Category: SharePoint

Widgets instead of Add-Ins/Apps?

The concept of Add-Ins (formally knows as Apps) in SharePoint puts logic as HTML and CSS to another page. This page is then rendered as iFrame to another SharePoint page. This approach has advantages and disadvantages. You have to decide yourself.

A very promising way to put stuff (or WebParts) onto a SharePoint page is the Widget Wrangler.

More information can be found on https://dev.office.com/blogs/introducing-widget-wrangler.

Conceptually Widget Wrangler implementation is based on similar thinking as PnP App Script Part implementation, which was released few years back as part of the PnP patterns (or at the time it was call App Model Samples). Advantages of this model is that you do not have deal with iFrame implementations and functionalities can be fully responsive, where needed. Also implementation of the capabilities is much simpler when your JavaScript is directly embedded to the page rendering logic without additional complexity.

In demo section Bob is showing following topics

  • How to use Widget Wrangler with plan JavaScript?
  • How to use Widget Wrangler with jQuery?
  • How to use Widget Wrangler with KnockoutJS?
  • How to use Widget Wrangler with Angular?
  • How does Widget Wrangler handle multiple instances of same widget in the SharePoint Pages?

I like that. As soon as I’ve some spare time, I will take a close look.

Fix “Access Denied” on Registry and Filesystem

Today I installed the May CU on a SharePoint 2013 farm hosted in Azure. After the Installation was done (with a PowerShell script that disables some services to speed up the process), there were Exceptions opening the User Profile Service (UPS) settings page.

So I investigated the logs and found many entries about “Access Denied”. Some directly pointed to the registry hive “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office Server\15.0” with the message Requested registry access is not allowed. or Getting Error Message for Exception System.Security.SecurityException: Requested registry access is not allowed., others about access to directories Access to the path ‘C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office Servers\15.0\Data\Office Server\CanonicalResources\ProjectionModels\EN_EN.mdl’ is denied.

Well, the short answer to fix the problem is: You need to execute the SharePoint Configuration Wizard on each server of the farm after installing an update.

Create the default groups via PowerShell

If your site is missing the three default groups “Visitors”, “Members” and “Owners”, you can create them easily with PowerShell or the Object Model.

 

Update to the SharePoint Solution Deployer

A new version is out. If brings some great new extensions (two of them are from me 🙂 )

v5.0.4.6440 (2015-04-04)

  • New: All extensions added: Blocked file extensions, content type hub, custom crawl connector, features, logging configuration, managed metadata, re-ghost, search schema, secure store, site structure, CSOM extensions for files and 2013 workflows
  • Updated: SharePointVersions.xml
  • Updated: Typos in comments fixed and some code clean-up
  • First release based on GitHub repository

Grab your version from http://spsd.codeplex.com

The SharePoint Solution Deployer

Deploying Solutions can be a …. (fill in as you wish).

The SharePoint Solution Deployer offers a great opportunity to writing your own scripts. The existing functionality should match your needs to deploy SharePoint Solutions. If not, the “framework” can be extended with custom Extensions or simple PowerShell code.

I’ve written two Extensions, which let you enable and disable features upon deployments and reset files to their site definitions (aka ReGhost).

To be able to have different URLs for your dev-machine, staging and production farms, simply create additional XML-files and configure URLs there. The XML-file needs to be named with the hostname of the server, where you want start the deployment.

Example

The example shows two files within the Environment subfolder.

Default XML Configuration file (Default.xml)

 Hostname.xml

The script will look if there is any XML file with the name “hostname.xml”

That’s it.

You can start the deployment with e.g. “Redeploy.bat” from the Rootfolder, no matter which farm you are on.

Getting the PageTitle

Getting the PageTitle of a page should be just a property away would you think. I would call Page.Title to get the title of the current page.

Unfortunately Page.Title contains “\r\n           ” and the title of the page is in a new line, like this:

The property will only return the first row, which is not very helpful 🙁

So what can we do? Since the title is set through a control within a ContentPlacehoder, my way was to get the control and take the value from it. And… it worked. An extension method will traverse all controls, to find the desired one.

Page.Title, I got you 😉

Updating the title within a SPItemEventReceiver with AfterProperties

Recently I had a problem setting the title field of a Page within the pages library. My requirement was to set the title with the value from the PageTitle field of the current item.

An ItemEventReceiver, which is executed synchronously to prevent save conflict exception or problems with published items, was supposed to do exactly that. But when I set the title property of the item via AfterProperties, the value did not get stored. I tried other fields, and they got written to the item just fine. After some trial-and-error and consulting the MSDN I found a solution.

