed in the final version of WSS v3, but I definately have to give a pitch for why it should be.

First the issue:

When you create a WSS v3 site it starts it’s life based on the default.master located in the global folder. When you connect to that site and edit the default.master you cause that page to be duplicated and placed in the content database (a-la unghosting). You are now free to customize the default.master at the site level. Great that makes sense to me.

What doesn’t make sense to me is the fact that other pages such as viewlsts.aspx actually use a different master page, application.master. Neither of these pages are copied over at a “per site” basis to the content database, they remain global.

Basically what this means is if I customize a sites default.master, some of the pages will not be affected. The “virtual” references to _layouts/viewlsts.aspx (basetype) for example would not change. If you select a list it would be affected, but now the all lists view.

I cannot see a customer being ok with the fact that I can only customize parts of their site and not others. What reason does that give them to use a customized SharePoint site?

I’m going to post this one in the experience channels as well to see what type of response it gets. I know the guys are wanting to keep the admin pages separate, at the global level I can understand that, at a very advanced level however …

This is going to be a huge painpoint for customization, it’s something we really need to rally together on as a community now to hopefully influence more control over the application pages.  Mark my words, as time goes on and more people uncover this it’s going to be a major issue.

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8 Responses

  1. michael says:

    Application.Master specifically is in the _layouts folder, \Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\TEMPLATE\LAYOUTS
    so you can change the virtual directory in IIS of the web application that you want to use independent Application.Master

  2. Chris says:

    Well the following code can customise the Settings page and Create page. won’t be able to change the layout but atleast it allows you to keep with the colour theme.
    I just copy these in the core.css at the bottom with my changes.,

    .ms-titlearearight .ms-areaseparatorright

    they must stay within the Core.css for them to work unless you can successfully apply another css file. Doesn’t work for me though.

  3. Sandeep says:

    Hi Shane,

    I am also facing the same issue of customising the files in _layouts folder.I had followed some methods like changing the local path in virtual directory but it went invain.Can any body plz suggest how to customise the file and brand even the application pages

    Waiting eagerly for help

    Thanks in Advance

  4. Tim says:

    I agree, it’s a real pain to deal with the Application.Master, especially if you have only a rudementary tool set. My people have only Sharepoint Designer 2007 and they can not access it without mapping a path to the “web server extensions” directory. Of course it doesn’t open in WYSIWYG format, which leaves my developers running in “hack & slash” mode. Never a good end result.

    When ACL’s have to be manually changed by Admins the product quickly loses it appeal. The last thing I want to do is manually manage employee turnover in 20 places, for the Intranet too. It’s bad enough dealing with special apps, but this is supposed to be a Microsoft tool, not another 3rd party app. The developers have delt us another “you do it” card and my deck is already full. I’m not happy and I’m looking for a work around that I can apply to make this work, or it’s the trash can with Sharepoint for another 3 years.

    Let me know if any solution comes of your queries.

  5. shane says:

    Like most SharePoint Administration files. It resides on the server in the 12 hive. \Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12

    Application.Master specifically is in the _layouts folder, \Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\TEMPLATE\LAYOUTS

    As mentioned though, editing this page is certainly not supported, or recommended. If you do attempt something I would strongly advise backing this original up first.

  6. I have been laboring over this, I have procrastinated and have even tried to delegate the task to others. Now that I find out that it isn’t my own limited understanding of the framework but an issue with the framework itself I feel a lot better.

    I have been unable to locate the application.master page…

    This is my first crack at WSS and unfortunately I am not that impressed. We use EPiServer here and it seems to do a lot more as a content management solution. Oh well.

  7. BfnLouie says:

    I’m running into much the same problem…

    I’ve gone in and customized application.master and core.css to mimic my custom master page. Which is all fine and dandy. But now my company wants to run another SharePoint portal on the same server. It’s my understanding that all sites that run of the same machine will access the same application.master for the _layouts pages. So now this new portal has to access my edited application.master which is formatted for a different site. This is obviously unacceptable.

    I’m scrambling to find a solution. Any updates/solutions on any of this??


  8. Ishai Sagi says:

    I agree completly – I have not posted this because I was sure I missed something – I am glad you have more confidance than me.
    This is a sad, sad issue and I hope microsoft will take note.

I would love to hear from you.

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