Archives / 2005
  • Try Ruby online, and learn it the interactive (Ajax) way

    Never heard of Ruby? Its that new hot language that is at the tipping point of blowing away all existing languages;-)

    Read about it at, and of course don’t forget the great Ruby on Rails framework at that lets you build a data driven, Ajax style web site garanteed under 15 minutes. And the book “Agile web development with Rails” is absolutely a great reading.

    To get a touch of the language without installing the whole shabang and even get an interactive training (Ajax style), check out It is really cool! (Uhhh… needs Firefox by the way, sorry!) <== UPDATE: Problem is solved, works on IE and Safari now, but Opera seems to be a problem!! Great work!!

  • Using SharePoint web services from Flash: put a cross-domain policy file on your SharePoint server

    I a weblog posting on calling SharePoint web services from Flash I forgot to mention that you need to put a special file on the root of your SharePoint server to allow the Flash client to access the web services on the server. This file is called the cross-domain policy file.

    Russ asked a question on this in a comment on this posting. I forget to answer this question, sorry Russ.

    For more information on the cross-domain policy file see for example this documentation page at Macromedia.

    I used FrontPage to drop the file crossdomain.xml in the root of the SharePoint site. The contents of the crossdomain.xml file are in my case:

       <allow-access-from domain="*" secure="false" />

  • Nokia 770 development options... Flash?

    For some time now I’m looking into building rich internet applications using Flash. I’m very impressed by Flex 2 and did some adventures in developing with it. Flex 2 is still alpha and targets the new Flash version 8.5. Now I have a Nokia 770 device, and the Flash version on it is

    I’m also looking into how applications can be developed for the Nokia 770 (yes, I’m a busy man without much focus;-) ). I installed the C/C++ development environment, but I actually don’t want to go back to C/C++ development with all its difficulties. Other options are Mono and Python which I’m also currently invesigating.

    Today I was at the first day of first European Flash conference There was a very interesting session on the open source community for Flash.One of the sessions was by Edwin van Rijkom on Screenweaver, an open source project for building Rich Desktop Applications. He is wrapping Flash in a host application and provides access to the host OS and native code on the host OS through the Screenweaver host application. Because the Nokia 770 also has Flash installed I was dreaming about the possibility to create such a host application for Flash that provides access to all Nokia 770 features and the possibility to hook it into the Nokia 770 menu structure. I discussed this idea with Edwin and he thought that it would be a great idea.

    I searched for people who tried such an approach on linux. I ended up on a blog post by Darron Shall who created a C# host for Flash, wasn’t happy with it and searched for a more cross platform approach. He looked into XulRunner to host the Flash application. I just looked into this approach, but I’m afraid that running XulRunner on the Nokia 770 would be to havy. The runtime is big, and on top of that you get the additional Flash runtime which is something like 1.5 Mb as well. Way to much for creating small apps for the 770.

    It would be great if a really small Flash hoster could be created for the Nokia 770. I think Flash is a great platform for creating applications. Maybe someone did already something in this direction? If this is the case, please let us know!

  • Setting up the development environment for the Nokia 770

    The development environment for the Nokia 770 linux-based device has to run on.. you guessed: Linux.
    As a developer the best place to go to is From here you can get all the information to get you started.
    Even if you don't have the device yet you can start developing for it. Setting up the development environment is NOT easy, it's not like on Windows for developing for Windows CE: starting an msi and done, you really need to dive into Linux, and I must say it became a lot better but also complexer since the last time I used it (quite some years ago!).

    As stated in this tutorial, the Pre-requisites for developing applications for the Nokia 770 are:

    • Intel compatible x86 processor at 500 MHz or faster
    • 256 MB RAM or more
    • 2 GB free hard disk space
    • Linux OS (Debian or Ubuntu are recommended, but others fairly recent distributions should also work)
    Because the 770 is running Debian as well I decided to go for the Debian linux distribution.

    Because I don't have a space computer to get this started I decided to set up my Debian linux in a Virtual Server 2005 virtual machine.
    I downloaded a net-install version of the 3.1 stable release at This is a 180mb ISO image that you can bind to your CD-Rom in Virtual Server 2005 virtual machine. After installing the core functionality, you can install the other needed parts from the internet.

    Installation using Virtual Server 2005 ok, but I kept getting a kind of timer value exceeded error reported through all my screens. This was really irritating!  The only solution I find to getting rid of this error  was recompiling the kernel, not something I was really waiting for.  Another problem is the video card emulated by Virtual Server 2005: an Ati Trio64, This card is not supported in the X-Windows installed with Debian. The card is too old. I configured X-Windows with vesa as a graphics board (a standard implementation), but I didn't get to a higher resolution than 800x600 and it was really slow.

    I decided to move over to VmWare.. installation was completely painless, except that I couldn't create a harddisk with size larger than 8Gb. No problems with timer value exceeded errors, and VmWare has a graphics card vmware that installed without problems in X-Windows. I now have X-Windows running at 1600x1200x16 bits (16 bits is needed for correct emulation of the Nokia 770 I read somewhere).

    I tried to follow this tutorial for installation, this costed me a lot of time, and is NOT the best way to go. There is an Eclipse plugin available for 770 development called Laika, and the description for this pluginand the tools to install works better. Go to the tools page, and read about the tools that you need and how to install them.

    First thing I did was install the java sdk. The laika page mentions Java(TM) 2 Runtime Environment, Standard Edition 1.4.2_08 to be used, I decided to download the JDK 5.0 at page, I downloaded the linux self-extracting file jdk-1_5_0_05-linux-i586.bin

    I couldn't install this file directly on Debian, so I converted it to a Debian package using the information at Now you can install the package using dpkg.

    Now you can download Eclipse. I installed it in the /usr directory. Unpackage the downloaded file using tar xvfz filename while you are in the directory /usr. run /usr/eclipse/eclipse to run Eclipse.

    If you want to see what you get for development tools have a look at these screenshots!

    I didn't get the Xvnc working (In Eclipse see Windows -> Preferences -> Scratchbox  Preferences X-Environment), so I'm using the Xephyr as described in this tutorial. Make sure that you use equal X-Windows screen numbers.

    In Eclipse I configures the Xephyr tool as follows:

    Syntax for starting X-server: /home/serge/

    The ".. IP and number" field in my configuration is set to: DISPLAY=
    The viewer is in my configuration not used I think.

    I now have everything up and running I can run and debug my applications in the Scratchbox emulation environment!

    Good luck with your installation, you will need it ;-)

  • The Nokia 770: an amazing device!

    Lets have this said first: I really don't want to advertize for Nokia, and I'm in no way affiliated to Nokia, I'm just a happy user!
    In a previous post I already described the Nokia 770 device. Within 24 hours of ordering UPS came at my door to deliver my "present".
    I'm not really a gadger guy, I just wanted a device to read books and browse the internet while moving around the house and lying in my bed. And I must say: it absolutely goes far beyond my expectations! Browsing is flawless, you can read PDF files perfectly, and the RSS news reader works good enough to follow the blogs I read. What more do you need? No: it's not a phone! Who cares? I have a nokia phone to make my phone calls!

    The good thing is that you boot up the device in the morning and can keep it in "standby" all day. Within seconds you have access to your documents and the internet wherever you are (as long as you have Wifi access). And with a 800x480 resolution with 225 dpi the display is as sharp as paper!! What a difference with those lousy 320x200 resolution devices!

    I did not try the email functionality of the device yet, I just use outlook web access, works great!!

    Being a developer I wanted to know how I could develop for the Nokia 770 device. It is running a modified version of Debian linux, and all development is also done on linux. In comming post on the Nokia 770 I will explain how I did set up the development environment.

  • Nokia 770, linux-based tablet, 800x480, bluetooth, Wifi, USB, and.... .Net development using Mono!

    Nokia just came out with a great new device: the Nokia 770.  It is a Linux based device running Internet Tablet 2005 software edition. It has a small form factor and 800x480 resolution, with 225-pixel-per-inch in 65536 colors. It is a computer, not a swiss army knive. So no phone, no camera. I think this is a pré… you don’t want such a larger device against you ear… use the tool where it is made for, use your telephone!. Make sure you phone has Bluetooth, so you can communicate with the 770 through your phone. Use Wifi when you are at home, that’s what this thing is made for: Bluetooth and Wifi.

    Price in Europe is Euro: 359 euro. Available NOW! (And I order it, two days they say!!;-) )

    Have a look at the specifications!!!!

    It uses a Texas Instruments OMAP1710 processor, which seems to be an ARM based processor.

    I’m looking for a device that can solve one of my biggest problems: getting to bed early and be able to browse the web and read a book without keeping my girlfriend out of here sleep, because she can’t sleep when the lights are on. I read the Da Vinci Code on my Cassipeia, at 320x200 resolution. It did the job, but the text quality wasn’t good enough. Since then I’m thinking about what to do… buy a full blown tablet PC of Toshiba, or go for a phone/pda thingy with 640x480 VGA resolution like the MDA Pro (or one of it’s other named incarnations). I think I found my solution!!!

    I’m a Microsoft development guy, so a Pocket PC based thing seems to be the best idea. But if you look at applications comming out for PPC I’m not really impressed. Maybe it’s the 320x200 screen that is used everywhere that turns me off… I worked on Linux for years, and I know that getting your system up and running the way you want it takes a while, but as a technical guy I should manage. Maybe the 770 isn’t that bad for me...

    Have a look at this article to see what people think about it.

    Nokia created a site for developers who want to target the new 770. Already quite some info on there. Especially the RSS aggregator page is interesting: have a look at

    The 770 runs on X-Windows, and there is a special widget set available for all the UI. It is called the Hildon widget set. See (login, password: guest, guest) to see some test code using these widgets.

    There is already a huge set of applications made available to the 770. Have a look at the ApplicationCatalog at the Maemo Wiki.

    Currently most development for the 770 is done in C/C++. But he, as a C# guy I don’t want to go back there, I’m getting to old for that. Enter Mono for Maemo and the Nokia 770!!

    There is one thing I’m missing however: a microphone in line! How to do skype? Maybe an USB microphone can be solution?

    Another thing I’m wondering: can the device run applications from RS-MMC? If this is the case it would be great to throw in a 1 GB RS-MMC card!

  • SharePoint, querying lists using DspSts, and consuming this information in Flash

    UPDATE: See this blog post on the crossdomain.xml configuration file you have to put on your SharePoint server to allow Flash to access the SharePoint server using web services.


    This blog entry describes how to do complex SharePoint web service calls from a Flash client application to retrieve arbitrary information from SharePoint lists. The very powerful web service DspSts.asmx is used to accomplish this task. This web service allows you to dynamically query any field and item selection from a list and apply ordering on this selection. It is also possible to restrict the number of items to return. The query applied is in the CAML query format.


    In my search for a possible new implementation of the MacawDiscussionBoard for SharePoint I’m looking into Flash as possible UI for SharePoint discussion lists. In this implementation it is key that all information sent to retrieved from SharePoint must be accomplished using the SharePoint web services interfaces. I’m using Flex 2.0 Alpha release to generate my flash application (Flash 8.5), but the techniques displayed here are for a large part also applicable for Flash 8 (the current release).

    Problem I had was that I wanted to get list items not through the simple SharePoint web service interface Lists.asmx that provides a set of simple remote methos calls, but through the web service DspSts.asmx that requires a complete XML document to be passed, and has special additional SOAP headers.

    Reason for using this more complex DspSts.asmx web service: the GetListItems(listName, viewName) call in Lists.asmx is too restrictive:

    • It can only return fields of list items as defined in a predefined list view
    • It returns all list items in the list view

    The DspSts.asmx web service is way more powerful:

    • Build queries dynamically in the CAML query format
    • Query any field from the list
    • Query a selection of items from the lis
    • Apply ordering on this selection
    • Restrict the number of items to return
    • Get paged sets of items

    Using the  DspSts.asmx web service with an XML document based on a complex schema defined in the WSDL and additional SOAP headers was way more complex than I thought it would be. I couldn’t find much information on this and was really struggling until I found the following article on the IBM site: Develop Web services clients with Macromedia Flex. It still took me really a lot of time to solve the ‘puzzle’, that is why I thought I better write this down for others trying to go the same route.

    I moved my code into a simple test application where you can specify the URL of a SharePoint site containing a discussion list, and the ID of this list (Use SharePoint Explorer to get the ID). The application retrieves all list items from the discussion list and displays them in a grid. Only a small set of fields is retrieved… the set of fields needed to create a hierachical structure of all discussion list items. See below for an example of this application.


     The code below is in MXML (Th Flex markup language), a really powerful language for defining Flash applications. The application executes Query operation of the DspSts web service when the “Execute Query” button is clicked. Variables between ‘{’ and ‘}’ characters are data bindings. The result of the web service call is returned in XML, in the e4x format, the intrinsic XML format of ActionScript 3.

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

    <mx:Application xmlns:mx="" xmlns="*">




                import mx.rpc.soap.*;

                import mx.controls.Alert;

                import mx.controls.gridclasses.*;

                import mx.collections.*;


                [Bindable] public var siteURL:String="https://MySharePointPortalServer/personal/serge";

                [Bindable] public var listID :String="{020013c8-5efc-49a8-b28f-339d401c1046}";

                [Bindable] public var dataGridItems:IList = new ArrayCollection();





          <mx:Canvas width="638" height="414">

                <mx:Label x="11" y="14" text="SharePoint Site URL:"/>

                <mx:Label x="12" y="44" text="List GUID (use \{..\}):"/>

                <mx:TextInput x="138" y="12" width="375" id="siteURL_textinput" text="{siteURL}"/>

                <mx:TextInput x="138" y="42" width="375" id="siteID_textinput" text="{listID}"/>

                <mx:Button x="521" y="43" label="Execute Query" click="wssDspStsService.Query.send()"/>

                <mx:DataGrid id="listRowsOutput" height="325" dataProvider="{dataGridItems}">


                            <mx:EdgeAnchor left="13" right="13" bottom="13"/>



                            <mx:DataGridColumn headerText="Ordering" columnName="Ordering" />

                            <mx:DataGridColumn headerText="ThreadID" columnName="ThreadID"/>

                      <mx:DataGridColumn headerText="ID" columnName="ID"/>

                      <mx:DataGridColumn headerText="Title" columnName="Title"/>

                      <mx:DataGridColumn headerText="Author" columnName="Author"/>

                      <mx:DataGridColumn headerText="Created" columnName="Created"/>






    <!-- For more information on format: See the WSS SDK, and search for "DspSts". Select the topic "Query Method".

