Friday, May 25, 2012

Applying Master Pages with Extranet Collaboration Manager 2010

by Matthew McBride, Software Division

Extranet Collaboration Manager 2010  (ExCM) is a SharePoint add-in developed by SharePoint Solutions that streamlines SharePoint extranet collaboration and simplifies SharePoint extranet administration. In ExCM, a master page can be applied to the anonymous pages (registration, sign-in, and password reset) to achieve a desired look and feel.  There are three options when selecting a master page:
  • ExCM anonymous master page (vanilla)
  • Site default master page
  • Custom master page
You should consider two factors when choosing the master page for your site:  branding and anonymous access.  You also need to take into account the anonymous access configuration of your Web Application and the site that will run the anonymous pages.
Option 1 – Web Application with No Anonymous Access
In this configuration, the anonymous master page provided by ExCM will be applied.  This page has a very “vanilla” look and feel as you can see from the screenshot below.   Anonymous Access is not enabled on either the Web Application or the IIS site itself.

Option 2 – Web Application with Anonymous Access (Site Default)
In this scenario, the site default master page will be used.  To make this work, Anonymous Access must be enabled on both the Web Application and the IIS site.  In addition, you will need to set up Anonymous Access on “Lists and Libraries” at the top level site to allow the master page to function properly.  This can be found under the “Site Permissions” menu:

Notice how the sign in page now takes the look of the Team Site template which was used when this Web Application was created.  This was achieved without any extra configuration:

In addition, if a subsite or subsite collection is using a separate master page, each page will inherit the same look and feel (registrations that occur at the  site will use the Acme master page).
The drawback to this configuration is that each subsite will need to have the appropriate anonymous access level set up to function properly (Lists and Libraries).
Option 3 – Web Application with Custom Master Page
The last option is to create a custom master page for use with your site.  This is done with SharePoint Designer and requires a little more work.  However, the page would be applied to all of the sites in the Web Application, thus preventing any further configuration.
You can either edit an existing master page or start from scratch.  If you chose to start with the master page provided by ExCM, then you would not need to enable Anonymous Access and would configure it like Option 1.  You can find our master page at the following location:
C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\14\TEMPLATE\LAYOUTS\SPSolutions\ExCM

Otherwise, you would need to use the Anonymous Access levels outlined in Option 2.
Information for creating a custom master page with SharePoint Designer can be found on the Microsoft Office website here:
In summary, Extranet Collaboration Manager 2010 provides multiple options with regard to the master page you can use.  The best solution for your deployment will depend on your specific needs with regard to the overall look and feel of your site, as well as the requirements for Anonymous Access.