SharePoint Designer 2013: Where did Split & Design view go?

When SharePoint 2013 rolled out, our Microsoft SharePoint Consultants had a lot of fun exploring the new features and the new functionality.  Yet when it came time to do some branding work, something wasn’t feeling right.

The Split & Design views of page editing are no longer supported in SharePoint 2013.  A quick review of Unbounded Solutions’ SharePoint team revealed a redundant array of pained expressions upon learning this news.  No matter to dismay to our team, or yours, Microsoft has made it clear that it won’t be coming back.  Per the notation in the MSDN:

Reason for the change: Compared to current versions of Internet Explorer, Design view is an older technology that does not support many new HTML5 and CSS tags.”

Of course, some might take that as the final word on the subject.  But our team was not willing to do that, and have created a few creative workarounds that they wanted to share.

Workaround One: Expression Web – The Microsoft Approved Method

One of our SharePoint consultants feels that this method is a bit convoluted, but it is the official method suggested by Microsoft.  You be the judge.  Here is what Microsoft suggests:

“If you want to visually design or brand your site, and you want a WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) page-editing experience, you can use any professional HTML editor, such as Microsoft Expression Web. Then you can import your HTML files into SharePoint Server 2013 by using the new Design Manager, which is a feature included in publishing sites, such as the Publishing Portal Site Collection site template.”

Workaround Two: SharePoint Designer 2010 still works

If the new version of SharePoint doesn’t offer the tool that you want, sometimes you might want to look to the past.  In this case you can use SharePoint Designer 2010 to connect and work with a SharePoint 2013 site.

While this is not a supported solution, at least not officially supported by Microsoft, our SharePoint team has used this method repeatedly to great effect.  That said, there is a small issue to consider.  If you try to edit a list form in SharePoint Designer 2010, you will get a blank window as a result.  To resolve this, just create a (pagename).aspx page first, and then add the Data View.

Workaround Three: Focus on client side design

Re-architect your solutions to focus on client-side data processing – that’s the long view of where you could and probably should go down the line.  Since it appears that Microsoft is pushing us away from relying on SharePoint Designer, it is likely that customization via client-side design is the safe future.

This is of course, the long term way of thinking about it. The design is shifting away from using designer, and instead focusing their efforts to building in the customization through client side design.

Workaround Four: Data Parsing

You’ll likely see this as a partial solution posted on a multitude of blogs, but if you go this way, our SharePoint consultants advise that you use the Parse HTLM menu prior to taking actions on related web parts and web part zones.

Workaround Five: Use Third Party Tools

When one door closes – in this case Design View – another one opens.  Take a look at a third party tool called ‘Magic Data View Builder’ created by Dustin Miller.  We can’t be certain that this solution will be your panacea, but we can encourage you to check it out.

Let us know which of these methods works for you, and be sure to share this blog across your social media channels if you found it helpful.  Of course, if you have another method we should check out, please share it in the comments section below.


  1. Joshua Stevens

    Here’s the dumb thing about all this 🙁 while these workarounds are feasible one MAJOR ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM that has not been addressed. Maintaining migrated applications that have been customized with SPD are now impossible or extremely hard.

    Thanks Microsoft

  2. Unbounded Solutions

    You certainly echo our frustration with our good friends in Redmond, but they at least have publicly disclosed their reasoning behind this: “Design view is an older technology that does not support many new HTML5 and CSS tags.”

    That said, how about updating Design view so it supports the newer tags? 😉

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