November Events : Speaking at SPCON14 and SPSUK

Well, looks like November is going to be a busy month for me.

For starters I’m booked into the Combined Knowledge “App Venture” course with the legendary Ted Pattison (all about SP2013 Apps and I’m hoping to pick up some MVC, MVVM, Knockout and AngularJS goodness).

I’m also honoured to be invited back to speak at both SharePoint Connect 2014 (#SPCON14) and SharePoint Saturday UK (#SPSUK), where I’ll be talking about using JSLink and Display Templates to provide advanced list rendering such as Cascading Drop Downs, Custom UIs, validation checking and integrating Google Maps functionality.

SharePoint Connect Conference 2014 (18th and 19th November)

SharePoint Connect 2014 - I'll be there! - Martin Hatch

This is a fantastic 2 day conference being held over the 18th and 19th of November at the Meervaart Theature in Amsterdam. It has been running for several years now and this will be the second time that I’ll be speaking at this event, last year was a blast! It was even voted in an independent poll as the 3rd best SharePoint conference in the world!

The sessions are split up amongst the usual IT Pro, Dev and End User tracks, as well as the increasingly common Office 365 and Business Tracks. There are also sponsor sessions where you can find out about vendor products and tools related to the SharePoint world.

If you are interested in going but haven’t bought any tickets yet then you can still get a 10% Discount using the code SA238 when you sign up at: http://bitly.com/SPcon14Join

SharePoint Saturday UK (29th November)

This is always on my calendar as soon as it is announced. It is a great event (as many of the “SharePoint Saturday” events are) and it is a genuine pleasure to both attend and speak at this conference, and best of all .. its FREE!

It is held every year in the UK Midlands, a refreshing change from what are normally London oriented events, and this year (as it was last year) it will be held at the Hinckley Island Hotel (in Hinckley, of all places!).

Again there is a great spread of sessions among IT Pro, Dev, Information Worker and also Business and Social tracks (so I’m hoping to see some Yammer integration at some point). Despite being a free event there are some world class speakers in attendance and a varied set of sessions, so please register and hopefully I’ll see you there!

Customising the Content Search Web Part – Part 4 – Packaging & Deployment in Visual Studio

This is the final post in a series I have been writing on the Content by Search Web Part (aka CSWP).

  1. What you get in the box
  2. Custom Display Templates with JavaScript
  3. Going Old Skool with XSLT
  4. Packaging & Deployment in Visual Studio (this post)

So in this final post we will be looking at how your Content Search Web Parts can be deployed as WSP packages in Visual Studio.

The first thing you will need to decide is:

Do you deploy the HTML Designer File?

 

Or just the final JS file?

This was really triggered with a discussion I had with Chris O’Brien (@ChrisO_Brien) when we got talking about Content Search Web Parts and what the best approach was for deploying them.

In my opinion it really comes down to what environment you are deploying to, and whether the admin / power users will need to have access to a (much easier to modify) designer file.

Deploying the JS File

This is definitely the easiest approach as it doesn’t really involve anything too complicated. You would still start off with your HTML Designer file and deploy it to your DEV box, but you would then extract the compiled JS file and drop THAT file into Visual Studio.

You can then deploy it using a standard Module element.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>

<Elements xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/sharepoint/">

  <Module Name="MJHDisplayTemplates" Url="_catalogs/masterpage/Display Templates/Content Web Parts" Path="MJH Display Templates" RootWebOnly="TRUE">

    <File Url="Item_MJHSummary.js" Type="GhostableInLibrary" />

  </Module>

</Elements>

Deploying the HTML Designer File

This is a little bit more tricky. The main problem is that the JS file is compiled “on the fly” by an SPItemEventReceiver in the Master Page and Page Layouts Gallery. Of course, event receivers do not get fired when a file is dropped in from a module from a feature, so you basically need to go and give SharePoint a prod to make it “do its thing”.

My approach is to use a Feature Receiver to “touch” the file (which prompts the event receiver to fire) so that your JS file is then compiled.