           Online documentation:









        fault="'Failed to load the DWSL. Error: ' + event.fault.faultstring)" load="wssDspStsService_AddHeaders()">

            <mx:operation name="Query" concurrency="single" resultFormat="e4x" fault="wssDspStsService_fault(event)" result="wssDspStsService_result(event)">

                      <mx:request xmlns="">


                          <dsQuery select="/list[@id='{listID}']" resultContent="dataOnly" resultRoot="Rows" resultRow="Row" columnMapping="attribute">

                              <Query QueryType="DSPQ">


                                      <Field Name="Ordering"/>

                                      <Field Name="ThreadID"/>

                                      <Field Name="ID"/>

                                      <Field Name="Title"/>

                                      <Field Name="Author"/>

                                      <Field Name="Created"/>



                                      <OrderField Name="Ordering" Type="xsd:string" Direction="DESC"/>











                // We need to generate the following SOAP headers:


                // <soap:Header xmlns:soap="">

                //    <dsp:versions xmlns:dsp="">

                //        <dsp:version>1.0</dsp:version>

                //    </dsp:versions>

                //    <dsp:request xmlns:dsp="" service="DspSts" document="content" method="query">

                //    </dsp:request>

                // </soap:Header>   


                // Only issue is that I can't service, document and method as attributes of request, but only as child elements. But it seems to work!

                // On the other hand: it already works if only the request header is there, ot does not matter about its attributes.

                private function wssDspStsService_AddHeaders()


                      trace("Add HEADERS");

                      wssDspStsService.Query.addSimpleHeader("versions", "", "version", "1.0");

                      var qName: QName = new QName("", "request");

                      var requestHeader: SOAPHeader = new SOAPHeader(qName, {service:"DspSts",document:"content",method:"query"});




                      private function wssDspStsService_fault(event: FaultEvent)


                  "Failed to execute the query. Error: " + event.fault.faultstring);



                      // Returned XML is in followin  format

                      // <queryResponse xmlns:xsd="" xmlns="" xmlns:soap="" xmlns:xsi="">

                      //   <dsQueryResponse status="success">

                      //     <Rows>

                      //       <Row Created="2005-10-23T14:03:20" ThreadID="{20051023-1203-12E1-8E71-1F4426DE71D5}" ID="1" Title="Disc1" Ordering="20051023140320" Author="Serge van den Oever"/>

                      //       <Row Created="2005-10-23T14:03:32" ThreadID="{20051023-1203-2649-92C4-FA7641C9F5F7}" ID="2" Title="Disc2" Ordering="20051023140332" Author="Serge van den Oever"/>

                      //       <Row Created="2005-10-23T14:03:45" ThreadID="{20051023-1203-2649-92C4-FA7641C9F5F7}" ID="3" Title="Disc2" Ordering="2005102314033220051023140345" Author="Serge van den Oever"/>

                      //     </Rows>

                      //   </dsQueryResponse>

                      // </queryResponse>;


                      private function wssDspStsService_result(event:ResultEvent)


                            var queryResultXML:XML = wssDspStsService.operations.Query.result[0];

                            var dsp:Namespace = queryResultXML.namespace();


                            var queryResultRows:XMLList = queryResultXML..Row;

                            trace("#rows=" + queryResultRows.length());



                            for each(var item:XML in queryResultRows)



                                                           Created: item.@Created,

                                                           ThreadID: item.@ThreadID,

                                                           ID: item.@ID,

                                                           Ordering: item.@Ordering,

                                                           Title: item.@Title,

                                                           Author: item.@Author








    The format of data returned from the DspSts web service

    One of the nice and easy things of Flash is that you can have the results of a web service call return as an Object. This object can have fields of any type, hierarchical structures with fields of type object, and arrays of any type (also of type object). Problem is that the converter from the SOAP result to the object does its own interpretation of types, it does not check the schema data that can be returned in a SOAP result, you see an small part of this schema below:

    <x:element name="Ordering" minOccurs="0" d:displayName="Ordering" type="x:string" />
    <x:element name="ThreadID" minOccurs="0" d:filterSupport="IsNull;IsNotNull;Eq;Neq;" d:displayName="Thread ID" type="x:string" />
    <x:element name="ID" minOccurs="0" d:filterSupport="IsNull;IsNotNull;Eq;Neq;Lt;Gt;Leq;Geq;" d:displayName="ID" type="x:int" />
    <x:element name="Title" d:filterSupport="IsNull;IsNotNull;Eq;Neq;Lt;Gt;Leq;Geq;Contains;BeginsWith;" d:displayName="Subject" type="x:string" />
    <x:element name="Author" minOccurs="0" d:filterSupport="IsNull;IsNotNull;Eq;Neq;Lt;Gt;Leq;Geq;" d:displayName="Posted By">

    I got into trouble with the Ordering field in a discussion list item. This field contains an ordering value in the format YYYYMMDDHHMMSS, for example 20051020140312. This field is interpreted as a field on type number in the conversion to an object. This is NOT what we want, because a reply on this list item gets an Ordering field with the original Ordering field value, with the timestamp of the reply appended. This string can become really long, does not fit in a number, and as a number is useless for ordering.

    I found that it is also possible to return the result as XML, or e4x, the intrinsic XML format of ActionScript 3. The downside is that I have to interpret all returned XML data manually (it is all seen as strings), but the upside is that we don’t need to return the schema data in the result, which can become really large, because all users are returned  as a restriction enumertation for the Author field. This means that all users that ever visited the site containing the discussion list (and are therefore registered in the UserInfo table for this site) are returned in a list. No problem for a site only used by a few users, but a huge problem if you have a large user base. 

    Things I couldn’t accomplish in the WebService implementation of Flash/Flex 2

    During my adventures with WebServices in Flash/Flex 2 I couldn’t accomplish the following things:

    Complex SOAP headers

    I needed to create SOAPheader with the following format:

    <dsp:request xmlns:dsp="" service="DspSts" document="content" method="query">

    What ever I tried, the closest I could get was:

    <dsp:request xmlns:dsp="">

    I will never know if this has the same effect, because the service call already worked when I added a header with the name ‘request”. See the code for the creation of the SOAP header.

    Access the SOAP result in case of a fault

    The SOAP envelope returned from a web service call can contain really detailed information of the exact problem that occured. Flash only gives access to a very general error message through event.fault.faultstring. I could’t find a way to access the actual SOAP envelope returned by the web service call. If anyone has more information on how to accomplish this task, please let me know.

    Information on e4x

    The information on XML as native datatype in ActionScript 3 is quite sparse. Luckely enough the e4x standard is a well documented standard. For more information have a look at:

    Final words

    If I look back at the code above it looks really simple. It is actually really simple, if you know what to do. And that is where the problem lies. There are so many examples on using web services from Flex/Flash, so much information in the documentation, but not about the difficult nitty-gritty parts of using more complex web services. The Flex/Flash implementation proofed to be very powerful and flexible. I’m really impressed. I hope that this blog post will help others in building Rich Internet Application on top of SharePoint using the Flash platform. If you have any questions, let me know!

  • Macromedia Flex 1.5/2: development and pricing model...

    As Pau stated in a reaction in this blog entry, current development of applications using Flex is expensive. I have no idea how expensive, I never used the current Flex system, but if I may believe the many stories on the internet it is very expensive (everything is relative in this case however;-)). I heard a price tag of $10.000, but hey, thats quite normal in server software licenses. By the way, there is also a free license for non-commercial/nin-institutional applications and for bloggers who want to showcase on their blog. Have a look at:

    How about the new Flex 2 system? If you read this story by David Wadhwani, VP of Product Development for Macromedia Flex, he writes:

    If you're familiar with Flex 1.0, it's very important to recognize that Flex 2 is far more than just a new release. It represents a major milestone in the evolution of the Flex technology and a continued evolution in Macromedia development processes. From a technical standpoint, Flex 2 introduces capabilities that enable developers to build an entirely new class of Rich Internet Applications, ushering in a new generation of RIAs. At the same time, we're opening up Flex development to a much broader group of developers by re-introducing Flex Builder, which has been built from the ground up on the Eclipse open-source IDE framework and now includes the Flex Framework and the compiler. That means that Flex applications can be deployed as a stand-alone option by placing a compiled SWF file on any web server or in conjunction with Flex Enterprise Services 2.

    This means that no server component is needed is you need webservice connections only.

    There will be multiple product in the Flex product line. One of them is Macromedia Flex Framework 2. This is a framework that build on top of the foundation of Flash 8.5. It is a client side framework. If you only utilize this, the price must be low. How low? Probably in the same range as VS.NET is my guess.

    Also with the current Flex system it is possible to build stand-alone Flash applications if I read this blog post correctly.



  • Macromedia, I'm impressed! Flex you way into RIA

    Macromedia (or should I say Adobe?) did release an alpha version of their new Flex 2.0 platform and the Flash player 8.5. As you can read in some of my previous blog posts I was searching for the best toolset to build RIA applications. I think I found it! Although I did not have much hands-on time yet I was really impressed. Not the fancy authoring environment that is just suboptimal for designers like me, but a full fledged IDE, based on Eclipse 3.1. Complete with forms designer to design your constraints based interface.

    Flash 8.5 features ActionScript 3.0. The next advance in the Javascript based language used in Flash. Some of it’s most powerful features: completely type dafe, also in the runtime. Powerful exception handling, delegates, regular expressions, XML as native type. Finally a powerful, grownup language like I’m already so used to in the .Net development space (c#).

    I will dive into this new technology, and keep you posted!

    Check it out @

  • WSS SP2 and SharePoint Portal Server using .Net 2.0 and SQL Server 2005?

    Bil Simser describes in this post that it is possible to use WSS SP2 with SharePoint Portal Server, although not all new features are supported in Portal Server.

    Patrick Tisseghem says in a comment on this post that there will be no SP2 for SPS.

    I’m wondering how you can get SharePoint Portal Server freshly installed on ASP.NET 2.0 and SQL Server 2005.

    I think it will be something like:

    • Install Windows Server 2003
    • Install SQL Server 2000 + SP4
    • Install SharePoint Portal Server
    • Install WSS SP1
    • Install SPS SP1
    • Install the .Net Framework 2.0
    • Install WSS SP2
    • Upgrade SQL Server 2000 to SQL server 2005
    • Uninstall SQL Server 2000

    Or is there a faster route?


  • Discussion board and RIA technologies

    In a previous blog post I was writing about the possibilities for the implementation of a new version of the Macaw Discussion Board. I mentioned a few technologies that I was looking at. The reason I am looking into those technologies is not only for the implementation of the discussion board, but also to have a look at what the best way would be to build the next generation Rich Internet Applications. Besides good old DHTML with Ajax technologies, Flash as a runtime platform looks like one of the possible ways to go for the near future.

    A great overview of possibilities for developing for the Flash platform is given by Aral in this post. He also discusses NeoSwiff, a tool that allows you to write Flash Applications in C# .NET using Visual Studio 2003, and Xamlon Pro Flash Edition, which lets you use XAML to create your UI declaratively. As a .Net developer those last two alternative are especially interesting, because for me it will be .Net/C# that is used at the server side.

    Darron also has a great post where he also discusses the problem with developer tools for creating RIA running on Flash. He also mentions NeoSwiff.

    I dived in both Xamlon and NeoSwiff. The adventure with Xamlon was over soon. It integrates with both VS.NET 2005 and VS.NET 2003. I tried installation on multiple machines and I keep getting a warning that my license key expired. Even the forums of Xamlon couldn’t provide me with a solution.  I was also discouraged with this news post stating “… Xamlon is backing away from XAML, saying developers aren't really ready.”

    I moved over to NeoSwiff, and I must say I’m impressed. One of my most important requirements is the possibility to easily create an application that resizes it’s controls when the window is resized. All I got during my Flash adventures was a zooming application. NeoSwiff is really great in this respect. See this post by Darran for a great example!

    However, in the first two minutes of starting with NeoSwiff I encountered the three most important problems for me:

    • No direct support for web services 
    • No debugger
    • No UI designer

    For the first and third point Jesus describes a solution. See his post. Completely happy with this results I continued with NeoSwiff. Everything went great. I designed a small UI in a normal C# .Net forms project, and copied over the code. Next part was the web service. I don’t want to do an HTTP GET call (function and parameters on the url) like Jesus does in his post. I wanted to call using either a soap message (using a HTTP POST) or through proxy code generated based on the WSDL of the service. NeoSwiff does not provide a tool to generate the proxy code, and the code produced by Microsoft’s wsdl.exe can’t be used. I had to go the manual way. But to no avail. NeoSwiff has two ways to do a request: XmlRequest (as used by Jesus) and WebRequest. With the XmlRequest it is not possible to specify the body of the request. You can only specify an url. The WebRequest provides a way to specify the body of the request, but only through a StringDictionary, resulting in name-value pairs as used in a post back from a HTML form. I also couldn’t change the content type, it remained application/x-www-form-urlencoded, the content type used on form post backs. I have been trying for hours and hours but I didn’t get any further. Maybe I missed something, maybe it is something they are still working on. Ig someone knows: please tell me!!

    Of course I could work around the limitations by writing a set of web services I can always call through url syntax, but I want to reuse all available SharePoint web services. Thats my whole point: I want to build RIA’s againt web services.

    I think the NeoSwiff platform can become a great platform if they succeed in getting access to web services working. It is so nice to work in VS.NET using code completion and all the power available in this IDE!


  • SharePoint discussion board upgrade: which way to go?

    The Macaw Discussion Board, a reworked version of the SharePoint discussion board, works quite well, but it is not really the way I would like to have a SharePoint discussion board to be implemented. I don’t like the technical implementation. It is built on top of the existing discussion board functionality. I converted all list views to data views and did extensive modifications to the XSLT code in the data views. Due to the restrictions of the XSLT in a data view web part there are absolutely no possibilities for code reuse or centralized localization. See the conclusion of my MSDN for more information on those restrictions. Although the usability of the discussion board is good, it is not the way it could look in the new era of Rich Internet Applications. I want it to be slick, smooth, single-page UI, maintainable, configurable, localizable…a rewrite is dawning.