The ItemEventReceiver needs to update the vti_title field instead. This field exists on a SPFile. And since a Page is a SPFile, you’ll need to modify that field instead.

With this code, the title of my page was changed as supposed to.

Why I prefer WebApplication deployments over GAC deployments

This article is written with scope on SharePoint 2013. With SP 2013 the default TrustLevel in the web.config is set to “FullTrust”. On previous version the value is “WSS_Minimal”.

When you develop Farm-Solutions for SharePoint, you can deploy assemblies to the Global Assembly Cache (GAC) or configure the solution for a “bin-Deployment”.

The bin-way puts assemblies into the bin folder of the WebApplication, where the solution is deployed to.

You can switch the target of the assemblies by modifying the properties of a SharePoint project. The default value is GlobalAssemblyCache.

What does the changed property do to your solution?

Changing the value to WebApplication will deploy the assembly to the bin-directory of your IIS directory, as mentioned earlier. Because of the narrowed scope of the assembly, only the associated application pools needs to be recycled.

The classes you implemented, will be available only to your Website, which is fine in most cases. Assemblies within the GAC are available for all processes on the server.

In the past (prior SharePoint 2013) assemblies did not have FullControl permissions if they were deployed to the bin-directory. Instead Partial Trust was granted with the “WSS_Minimal” policy. A custom Code Access Security (CAS) had to be configured.

An advantage was the least privileges approach, a disadvantage the overhead of creating this CAS.

This is a list with advantages and disadvantages for bin-deployments. Pick your items and weight them the way you prefer.

My result was to deploy to bin, if possible. The faster development and deployment together with minimal impact on productive servers was worth it.

Advantages

  • Faster Deployment – With a GAC Deployment all application pools (incl. CentralAdministration) will be recycled
  • Less impact on other components

Disadvantages

  • TimerJobs need assemblies within the GAC
  • Using Feature Receivers, you’ll need to recycle the CentralAdministration application pool as well. Otherwise activating a Feature through the UI, could load the old assembly
  • Only one version of an assembly

What do you think? Why do you deploy to bin or to GAC?

Custom field and UpdateFieldValueInItem()

Recently I was developing a custom field. To store modified values, the UpdateFieldValueInItem method has to be overwritten.

In a normal way of clicking the submit/save button, the method is called and I can adjust the value for the field within the current item. The changes are submitted to the database later.

But what if you want to modify items outside of the current item? Sure, you can do so would you think. But you’ll need to consider the scenario that the user does not click submit/save. The method is called on every postback. The PeoplePicker will cause a postback, when it validates its values. There might be other controls as well, which behave this way.

My problem was that I could not modify items, other then the current, without checking if submit/save was clicked. I ended up checking the form for the control, that triggered the postback. If this value is “SaveItem”, I am good.

So if you need to know if the item is currently being saved or if you are within a regular postback, look at your form 🙂

Creating a lookup field via elements.xml

This is another post to help me remember. And as a reference for all of you, who cannot remember how to create a SPFieldLookup via XML.

When you provision a SPField via features, do not forget to add Overwrite=”TRUE”! Otherwise you’ll get an exception like this:

<nativehr>0x8107058a</nativehr><nativestack></nativestack>Fehler beim Binden des Inhaltstyps ‘0x010200C7A18EB120BB4A00892E9E1EE9481C9B0067E475B6FDD54048B347370871443CAD’ an die Liste ‘/sites/rhtest/Lists/LookupList’ für ‘http://rhdevsp2013/sites/rhtest’. Ausnahme ‘<nativehr>0x80070057</nativehr><nativestack></nativestack>’.

Unfortunately the MSDN is not very specific about the Overwrite property:

Optional Boolean. Specifies whether the field definition for a new field that is activated on a site (SPWeb) overwrites the field definition for an existing field, in cases where the new field has the same field ID as the existing field. True if the new field overwrites the existing field with the same field ID; otherwise false. The default is false.

Note, however, that if the existing field is read-only, or if it is sealed, then it will not be overwritten by the field that is being activated, even if this attribute is set to true

Hopefully I’ll think about this the next time a lookup field needs to be provisioned…

Migrate SharePoint Blog to WordPress

As promised here, this is a follow-up post with the tool I developed for the SharePoint to WordPress migration.

