SharePoint 2016 Preview and Version 16 Branding Elements

About once every three years we SharePoint geeks get an odd kind of gift that we get in an odd kind of digital package. Just like a child waiting for days, weeks or more, looking at that shiny new gift under the Christmas tree, we eagerly await the next version of SharePoint. Remember when we were young kids, we didn’t really know when the big day would come but when it did, we eagerly ripped the packaging off and as quick as possible tore the nice new toy apart to figure out how it ticked. A toy that lasted five minutes was a rare toy indeed.

Each new version of SharePoint reminds me of those days and SharePoint 2016 is no different. I look forward to all of the other blog posts that I am sure others are already writing, so I am going to stick with my favorite subject, branding. As I mentioned recently in a previous post, I found that the branding options in SharePoint 2016 Public Preview looks essentially the same as with Office 365 and SharePoint 2013. After a little more digging, I started to notice the actual story had a few potential plot twists.

In one such twist, if you check out the Master Page Gallery in SharePoint 2016 Public Preview in the browser, and then click on the properties of one of the HTML Master Pages, such as seattle.html, you will see that you may now set the version of the HTML Master Page to 4, 15 or now 16! Ah, well isn’t that interesting, but seattle.html, OOTB, is set to 15.


I naturally wondered what that shiny “16” option would do, so I copied seattle.html and created a new HTML Master Page, seattle-new.html. I then changed the version to only version 16, checked in and published a major version of the file and finally went to set the site Master Page to this new Version 16 only Master Page.


Hm, interesting, my master page was not listed. Just to make sure that I did everything correctly, I went back and reset my new master page to version 15, and now my master page showed up as a valid Master Page! Changed it back to version 16 and gone.

SharePoint-2016-Preview-and-Version-16-Branding-Elements-3(When the Master Page is set to include Version 15, it is now available as a valid Master Page)

Sure, this is small potatoes at the moment, but it makes me wonder if there is more to come? Currently there does not appear to be an actual version 16 of the site collection, nor is there a way to “upgrade” my site collection to an updated version. At least not that I have found. Maybe there is still some changes afoot that we me find before May when the official public release of SharePoint 2016 should occur?

I have no idea, but I think it is interesting that we can set a Master Page as compatible with version 16, but when we do, we can’t actually use it yet. What do you think? If you have cracked open the SharePoint 2016 Public Preview and seen something different, let us all know. Do you think this is big news and something we should be watching closely, or is this just indicative of a preview version and I am being overly excited about the smallest wrinkle?


  1. Very intriguing article, I must say. As fairly new to the business of SharePoint UX, I always wondered why there’s no ‘portal’ of decent articles regarding this matter? When I got the idea to look more into SharePoint UX, I spend a lot of time figuring out what the road ahead was. And I’m still doing that. If for example Stefan and Eric, both well respected names in the SharePoint branding area, are disagreeing on this topic, then I wonder if there even is a road ahead. Also: it might be a good idea to start some kind of portal where articles like this can be combined so it might be easier for those interested to follow up. Just an idea…

  2. If they not provide us with responsive master pages for RTM SharePoint, we should get together and put up a new codeplex solution, right dudes? .. and I do belive you as well Erik, newer thought of that before 🙂

  3. Well there is nothing more to come. If you take a closer look at the master page you will see that the dll versions are currently running on version 16 and not 15 anymore.

    Actually the current Office 365 master page is also running on version 16 and not 15 anymore.

    • Stefan, I am not ready to say that there is nothing more to come. Bill Baer announced at SharePoint Saturday Redmond 2015 (Oct 24th) another update is coming in November 2015. Yes, we are on V16, but I think before the public release we may see more. But that also doesn’t mean a front end update is eminent.

      Time will tell right?

  4. It is all one big conspiracy, the Kool-Aid that we drank out of the Microsoft mugs many years ago is blocking us from seeing the true evil plot that they have for us… Thanks for getting your hands dirty and keep digging for that UX pot of gold…

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