    And now my biggest issue! Technology! Which technology should I use. Should it be Atlas, Ajax.Net, Backbase, Flash 8, OpenLaszlo, or one of the other RIA technologies that are available?

    One of the most important things is the availability of good controls (or widgets as some others call them). I don’t want to be stuck with the standard HTML controls. Those are so ‘90s. Modern controls are needed like at least a hood tree control and resize controls.

    Flash and OpenLaszlo

    I’m not really a Flash developer. I really love their approach however: a complete, small and accepted platform running in any browser that provides a really rich user experience. I did some adventures with Flash MX2004 pro in the past. I wasn’t impressed by the quality and stability of the controls in their component framework 2.0. I don’t seem to be the only one as you can read at the ActionStep home page, and as you can see at where everyone seems to restart on a new control library to replace the Flash component framework. I have no idea yet if Flash 8 made any progression in this matter, I will dive into this soon. Another problem I have with the Flash development environment is that I’m a developer, and still can’t really get used to the Flash way of development. Maybe that is the reason I like the approach taken by OpenLaszlo. OpenLaszlo applications are written in XML and Javascript. The OpenLaszlo server then compiles the XML and Javascript into .swf files, which run in the Flash player. I’m currently downloading the system and will soon have a look at it. It looks really promising!


    Another interesting technology is Backbase. It is a javascript solution for Rich Internet Applications that runs on most browsers. They have a powerful set of controls available and it all looks really powerful and smooth. There is full support for single page web based user interfaces. Extra data can be retrieved on the fly, it uses ajax technologies. The biggest advantage is that it does not depend on any third party plug-ins like Flash. one of my biggest problems with is is that although there is a community version available for non-commercial applications, an implementation of the new version of the discussion board running within an organization will require a commercial license. This will make it more difficult to get people using the new version of the discussion board.


    In the .Net world everyone is talking about Ajax.Net and Atlas. Ajax.Net is a powerful ajax library written by Michael Schwarz that integrates ASP.NET development with client side ajax techniques. It is available today, it works with the .Net 1.1 framework. I must say that I don’t have any experience with the library yet, but as far as I can see right now is that the library focuses on the client-server communication, not on providing a full-fledged widget set. Development in that direction is on it’s way in the community.


    Atlas is the code name for the ajax library Microsoft is working on. We are a Microsoft house, so although other systems might be better or may be further, we will finally end up doing Atlas development. For now however, Atlas does not seem to be the best approach for SharePoint development. With Service pack 2 for WSS there is the possibility to do ASP.NET 2.0 development within SharePoint context. Jan Thielens is working on hosting ASP.NET 2.0 web parts into the current version of SharePoint through “Son of SmartPart”. Problem will be that not many companies will move over to the .NET 2.0 framework on their SharePoint servers yet. The demands for the extra functionality will be too high. Another issue is that no information came out yet on the support of the .Net 2.0 framework for SharePoint Portal Server. I didn’t see a service pack for SPS yet.


    Do I have a conclusion? Not yet actually! There are many possibilities to investigate and I hope to get feedback from you on what you think what would be the best direction to take. There are probably many things I overlooked. My guess on best approach in order of best bet are currently as follows:

    1. OpenLaszlo (Flash as runtime)
    2. Flash 8 (Flash as runtime)
    3. Backbase (Standard browser support)
    4. Ajax.Net (Standard browser support, use of ASP.NET 1.1 at server side)
    5. Atlas (Standard browser support, use of ASP.NET 2.0 at server side)



  • SharePoint 2003: Displaying ASP.NET Error Messages instead of the standard WSS error message

    From the online documentation @

    Displaying ASP.NET Error Messages

    You can disable Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services error messaging so that ASP.NET error messages are displayed instead.

    To display ASP.NET error messages, perform the following steps:

    • In the Local_Drive:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\60\TEMPLATE\LAYOUTS folder, change the name of the global.asax file to global.bak.
    • In the web.config file in the same folder, change customErrors = "On" to customErrors="Off".

    That is the stupid thing when you are working with SharePoint for so long: you forget to reread the documentation for new additions!

  • SharePoint v3: making your way through all bits and pieces

    The PDC is almost finished, and finally we get the first bits of information on the next version of SharePoint: SharePoint v3. I’m wondering if they actually have a code name for it!

    This is a list of resources I found up to now, it’s more for myself to keep track of it..

    First of all the downloadable PowerPoint presentations of the sessions at PDC2005: Many interesting SharePoint sessions in there!

    Eli Robillard visited the PDC and has some nice weblog entries at: Have a look at:

    Also Bil Simser was at the PDC and has great entries at his weblog:

    Check out entries:

    Angus Logan was also at the PDC, and has some short statements on the new version of SharePoint at: Most important ones:

    • SharePoint vNext has security trimming (ie. context based display)
    • SharePoint vNext will ship with XSD's
    • SharePoint vNext has a built in scheduler
    • SharePoint v3 to support ASP.NET 2.0 Web Parts

    Dustin miller is another great name in the SharePoint world who also has a great blog at: Have a look at hier entry SharePoint "V3.0" Features ( for a great overview!

    Patrick Tisseghem was also at the PDC, see his weblog at: for some nice info on SharePoint vNext.

    Also Mike Fitzmaurice has some info, see his weblog at:

    Also check out Mart Muller’s weblog at:

    PJ Hough, Group Program Manager for Windows SharePoint Services also started a blog: keep an eye on:

    On Channel 9 a video on SharePoint vNext is available. Have a look at: Also on the new workflow engine is interesting.

    UPDATE 2005–9–27:

    Some other great posts:


  • Writing high-performance C# code

    Once in a while it is good to review your code practices, and have a look if the coding approach you take in solving your problems is still “state of the art”. One important thing is performance: in a language like C# it is so easy to do great things in just few calls… it looks nice and clean, but results for example in the creation of loads of objects.  good example: sometimes it is way better to just use a good old plain array like we used to do in the C days, instead of using the fance ArrayList collections.

    I stumbled accross a great article by Jeff Varszegi on the performance topic that gives you some good ideas in a fast ten minute read:

  • VS.NET 2005: Code coverage for signed assemblies

    I am currently working on an application using VS.NET 2005, and because all the TDD tools like unit testing and code coverage are available I started to use them.

    When I started code coverage on my signed application I got the following exception:

    Test method X threw exception: System.IO.FileLoadException: Could not load file or assembly 'Y, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=Z' or one of its dependencies. HRESULT: 0x8013141A Strong name validation failed. ---> System.Security.SecurityException: Exception from HRESULT: 0x8013141A Strong name validation failed at X.

    Not so strange if you think about it. Assembly is signed, code coverage needs code instrumentation, means modifications of the assembly, resulting in incorrect assembly so the validation failed.

    Solution is to resign the assembly after instrumentation.

    If you open the localtestrun.testrunconfig file (or something similar) in your solution items (double-click it), you can enable resigning in the Code Coverage section. This solves the problem.

    I found this solution through the following bug post on the Microsoft Product feedback Center:

  • The Collective vs. the Individual... a possible first step? Or just Google...

    Bil Simser is wondering if it is possible to have a collective place to collect all information on SharePoint. See his post at

    In my opinion one of the best ways of getting “knowledge” out is through weblogs. This is exactly what a lot of people are doing. In out company everyone has access to its own internal weblog, and this is the way information is best shared within our company.

    When I was setting up these weblogs I was also planning to create automatic categories you could assign your weblog post to, based on the SharePoint topics struxture, and based on the list of projects we are working on. It never came that far.

    I still think it is a good idea, and an “easy” way to collect one part of the collective knowledge on SharePoint. Can’t we come up with a set of common post categories we assign our weblog entries to? Each blog engine support categories and separate RSS feeds on them. We could collect those RSS feeds into one big RSS feed, and based on these RSS feeds create a site that displays all collective knowledge categorized to a fixed set of topics…

    But then the biggest issue: comming up with a set of common post categories... I’m afraid that part will brings us into taxonomy hell… to what level of detail do you define categories, how many categories are needed, etc.  etc.

    Hmmm… maybe Google isn’t so bad;-)

    Talking about Google: How about

    We could link all our information in here..

  • SharePoint versioned document magic

    Bil Simser describes in post a “bug” he encountered with versioned document libraries. When a document is saved in a versioned document library, the timestamp of the then latest version of the document gets changed to one minute before the time stamp of the new saved document.

    This problem is related to one of the biggest problems I have with document libraries. A document in a versioned document library becomes a "version" when a newer version of the document is saved.

    An example:

    I create a document called “VersionedDoc.doc” in the document library “http://myserver/personal/serge/VersionedDocumentLibrary”.

    This document is URL addressable at: “http://myserver/personal/serge/VersionedDocumentLibrary/VersionedDoc.doc”.

    As soon as I save a new version of the document, this version becomes “http://myserver/personal/serge/VersionedDocumentLibrary/VersionedDoc.doc”, and my first version of the document becomes: “http://myserver/personal/serge/_vti_history/1/VersionedDocumentLibrary/VersionedDoc.doc”. This means that at the moment of saving the new version of the document, the previous version of the document gets moved to a new location. It is not already created at this location. This leads to the timestamp issue. By the way: the next version is saved as: “http://myserver/personal/serge/_vti_history/2/VersionedDocumentLibrary/VersionedDoc.doc”.

    Besides the fact that the version naming schema leads to weird URL’s, it also means that you can’t provide a URL to a version of your document upfront.

    If I remember correctly, SharePoint Portal Server 2001 had the possibility to address the latest document as http://…/VersionedDoc.doc, and versioned versions as http://…/VersionedDoc.doc$versionnumber. If version 4 was the latest version it was both URL addressable as http://…/VersionedDoc.doc and http://…/VersionedDoc.doc$4. It is a pity that Microsoft decided to leave this naming schema.



  • About Site Definitions and making waves inside Microsoft walls;-)

    A great post by Ryan Rogers on the Site Definitions “challenge”:

    He was the guy I cited in my post, without knowing it;-)

    It is good to hear that weblogs post can make waves within Microsoft walls…

    It is good that it is possible to do the modifications through code, as Ryan stated. We have an escape! A costly one if you have MANY site instances, because the pages you modify will become unghosted (a copy is created) in the database… you remember, that issue you try to prevent by not modifying pages through FrontPage;-) But hey… storage is cheap these days!

    Another issue I had are the MySite pages… you don’t want to have to change 30.000 My Site pages if you need a small modification to the private or public view. Good thing is that the MySite public and private pages are handled differently from normal sites… if you modify the MySite homepage as an administrator in “Shared View” it changes for all users! These pages are in a special location:

    Private homepage MySite: http://servername/MySite/default.aspx

    Public homepage MySite: http://servername/MySite/Public.aspx

    Modifying these pages in the site definition is probably unsupported, but making modifications through the “Shared View” or using FrontPage not (yet?) as far as I know.

  • More tunes in the "unsupported" blues... adding web parts to Forms pages unsupported!

    Adding web parts on forms pages are “banned”, there goes my MacawDiscussionBoard list template!! Welcome to the wonderful world of SharePoint!

    But this one is even worse than the Site Definitions:

    You may not even modify the template page before instantiating, or the instance of the page after creation…. This is in my opinion again a major problem!

    Time to get a list of what is unsupported, but will work…

  • SharePoint statistics: source processing

    In post I did some investigations into the information logged by SharePoint in the IIS and STS log files. In this post I describe some decisions I’m going to make on processing these log files, based on the information that became available during my investigations. I’m writing these blog posts while doing these investigations, so if you have any comments on the decisions I make, please let me know!!

    Goal of this weblog post is to massage the available log data into a format that can easily be processed for importing into the “Stage Area – IN”, a SQL server (2005) database where we import all source data that will eventually en up into out data warehouse.

    STS logs

    First of all we need a tool to convert the STS binary log files to a format that can easily be processed. The article Usage Event Logging in Windows SharePoint Services contains the code for a C++ application to do this conversion. I also got my hands on a C# implementation through Steven Kassim, a colleague of mine. He got this code from a newsgroup, but I couldn’t find where it exactly came from, and who wrote it. I’m doing some modifications to the code to change the output format (so LogParser can handle it), and to improve the speed. I will publish the code as soon as I’m ready. [Update: tracked down the newsgroup:, and the author: Fred LaForest].

    IIS logs

    Although the IIS log files are already in a format that could be easily parsed, there are some good reasons to do a preprocessing parse to accomplish the following:

    • Handle the problem of the IIS log header appearing in the log file on each IIS-RESET
    • Filter out log entries we are not interested in:
      • Requests made by service account, like the full text indexer account
      • Request to assets in team sites resulting in  /_vti_bin/
      • Requests made to assets we are not interested in, like javascript files, css stylesheet, images, etc.
    • Filter out fields we are not interested in, like in our case the client IP address, be base the location on the main loacation of a user in the company directory (can also be done through IIS by only selecting the properties in our log file that we are interested in!)

    IIS supports multiple log formats, and multiple ways to log information. It is possible to do direct ODBC logging to a database, but this approach gives a heavier load on the web servers. The best format IIS can log in is the W3C Extended Log File Format. In this log format it is possible to select the fields we are interested in:


    Carefully selecting the the properties we are interested in can greatly reduce the amount of data that will be logged.

    For more information on the W3C Extended Log File Format see:

    Processing the log files: the tool

    There are many good systems around to process log files. Two log file processors I would really like to mention are:

    I have selected LogParser, because of its following features:

    • It supports any log file format (handy for the STS log files)
    • It might even be possible to implement direct binary parsing of the STS log files through a custom component into LogParser (still investigating this)
    • It support incremental input parsing through checkpoints, which simplifies incrementally importing of log file data into our database
    • It has a powerful query syntax
    • It is very powerful in its supported output formats
    • There is extensive programmability support available

     For more information on LogParser see:

    For information on LogParser with respect to SharePoint, where direct reporting on the log files is done see:

    Back to the IIS log, what do we need

    As stated in the previous post, in the STS log all successful requests to all pages and documents that are within WSS sites are logged. This includes WSS site based SPS things like MySite and Areas. All those request are logged in the IIS log as well, and they are difficult to correlate due to time differences. It is also the question if it is interesting to correlate those log entries, the STS log contains all the information that we need… although… I have one issue: the bandwidth consumed by the request. I can’t get the correct value out of the STS log (although it should be in there), while the IIS log contains the correct values (sc-bytes = cs-bytes). This would be the only reason to do the correlation. I’m still working on this issue (I post on this later), so lets assume that problem will be solved.