In order to make this more dynamic we will inject the Feature ID as a property of the SPFile which is actually provisioned by the module. Thankfully this is a relatively easy thing to achieve.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>

<Elements xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/sharepoint/">

  <Module Name="MJHDisplayTemplates" Url="_catalogs/masterpage/Display Templates/Content Web Parts" Path="MJH Display Templates" RootWebOnly="TRUE">

    <File Url="Item_MJHSummary.html" Type="GhostableInLibrary">

      <Property Name="FeatureId" Value="$SharePoint.Feature.Id$" Type="string"/>

    </File>

  </Module>

</Elements>

The trick then is to have a Feature Receiver which looks for all of the files which have that property and modify the file in some way (I just pull the file bytes and push it back again, basically uploading a duplicate copy of the file, just calling SPListItem.Update() or SPFile.Update() didn’t seem to work!).

string featureId = properties.Feature.Definition.Id.ToString();

SPSite site = properties.Feature.Parent as SPSite;

SPFolder displayTemplateFolder = rootWeb.GetFolder("_catalogs/masterpage/Display Templates/Content Web Parts");

if(displayTemplateFolder.Exists)

{

    SPList parentList = folder.ParentWeb.Lists[folder.ParentListId];

 

    SPFileCollection files = folder.Files;

    var templateFiles = from SPFile f

                          in files

                          where String.Equals(f.Properties["FeatureId"] as string, featureId, StringComparison.InvariantCultureIgnoreCase)

                          select f;

 

    List<Guid> guidFilesToModify = new List<Guid>();

    foreach (SPFile file in templateFiles)

    {

        guidFilesToModify.Add(file.UniqueId);

    }

 

    foreach (Guid fileId in guidFilesToModify)

    {

        // instantiate new object to avoid modifying the collection during enumeration

        SPFile file = parentList.ParentWeb.GetFile(fileId);

 

        // get the file contents

        byte[] fileBytes = file.OpenBinary();

 

        // re-add the same file again, forcing the event receiver to fire

        folder.Files.Add(file.Name, fileBytes, true);

    }

}

So in the above code sample (which is inside a “Feature Activated” method) we are retrieving the Feature ID for the feature which is activating. We then proceed to the folder where we provisioned our files and did a simple query to pull out those files which have the feature ID in their properties (which we set in our module above).

We then pull the binary data of the file as a Byte Array, and then push exactly the same file back into the folder (which triggers the event receiver to fire).

And that should be all you need!

Customising the Content Search Web Part – Part 3 – Going old Skool with XSLT

This is the third post in a series I will be writing on the Content by Search Web Part (aka CSWP).

  1. What you get in the box
  2. Custom Display Templates with JavaScript
  3. Going Old Skool with XSLT (this post)
  4. Packaging & Deployment in Visual Studio

Now I am admittedly going to cop out here. I was originally intending to write this up in detail but to be honest it has already been done (very well) before.

So .. I would invite you to read the most excellent blog post from Waldek Mastykarz (@waldekm).

Using server-side rendering with Content Search Web Part in SharePoint 2013

He not only shows you how to hook up your JS Display Template with a server-side XSL file, but also shows you how to deploy the files and it’s primary usage (as a Search Crawler output).

If you want to use this method for all of your web requests then you can set the AlwaysRenderOnServer property of the CSWP to “true” and it will always use your XSL template file.

 

Some real photos from 6 Months of using a 41MP Nokia Lumia 1020

I have long been an advocate of both the Windows Phone operating system and Nokia Lumia phones, and one thing that I always look for in a new smartphone is a decent camera! “The best camera is the one you have with you” is one that rings strongly with me and I am frequently finding myself out at kids parties, in the park or just on family days out without my bulky DSLR (which is awesome, but due to the size of it I just can’t slip it in my pocket).

The Lumia 1020 therefore grabbed my attention (and media headlines) when it was announced with a 41MP camera! Now, this isn’t some marketing gimic or crazy “lets cram more MP in” kind of publicity stunt. This was coupled with some fancy Nokia tech (from their “PureView” camera team) which uses a combination of pixel oversampling and post-processing to produce fantastic images (the final images typically being around 34MP plus a 5MP version for sharing on social networking sites).

I won’t go into too much detail about the technical details here but you can certainly read more about it here, here and here.

So .. the purpose of this article is to share some of the photos I have taken myself in the 6 months or so of owning and using a Lumia 1020 in everyday life. I’ve specifically picked ones which don’t contain people (other than myself) and are pretty harmless (no photos of my kids of family just yet ;)).

