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Building a Tool Set to Brand SharePoint Online, Office 365 Sites

SharePoint Designer 2013, a free product, is the primary branding tool for SharePoint Online, Office 365. As Yaroslav Pentsarskyy sums it up in a video tutorial titled SharePoint Online sites branding tools, “it’s essential that you have SharePoint Designer”.

Another very useful tool, this time for debugging challenging issues, is a “developer toolbar” for each of the browsers users are likely to use to connect to SharePoint Online sites with custom branding. Browsers can perform in radically dissimilar fashion to customizations applied to these sites. If an anomaly appears with Internet Explorer 11, then the IE Developer Toolbar will provide the best method of identifying issues and monitoring remediation of them. For Firefox, Firebug is the preferred developer toolbar. Finally, for Google Chrome, DevTools, or “Chrome Developer Tools”, provide the most useful instruments for developing sites for an optimum experiencw with Chrome browsers.

This video includes a demonstration of how to use the Firebug developer tool set to remediate issues stemming from in real time. The key feature here, of course, is one’s individual browser. All of the latest browsers are fully configurable for an optimized, custom view for a particular user. What a tool like Firebug contributes, is an enhanced method for users to access to effect these changes. Once the changes are, effectively, “proofed” via this method, the optimized CSS can be incorporated into the source code for the site page, itself.

As Yaroslav points out, this “on the fly” method of proposing and testing changes to site branding can result in a considerable time savings versus an alternative approach, which would require an indeterminate number of repetitions of the same “upload, test, fix, upload, test, fix” routine. Finally, he notes Firebug, at least, can be used to debug JavaScript, as well.

Increasingly, branding developers will want to optimize SharePoint Online sites for mobile users. The tool of choice for this work is a “Mobile device emulator”. In this video Yaroslav demonstrates an older example of this type of tool titled “User Agent Switcher”, which works for Firefox browsers.

The final tool mentioned in this video is Visual Studio, which Yaroslav judges to be “even less important” than the tools previously demonstrated.

Ira Michael Blonder

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