    So where do we need the IIS logs for:

    • Pages not found (404 errors)
    • Pages in the /_layouts folder, this is also the location where we store our custom web applications and our custom services
    • Unmanaged paths in the SharePoint virtual directory (paths excluded for the SharePoint render-engine “treatment”)
    • IIS logs of other web sites, not related to SharePoint, but part of our intranet

    Any requests for images, javascript files and stylesheet files in the IIS log can be skipped in our case, because those files are static files, supporting the SharePoint UI and our custom applications. We also filter out requests made by service account, we are not interested in those reuqests.

    In the STS log requests for images are interesting, because these images are user uploaded documents within the WSS sites.  We do filter out request made by service accounts as well for the the STS logs.

    Moving IIS log files into the database

    To move the IIS log files into the database we need a table definition for the IIS logs. I’m currently using the following table definition:

    CREATE TABLE [dbo].[IISlog] (
     [date] [datetime] NULL,
     [time] [datetime] NULL,
     [csUsername] [varchar](255) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NULL,
     [sComputername] [varchar](255) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NULL,
     [csMethod] [varchar](16) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NULL,
     [csUriStem] [varchar](2048) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NULL,
     [csUriQuery] [varchar](2048) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NULL,
     [scStatus] [smallint] NULL,
     [scSubstatus] [smallint] NULL,
     [scWin32Status] [int] NULL,
     [scBytes] [int] NULL,
     [csBytes] [int] NULL,
     [timeTaken] [int] NULL,
     [csHost] [varchar](255) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NULL,
     [csUserAgent] [varchar](255) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NULL,
     [csReferer] [varchar](2048) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NULL,
     [application] [varchar](50) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NULL
    ) ON [PRIMARY]

    And the following LogParser script to move the data from the log files to the database:

    "C:\Program Files\Log Parser 2.2\logparser.exe" "SELECT date, time, cs-username, s-computername, cs-method, cs-uri-stem, cs-uri-query, sc-status, sc-substatus, sc-win32-status, sc-bytes, cs-bytes, time-taken, cs-host, cs(User-Agent) as cs-User-Agent, cs(Referer) as cs-Referer, 'SharePointPortal' as application INTO IISlog FROM c:\projects\IISlog\*.log WHERE (cs-username IS NOT NULL) AND (TO_LOWERCASE(cs-username) NOT IN ('domain\serviceaccount'))" -i:IISW3C -o:SQL -server:localhost -database:SharePoint_SA_IN -clearTable:ON

    This is the first step where I filter out all request made by the system account used to index the SharePoint content. I did not do the filtering out of the WSS sites requests (we will use the STS log for this) and the unwanted files in the /_layouts/ directory yet. I’m moving one step at a time. So we now have all log files (collected into the directory c:\projects\IISlog) moved into the database.

    Moving STS log files into the database

    To move the STS log files into the database we need a table definition for the STS logs. I’m currently using the following table definition:

    CREATE TABLE [dbo].[STSlog](
     [application] [varchar](50) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NULL,
     [date] [datetime] NULL,
     [time] [datetime] NULL,
     [username] [varchar](255) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NULL,
     [computername] [varchar](255) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NULL,
     [method] [varchar](16) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NULL,
     [siteURL] [varchar](2048) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NULL,
     [webURL] [varchar](2048) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NULL,
     [docName] [varchar](2048) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NULL,
     [bytes] [int] NULL,
     [queryString] [varchar](2048) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NULL,
     [userAgent] [varchar](255) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NULL,
     [referer] [varchar](2048) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NULL,
     [bitFlags] [smallint] NULL,
     [status] [smallint] NULL,
     [siteGuid] [varchar](50) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NULL
    ) ON [PRIMARY]

    And the following script to move the data from the binary log files to the database:

    "C:\projects\STSLogParser\STSLogParser.exe" 2005-01-01 "c:\projects\STSlog\2005-01-01\00.log"  c:\projects\logparsertmp\stslog.csv
    "C:\Program Files\Log Parser 2.2\logparser.exe" "SELECT 'SharePointPortal' as application, TO_DATE(TO_UTCTIME(TO_TIMESTAMP(TO_TIMESTAMP(date, 'yyyy-MM-dd'), TO_TIMESTAMP(time, 'hh:mm:ss')))) AS date, TO_TIME( TO_UTCTIME( TO_TIMESTAMP(TO_TIMESTAMP(date, 'yyyy-MM-dd'), TO_TIMESTAMP(time, 'hh:mm:ss')))), UserName as username, 'SERVERNAME' as computername, 'GET' as method, SiteURL as siteURL, WebURL as webURL, DocName as docName, cBytes as bytes,  QueryString as queryString, UserAgent as userAgent, RefURL as referer, TO_INT(bitFlags) as bitFlags, TO_INT(HttpStatus) as status, TO_STRING(SiteGuid) as siteGuid INTO STSlog FROM c:\projects\logparsertmp\stslog.csv WHERE (username IS NOT NULL) AND (TO_LOWERCASE(username) NOT IN (domain\serviceaccount))" -i:CSV -headerRow:ON -o:SQL -server:localhost -database:SharePoint_SA_IN -clearTable:ON

    This script currently moves only one day, but you get the drift. As you can see we also set day, computername and application in the log file. Currently using fixed values, we will move this into a dynamic system later on. The date field is obvious, we want to record the date into the database for each log entry. We need the computer and application fields because we will have multiple servers, and multiple “applications” build on SharePoint, like for example ‘SharePointPortal’, ‘TeamSites’ (Intranet) and ‘ExternalTeamSites’ (Extranet).

    The STSLogParser is an application to parse the STS log file from it’s binary format into a comma serperated ASCII log file. I will post the code for this converter in one of my next posts.

  • SharePoint custom site definitions... again...

    There were a lot of comments on my post: SharePoint custom site definitions... I’m lost…, where I described the problems I have with the following statement in a new knowledge base article by Microsoft:

    "Microsoft does not support modifying a custom site definition or a custom area definition after you create a new site or a new portal area by using that site definition or area definition. Additionally, Microsoft does not support modifying the .xml files or the .aspx files in the custom site definition or in the custom area definition after you deploy the custom site definition or the custom area definition."

    I also asked John Jansen from Microsoft for a comment, and through his connections within Microsoft he came back with the following reaction:

    "The statement that appears to be making the most waves on Serge's blog -- "You modify a custom site definition or a custom area definition after you deploy the custom site definition or the custom area definition" -- was already in place in the SDK ( before this KB article was published; this KB article was, more or less, a reminder and summary of the "rules" that had already been defined in various places throughout the SDK."

    I don’t know since when this is in the documentation. I started with the documentation when SharePoint was still beta, and the documentation was really sparse, a lot changed since then. Every new release it gets better and better, and bigger and bigger… so I must have missed this one while upgrading to ther new documentation when a new version came out. The documentation does contain the following sentence:

    “Changing a site definition after it has already been deployed can break existing sites and is not supported. If you find that you must modify a site definition after it has already been deployed, keep in mind that adding features can cause fewer problems than changing or deleting them. Changing features often results in loss of data and deleting them often results in broken views.”

    So we are having a problem, and we need a solution to it… An interesting post by Cornelius van Dyk describes such a solution ( Lets hope he is willing to provide more information on his tools….

    For more information on issues with changing site definitions after instantiating a site based on the site definition, see also:

    I would like to thank everyone for their responses, good to know what we can do and should not do.

  • SharePoint statistics: the sources

    First Issue in SharePoint statistics is: where can we find the information to do statistics on.

    Normally for a web application I grab the IIS log files and start from there. SharePoint is another case. Besides the IIS log files there are also the STS log files. The name STS log files dates back to the SharePoint Team Sites from the past.

    IIS log files: used to log ALL activities on a web site
    STS log files: used to log all activities on Windows SharePoint Services  (WSS) sites, also the basis for SPS area’s

    There is a good reason why for SharePoint you need logs in two different places: although all web access is logged in the IIS logs, many accesses to SharePoint go through the FrontPage Server Extensions. Yes, most of SharePoint is still running on FSE, and still implemented in COM. In these URL accesses there is no detail information available on what is exactly requested. In the IIS logs you find entries like:

    2004-12-31 23:58:06 SRV-P-INTRA-3 POST /_vti_bin/_vti_aut/author.dll - 443 domain\username HTTP/1.1 MSFrontPage/6.0 - - hostname 200 0 0 1061 614 0
    2005-01-01 00:08:08 SRV-P-INTRA-3 POST /_vti_bin/_vti_aut/author.dll - 443 domain\username HTTP/1.1 MSFrontPage/6.0 - - hostname 200 0 0 1061 614 140

    (I removed the author, because no one should have to know this guy does not have a life: editing SharePoint pages when everyone in the world is celebrating the new year!!!)

    As you can see FrontPage does all page accesses through author.dll, but no information is available on which page is edited using FrontPage. Also access to documents in WSS goes through a FSE dll.

    In the following example we access the homepage and a document test.doc in the document library  docs  in the site test:

    IIS log (stripped down a bit to save space):

    2005-01-01 00:52:22 SRV-P-INTRA-3 GET /default.aspx - 443 domain\username
    2005-01-01 00:52:22 SRV-P-INTRA-3 GET /_layouts/1033/owsbrows.js - 443 domain\username
    2005-01-01 00:52:22 SRV-P-INTRA-3 GET /_layouts/1033/styles/ows.css - 443 domain\username
    2005-01-01 00:52:26 SRV-P-INTRA-3 GET /_layouts/images/logo_macaw.jpg - 443 domain\username

    : goes on and on and on for all stylesheets, javascript files and pictures
    2005-01-01 00:52:26 SRV-P-INTRA-3 GET /_vti_bin/owssvr.dll - 443 domain\username

    STS log (stripped down a bit to save space):


    So in the IIS log the access to the page and the access to all it’s embedded and linked content is logged, while in the STS log only the access to the page is logged.
    In the IIS log accessing a document is logged as  /_vti_bin/owssvr.dll, while the STS log exactly specifies wchich document is loaded from which document library in which site.

    For more information on the STS log format, have a look at the MSDN article: Usage Event Logging in Windows SharePoint Services.

    Looking at the IIS and STS logs, there are some important observations to make (some directly visible, others from the literature):

    • IIS logs have a log timestamp in GMT time
    • STS logs have a log time stamp in local server time (honouring daylight saving time)
    • IIS log files don’t look at daylight saving time
    • STS logs are in a binary format, and must be converted to a usable format before processing
    • IIS logs write “header lines” on each IISRESET, sospecial processing is needed
    • After each page access information is directly written tot the IIS log
    • STS uses caching in writing to the log file, do an IISRESET during investigating to make sure the cached log entries are written
    • The timestamp written to the IIS and STS logs can be different for the same page access. See last line in example above for both IIS log and STS log. IIS log entry is written on 00:52:26 (so at 26 seconds), while STS log entry is written on 1:52:27 (so at 27 seconds)
    • In the STS log only succesful requests are logged (information streamed back to the client)
    • In the IIS log ALL requests are logged, request for the /_layouts “in site context” pages but also requests for missing pages
    • The STS log only logs requests for pages and documents in sites, not information in for example the /_layouts directory
    • The STS log entries only have a time, no date. The date is given by the folder structure where the STS log files are stored
    • The available fields in STS log files is different to the avialable fields in the IIS log files

    Where to go from here? I save that for my next post!


  • SharePoint statistics: diving into SqlServer 2005 datawarehousing...

    I have got a new project to dive into: statistics and click-stream analysis on a SharePoint intranet for 30.000 users for one of our large customers.

    After years of development on a custom build classic ASP based portal for this customer, our company (Macaw) did a new implementation of their intranet portal based on SharePoint Portal Server 2003. I was part of this development team and created most of the tooling around the automatic build proces. We are currently code complete on the new implementation.

    Important in a large intranet is statistics. One part of our company is Macaw Business Solutions (MBS), specialised in Business Intelligence. MBS got the project to implement the statitics and click-stream analysis part on the new intranet.

    Due to my knowledge on SharePoint I am now part of the project team, and I’m now diving into the new world of Business Intelligence. I already got a “steam course” into BI from Jack Klaassen (Director of MBS) and Ralf van Gellekom, and it sounds like fun stuff!

    In their wisdom Jack and Ralf, together with the customer, decided to go for SQL server 2005 and all the BI functionality it has available, instead of using SQL server 2000 now, and when the project is up and running SQL server 2005 comes available with much more powerful capabilities and tooling, and a migration project is needed.

    In my blog I will try to report on some of the steps and issues we are encountering is this adventurous project. I will keep you posted!


  • SharePoint custom site definitions... I'm lost...

    Microsoft did release a knowledge base article on which scenario's are supported and not supported with respect to SharePoint site definitions:

    One of the things that makes me really sad is the following statement:

    "Microsoft does not support modifying a custom site definition or a custom area definition after you create a new site or a new portal area by using that site definition or area definition. Additionally, Microsoft does not support modifying the .xml files or the .aspx files in the custom site definition or in the custom area definition after you deploy the custom site definition or the custom area definition."

    Besides ghosting I thought that exactly this point was the powerful thing about site definitions!! Back to the simple site templates... if you may not make any modifications afterwards so all instances of your custom site definition instantly reflect those changes, site definitions are useless!!!

  • NAnt task xmllist, way more powerful than xmlpeek (source provided)

    UPDATE: See for an updated version of the NAnt XmlPeek command. 

    I have a love-hate relationship with the <xmlpeek> command in NAnt.

    The problems I have with it are:

    • It report an error when the XPath expression does not resolve into a node, there is NO WAY to test if a node or attribute exists (to my knowledge)
    • It’s logging level is set to Level.Info, so there is always output. This should have been Level.Verbose, I don’t want output for every xmlpeek I perform
    • It is not possible to return the contents of multiple nodes selected in the XPath expression

    Especially the problem that I can’t test for the existance of a node or attribute bothers me. I can set failonerror to false, ant test afterwards if the property exist, but that means that there is still an error that is reported in my buildserver report, while it is expected behaviour!