Read more »

SharePoint 2013 Reference Sheet – Services on Server

This post will provide a description of each of the SharePoint Services in the “Services on Server” section of Central Administration, describing what it is for and anything you need to look out for.

This was borne out of a frustration of checking client environments and consistently finding environments which had services running which they weren’t using (and were never going to use!).

Note that some of these also have a corresponding Service Application that you will need to create in order to use them.

Service Purpose Comments
Access Database Service 2010 Enables SharePoint 2010 Access Services functionality
Access Services Enables SharePoint 2013 Access Services functionality Required for “Access Apps”
App Management Service Manages SharePoint App licenses and permissions Required for Apps to work
Application Discovery and Load Balancer Service Determines which server to send Service Application requests to .. this is how SharePoint automatically balances load. Fundamental SharePoint Service, defaults to “Round Robin”Can be extended with custom load balancing code if you are brave enough!
Business Data Connectivity Service Enables BCS which provides External Content Types and External Lists. Required if you want to sync external LOB systems with User Profiles.
Central Administration Hosts the Central Admin Web Application The default URL is set to the server-name of the first server SharePoint is installed on.If you want to run this on multiple servers you should consider Alternate Access Mappings with a DNS entry
Claims to Windows Token Service (C2WTS) Used to convert SharePoint Claims back into Windows Tokens for Kerberos delegation. Required for Kerberos when used with BI Tools.Requires some manual steps: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh231678.aspx
Distributed Cache Heavily used in SharePoint.Requires ICMP ports open between SharePoint Servers.

Numerous Gotchas: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj219613(v=office.15).aspx

 

Document Conversions Launcher Service Enables an extension point to configure conversion from one document format to another.
Document Conversions Load Balancer Service Enables an extension point to configure conversion from one document format to another.
Excel Calculation Services Enables the Excel Services BI functionality Significant RAM overhead (recommended 32GB)If you want to use “PowerView” in Excel then you also need to configure the SQL PowerPivot add-on.

Kerberos will require C2WTS.

Lotus Notes Connector Allows you to connect Search to a Lotus Notes database to enable indexing and crawling of Lotus content.
Machine Translation Service Allows an API for developers to submit content to be translated into another language.
Managed Metadata Web Service Enables “Managed Metadata” taxonomies and term sets Required for default navigation settings in SP2013 (navigation stored in Term Store)Required for User Profiles
Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Incoming E-Mail Enables inbound emails to be stored in Document Libraries. Requires significant configuration including AD and DNS settings:http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc262947(v=office.15).aspx
Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Outgoing E-Mail Enables outbound emails from the server Needs to be configured in Central Admin
Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Sandboxed Code Service Allows Sandbox Solutions to be used and executed. Required for SharePoint Hosted Apps, Design Manager and “Save as Template” functions.(SharePoint Hosted Apps use the Sandbox Code Service to provision features and content in the “App Web”)
Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Subscription Settings Service Manages subscriptions between Sites and Apps. Required for Apps to work
Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Web Application  Hosts the Content Web Applications If this is enabled, all of the Web Applications (except for Central Admin) will be deployed.Also determines which servers are deployed to when deploying a WSP which is Web Application Targeted.
Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Workflow Timer Service Runs any SharePoint 2010 style Workflows
PerformancePoint Service Runs the PerformancePoint BI component. Significant RAM overhead (recommended 32GB)Kerberos will require C2WTS.
PowerPoint Conversion Service Enables an API for developers to convert PowerPoint Presentations to various different formats (e.g. PPTX / PDF / JPG / PNG)
Request Management Allows custom routing rules for requests made to Service Applications. e.g. to route Excel traffic from one Site to a specific server If you turn this on without defining any routing configurations then everything breaks!
Search Administration Web Service Servers that run search components This service is automatically started on all servers that run search topology components.
Search Host Controller Service Servers that run search components This service is automatically started on all servers that run search topology components.
Search Query and Site Settings Service Servers that run the query processing component This service is automatically started on all servers that run search topology components.
Secure Store Service Allows storage of credentials and other secure information. Database is encrypted using a “Master Key” configured when the service is setup.Required for the BI Unattended Service Account configuration
SharePoint Server Search Crawls content for the search index This service is automatically started on all servers that run search topology components.Note – Cannot be stopped or started from the Services on Server page
User Profile Service Manages the user profiles, creation of My Sites and SharePoint Social Features (and associated permissions and properties). Required for “High Trust” Provider Hosted Apps to work
User Profile Synchronization Service Used to synchronise data from AD (and other data sources) into the Profile Database. Not necessarily required for User Profiles!If you are just doing the “Directory Import” option then this service is not required.

