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Standard "out of the box" SharePoint forms aren't very aesthetically pleasing and quite clunky in form. I know that SharePoint designer lets you create custom forms/pages using Asp/aspx. Is there a way to create a custom form from scratch (adding multiple fields, tables, and buttons) and then map those fields to a share point list pro grammatically without the need for creating a web-part with VS or using InfoPath? I'm mostly looking for a straightforward way to insert new items with this type of form. SharePoint has the generic data views for viewing the data which i can use. Thanks!

P.S. I'm using 2010 for SharePoint & Designer

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3 alternatives come to my mind:

  1. you've partially explore it - open the list with SPD and customize forms. In exchange however, do not start with customizing the default WP, but rather use an DataView Web part in Edit mode - http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-designer-help/create-a-custom-list-form-using-sharepoint-designer-HA010378258.aspx
  2. Choose the InfoPath way - more flexibility in terms of validations, lookups from tertiary lists, internal data sources, repeater controls, etc. - http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office/gg180738(v=office.14).aspx
  3. Go in deep via Visual Studio 2010 - http://blog.karstein-consulting.com/2010/12/29/walkthrough-create-custom-sharepoint-2010-list-form-for-deployment-in-a-visual-studio-2010-project/
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