May 18, 2010

Branding Master Pages in SharePoint 2010

There are two types of master pages in SharePoint 2010: those named with v4 that are purely 2010 compatible, and those without the v4 (ie. minimal master and default master) that are compatible with 2007, that is to be used when sites are migrated in 2007 compatibility mode. V4 master pages natively include the ribbon. 

As for creating your own branded master pages, I highly recommend to use the starter master pages modified by Randy Drisgill:, rather than try to fix your own ones. Note, that just like in 2007, there are several different types of master pages in 2010 too, according to the type of site you are creating.

However, these starter master pages aren't sufficient if you are going to enable search in your site collection. Search sites natively use the minimal.master included in 2010 itself, and thus "break" with any v4 master page for the layout and used content parts differ. The search results page won't bring an error, though, but no content can be seen on the page. Therefore it is essential to create another branded master page using the native minimal.master. And probably you will want to create a site template for search sites, using the right master page for your search center.

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