The definitive “how-to” guide: http://www.harbar.net/articles/sp2010ups.aspx

Visio Graphics Service Allows Visio diagrams to be deployed to SharePoint so they can be displayed in the browser.
Word Automation Services Enables an API for developers to convert Word Documents to various different formats (e.g. DOCX / PDF)
Work Management Service Allows task aggregation, particular bringing together Tasks from Exchange, Project Server and SharePoint. Requires Search and My SitesTasks are stored in a hidden list in the user’s My Site.

So that gives you a run through of the SharePoint 2013 Services, and hopefully an indication of whether you should have them running or not!

Any additional suggestions, comments or errors you’ve spotted please let me know and I’ll try and keep this updated!

Note – this list only includes the Vanilla SharePoint 2013 services and does not include services added through other installs like SQL Server: {PowerView, Reporting Services, PowerPivot}

For more detail, including some great technical detail you can also check this TechNet article out:

Plan service deployment in SharePoint 2013 (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/library/jj219591(v=office.15).aspx)

Windows 8, Hyper-V, BitLocker and “Cannot connect to virtual machine configuration storage”

So I am now working at a new professional services company in South East England (Ballard Chalmers) who use Hyper-V throughout their DEV / TEST environments. I have previously been a VMWare Workstation person myself (and I still think the simplicity and ease of the user interface is unmatched) but for the foreseeable time I will be running Windows 8.1 Pro on my laptop as a Hyper-V host.

Before we get started it is worth describing my setup:

  • Windows 8.1 Pro
  • 3rd Gen Intel i7-3820QM CPU
  • 32GB DDR3 RAM
  • Two physical disk drives
    • C:\ SYSTEM – 512GB SSD (for Operating System, Files and Applications)
    • D:\ DATA – 512GB SSD (for Hyper-V Images and MSDN ISOs) (running in an “Ultra-Bay” where the Optical Drive used to be)

Now like most modern laptops I have a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) on my machine so I also have BitLocker encryption running on both my C: and D: drives (for those who are interested I barely notice any performance drop at all .. and I can still get 550 MB/s sustained read even with BitLocker enabled).

Saved-Critical – Cannot connect to virtual machine configuration storage

Now I noticed from time to time that my Virtual Machines were showing error messages when my computer started up. I noticed it here and there until Thomas Vochten (@ThomasVochten) also mentioned he was getting it every time he started his machine up.

Hyper-V Error

Note – You can get this error for all sorts of reasons, particularly if you have recently changed the Drive Letters, re-partitioned your hard disks or moved a VM. In this case I was getting the error without doing anything other than turning my laptop on!

Read more »

64GB of RAM in a Laptop, and why I want it …

Well, the rumour mills have been well and truly circulating recently about the potential for high capacity DRAM chips which could allow laptops to have up to 64GB of memory. I was recently directed to this article (http://www.anandtech.com/show/7742/im-intelligent-memory-to-release-16gb-unregistered-ddr3-modules) from the ArsTechnica forums.

This article basically describes a new method of DRAM stacking (as opposed to the standard method of NAND stacking) which allows the production of 16GB SODIMMs chips. My current laptop has four SODIMM slots (like pretty much every other high-end laptop on the market) so with the current maximum of 8GB SODIMMs my laptop supports 32GB RAM. If I could use 16GB SODIMMs then I could theoretically swap those chips out for a straight 4x 16GB SODIMMs (i.e. 64GB of RAM).

The best news is that these chips could be on the market this year!

“Mass production is set to begin in March and April, with initial pricing per 16GB module in the $320-$350 range for both DIMM and SO-DIMM, ECC being on the higher end of that range.” (source: Anandtech article linked above)

Read more »

Embedding Sandbox Web Parts into Page Layouts and Master Pages

Note – this is applicable to both SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2013 .. and despite rumours of “The Sandbox is deprecated” many features in SharePoint 2013 rely on the Sandbox so I don’t see it going anywhere for the time being

This is something that I have been told many times, it is not possible to embed a server control developed in the Sandbox onto a Page Layout or Master Page because you can’t add the appropriate Tag Prefix to the header.