First, a screenshot:

Migrate SharePoint ot WordPress Screenshot

What is it, that we have to cover with a migration? Copying the posts is not enough. So I came up with this features:

Features

  • Copy posts
  • Copy comments
  • Copy resources like images and downloads
  • Create needed tags and categories
  • Modify links to local resource
  • deal with https, if links are absolute on the source blog and mixed with http
  • Using web services to connect to source and destination
  • URL rewriting (covered by a WordPress Plugin)
  • Delete all content from the destination blog (for migration testing)
  • Replace strings (with Regex)
  • a nice (WPF) GUI

Description

Originally I’ve build a plain console application. Then I thought that a console application would possibly scare some users. And after some time I wanted to do some WPF again. So I created a WPF application, to wrap all the functionality into a GUI. This way it will be easier to use for the folks out there, who do not like black console applications 😉 Since I am using web services to connect to both blogging platforms, the tool can be executed on any client computer. No access to a server session is required.

To start, you obviously need URLs to the source and destination blog, as well as credentials to the destination blog. Since most blogs are anonymous, you’ll probably not need to fill in the source credentials. The migration starts by hitting the “Migrate Content” button. That should be it for using the tool. It will remember the last entries for the URLs and login names, in case you need to perform multiple runs, which was the case for me. The passwords will need to be reentered for security reasons.

It’ll show the progress of all steps in a progress bar and text at the bottom of the application and tell you when it’s finished. Existing categories are mapped to new categories and used as tag, too. I’ve tested the tool with three blogs, one being my own with installed CKS:EBE. There really isn’t much more to configure, to have your blog being migrated to WordPress with this tool.

Some data needs to be modified, before the blog can go live on the new destination. In case of URLs this is necessary to generate valid links within the destination. Fortunately there is a plugin available to do some fancy rewriting. Since WordPress is showing its own smilies, I wanted to get rid of some strings within the posts, that reference smilies as images and replace them with, well, smilies. A txt file within the same directory with the name “replacestrings.txt” will take lines with strings for replacement.

The sample will replace all my old smilie images with plain string before posts are created on the destination blog. The images that were used as smilies in the source, won’t be copied to the destination, because they are not referenced anymore. Otherwise I got many images with smilies. I like smilies 😀

You can stop reading here, if you are a user and would like to migrate your blog and download the tool. As a developer you might be interested on how the tool works…

Technical stuff

The tool gives me a good opportunity to explain some programming tasks, I used for the migration tool. I will explain some of them.

SharePoint offers web services (_vti_bin/lists.asmx), WordPress an XML RPC interface (I used CookComputing.XmlRpc to connect). Those two are used to connect to the blogs. Since the SharePoint web services need Displaynames to connect to the posts and comments list, I first queried them by list template.

Querying SharePoint for List Titles

Use the SharePoint lists web service, to get all lists of a site and search for specific lists like the posts and comments. The lists are identified by the used template. That way I do not have a localization issue.

With the list names retrieved, I can query the lists for data. The web services use display names to identify lists.

Get SharePoint items with paging via web service

The method to actually query the web service for listitems. Properties of the class SharePointListConfig for the list title, ListItemCollectionPosition and Pagesize are simple string properties. The fields are specified, to get only the data we need for the migration.

After all data has been read, local resources parsed and links replaced we move on to the destination side.

WordPress specific details

As stated above, I’ve use an existing library. There are plenty of samples out there, if you look for them. I’ve implemented the following methods.

I would like to tell you some issues I had, so you don’t get the same problems I had programming with the WordPress XML RPC interface.

Post deletion

Just call the wp.deletePost method? Almost. You’ll have to call it twice to first move it to the recycle bin and then again to have posts being deleted permanently.

Media deletion

There is no method to delete items from the media gallery 🙁 Fortunately items within the gallery behave like pages. So if you implement an call the deprecated wp.deletePage interface, you can achieve what you want (remember to delete twice).

Categories and Tags

Both can be managed with the interface for terms the string for the parameter “taxonomy” will decide what to do. It can be “category” or “post_tag”.

Other than that, the WordPress API is pretty straight-forward and easy to use.

Download

The download contains an executable, which is the tool itself, and a folder with the complete sourcecode.

Migrate SharePoint To WordPress

ChangePassword Webpart – new version available

The ChangePassword WebPart on CodePlex has been downloaded over 20.000 times. The new version has a couple of new features:

  • Easy Installation
  • SharePoint 2010 and 2013 (Foundation and Server)
  • Password strength indicator
  • Plugin support to extend functionality by custom code1
  • Warning if an unsecured connection is used
  • Copyright hint can be removed1
  • Auditing of password changes (and attempts)
  • Logging into the SharePoint logs

This is how it might look on your SharePoint:
ITaCS Password Changer
Documentation and downloads are available here.

