Although the title of this post indicates the particular objective I achieved, this post walks through the steps that are necessary for any scenario that requires you to have access to the classic page experience on a communication site or modern team site in SharePoint Online. In my case, the reason for this is to leverage a “legacy” app part on a classic wiki page that allows users to configure settings for a custom page header and footer. Unlike “classic” SharePoint Online sites, communication sites and modern team sites do not give you the ability to create a new wiki page in the Site Pages library that allows you to add “legacy” web parts. SharePoint Framework client-side web parts are the only custom web parts supported on modern page experiences.
Microsoft didn’t necessarily make it “easy” to do all of this, but it is possible and the process is simple if you follow the steps below.
Step 1 (modern team sites only): Disable NoScript
This step is required because my app part uses custom script to access and manipulate values stored in the site property bag. In this post, I explain the differences between modern team sites and communication sites when it comes to the default NoScript setting and show how you can query a site’s NoScript status and change it if necessary.
Because communication sites are not NoScript sites (apologies for the double negative), you do not need to perform this step on them.
Step 2: Install the SharePoint-hosted add-in
My SharePoint-hosted add-in surfaces an app part that reads configuration settings for the custom header and footer from the site property bag and allows users to update them. I built the .app package for the add-in and deployed it to my tenant’s app catalog site. This made it available to install in my communication site and modern team site:
After installing my SharePoint-hosted add-in’s SiteHeaderFooter.app file and my SharePoint Framework Application Customizer Extension’s sp-fx-header-footer.sppkg file to my tenant’s app catalog site, both are available to install on my new communication site. We will install the SharePoint Framework Application Customizer Extension in step 4 below. Notice how the addanapp.aspx page retains the “classic” page experience. This was my first clue that it would still be possible to unlock other classic page experiences–such as a classic wiki page–within these modern sites.
Step 3: Create the classic wiki page and add the “legacy” app part
If you navigate to the Site Pages library in a “classic” site, you will see the option to create a new Wiki Page within that library:
The Site Pages library within “classic” sites still allows you to create Wiki Pages with the classic page experience.
However, if you navigate to the Site Pages library in a communication site or modern team site, this option does not exist:
The Site Pages libraries within communication sites and modern team sites do not expose the option to create new Wiki Pages.
How can we add a new wiki page to the Site Pages library if the option isn’t there? By clicking the “Return to classic SharePoint” link that appears in the lower left corner of the screen:
There is much to be said about what happens when you click that link, but for our purposes it does exactly what we need (at least for the duration of our session). When viewing the same Site Pages library returned to the classic page experience, clicking the New link now prompts you for a new page name:
Specifying the page name and pressing Create gives us a new “classic” wiki page to which we can add the app part from the SharePoint-hosted add-in. Once that is done, I can configure the custom header and footer parameters and press Set Values:
Installing and configuring the SharePoint-hosted add-in handles the rendering of the header and footer on all classic page experiences within a site.
However, the site home page will still not display the header and footer because modern page experiences do not support user custom actions. That’s where the SharePoint Framework Application Customizer Extension comes into play.
Step 4: Install the SharePoint Framework Application Customizer Extension
Return to the addanapp.aspx page we visited earlier when installing the SharePoint-hosted add-in to our site. This time, choose to add the sp-fx-header-footer-client-side-solution. You can read all about this SharePoint Framework Application Customizer Extension and how it works in this blog post. This will activate the associated site-scoped feature that renders the header and footer on modern page experiences. You can confirm this by going to Site Settings and ensuring the SPFx HeaderFooter Application Extension – Deployment of custom action feature is Active:
Step 5: Enjoy the results
Below you can see my custom header and footer applied on both a new communication site and a modern team site:
Custom header and footer rendered on a communication site.
Custom header and footer rendered on a modern team site where I followed the same steps performed on the communication site in the steps above.
– By returning to classic SharePoint, it is still possible to add new wiki pages to the Site Pages library in communication sites and modern team sites in SharePoint Online (where the option to create them is not shown by default).
– Restoring this classic page experience to modern sites allows you to leverage “legacy” app parts that were built using the add-in model without having to rebuild the functionality using a SharePoint Framework client-side web part (NOTE: this is probably something you will still want to do in most cases).
– Even when your “Return to classic SharePoint” session cookie expires, your classic wiki page will remain in the Site Pages library and is still completely accessible.
– Applying branding such as a custom header and footer to modern sites–especially those that contain a combination of classic and modern page experiences–will require a multifaceted approach that may include capabilities from the SharePoint add-in model as well as SharePoint Framework.