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SharePoint 2013 WCM Advanced Cookbook by John Chapman

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Including master pages in a SharePoint solution

Certain types of content must exist in a list or library within the SharePoint site to be usable by SharePoint. Master pages are one type of content that has this requirement. In order to reduce calls to the SQL content database, these can be ghosted in the SharePoint library. Ghosting allows for the file to be on the filesystem of the SharePoint servers and referenced by a placeholder in the library rather than being stored in the content database.

If a ghosted file is edited (in SharePoint Designer, for instance), a copy will be placed in the content database and served up instead of the original file on the filesystem. In addition, the file can be reverted back to being served up by the filesystem. ...

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