If you consider the standard way of doing this for a Farm / Full Trust solution:

<% @Register TagPrefix="MJH" Namespace="MJH.Examples.WebControls" Assembly="MJH.Examples, Version=1.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=16e05f568fffc0d1" %>

<!-- Custom Web Control-->
<MJH:SampleCustomControl runat="server" />

In the sandbox we obviously can’t reference the Assembly in the same way because (a) it isn’t deployed to the GAC / BIN folders and (b) it runs in a completely different process so won’t be JIT compiled by the .Net Framework… but there is a solution!

Microsoft.SharePoint.WebPartPages.SPUserCodeWebPart allows you to embed a Web Part from an assembly running in the Sandbox.

<!-- custom sandbox web part -->
<WebPartPages:SPUserCodeWebPart 
      runat="server" 
      AssemblyFullName="MJH.Examples.Sandbox, Version=1.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=60d6fc7a560ae45c" 
     SolutionId="4faf8ff6-36ea-406f-af25-4d89472a41e1" 
     TypeFullName="MJH.Examples.Sandbox.WebParts.SampleCustomControl" >
</WebPartPages:SPUserCodeWebPart> 

You still need the “AssemblyFullName” attribute. I’ve found the easy way to get this is to add a feature receiver to a Feature in Visual Studio then copy-paste it from the Manifest in Visual Studio (which contains the full text that you need).

So thats it! Happy coding

Provisioning List Views in the onet.xml with custom Web Part properties

I’ve seen this come up numerous times (with a few people telling me “its not possible without writing code”) so I thought I’d chuck up a simple code sample showing you how this is done in SharePoint 2013.

Lets say you want to add some List View Web Parts to a custom Team Site for a Tasks list:

  • My Tasks
  • Tasks In Progress
  • Tasks Overdue

You would initially do this kind of thing in your onet.xml:

<View List="Lists/Tasks" BaseViewID="1" WebPartZoneID="Header" />
<View List="Lists/Tasks" BaseViewID="2" WebPartZoneID="Header" />
<View List="Lists/Tasks" BaseViewID="3" WebPartZoneID="Header" />

Of course the main problem here is that you have zero control over any of the Web Part properties (such as the Title, border, or anything else). The default title will use the same title as the list, which of course (when you have the same list more than once) offers the stunningly un-useful:

  • Tasks (1)
  • Tasks (2)
  • Tasks (3)

The solution is to include some additional Web Part properties in embedded CDATA tags:

<View List="Lists/Tasks" BaseViewID="1" WebPartZoneID="Header"> <![CDATA[

<webParts>
      <webPart xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WebPart/v3">
          <metaData>
              <type name="Microsoft.SharePoint.WebPartPages.XsltListViewWebPart, Microsoft.SharePoint, Version=15.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=71e9bce111e9429c" />
              <importErrorMessage>Cannot import this Web Part.</importErrorMessage>
          </metaData>
          <data>
              <properties>
                  <property name="Title">My Tasks</property>

              </properties>
          </data>
      </webPart>
</webParts>
]]> </View>

This gives you effectively complete control over any of the Web Part Properties (see XsltListViewWebPart Properties).

Happy coding!

Migrating from Blogger to WordPress

So I’ve got myself a shiny new blog design, and more than that it is running on both a shiny new hosting provider (Azure Web Sites) and a shiny new platform (WordPress). So this post is going to run through the reasoning behind why I moved, why I chose WordPress and (equally importantly) how I actually did it.

I can say that I am very pleased so far with the WordPress experience. It has been a relatively quick and painless experience and migrating all of my old content from Blogger.com to my new hosted WordPress site (including setting up the theme and a bunch of “widgets”) only took me a few hours (easily achievable in one evening). I am quite a fan of the interface although I admit the current style still requires a fair bit of polish here and there.

The main issues I’ve faced have been post formatting as the migration doesn’t appear to have brought over all of my images (although most of them appear to be intact). Also the formatting of code blocks appears to have stripped out what it obviously thought were harmful scripts (a lot of my JavaScript code samples have magically disappeared) so that will need some cleanup

Read more »

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