    Based on an implementation by Richard Case I wrote the same version of his <xmllist> task, but a bit more powerful and using the standard naming for the attributes. Using this task you can extract text from an XML file at the locations specified by an XPath expression, and return those texts separated by a delimiter string. If the XPath expression specifies multiple nodes the node are seperated by the delimiter string, if no nodes are matched, an empty string is returned.

    See the comments in the code for an extensive example.

    I will try to post this code to the NAnt developers mailing list, but it’s here for you to get you starget if you need this kind of functionality.

    // NAnt - A .NET build tool
    // Copyright (C) 2001-2003 Gerry Shaw
    // This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
    // it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
    // the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or
    // (at your option) any later version.
    // This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
    // but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
    // GNU General Public License for more details.
    // You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
    // along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software
    // Foundation, Inc., 59 Temple Place, Suite 330, Boston, MA  02111-1307  USA
    // Serge van den Oever (
    // Based on idea from weblog entry: combined with the code of xmlpeek.

    using System; using System.Globalization; using System.IO; using System.Text; using System.Xml; using System.Collections.Specialized;

    using NAnt.Core; using NAnt.Core.Attributes; using NAnt.Core.Types;

    namespace Macaw.MGDE { /// <summary> /// Extracts text from an XML file at the locations specified by an XPath /// expression, and return those texts separated by a delimiter string. /// </summary> /// <remarks> /// <para> /// If the XPath expression specifies multiple nodes the node are seperated /// by the delimiter string, if no nodes are matched, an empty string is returned. /// </para> /// </remarks> /// <example> /// <para> /// The example provided assumes that the following XML file (xmllisttest.xml) /// exists in the current build directory. /// </para> /// <code> /// <![CDATA[ /// <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?> /// <xmllisttest> /// <firstnode attrib="attrib1">node1</firstnode> /// <secondnode attrib="attrib2"> /// <subnode attrib="attribone">one</subnode> /// <subnode attrib="attribtwo">two</subnode> /// <subnode attrib="attribthree">three</subnode> /// <subnode attrib="attribtwo">two</subnode> /// </secondnode> /// </xmllisttest> /// ]]> /// </code> /// </example> /// <example> /// <para> /// The example reads numerous values from this file: /// </para> /// <code> /// <![CDATA[ /// <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?> /// <project name="" default="test" basedir="."> /// <target name="test"> /// <!-- TEST1: node exists, is single node, get value --> /// <xmllist file="xmllisttest.xml" property="prop1" delim="," xpath="/xmllisttest/firstnode"/>
    /// <echo message="prop1=${prop1}"/> /// <fail message="TEST1: Expected: prop1=node1" unless="${prop1 == 'node1'}"/> /// /// <!-- TEST2: node does not exist --> /// <xmllist file="xmllisttest.xml" property="prop2" delim="," xpath="/xmllisttest/nonexistantnode" />
    /// <echo message="prop2='${prop2}'"/> /// <fail message="TEST2: Expected: prop2=<empty>" unless="${prop2 == ''}"/> /// /// <!-- TEST3: node exists, get attribute value --> /// <xmllist file="xmllisttest.xml" property="prop3" delim="," xpath="/xmllisttest/firstnode/@attrib" />
    /// <echo message="prop3=${prop3}"/> /// <fail message="TEST3: Expected: prop3=attrib1" unless="${prop3 == 'attrib1'}"/> /// /// <!-- TEST4: nodes exists, get multiple values --> /// <xmllist file="xmllisttest.xml" property="prop5" delim="," xpath="/xmllisttest/secondnode/subnode" />
    /// <echo message="prop5=${prop5}"/> /// <fail message="TEST4: Expected: prop5=one,two,three,two" unless="${prop5 == 'one,two,three,two'}"/> /// /// <!-- TEST5: nodes exists, get multiple attribute values --> /// <xmllist file="xmllisttest.xml" property="prop5" delim="," xpath="/xmllisttest/secondnode/subnode/@attrib" />
    /// <echo message="prop5=${prop5}"/> /// <fail message="TEST5: Expected: prop5=attribone,attribtwo,attribthree,attribtwo" unless="${prop5 == 'attribone,attribtwo,attribthree,attribtwo'}"/> /// /// <!-- TEST6: nodes exists, get multiple values, but only unique values --> /// <xmllist file="xmllisttest.xml" property="prop6" delim="," xpath="/xmllisttest/secondnode/subnode" unique="true"/>
    /// <echo message="prop6=${prop6}"/> /// <fail message="TEST4: Expected: prop6=one,two,three" unless="${prop6 == 'one,two,three'}"/> /// /// <!-- TEST7: nodes exists, get multiple attribute values --> /// <xmllist file="xmllisttest.xml" property="prop7" delim="," xpath="/xmllisttest/secondnode/subnode/@attrib" unique="true"/>
    /// <echo message="prop7=${prop7}"/> /// <fail message="TEST7: Expected: prop7=attribone,attribtwo,attribthree" unless="${prop7 == 'attribone,attribtwo,attribthree'}"/> /// /// <!-- TEST8: node exists, is single node, has namespace http://thirdnodenamespace, get value --> /// <xmllist file="xmllisttest.xml" property="prop8" delim="," xpath="/xmllisttest/x:thirdnode">
    /// <namespaces> /// <namespace prefix="x" uri="http://thirdnodenamespace" /> /// </namespaces> /// </xmllist> /// <echo message="prop8=${prop8}"/> /// <fail message="TEST8: Expected: prop8=namespacednode" unless="${prop8 == 'namespacednode'}"/> /// </target> /// </project> /// ]]> /// </code> /// Result when you run this code: /// <code> /// <![CDATA[ /// test: /// /// [echo] prop1="node1" /// [echo] prop2="''" /// [echo] prop3="attrib1" /// [echo] prop5="one,two,three,two" /// [echo] prop5="attribone,attribtwo,attribthree,attribtwo" /// [echo] prop6="one,two,three" /// [echo] prop7="attribone,attribtwo,attribthree" /// [echo] prop8="namespacednode" /// /// BUILD SUCCEEDED /// ]] /// </code> /// </example> [TaskName ("xmllist")] public class XmlListTask : Task { #region Private Instance Fields

    	private FileInfo _xmlFile;
    	private string _xPath;
    	private string _property;
    	private string _delimiter = &quot;,&quot;;
    	private bool _unique = false; // assume we return all values
    	private XmlNamespaceCollection _namespaces = new XmlNamespaceCollection();
    	#endregion Private Instance Fields
    	#region Public Instance Properties
    	/// &lt;summary&gt;
    	/// The name of the file that contains the XML document
    	/// that is going to be interrogated.
    	/// &lt;/summary&gt;
    	[TaskAttribute(&quot;file&quot;, Required=true)]
    	public FileInfo XmlFile 
    			return _xmlFile;
    			_xmlFile = value;
    	/// &lt;summary&gt;
    	/// The XPath expression used to select which nodes to read.
    	/// &lt;/summary&gt;
    	[TaskAttribute (&quot;xpath&quot;, Required = true)]
    	[StringValidator (AllowEmpty = false)]
    	public string XPath
    			return _xPath;
    			_xPath = value;
    	/// &lt;summary&gt;
    	/// The property that receives the text representation of the XML inside 
    	/// the nodes returned from the XPath expression, seperated by the specified delimiter.
    	/// &lt;/summary&gt;
    	[TaskAttribute (&quot;property&quot;, Required = true)]
    	[StringValidator (AllowEmpty = false)]
    	public string Property
    			return _property;
    			_property = value;
    	/// &lt;summary&gt;
    	/// The delimiter string.
    	/// &lt;/summary&gt;
    	[TaskAttribute (&quot;delim&quot;, Required = false)]
    	[StringValidator (AllowEmpty = false)]
    	public string Delimiter
    			return _delimiter;
    			_delimiter = value;
    	/// &lt;summary&gt;
    	/// If unique, no duplicate vaslues are returned. By default unique is false and all values are returned.
    	/// &lt;/summary&gt;
    	[TaskAttribute (&quot;unique&quot;, Required = false)]
    	public bool Unique
    			return _unique;
    			_unique = value;
    	/// &lt;summary&gt;
    	/// Namespace definitions to resolve prefixes in the XPath expression.
    	/// &lt;/summary&gt;
    	[BuildElementCollection(&quot;namespaces&quot;, &quot;namespace&quot;)]
    	public XmlNamespaceCollection Namespaces 
    			return _namespaces;
    			_namespaces = value;
    	#endregion Public Instance Properties
    	#region Override implementation of Task
    	/// &lt;summary&gt;
    	/// Executes the XML reading task.
    	/// &lt;/summary&gt;
    	protected override void ExecuteTask() 
    		Log(Level.Verbose, &quot;Looking at &#39;{0}&#39; with XPath expression &#39;{1}&#39;.&quot;, 
    			XmlFile.FullName,  XPath);
    		// ensure the specified xml file exists
    		if (!XmlFile.Exists) 
    			throw new BuildException(string.Format(CultureInfo.InvariantCulture, 
    				&quot;The XML file &#39;{0}&#39; does not exist.&quot;, XmlFile.FullName), Location);
    			XmlDocument document = LoadDocument(XmlFile.FullName);
    			Properties[Property] = GetNodeContents(XPath, document);
    		catch (BuildException ex) 
    			throw ex; // Just re-throw the build exceptions.
    		catch (Exception ex) 
    			throw new BuildException(string.Format(CultureInfo.InvariantCulture,
    				&quot;Retrieving the information from &#39;{0}&#39; failed.&quot;, XmlFile.FullName), 
    				Location, ex);
    	#endregion Override implementation of Task
    	#region private Instance Methods
    	/// &lt;summary&gt;
    	/// Loads an XML document from a file on disk.
    	/// &lt;/summary&gt;
    	/// &lt;param name=&quot;fileName&quot;&gt;The file name of the file to load the XML document from.&lt;/param&gt;
    	/// &lt;returns&gt;
    	/// A &lt;see cref=&quot;XmlDocument&quot;&gt;document&lt;/see&gt; containing
    	/// the document object representing the file.
    	/// &lt;/returns&gt;
    	private XmlDocument LoadDocument(string fileName)  
    		XmlDocument document = null;
    			document = new XmlDocument();
    			return document;
    		catch (Exception ex) 
    			throw new BuildException(string.Format(CultureInfo.InvariantCulture,
    				&quot;Can&#39;t load XML file &#39;{0}&#39;.&quot;, fileName), Location, 
    	/// &lt;summary&gt;
    	/// Gets the contents of the list of nodes specified by the XPath expression.
    	/// &lt;/summary&gt;
    	/// &lt;param name=&quot;xpath&quot;&gt;The XPath expression used to determine the nodes.&lt;/param&gt;
    	/// &lt;param name=&quot;document&quot;&gt;The XML document to select the nodes from.&lt;/param&gt;
    	/// &lt;returns&gt;
    	/// The contents of the nodes specified by the XPath expression, delimited by 
    	/// the delimiter string.
    	/// &lt;/returns&gt;
    	private string GetNodeContents(string xpath, XmlDocument document) 
    		XmlNodeList nodes;
    			XmlNamespaceManager nsMgr = new XmlNamespaceManager(document.NameTable);
    			foreach (XmlNamespace xmlNamespace in Namespaces) 
    				if (xmlNamespace.IfDefined &amp;&amp; !xmlNamespace.UnlessDefined) 
    					nsMgr.AddNamespace(xmlNamespace.Prefix, xmlNamespace.Uri);
    			nodes = document.SelectNodes(xpath, nsMgr);
    		catch (Exception ex) 
    			throw new BuildException(string.Format(CultureInfo.InvariantCulture,
    				&quot;Failed to execute the xpath expression {0}.&quot;, xpath), 
    				Location, ex);
    		Log(Level.Verbose, &quot;Found &#39;{0}&#39; nodes with the XPath expression &#39;{1}&#39;.&quot;,
    			nodes.Count, xpath);
    		// collect all strings in a string collection, skip duplications if Unique is true
    		StringCollection texts = new StringCollection();
    		foreach (XmlNode node in nodes)
    			string text = node.InnerText;
    			if (!Unique || !texts.Contains(text))
    		// Concatenate the strings in the string collection to a single string, delimited by Delimiter
    		StringBuilder builder = new StringBuilder();
    		foreach (string text in texts)
    			if (builder.Length &gt; 0)
    		return builder.ToString();
    	#endregion private Instance Methods


  • Macaw Discussion Board for Russian SharePoint

    Denis Fayruzov (dfayruzov [at] wanted to use the Macaw Discussion Board, but the standard provided template only works on English versions of SharePoint (LCID 1033). He used the provided zip file ( with aspx pages (used for the views and edit pages) and applied those to a standard discussion board. It worked! He created a list template from it, and the Russian Macaw Discussion Board (LCID 1049) is now available on I could not try it out myself, I don’t have a Russian SharePoint installation;-) For any information on the Russian version contact Denis.

    If people want to make list templates available for other languages, mail them to me and I will put them on

    If someone knows how to make a list template that works on any language version of SharePoint, let me know! That would make updates a lot easier!

  • NAnt question: evaluate NAnt expressions in text read from file

    I have a NAnt problem: I want to read file from text (actually xmlpeek from an XML document), and evaluate the NAnt expressions defined in the text. So for example:

    FILE: Input.txt:
    This is a ${word} text!

    <project default="go">
     <target name="go">
      <property name="word" value="nice"/>
      <loadfile file="input.txt" property="message" />
       <echo message="${message}"/>

    CURRENT output:
    This is a ${word} text!

    WANTED output:
    This is a nice text!

    Any ideas?

  • Windows SharePoint Services Software Development Kit (SDK) – 3/9/2005

    New version of the SharePoint SDK(?)

    Windows SharePoint Services Software Development Kit (SDK) – 3/9/2005

    The installer installs the documentation in C:\WSSSDK. I’m not sure if it is really newer, because the first page says: Publish date of this SDK: January 2005.

    To keep yourself up-to-date of the newest downloads on SharePoint at Microsoft, look at:

  • SharePoint DVWP: view XML results of your query

    When you create your own XSLT transformations in the data view web part you need to know the format of the XML resulting from the specifed query. Given this XML you can expiriment outside of FrontPage with an XSL tool like XSelerator to do real XSLT debugging. Note that outside of FrontPage (or online editing of the DVWP) you can’t use functions in the ddwrt namespace. 

