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Master Page Preview Files, SharePoint Online, Office 365

Most organizations with shared tenant accounts on SharePoint Online, Office 365, 2013, will want to brand their site pages. The correct method of accessing the page design features is the “Change the Look” page, which is accessed with a click on the gear symbol on the right hand side of the top right of a page for a site collection. As noted in Microsoft’s How to: Create a master page preview file in SharePoint 2013, “The Change the look wizard is the entry point to the SharePoint theming experience. The design gallery is the first page in the Change the look wizard and shows a thumbnail view of available designs. Users select a design for their site and then continue to the next page where they can customize the design. Users can then preview the site before applying the design to their site. The master page preview file is used to generate the thumbnail and preview images. If a master page does not have a corresponding preview file, it cannot be used in the theming experience.” (quoted from this article on MSDN. We’ve provided a link to the entire article, above, in this paragraph).

As we noted in prior posts to this blog, “Themes”, “Composed Looks” and, with the quote we’ve reprinted, above, “Designs” are nearly synonymous in the terminology of SharePoint Online, Office 365, 2013. A “Master Page”, therefore, is a site page, which exposes a “theme”, “composed look”, or “design” to site users and visitors.

What’s new to the 2013 version of SharePoint is the Master Page Preview File Feature. As the above quoted MSDN reference explains, “[m]aster page preview files (.preview files) are specially formatted files that have sections for default color palette, default font scheme, tokenized CSS, and tokenized HTML. The master page preview file must use the same name (excluding the extension) as the corresponding master page. For example, if you have a master page named article.master, the corresponding master page preview file is named article.preview. Master pages and master page previews are stored in the Master Page Gallery.” (ibid).

Master Page preview files can be built with any of the master pages included in out of the box SharePoint Online, Office 365, 2013.

Ira Michael Blonder

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