Useful JavaScript to know when working with SharePoint Display Templates

This post has some really great examples for JavaScript helper methods and available properties for working with Display Templates in SharePoint 2013.

http://dotnetmafia.com/blogs/dotnettipoftheday/archive/2014/02/26/useful-javascript-for-working-with-sharepoint-display-templates-spc3000-spc14.aspx

If you ever had to decide if your script is running on a SharePoint Foundation, use this one:

SharePoint App Deployment fails

Visual Studio does not tell you much if an app deployment fails.

image

Fortunately SharePoint will log more information about the problem that occurred during the app deployment in the ULS-Log.

So if you run into the “There were deployment errors.” exception, take a look at the ULS-Log. In this particular case SharePoint didn’t like my JavaScript:

App Packaging: CreatePackage: Unexpected exception: There were errors when validating the App package: There were errors when validating the App Package. Other warnings / errors associated with this exception:  Custom action urls must start with "http:", "https:", "~appWebUrl" or "~remoteAppUrl".  The url "javascript:DoSomething();" is not in the right format.

Always to remember to look at the logfiles, if you have exceptions. They often contain more information 🙂

The solution for warming up SharePoint

Most SharePoint Farms will have a solution for the long loading time after an Application Pool recycle or iisreset running. There are many different ways to preload websites, so your users have faster load times. So why another solution?

There are some questions, that I think have not been dealt with before:

  • Most solutions require some sort of Timer to be started (e.g. a Scheduled Task)
  • When should the warmup occur?
  • What about multiple WebFrontend Servers?
  • How about Claims support?
  • Which URLs have to be called? What about extended WebApplications?
  • New WebApplications require the warmup tool to be adjusted
  • Manuell warmup after Deployments
  • What about search?
  • Did the Farm warmup correctly?

Years ago I developed a console application, which warms up SharePoint by calling each Site within a SiteCollection. It has bee updated multiple times with new features.

Basis of the new solution still is the “old” application. It has been integrated into the SharePoint Central Administration and the SharePoint Timer job. That way it can be configured through an Application Page and is executed by the SharePoint Timer on each WebFrontend Server. The Solution has been tested with SharePoint 2010 and 2013.

A Custom Action displays a new link within the “Monitoring” Section of the Central Administration.

image

All WebApplications are listed, and can be configured separately. The time the Application Pools recycles is read from IIS and will be set as default time (+ 1 minute). That way you can assure fast pages even shortly after the daily recycle.

image

A manual warmup can be started through the Timerjob page, or by downloading and executing a batch file (has be be executed on each farm server).

If you select to write to the EventLog, each execution of a job will write a summary to the Application Log. If all Websites could be loaded without a problem, the Event ID will be 0. Otherwise 1.

image

The tool supports Claims WebApplications with Windows Authentication.

The download package contains two WSPs. One for a SharePoint 2010 farm, and the other for 2013.

Download: Download WSP Packages, Sources

Update November 11, 2014

  • Please restart the SharePoint Timer service on all farmservers after intalling the solution

Building a Visual Studio project for SP2010/SP2013 (.NET 3.5/4.0)

In this post I will show you how you can use MSBuild to target your project for .NET 3.5 or .NET 4.0 and use a separate app.config file for each.

My Warmup Tool is supposed to work with SP2010 and SP2013. To achieve that compatibility, I have to change the TargetFramework of the project to be able to compile, as well as the app.config so the application uses the desired Framework. I didn’t want to change the values every time manually. An automated solution has to be possible. And it is. Some little changes to the project file and MSBuild will do all the work for you 🙂

So lets look into the default .csproj file, which sets the TargetFramework and references the app.config.

  1: <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
  2: <Project DefaultTargets="Build" xmlns="http://..." ToolsVersion="4.0">
  3:   <PropertyGroup>
  4:     <Configuration Condition=" '$(Configuration)' == '' ">Debug</Configuration>
  5:     <Platform Condition=" '$(Platform)' == '' ">AnyCPU</Platform>
  6:     ...
  7:     <TargetFrameworkVersion>v3.5</TargetFrameworkVersion>
  8:   ...
  9:   </PropertyGroup>

The version has to be exchanged, because SharePoint 2013 uses the .NET Runtime 4, but SP 2010 the Version 2. Trying to build the project with the wrong Target Framework will fail. The referenced SharePoint Assemblies depend on the correct Framework Version.

An easy way to specify the value depending on a condition, is to use the Constants, you can define on the build page within the project settings.

image

I use “SP2010” and “SP2013”, which can be used by MSBuild. You can change that value any time. Reloading the project is not necessary, as the Build-process picks up the value when it needs it.

Let’s get back to the TargetFramework. Switching the version depending a constant defined (“SP2013” in my case) is done with two new property groups in the csproj file of your project. I’ve included the lines below the debug/release Property Groups, because the DefineConstants property is defined there.