    To get the XML results you can use a simple XSLT transformation. Edit the XSLT part of the DVWP via frontpage, or press the XSL Editor “Source Editor…” button in the toolpane of the data view web part:


    Now replace the current xslt transformation with the following code:

    To get a view like this:


    Or if you want to have a more fancy view like this:


    use the following code which utilizes dp.SyntaxHighlighter

    With this more advanced view I had FrontPage crashing on save of the code. So maybe you can better stick to the simple view. Another problem I had with the advanced view is that the output was not always rendered correctly, I thing due to a shortcomming in the syntax highlighting code.

    One problem is that any typo in your query will result in an error message, use the back button to get back to your edit screen again and solve the problem (if your working with the online view). With FrontPage you can directly correct the problem because you have a complete source code view.

  • SharePoint DVWP: xslt limitations...

    John Jansen (Microsoft Office FrontPage) confirmed in a private e-mail conversation what I did find out the hard way:

    In the Xslt transformation of data view web parts the following functionality is blocked:

    • msxsl:script
    • xsl:include
    • xsl:import

    I can understand that msxsl:script is blocked, otherwise you could execute any server-side script. Why xsl:include and xsl:import is not supported I really don’t understand. Could be that they scan the script code string to be executed for the msxsl:script tag, and that handling inclusion of external code was to much work, but it makes data view programming really hard. Would be great if you could create a library of useful Xslt routines and include those in your custom xslt transformations.

    Another thing I have been working on is the possibility to register additional xslt extension object like the one in the ddwrt namespace (see also, but I never succeeded.

    Any ideas on extending the xslt transformations functionality in data view web parts?

  • Macaw Discussion Board... the way SharePoint discussions should work... and now do work!

    The Macaw Discussion Board

    This weblog post describes the immediate availability of a reworked and improved discussion board for Windows SharePoint Services and SharePoint Portal server providing last-post first views, a discussion thread view, and SWYRO (See What You Respond On). It is available on This post is it’s documentation.


    It is great that SharePoint supports discussion lists, its a pity that their implementation is "suboptimal".

    The two biggest problems that I have with the discussion lists are:

    • When you reply on a discussion item, you don’t see the text you are replying on
    • Discussion items are displayed in the wrong order: oldest items first!

    Changing this behavior is not as easy as providing a new view. Some more work is required.

    We worked around these limitations more than a year ago, but I never found the time to make these modifications available to the community. Until now…

    The features

    There are two views on a discussion:

    • Complete thread index, latest started discussion thread at the top
    • Latest posts view, shows the latest 40 posts with the newest post at the top

    The thread index view provides the following information:

    • Title of first post in thread
    • Started by
    • Number of Replies
    • Last Post (date + poster)

    On selecting a thread, a hierarchical view of this discussion thread is displayed:

    If you are not sure from a certain reply on which post it is replying, you can select the “parent” link:

    If you look at the content of a single post (for example after following a link from an alert e-mail), there is a view in thread link available to view the post highlighted in its complete discussion thread:

    Some other interesting features:

    • When you click on the name of a poster, you go to the UserInfo information on the user on WSS, and to the profile page of the user when on SharePoint Portal Server
    • Complete support for presence detection on all user names
    • Completely built on top of the standard WSS discussion board


    The Macaw Discussion Board is available at It is distributed as a SharePoint List Template: MacawDiscussionBoard1.0.stp.

    And if you are looking for the sourcode: it’s all there. Just fire up your FrontPage 2003 and you can look right in to it! I hope your XSLT skills are a bit up-to-spec;-)


    The MacawDiscussionBoard List Template is constructed for usage in standard WSS sites. Usage in Portal Area’s is not tested. To test it out, create an empty top level site:DiscEmptySite

    Goto “Site Settings”, and select “Go to Site Administration”:

    If you are on a top level site, you will see the option “Manage list template gallery”. If you don’t see this option, go to the top level parent of the current site and perform the actions from there:DiscTopLevelSiteAdmin

    On the List Template Gallery you can upload a new list template:

    Specify the list template file, and press “Save and Closed”:

    The List Template is now available, select “Create” to add an instance of this new template:

    Select the MacawDiscussionBoard:

    And you are done!! Congratulations!

    If you want a more permanent availability of the list template, and you are a SharePoint administrator, you can add the list template using the stsadm.exe tool on the SharePoint server. See the Administrators Documentation for more information.


    If the Macaw Discussion Board list template does not appear under Discussion Boards in the Create screen, you are probably in a site or area that does not support the list template. Please test first is a standard WSS site.


    The Macaw Discussion Board has some limitations. For the Thread Index view, information on all items must be retrieved on server side. Happely enough NOT the body text;-). This means that performance can degrade on discussion lists which huge amount of posts. We have a discussion list with over 2500 posts without any problems. Let me know if you run into trouble, we can make somethig up.


    Some things on the discussion board can be configured like the styles of odd/even/selected posts in a discussion thread, the indenting in a hierarchical thread view, and the formatting of date/time. To do this configuration open the pages of the Macaw Discussion Board in FrontPage 2003.

    The following pages have configuration options (look for it in code view):


            <!-- format of date time rendering, uses standard .NET format as specified in -->
            <xsl:param name="PostDateTimeFormat">dddd, MMMM dd, yyyy H:mm</xsl:param>


            <!-- style for odd/even/selected items in the thread -->
            <xsl:param name="OddItemStyle">background-color: #dddddd;</xsl:param>
            <xsl:param name="EvenItemStyle">background-color: #eeeeee;</xsl:param>
            <xsl:param name="SelectedItemStyle">background-color: Yellow;</xsl:param>
            <!-- format of date time rendering, uses standard .NET format as specified in -->
            <xsl:param name="PostDateTimeFormat">dddd, MMMM dd, yyyy H:mm</xsl:param>
            <!-- message when page in called without 'discussion' parameter -->
            <xsl:param name="NoThreadMessage">The Single Thread view can only display information if a thread is specified.</xsl:param>
            <!-- indentation level in pixels for threaded items in the tree -->
            <xsl:param name="TreeIndentation">10</xsl:param>


            <!-- style for odd/even/selected items in the thread -->
            <xsl:param name="OddItemStyle">background-color: #dddddd;</xsl:param>
            <xsl:param name="EvenItemStyle">background-color: #eeeeee;</xsl:param>
            <xsl:param name="SelectedItemStyle">background-color: Yellow;</xsl:param>
            <!-- format of date time rendering, uses standard .NET format as specified in -->
            <xsl:param name="PostDateTimeFormat">dddd, MMMM dd, yyyy H:mm</xsl:param>
            <!-- message when page in called without 'discussion' parameter -->
            <xsl:param name="NoThreadMessage">The Single Thread view can only display information if a thread is specified.</xsl:param>
            <!-- indentation level in pixels for threaded items in the tree -->
            <xsl:param name="TreeIndentation">10</xsl:param>

    Applying the Macaw Discussion Board changes to an existing discussion list

    Note: The below procedure has not been extensively tested. You are on your own, so please know what you are doing!

    It is possible to apply the Macaw Discussion Board to an existing discussion list. You can do this using FrontPage 2003.

    • Make a backup of your site containing the discussion list to modify!!!
    • Install the Macaw Discussion Board somewhere so you can access it’s pages usintg FrontPage 2003
    • Lookup the list name of the existing discussion list (GuidExisting). Look for example at the code of the EditForm.aspx page. At the end you see the following line with the GUID which is the list name:
      <ListName xmlns="">{2F9B130C-EDE0-47D5-AF8C-E0A9B696DFEA}</ListName>
    • Lookup the list name for the installed Macaw Discussion Board (GuidMDB)
    • Make a copy of all pages in the existing list (make for example a backup directory in the List folder (at the same level as you .aspx list pages). Don’t move the pages, otherwise the interrnal links for the list pages gets messed up!
    • Copy over the pages of the Macaw Discussion Board instance to the existing list, overwriting the existing pages of your list instance.
    • On all pages do a replace of the Macaw Discussion Board instance GUID (GuidMDB) with the GUID of the original list (GuidExisting).
    • Remove any pages that are not also in the Macaw Discussion Board instance
    • Done!!

    If there is a need for an application that performs these actions, please let me know and *maybe* I’m in the mood to create one!


    Macaw Discussion Board License Agreement

    You can use this Software for any commercial or noncommercial purpose, as long as the Macaw Discussion Board is not marketed and sold as if it is your own application. In return, we simply require that you agree:

    • Not to remove any copyright notices from the Software.
    • That if you distribute the Software in source code form you do so only under this License (i.e. you must include a complete copy of this License with your distribution), and if you distribute the Software solely in object form you only do so under a license that complies with this License.
    • That the Software comes "as is", with no warranties. None whatsoever. This means no express, implied or statutory warranty, including without limitation, warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose or any warranty of noninfringement. Also, you must pass this disclaimer on whenever you distribute the Software.
    • That neither Serge van den Oever [Macaw] nor any contributor to the Software will be liable for any of those types of damages known as indirect, special, consequential, or incidental related to the Software or this License, to the maximum extent the law permits, no matter what legal theory it's based on. Also, you must pass this limitation of liability on whenever you distribute the Software.
    • That if you sue anyone over patents that you think may apply to the Software for a persons use of the Software, your license to the Software ends automatically.
    • That the patent rights, if any, licensed hereunder only apply to the Software, not to any derivative works you make.
    • That your rights under this License end automatically if you breach it in any way.


    Q1: Why is there no threaded view with newest thread on top. Same as the default view for a standard discussion board, but then implemented “right”?

    A:1 We have such a view at my company, but I could not get it working;-) There also is not really a need for such a view in my opinion. I never use the view at work, and no forum implementation uses such views.

    Q2: How about multilanguage support, do you support any other language than English?

    A2: I have no idea what happens if you install this on a site that is in another language. All texts in the discussion board will definitly remain in English. There is even a chance of broken link to the administrative pages because they link to the /_layouts/1033 directory. If anyone has any information on this (and information on making "language-neutral" templates)...

    Q3: When I add new views to the discussion list, they don’t become visible in the left menu.

    A3: This is by design. Because the wrong pages ended up at the left menu, I did add the links above “Actions” (The “Discussion” menu) manually. If you want to add a view, modify the pages AllItems.aspx (Thread Index), Latest.aspx and SingleThread.aspx.


    Thanks to my colleagues Arjan Paauw and Olaf Conijn for input in the implementation of the Macaw Discussion Board.

  • Cool: monoppix, try out Mono on linux directly from CD

    I was amazed by the Knoppix version of Linux, that you could direcrtly run from CD and even USB memory stick. Great to have a look at some things you can do with Linux. Now someone created a special edition featuring the Mono technology, a free .Net framework implementation.

  • SharePoint DVWP: display profile page on user link

    FrontPage 2003 has a great feature when converting a CAML view on a list to a XSLT data view. One problem in this conversion is that the link on a user name changes from for example UserDisp.aspx?ID=1 naar UserDisp.aspx?Force=True&ID=1. This forces the display of the information available in the UserInfo table on a user. This happens even if SharePoint Portal Server is used, and in the CAML viewt he profile page of the user in the user its my site was displayed.

    This “wrong” URL is generated by a DDWRT function URLLookup.

    You can get back the correct behaviour by removing the Force=True as follows:

    Look for a line similar to:

    and convert it into:

  • SharePoint query-language... documented...!

    I feel bad for blaming Microsoft for having no documentation on the dsQuery language… its there: Click through on the keywords and you end up in the CAML keywords…

     Reyn wrote even some piece of code to generate these queries in an easy way from C# code. See his weblog entry at, and the code download at

  • SharePoint query-language... completely undocumented....

    When you convert a SharePoint list view (defined in CAML) to a XSLT Data View, Frontpage generates a query that looks like:

    And the strange thing is that virtually NO information is available on the query syntax.Why o why are such large portions of SharePoint still undocumented?

    If anyone has some pointers for me to documentation on this stuff, please let me know!!

  • New version of SharePoint SDK's

    I love this new service of Microsoft to keep you up to date of updates and new software on Microsoft Download Center. Sign up at

    This way I heard of the new SharePoint SDK’s that are out (jan05 version):

    WSS SDK:

    SPS SDK:

    About the SPS SDK:

    What’s new in the January 2005 update for SharePoint Portal Server 2003:

    • Getting Started section that offers:
      • An expanded introduction to SharePoint Portal Server
      • Expanded Concepts and Architecture section with new topics about Profiles and Personalization, Search, and Enterprise Application Integration, and more
      • New Code Snippets section with code examples for topics such as the Audience, User Profiles, and Security object models
      • New FAQ section that offers answers to a wide range of questions about SharePoint Portal Server, including customization issues
    • Expanded Reference topics that address:
      • Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server Search SQL Syntax
      • Protocol Handlers
      • IFilter Administration

    If you are looking for the location where the SPS SDK is installed, on my machine it ended up at C:\SPPTSDK.

  • Q: accessing javascript functions/variables outside windows object

    Here a copy of a question I mailed to the creators of IeUnit. It is a very generic question, maybe someone somewhere out there in blogspace can help me out on this.

    I try to achieve something that I don’t seem to get done…


    In IeUnit a window is opened (through cscript) to access my web page using code like:


    win = WScript.CreateObject("InternetExplorer.Application");


    We then navigate to the page to test:




    where accesstest.htm is a page containing the following html:




    <title>My test title</title>

    <script language="javascript">

    var getThis=10;








    I can now display things like:


    win.document.title à My test title

    win.document.getThis à 10




    How can I access the getThis variable in the page?


    And why do I need this: I’m creating an IeUnit extension lib for testing SharePoint pages. I want to access the Web Part Page Services Component, defined in a variable WPSC. But I can’t access this variable from my test classes.

  • NAnt intellisense in VS.NET 2003

    I know, a zillion people wrote about intellisense in VS.NET for NAnt files already, but just as a reminder for myself I write this blog entry:

    • Create a file with the following NAnt code, modify the SchemaFile property for your installation diretory/version of VS.NET:

      <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
      <project name="GenerateNAntSchemaForVS.NET" default="genschema">
          <property name="SchemaFile" value="C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003\Common7\Packages\schemas\xml\NAnt.xsd"/>
          <target name="genschema">
              <nantschema output="${SchemaFile}" target-ns=""/>

    • Call this script each time you add some extra tasks dll’s or when you move to a new version of NAnt, because it generates a schema based on the available NAnt tasks.

