What is a Composed Look? SharePoint 2013 has done away with ‘themes’ so to speak, but they’ve been replaced with a more mac-daddy theme…the Composed Look. How does it work? When you are in Site Settings > Change the Look > and you choose the design you love…SharePoint creates a series of documents unique to your site. It has its own Master Page, CSS file, Font Scheme, and Color Scheme.
To make your own Composed Look, go to Site Settings > Composed looks (under the Web Designer Galleries) heading > add new item. From there you simply fill out the form giving the title, name, and URLs to your custom Master Page (which has your custom CSS file linked inside), .spcolor file (more below) and optional font scheme file and background image.
*The display order you give your Composed Look will be the order it’s displayed in the Change the Look gallery
In order to have your Composed Look displayed in the Change the Look gallery, you MUST have a .preview file named exactly the same as your Master Page in the Master Page Gallery. The best way to achieve this is to copy and paste an existing .preview file and change the name. This is the file that will be displayed in the “Change the Look” gallery.
Other than your Master Page and CSS files, your color scheme will be one of the most important files you create. The color scheme is a file with the .spcolor extension and it defines the primary and accent colors within your site. Fortunately, for SharePoint 2013, Microsoft moved away from the ‘Theme from a PowerPoint file’ and provided an easy to use tool for building the .spcolor file using the SharePoint Color Palette Tool. This tool will allow you to start with a client’s primary colors then you can easily build the full color palette for your branded site. Like SharePoint Designer 2013, it’s free to download and use.
Within the SharePoint Color Palette Tool, you have tons of options to change the color of just about anything. To me, it’s the most valuable tool you can use to cut down on tedious CSS color changes for your site.
Upload your .spcolor file in Site Settings > Themes > 15 > add new document then use that link to the .spcolor file in your Composed Look item.
Once you’ve created your Composed Look simply go back to Site Settings > Change the Look > and find the one you made!
If you are in the testing phase and want to check any change, be sure to Change the Look again so SharePoint can create the new updated files…otherwise you’ll still see the old ones it created from before. And that can make you go a bit crazy…speaking from experience.
If you are in the testing phase of your development and you want to tweak your new Composed Look, you will need to be sure to reset the Composed Look whenever you make changes to the .spcolor file. In a later post, we’ll explain the details of it but the short of it is that SharePoint generates some files behind the scenes and the only way to force the regeneration is to change the look to another Composed Look then change back to your newly updated Composed Look.
Hope this helps!
If you are interested in deploying a Composed Look programmatically, check out Jason Cribbet’s blog Composed Looks in SharePoint 2013 - Part 2!