I'm trying to develop a couple of custom application pages for SharePoint 2010 that will be accessible from the central administration page as a part of my application, basically serving as a front end for my custom back end code. What I need is form-like functionality, some grid views, list boxes and all the usual stuff, but I want the preserve the native look and feel of SharePoint and am wondering what the fastest/best way to do this is without having to manually dissect the horror that are native SharePoint aspx pages.
So far, I've used Visual Studio 2010 to create pages with user controls by drag-and-dropping ASP.NET components into basic HTML layout (tables etc.) and I used SharePoint's CSS on top of it. This actually got me some decent looking results, but after checking out the actual .aspx files of native SharePoint pages, I realized that there's a lot more going on - everything is done using very mysterious code that looks something like this (this is a part of policy creation form, located in
<asp:Content contentplaceholderid="PlaceHolderTitleBreadcrumb" runat="server"> <SharePoint:UIVersionedContent UIVersion="3" runat="server"><ContentTemplate> <asp:SiteMapPath SiteMapProvider="SPXmlContentMapProvider" id="ContentMap" SkipLinkText="" NodeStyle-CssClass="ms-sitemapdirectional" RootNodeStyle-CssClass="s4-die" PathSeparator=" > " PathSeparatorStyle-CssClass = "s4-bcsep" runat="server" /> </ContentTemplate></SharePoint:UIVersionedContent> ... <wssuc:InputFormSection id="NameAndDescription" Title="<%$Resources:dlcpolicy, policyedit_name_and_description%>" Description="<%$Resources:dlcpolicy, policyedit_name_and_description_long%>" runat="server"> <Template_InputFormControls> <wssuc:InputFormControl runat="server" LabelText="<%$Resources:dlcpolicy, policyedit_policy_name%>"> <Template_Control> <wssawc:InputFormTextBox title="<%$Resources:dlcpolicy, policyedit_policy_name%>" class="ms-input" ID="tbxName" Columns="35" Runat="server" MaxLength=255 /> <wssawc:InputFormRequiredFieldValidator ControlToValidate="tbxName" Display="Dynamic" ErrorMessage="<%$Resources:dlcpolicy, policyedit_name_empty_error%>" Runat="server" EnableClientScript="false" /> ...
I fear my current way of doing things - using ASP.NET controls with
CssClass properties to approximately re-create the SP look and feel - is likely going to sooner or later result in serious problems given just how different the approach used by SharePoint is. Note that I'm not using
<SharePoint:*> tags in my own design.
Is there a fast way to take some existing SharePoint pages/forms, re-design them (i.e. use different label text etc.) without having to manually scan every single markup line, provide my own custom back-end code (e.g. I'd like to have a grid like in "Manage content databases" but with data bound from custom tables) and resource files, then deploy everything directly from Visual Studio? Should I consider SharePoint Designer for this?