    • Add you NAnt build file to your VS.NET project (if possible).

    • Open the .build file in VS.NET using File->Open…->File…, and then notice the extra options in the lower right corner of the open file window, select Open With…:

    • Now select to open this file as selected below, also click Set as Default:

    • Set in the properties window for this file the targetSchema to the NAnt schema:

    • Repeat for all your build files. Done.

  • SharePoint web part development: resources you should read

    When you dive into web part development for SharePoint 2003 and need some reading on the topic, have at least a look at the following articles:

    And if you don’t wan’t to go the hard way… have a look at Smart Part, a generic web part that allows hosting of user controls. Have a look at Jan’s blog for more info:

  • Reduce SharePoint page rendering time by utilizing asynchronity in web parts

    You never know which web parts end up in a SharePoint page. That is the power of web parts: combine them the way you see fit. But what if one web part accesses a web service that takes 3 seconds to complete, and another web part renders content from a database that takes 4 seconds…. If the web parts are not programmed with asynchronity in mind, you will end up with a rendering time of 7 seconds for your page, instead of just over 4 seconds as could be achieved when you follow “the rules”…

    The SharePoint web part framework has great support for asynchronous actions in SharePoint, including support for timeouts on asynchronous actions.

    For more information on this topic see:

  • Unit testing SharePoint

    We are doing extensive development for SharePoint Portal Server for one of our large customers. Besides producing a lot of interesting code, we are also settings up a kind of software factory for SharePoint development. More on this in later posts.

    We now have the continuous integration builds and automatic deployments up and running. Units tests against the business code can be executed, and FxCop checks are done on the code.

    The next step is automatically testing the deployment against a set of pages, where each page represents (part of) a use case. Are web parts functioning? Do they give the output you expect? Are skinning actions done by the MacawSharePointSkinner successful?

    I’m currently looking into IeUnit. This looks like a very powerful web page testing framework, you run javascript tests that can directly talk against the DOM in IE, these tests can be executed from the command line, and the results can be output in an XML format that can be interpreted and merged by CruiseControl.Net (our Continuous Integration platform).

    The test framework is extensible, so it would be great to extend it with the knowledge of zones, web parts, and other SharePoint specific functionality.

    Did someone already go in this direction, or do you have other tips on testing the resulting web pages of SharePoint Portal Server? Please enlighten me!

  • CruiseControl.Net 0.8 is out!!

     Hurray! CruiseControl.Net 0.8 is out with some great new features and bugfixes!! Have a look at for more information.

    No clue what CruiseControl.Net is? Get reading!



  • Again: Reporting Services web parts in SP2

     Jan Thielens has a weblog entry with some screenshots about the new Reporting Services SP2 SharePoint web parts. Have a look at

    It is now also possible to get SQL server SP4 (beta) and Reporting Services SP2 (beta) at

    Jan is a bit disappointed in the web part functionality… maybe Bryant must continue on his development on the RS Web Parts and make it an open source community project as he suggests at


  • VS.NET and hintpath problems...

    In a project we are working with multiple developers AND a build server on a large set of Visual Studio solutions. Problem is that when we have references to a folder with shared assemblies, the relative path to those assemblies specified by a hintpath directive in the .csproj file ends up wrong. The solution file opens up on one system. but fails on another system (reference not found). We also have problems in our automated builds (using the NAnt solution task).

    A fix to this is setting a registry entry to the folders with shared assemblies, if the assembly can't be found, this path is checked.

    Add a key with any name to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\VisualStudio\7.1\AssemblyFolders, and set its (Default) value of type REG_SZ to the path with your assemblies.

  • The dirty world of SharePoint programming

    Sometimes SharePoint drives you mad. Case of today:

    When you add a QuickLink to a person in SharePoint portal server you get a link to the /mysite/public.aspx page with on the URL in most cases an accountname parameter, so for example http://server/mysite/public.aspx?accountname=DOMAIN%5cusername. There are also situations where instead of an accountname parameter we got the parameter sid. No problem: convert the SID to accountname, done! Not. This SID is not a standard Windows SID. But the public.aspx page knows how to find the profile for this person... If you disassemble the (obfuscated) code that converts a sid to a usable profile object you see that a LOT of shit happens... to much to reproduce in your own code. But there is a dirty solution to retrieve any property from a user it's profile, while providing any of the following options on the URL:


    Make a page: GetProfileProperty.aspx

    <%@ Register Tagprefix="SharePoint" Namespace="Microsoft.SharePoint.WebControls" Assembly="Microsoft.SharePoint, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=71e9bce111e9429c" %>
    <%@ Register Tagprefix="SPSWC" Namespace="Microsoft.SharePoint.Portal.WebControls" Assembly="Microsoft.SharePoint.Portal, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=71e9bce111e9429c" %>

    <SPSWC:ProfilePropertyLoader runat="server" />
    <SPSWC:ProfilePropertyValue PropertyName="AccountName" ApplyFormatting="false" runat="server" />

    Call it like GetProfileProperty.aspx?accountname=domain\user

    In the sample code the AccountName is returned, but you can use any property name, or even make the property itself a parameter.

    In your code you have to execute a call to the page using the WebRequest class. The result is the property value in plain text.It is an extra roundtrip, but sometimes you don't have many alternatives...

  • SharePoint, Data View web parts and functions in the ddwrt namespace



    Topic: Data View web part, XSLT, XSLT Extension Object, ddwrt namespace, Windows SharePoint Services, SharePoint Portal Server 2003, FrontPage 2003


    SharePoint has a powerful type of web parts: Data View web part (DVWP) that has the ability to provide an XSLT transformation on XML data retrieved from a data source. FrontPage 2003 has great support for defining the data source to retrieve XML data from, for WYSIWYG creating of XSLT views on this data, and for converting CAML list views (WSS list views) to XSLT.


    In the XSLT generated by FrontPage an XSLT Extension Object is used to provide functions in the ddwrt namespace to perform often needed functionality like accessing properties of a list or firing events to connected web parts. This article tries to shed some light on these undocumented but much used functions.


    This is an article I started exactly one year ago, but never finished. I was using one of the most powerful features you get when using FrontPage in combination with Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) and Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003 (SPS): the ability to create Data View web parts (DVWP). It is one year later, Christmas again, and in the meantime not much information appeared on the subject of this article: the functions available in the ddwrt namespace as used in the FrontPage generated Data View XSLT code.


    Many introductory articles have already been written on the topic of DVWPs, so I will not repeat all this useful information. I consider those articles as prerequisite reading and will try to go from there by showing the available functions, and what they do.


    Disclaimer: I’m on vacation and only have access to Reflector, the Microsoft.SharePoint.dll and Word, so no possibility to check out things. I have to rely on my notes taken in the past, and the disassembled code using Reflector. If you find any untruthful information or if you have any additional information: let me know and I will correct/include it in this article.

     FrontPage and DVWPs

    One of the first things to mention is that although FrontPage is a great tool to create a DVWP, all the logic is already available in SharePoint (WSS) itself (see also This logic consists of the following parts:


    • Microsoft.SharePoint.WebPartPages.DataViewWebPart, a class available in the Microsoft.SharePoint.dll assembly that implements the DVWP functionality.
    • Microsoft.SharePoint.WebPartPages.DdwRuntime, an internal class available in the Microsoft.SharePoint.dll assembly that is made available as a XSLT Extension Object that provides a set of functions in the ddwrt namespace. The set of functions this article is about!!
    • Data view web part definition, a .dwp file describing the assembly implementing the web part and the configuration parameters for the web part.


    It is possible to create data DVWPs without using FrontPage. It is difficult, but it is possible. A DVWP is just a .dwp file which is an XML file that contains information for the data query and the XSLT transformation.


    One thing FrontPage does really good is the conversion of a SharePoint list view (defined in Collaborative Aplication Markup Language, or CAML for short) to an XSLT transformation that transforms the data retrieved using the list web service to the same view as defined in CAML. In the past I wrote a weblog entry ( about how FrontPage accomplishes this wizardry using an XSLT transformation that is available in your office directory.


    Besides the CAML transformation, FrontPage provides WYSIWYG functionality to create a nice view on data. It does this by interactively defining an XSLT transformation on XML data retrieved from multiple types of data sources.

    DataViewWebPart, Vars and the ddwrt namespace

    It is the Data View web part implemented in the class Microsoft.SharePoint.WebPartPages.DataViewWebPart that utilizes the internal class Microsoft.SharePoint.WebPartPages.DdwRuntime to provide utility functions. John Janssen stated in a usenet discussion: “They were created to maintain parity between data views and list views (so that in the convert case the data view behaves just the same as the list view).” But the problem is that we want to give our own twist to how the result works, otherwise we didn’t have to convert them in the first place! The utility functions are made available by creating an XSLT Extension Object. To take a peek in the kitchen have a look at the obfuscated function Microsoft.SharePoint.WebPartPages.DataViewWebPart.q(). In this functions three important things happen:

    1. The DdwRuntime class is added as an Extension Object
    2. The Vars name-value collection as available in the XSLT transformation through ddwrt:Vars[“name”], filled with all kind of interesting information
    3. A large set of XSLT parameters is defined.


    The powerful thing of the Vars collection is that this collection is persisted over page request in the ASP.NET viewstate, so it can be used to persist information from the XSLT transformation of the current page request to the XSLT transformation of the next page request.


    The Vars name-value pairs that I could find:




    Empty string


    {GUID}, the “StorageKey”of the web part. Don’t know yet what this means.






    XSLT parameters I could find (no namespace):




    URL of the top level site of the current web


    LCID of the language used on the site, for example 1033 for an English site


    Url of the images path, in the context of the current web, so for example http://server/sites/test/_layouts/images/


    Url of the path to the appropriate OWSSVR.DLL file in the context of the web we are in. For example http://server/sites/test/_vti_bin/owssvr.dll?CS=109, where CS=109 means that the UTF-8 character set is used for all communication to owssvr.dll.


    Root directory of the current subsite, so for the page http://server/sites/test/default.aspx, the value is http://server/sites/test/.


    The directory of the currently requested page. For example http://server/sites/test/default.aspx.


    The root folder of a list, if the current page request is in the context of a list. This is the name of the folder that contains all the files used in working with the list. In most cases this is the Forms folder.


    {GUID}, the “StorageKey”of the web part. Don’t know yet what this means.


    When the current page request is in the context of a list, and the list is a Document Library:

    Url of the template document for this document library.


    When the current page request is in the context of a list: Complete Url to the root folder of the list(see Project).


    When the current page request is in the context of a list: Name of the root folder, same as Project (see Project).


    When the current page request is in the context of a list: Url to the page for creating a new item in the list (newform).

    URL_Edit, URL_EDIT

    When the current page request is in the context of a list: Url to the page for editing an existing item in the list (editform).

    URL_Display, URL_DISPLAY

    When the current page request is in the context of a list: Url to the page containing the default view of the list (displayform).


    If you look at the XSLT code generated by FrontPage you will find a large set of additional XSLT parameters. To have a look at the values of a lot of these parameters you could include the following XSLT code that writes out their values to the HTML code generated for the DVWP:


    <!-- Dump parameters -->

    PageUrl: <xsl:value-of select="$PageUrl"/><br/>

    HttpHost: <xsl:value-of select="$HttpHost"/><br/>

    List: <xsl:value-of select="$List"/><br/>

    URL_Display: <xsl:value-of select="$URL_Display"/><br/>

    HttpVDir: <xsl:value-of select="$HttpVDir"/><br/>

    View: <xsl:value-of select="$View"/><br/>

    FilterLink: <xsl:value-of select="$FilterLink"/><br/>

    Language: <xsl:value-of select="$Language"/><br/>

    dvt_adhocmode: <xsl:value-of select="$dvt_adhocmode"/><br/>

    dvt_adhocfiltermode: <xsl:value-of select="$dvt_adhocfiltermode"/><br/>

    dvt_fieldsort: <xsl:value-of select="$dvt_fieldsort"/><br/>

    dvt_sortfield: <xsl:value-of select="$dvt_sortfield"/><br/>

    dvt_groupfield: <xsl:value-of select="$dvt_groupfield"/><br/>

    dvt_groupdisplay: <xsl:value-of select="$dvt_groupdisplay"/><br/>

    dvt_sortdir: <xsl:value-of select="$dvt_sortdir"/><br/>

    dvt_groupdir: <xsl:value-of select="$dvt_groupdir"/><br/>

    dvt_filterfield: <xsl:value-of select="$dvt_filterfield"/><br/>

    dvt_filterval: <xsl:value-of select="$dvt_filterval"/><br/>

    dvt_filtertype: <xsl:value-of select="$dvt_filtertype"/><br/>

    dvt_firstrow: <xsl:value-of select="$dvt_firstrow"/><br/>

    dvt_p2plinkfields: <xsl:value-of select="$dvt_p2plinkfields"/><br/>

    dvt_nextpagedata: <xsl:value-of select="$dvt_nextpagedata"/><br/>

    dvt_grouptype: <xsl:value-of select="$dvt_grouptype"/><br/>

    dvt_sorttype: <xsl:value-of select="$dvt_sorttype"/><br/>

    dvt_groupsorttype: <xsl:value-of select="$dvt_groupsorttype"/><br/>

    dvt_apos: <xsl:value-of select="$dvt_apos"/><br/>

    filterParam: <xsl:value-of select="$filterParam"/><br/>

    ImagesPath: <xsl:value-of select="$ImagesPath"/><br/>

    ListUrlDir: <xsl:value-of select="$ListUrlDir"/><br/>

    EMail: <xsl:value-of select="$EMail"/><br/>

    ListUrlDir_TRUE: <xsl:value-of select="$ListUrlDir_TRUE"/><br/>

    URL_DISPLAY: <xsl:value-of select="$URL_DISPLAY"/><br/>

    URL_EDIT: <xsl:value-of select="$URL_EDIT"/><br/>

    URL_New: <xsl:value-of select="$URL_New"/><br/>

    WebQueryInfo: <xsl:value-of select="$WebQueryInfo"/><br/>

    URL_Edit: <xsl:value-of select="$URL_Edit"/><br/>

    URL_Lookup: <xsl:value-of select="$URL_Lookup"/><br/>

    <!-- Dump parameters -->


    The ddwrt namespace, a reference

    And now we come to the meat of this article. A reference guide to the set of functions implemented in the ddwrt namespace. Have a look at the XSLT code generated by FrontPage, and you know what I’m talking about: those functions starting with ddwrt:.


