Are you ready for SharePoint 2013?

In this third installation of my four part series giving a 35,000-foot overview of some of the major changes expected in SharePoint 2013, we will be looking at some of the new features that will specifically affect SharePoint designers.

The series covers these changes as they relate to administrators, developers, designers and end users. Be sure to check in next week when we explore what's in store for end users.

What’s New for Designers?

Major changes are ahead in SharePoint 2013 for SharePoint designers. Keep reading to learn about some of the most important potential changes.

Design Manager

One of the biggest changes in SharePoint 2013 is that SharePoint Designer is no longer necessary for branding a SharePoint site. Now there’s a new utility called Design Manager that designers can use for branding SharePoint websites. Design Manager is not a separate utility; instead, it is part of the publishing portal site collection template.

Design Manager introduces a brand new interface that serves as the central hub for branding. With Design Manager, designers can use HTML, CSS and Jscript in any of their favorite HTML editors.

Design Manager also contains a Snippet Gallery, Display Templates, Rollup Pages, Mobile Channels and Customizable Error Pages, all of which are handled outside of SharePoint Designer. You can then simply click Export Package in the Design Manager to export a design package, that includes all the contents of the Master Page Gallery, Style Library, Theme Gallery, the Mobile Channels list and Page content types and they are automatically packaged into a single .wsp file, or design package for deployment.

Workflow Changes

SharePoint Designer 2013 introduces a new workflow platform called the SharePoint 2013 Workflow platform, which allows workflows created in SharePoint Designer to include functionality specifically for Windows Azure Workflows (WAW). Support for Legacy Workflows still exists in SharePoint 2013, but designers now also have additional features in SharePoint Designer. These features include both a visual workflow development experience that uses a Visio 2013 add-in and an action that enables no-code web service calls from within your workflows.

Other new actions in SharePoint Designer 2013 include an action for creating and starting a task process and a coordination task that allows you to start a SharePoint 2010 workflow from inside a SharePoint 2013 workflow platform. Additionally, SharePoint Designer now has a new Dictionary type and new building blocks that include stages, loops and app steps.

SharePoint Designer

Another major difference designers will notice is the removal of design and split views for page editing in SharePoint Designer. In SharePoint 2013, designers are pushed toward using the Code View only. Although there have been some concerns raised about the removal of the design view, there is hope that it will be available in the Release To Manufacturing (RTM) of SharePoint 2013.

Editor's Note: You may be interested in reading all of Brian Alderman's series.