  1: <PropertyGroup Condition=" $(DefineConstants.Contains('SP2010')) ">
  2:   <TargetFrameworkVersion>v3.5</TargetFrameworkVersion>
  3: </PropertyGroup>
  4: <PropertyGroup Condition=" $(DefineConstants.Contains('SP2013')) ">
  5:   <TargetFrameworkVersion>v4.0</TargetFrameworkVersion>
  6: </PropertyGroup>

Remove the default entry, which is the one you see on line 7 of the previous code fragment above.

Now we are set up, and may compile the project for .NET 3.5 and .NET 4.0. Great. To have the application config include the supportedRuntime version as well, I’ve included two config files into my project.

image

The files are identical, except the value of the supportedRuntime, which is v2.0.50727 for .NET 3.5 and v4.0.30319 for .NET 4.0. Again MSBuild is your friend for using one or the other file depending the previously used constant “SP2010” or “SP2013”.

 

 

The switching condition can be specified like this:

  1: <ItemGroup Condition="$(DefineConstants.Contains('SP2010'))">
  2:   <None Include="Config\2010\app.config" />
  3: </ItemGroup>
  4: <ItemGroup Condition="$(DefineConstants.Contains('SP2013'))">
  5:   <None Include="Config\2013\app.config" />
  6: </ItemGroup>

The default entry for including the root-level app.config file has been removed from the csproj file.

As a result of the effort, I can build my console application for SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2013 by switching the constant in the project settings. The corresponding app.config file is used as well.

Speed up SharePoint Update Installation

Installing Updates for SharePoint 2013 will take a long time, if you don’t disable some services prior starting the update process by executing the hotfix exe file. To simplify the installation, and speeding it up, you can use a PowerShell script to stop the necessary services, and start the update.

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/russmax/archive/2013/04/01/why-sharepoint-2013-cumulative-update-takes-5-hours-to-install.aspx

You need to copy the code, and save it as e.g. Install_SharePoint_Update.ps1 in the same folder as the exe file. Start the script from the “SharePoint Management Shell”. It will take care of the services for you.

Btw: You can start the script with PowerShell on a remote path. No need to copy the update file to your SharePoint Servers 🙂

SQL Access to Configuration DB required

In many cases you pass an URL string to connect to SharePoint. In my case I wanted to verify the URL by using this code:

  1: Uri requestUri;
  2: if (!Uri.TryCreate(absoluteUrl, UriKind.Absolute, out requestUri))
  3:   throw new ArgumentException(absoluteUrl + " is no a valid URL.");
  4: 
  5: SPWebApplication webApplication = SPWebApplication.Lookup(requestUri);

And here comes the “but”. I did not know that the account, which is executing the code, needs permissions to the Configuration Database!

So either grant permissions, or use something like this:

  1: using (var site = new SPSite(requestUri.AbsoluteUri))
  2: {
  3:   SPWebApplication webApplication = site.WebApplication;
  4: }

Happy SharePointing…

When a Feature gets installed

Have you ever thought about the Features folder and when a folder will be created for one of you features? Well, I did 🙂

Why is this relevant, anyway? To be able to activate a feature on a given scope, it has to be installed first. That’s why.

ActionResult
stsadm -o addsolutionThe solution is added to the farm. Features are not available
stsadm -o deploysolutionFeature folders are created and the Features are available for activation
stsadm -o installfeatureA feature with ID xyz has already been installed in this farm.  Use the force attribute to explicitly re-install the feature.

Great. After deploying the solution, the feature is automatically installed and can be used. I did expect this, because installing a feature is a rather uncommon task.

Here comes another one. What if you add a feature to an existing – and deployed solution – and perform an upgrade?

ActionResult
stsadm -o upgradesolutionAdds the new feature folder
stsadm -o activatefeatureFeature with Id ‘4520d607-699b-4025-b605-5f988c97b368’ is not installed in this farm, and cannot be added to this scope.

Ups. Did you expect the result? The feature has to be installed first!

Conclusion

If you add a feature to a solution, make sure the features gets installed prior usage! There are two ways

  1. Install the new feature
  2. Retract and Redeploy the solution

CKS – Dev for Visual Studio 2012 and 2013

The new release brings support for Visual Studio 2013 🙂

The CKS – Development Tools Edition for Visual Studio 2012 and 2013 is a collection of Visual Studio templates, Server Explorer extensions and tools providing accelerated SharePoint 2010/2013 development based on Microsoft’s SharePoint 2010/2013 development tools.

http://visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/cf1225b4-aa83-4282-b4c6-34feec8fc5ec?SRC=VSIDE