Approaches to Creating Master Pages and Page Layouts in SharePoint Server 2007

Learn two ways in which developers and designers can create Microsoft ASP.NET 2.0 master pages that define a site's global appearance and to create page layouts that define the rendering of specific content pages in Microsoft Office SharePoint Sever 2007 publishing sites.


  • Introduction to Creating Master Pages and Page Layouts in Publishing Sites
  • Understanding Customized and Uncustomized Files in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0
  • Two Approaches to SharePoint Project Implementations
  • Creating Master Pages for SharePoint Publishing Sites
  • Creating Page Layouts for SharePoint Publishing Sites
  • Summarizing Pros and Cons of the Customization and Development Approaches
  • Conclusion
  • Additional Resources

Every Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 publishing site—also known as a Web content management (WCM) site—consists of one of more master pages (.master files) and page layouts (.aspx files). Each type of file serves a specific purpose. The master pages, also used in traditional Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 collaboration sites, contain the overall appearance (“look and feel”) and branding of a site. They contain elements such as cascading style sheet references, common navigation components, search controls, and the typical header and footer seen on all sites. Page layouts are used to define the specific rendering of content pages, or where content is found on the page. Just as in Microsoft ASP.NET 2.0 sites, page layouts are merged with master pages at run time to generate the complete page.

These two types of files are very similar to those found in ASP.NET 2.0 sites, but the process of creating and deploying them is very different in Office SharePoint Server 2007. In fact, in Office SharePoint Server there are two ways to create and deploy these files. As a developer or a designer, you should be aware of both approaches and the advantages and disadvantages of each before embarking on the next Office SharePoint Server 2007 publishing site project.

The primary reason for the difference in the master page and page layout creation process between ASP.NET 2.0 sites and Office SharePoint Server is due to the architecture of the SharePoint platform. In Office SharePoint Server, the file system of a site lives in a database, also known as the virtualized file system, whereas in an ASP.NET 2.0 site the files are on the file system.

This article explains the virtualized file system and then discusses the different approaches that you can use to create custom master pages and page layouts for use in an Office SharePoint Server 2007 publishing site.

Andrew Connell
Developer & Chief Course Artisan, Voitanos LLC. | Microsoft MVP
Written by Andrew Connell

Andrew Connell is a web & cloud developer with a focus on Microsoft Azure & Microsoft 365. He’s received Microsoft’s MVP award every year since 2005 and has helped thousands of developers through the various courses he’s authored & taught. Andrew’s the founder of Voitanos and is dedicated to helping you be the best Microsoft 365 web & cloud developer. He lives with his wife & two kids in Florida.