    What follows is an overview of all public functions in the internal class DdwRuntime that is automatically available in the XSLT code in a DVWP.


    public DdwRuntime();

    Nothing really interesting is happening here, and you don’t call the constructor yourself. This function is automatically called on instantiating the DdwRuntime class as an XSLT Extesion Object. Don’t bother about it.


    public string AutoHyperLink(string szStr, bool preserveWhitespace);

    This function returns the passed szStr string parameter. The preserveWhiteSpace parameter is ignored.


    public string AutoNewLine(string szStr);

    This function goes through the string szStr and does the following replacements:














    If not the first space in a row, translated to &nbsp;

    So: “a b” à “a b”, but “a  b” -> “a &nbsp;b”




    So the function converts a plain text string containing special characters (in the HTML sense) and newlines to a string that can be inserted into HTML and remains formatted in the same way.


    public string ConnEncode(string szData);

    This function goes through the string szData and does the following replacements:














    So the function converts a string to a format that can be passed as a parameter in the URL string. If you look at the name of the function, this function is used to encode the connection information that is communicated between connected web parts. Web part connection information is probably encoded because connection information between web parts on separate web part pages are passed on the URL. Creating web part connections between web parts on different web part pages is not available through the web interface for defining web part connections, but FrontPage 2003 does provide functionality to make web part connections between web parts on different pages.


    public string Counter();

    The Counter() function returns an incremental number. The number even increases over pages refreshes so you are ensured of a new number on each call, even over page requests.


    public string FieldFilterImageUrl(string szFieldName);

    If the parameter szFieldName equals the name of the currently selected filter field (assumable the internal name of the field), this function returns the text /_layouts/images/filter.gif , otherwise it returns the text /_layouts/images/blank.gif.


    public string FieldFilterOptions(string szName);
    This function always returns an empty string.


    public string FieldPrefix();

    This function always returns the text urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office#, this is the namespace used for all fields defined in for example a SharePoint list.


    public string FieldSortImageUrl(string szName);

    If the parameter szName equals Desc,  the text /_layouts/images/rsort.gif is returned, otherwise the text /_layouts/images/sort.gif is returned,


    public string FieldSortParameters(string szName);

    This function always returns an empty string.


    public string FilterLink();

    This function always returns an empty string.


    public string FormatDate(string szDate, long lcid, long formatFlag);

    The parameter szDate is converted to a DateTime. Based on the formatFlag parameter which can have a value from 0..15, a new DateTime string is constructed in the given locale lcid. This result is returned by the function.


    Formatting string


    1 (0001)


     todo, see standard .net docs

    3 (0011)


     todo, see standard .net docs

    4 (0100)


     todo, see standard .net docs

    5 (0101)


     todo, see standard .net docs

    7 (0111)


     todo, see standard .net docs

    12 (1100)


     todo, see standard .net docs

    13 (1101)


     todo, see standard .net docs

    15 (1111)


     todo, see standard .net docs


    public string FormatDateTime(string szDate, long lcid, string szFormat);

    The parameter szDate is converted to a DateTime. Based on the szFormat parameter which is a standard DateTime formatting flag, a new DateTime string is constructed in the given locale lcid using GetDateTime(szDate).ToString(szFormat, lcid).


    public string GenDisplayName(string szValue);

    The parameter szValue is converted to a DateTime, and returned in the format “d” using GetDateTime(szValue).ToString(“d”, CultureInfo.InvariantCulture). If the conversion to a DateTime fails, the value of the szValue parameter itself is returned.


    public string GenFireConnection(string szConnectStr, string szOtherPostback);

    Fire a connected web part event with a call to __dopostback(), which is the function called in ASP.NET to do a post back to the server. This function uses the GenFireServerEvent() function to do the actual firing of the event. The following event text is “fired”: __connect={szConnectStr};szOtherPostback. See for an example of firing a connection event from XSLT code.


    public string GenFireServerEvent(string szEventStr);

    Fire a server event with a call to __dopostback()(), which is the function called in ASP.NET to do a post back to the server. The szEventStr is the actual event text to “fire”.


    protected DateTime GetDateTime(string szDate);

    This function returns DateTime.Parse(szDate).ToUniversalTime().ToLocalTime().

    The current coordinated universal time (UTC) is converted to local time, adjusting to the local time zone and daylight saving time.


    public string GetFileExtension(string szUrl);

    This function returns the file extension of the give URL parameter szUrl.


    public static string GetStringBeforeSeparator(string szval);

    Given the string parameter szval, this function returns the part before the first “;” or “#” character. So for example for the string “abaca;dabra”, the string “abaca” is returned.


    public string GetVar(string szName);

    There is a name-value collection available in the called Vars. This function retrieves the value for the entry with the name szName from the collection.


    public bool IfNew(string szCreatedTime);

    This function returns true if the parameter szCreatedTime is “younger” than 2 days, otherwise false is returned.


    public bool IsPrivilegedUser();

    This function returns true if the current user doing the page request is a privileged user (administrator) in the current web, and false if the user is not an administrator. False is returned if the page request is not in the context of a SharePoint web. This function returns the result of a call to SPWeb.IsPriviledgedUser on the current web.


    public string Limit(string szInputText, int len, string szMoreText);

    Given the string parameter szInputString, this function returns the first len characters, with the string szMoreText appended. Note: This function makes a mess of HTML strings, because the string is just cut off, without taking HTML formatting tags into account.


    public string ListProperty(string szPropName);

    This function returns the value of the given property szPropName when the page request is in the context of a list. There are some special properties defined that don’t really have to map to properties directly available on the list.

    Field name



    The displayed title for the list.


    The description for the list.


    Direction of the reading order for the list. This property contains the string ltr if the reading order is left-to-right,  rtl if the reading order is right-to-left, or it contains none.


    Number with the base type of the list. Dive into list templates for more information on this topic. SharePoint contains the following base types:




    Discussion board.


    Document library.


    Generic type of list template used for most lists.


    Issue-tracking list.


    Survey list.


    No base type specified.




    String with the name of the template the list is based on.


    Url of the page providing the default view for the list.


    Url of the list.


    Url of the root folder of the list. The rootfolder is the folder that contains all the files used in working with the list. In most cases this is the Forms folder.


    The version number of the list.


    The internal name of the list.


    “1” if content approval is enabled, “0” if content approval is disabled.


    “1”if attachements can be added to items in the list, “0”if attachements can not be added to items in the list.


    “1” if the list in a Meeting Workspace site can contain data for multiple meeting instances within the site, “0”if not.


    Url of the template document used to create a new document in a document library.


    If a picture library, the webimagewidth is the width value used to display images in a picture library (in pixels), otherwise an empty string.


    If a picture library, the webimageheight is the height value used to display images in a picture library (in pixels), otherwise an empty string.


    If a picture library, the thumbnailsize is the size in pixels of the height or width, whichever is longest, to use for thumbnails in the picture library, otherwise an empty string.


    Number of items in the list. Note that the value of the itemcount does not include folders in a document library but does include files within subfolders in a document library.


    public string MapToAll(string szProgID, string szExt);

    This function returns a concatenation of Icon|ProgID|Control, as defined in the “docicon.xml” file. If the specified parameter szProgID is not found in “docicon.xml”, the ProgID is determined by the extension specified in the szExt parameter. This function uses the function MapToControl() to determine the value of Control, and the function MapToIcon() to determine the value of Icon.


    public string MapToControl(string szProgID, string szExt);

    This function returns the value of Control for the given ProgID (szProgID) or extension (szExt). A Control is the control to open the document with, like SharePoint.OpenDocuments.


    public string MapToIcon(string szProgID, string szExt);

    This function returns the Icon for the for the given ProgID (szProgID) or extension (szExt). The Icon is the name of the gif file, without the complete path to the file.


    public string NameChanged(string szName, long id);

    I have no idea. Something happens with NameChangedCounters…


    public string PresenceEnabled();

    This function returns “true”/“false” if the current page request is in the context of a SharePoint web, and there is presence enabled/disabled for the web. If the current page request is not in the context of a SharePoint web, an empty string is returned.


    public string SelectOptions(string szName);

    Returns an empty string.

    public string SetVar(string szName, string szValue);

    There is a name-value collection available called Vars. This function sets the value szValue for the name szName in the collection.


    public string ThreadStamp();

    This function returns the current time (Now) in the format: yyyyMMddHHmmss


    public string Today();

    This function returns DateTime.Now.ToString("G", CultureInfo.InvariantCulture);


    public string TodayIso();

    This function returns DateTime.Now.ToString("s", CultureInfo.InvariantCulture);


    public string UrlBaseName(string szUrl);

    This function returns the basename of the given url szUrl. So for example for: /a/b/basename.ext, the value basename is returned.


    public string UrlDirName(string szUrl);

    This function returns the directory name of the given url szUrl.So for example for: /a/b/basename.ext, the value /a/b/ is returned.


    public string UrlEncode(string szUrl);

    This function returns HttpUtility.UrlEncode(szUrl). The string parameter szUrl is encoded so it can be safely used on the url.


    public string URLLookup(string ListName, string FieldAttributeName, string FieldPosition);

    It is not completely clear to me what you can do with this function. Especially the possible values for the parameters FieldAttributeName and FieldPosition are a bit unclear. The thing that puzzles me is the name of the function: UrlLookup(). So it dies not lookup a value of a property in the list, it returns an Url. The only real usage I could find is for looking up information in the special SPWeb list UserInfo, which contains information about all users that ever visited the web, if the current page request is in the context of a SharePoint web. If this function is called with the parameter ListName set to UserInfo, the following url is returned:

    /_layouts/<LCID>/userdisp.aspx?Force=True&ID=<ID of user>. Note that the Force=True parameter forces the redirection to a a page that displays the information as stored in the UserInfo table, instead of redirection to the public MySite page of a user when available (only for SharePoint Portal Server). Remove the “Force=True&” string from the result string in case of a SharePoint Portal Server environment.


    public string UserLookup(string UserName, string FieldName);

    The Fieldname parameter can be either Email, ID, or Login. The UserName parameter is in the format as defined by FieldName. This function always returns the specified user in login format: DOMAIN\User.

    public string Ascending { get; }

    Gets the string “Asc”.


    public string BlankGif { get; }

    Gets the string images/blank.gif.


    public string DefaultUrl { get; }

    Accessing this property triggers the caching of the XML file docicon.xml. This file contains the mapping from file extension to icons, and to the progid of the application to open a file with a given file extension with. I don’t know what exactly is returned.


    public string Descending { get; }

    Gets the string Desc.


    public NameValueCollection ExtensionCtrlMap { get; }

    Get a NameValue collection as defined in the XML file mapicon.xml, needs further investigation.


    public NameValueCollection ExtensionMap { get; }

    Get a NameValue collection as defined in the XML file mapicon.xml, needs further investigation.


    public NameValueCollection ExtensionTextMap { get; }

    Get a NameValue collection as defined in the XML file mapicon.xml, needs further investigation.


    public string Filter { get; }

    Gets the string Filter.


    public string FilterGif { get; }

    Gets the string images/filter.gif.


    public string FormFieldDecoration { get; }

    Gets the string urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office#.


    public string FreeForm { get; }

    Gets the string FreeForm.


    public string GetGuid { get; }

    Gets a GUID using new Guid().ToString("D", CultureInfo.InvariantCulture).


    public string GetProgID { get; }

    Gets an empty string.


    public string ListParameter { get; }

    Gets the string ListParam.

    public string MapString { get; set; }

    Get the contents of the complete XML file docicon.xml as a string. This string is cached on first access. The Set functionality overrides the information read from docicon.xml.


    public NameValueCollection ProgIDCtrlMap { get; }

    Get a NameValue collection as defined in the XML file mapicon.xml, needs further investigation.


    public NameValueCollection ProgIDMap { get; }

    Get a NameValue collection as defined in the XML file mapicon.xml, needs further investigation.


    public NameValueCollection ProgIDTextMap { get; }

    Get a NameValue collection as defined in the XML file mapicon.xml, needs further investigation.


    public string RootFolder { get; }

    Gets the string RootFolder.


    public string RSortGif { get; }

    Gets the string images/rsort.gif.


    public string SearchString { get; }

    Gets the string SearchString.


    public string SortDir { get; }

    Gets the string SortDir.


    public string SortField { get; }

    Gets the string SortField.


    public string SortGif { get; }

    Gets the string images/sort.gif.


    public string ThreadStampFormat { get; }

    Gets the string yyyyMMddHHmmss.


    public NameValueCollection Vars { get; set; }

    The Vars name-value collection is filled with all kind of interesting information. See the section DataViewWebPart, Vars and the ddwrt namespace for more information. This collection is persisted over page request in the ASP.NET viewstate, so it can be used to persist information from the XSLT transformation of the current page request to the XSLT transformation of the next page request.


    public string View { get; }

    Gets the string View.


    public DataViewWebPart Wp { get; set; }

    Gets or set the DataViewWebPart object we are currently working on.

    public string WPQ { get; }

    Gets the string WPQ.



    I only touched on a small part of the magic world of Data View web parts. A lot more information is there to explore to grasp the complete power of the possibilities of this web part.


    Although the possibilities of DVWPs is almost unlimited, be aware of the following downsides of using them:


    • You need an experienced XSLT coder to do more advanced modifications beyond the standard possibilities of FrontPage, and you end up there pretty soon!
    • DVWPs are difficult to reuse from one situation to another situation, because certain information is hard coded in the DVWP. This makes is hard to maintain modifications made to DVWPs over multiple instances of DVWPs.
    • It is difficult to deploy DVWPs due to the way certain information is hard coded in the DVWP


    One last point I wanted to mention is that it is not possible to create JScript code in your XSLT code, due to security reasons. So all extension code available in your XSLT must either come from standard XSLT code, or from the functions as described in this article.


    Have a look at the following links for more information on Data View web parts:


    Working With the Data View Web Part:


    SharePoint: The power of the DataView Web Part EventID=1032256050


    One of the guys from the Microsoft Team who does a lot of newsgroup work is John Janssen. Look him up in relation to DVWPs with the following queries: