Archives / 2006
  • A templating engine using PowerShell expressions

    [Update Januari 5, 2008: fixed a small bug, content was always saved in encoding ANSI, resulting in the loss of special characters.

    Changed the line:

    Set-Content -Path $destination -value $expandedText


    Set-Content -Path $destination -value $expandedText -encoding $Encoding

    The attached file is updated as well.


    While working on our Software Factory for SharePoint 2007 solutions I needed to do some simple template expansion. First choice would be to use the Text Templates from the DSL toolset as available in the Visual Studio 2005 SDK, and write the templates in the T4 template language. Problem is that the template expansion I need to do right now needs to expand variables, function  and expressions in the PowerShell language. So I created a small PowerShell script to implement the Template-Expand command to do just that. First some simple explanatory but useless examples:

    function MyFunction($action) { if ($action -eq 1) { 'a function'} else { 'WRONG!' }}
    ./Template-Expand -text 'This is a [[$a]] test to execute [[MyFunction -action 1]] and to add 2+3=[[2+3]] '

    Results in:

    This is a template test to execute a function and to add 2+3=5

    You can also assign the output to a variable like in the following example. In this example I changed the default left and right markers [[ and ]] to the same syntax  used in the T4 template language:

    $result = ./Template-Expand -leftMarker '<#=' -rightMarker '#>' -text 'This is a <#= $a #> test to execute <#= MyFunction -action 1 #> and to add 2+3=<#= 2+3 #>'

    The variable $result now contains the expanded template text.

    Nota bene that the markers are used to construct our matching regular expression as follows: [regex]"$leftMarker(.*?)$rightMarker", so the marker strings must escape special regular expression characters. The default value for the left marker is for example "\[\[".

    I also added some extra options, like the possibility to read the template from a file, and write the expanded template text to a destination file using the options -path and -destination.

    If you have a template file template.txt with the following content:

        for ($i=0; $i -lt 3; $i++)

    You can execute the template expansion with the following command:

    ./template-expand -path template.txt -destination templateexpanded.txt

    This will result in a file templateexpanded.txt with the following content:

    200 0 0 5 10 10 20    

    I know, the example is useless, but you get the drift;-) Important thing to notice in the example, expressions can consist of multiple lines!

    You can also define functions within your template as in the following example:

    function SayHelloWorld
        "Hello world!"
    And then he said:

    If you want to have the configuration of variables and functions in a separate powershell file, use the -psConfigurationPath. The specified file (which must have a .ps1 extension) will be sourced, so variables and functions don't have to be defined in the global context.

    Thanks to this blog entry by the PowerShell team I got the needed delegation stuff working.

    And now the code, happy templating en let me know if it works for you or which features you are missing!!

    Save the code below to Template-Expand.ps1. I also added this file as an attachment to this blog post.


    # ==============================================================================================
    # Microsoft PowerShell Source File -- Created with SAPIEN Technologies PrimalScript 4.1
    # NAME: Template-Expand.ps1
    # AUTHOR : Serge van den Oever, Macaw
    # DATE   : December 30, 2006
    # VERSION: 1.0
    # I needed a MatchEvaluator delegate, and found an example at
    # ==============================================================================================


    Simple templating engine to expand a given template text containing PowerShell expressions.


    $text (optional): The text of the template to do the expansion on (use either $text or $path)

    $path (optional): Path to template to do the expansion on (use either $text or $path)

    $destination (optional): Destination path to write expansion result to. If not specified, the

    expansion result is result as text

    $psConfigurationPath (optional) : Path to file containing PowerShell code. File will be

    sources using ". file", so variables can be declared

    without global scope

    $leftMarker (optional): Left marker for detecting expand expression in template

    $rightMarker (optional): Right marker for detecting expand expression in template

    $encoding (optional): Encoding to use when reading the template file

    Simple usage usage:

    $message="hello"; ./Template-Delegate -text 'I would like to say [[$message]] to the world'

    param ( $text = $null, $path = $null, $destination = $null, $psConfigurationPath = $null, $leftMarker = "[[", $rightMarker = "]]", $Encoding = "UTF8" )


    Code below from

    Creates a delegate scriptblock


    Helper function to emit an IL opcode

    function emit { param ( $opcode = $(throw "Missing: opcode") )

    if ( ! ($op = [System.Reflection.Emit.OpCodes]::($opcode)))
        throw "emit: opcode '$opcode' is undefined"
    if ($args.Length -gt 0)
        $ilg.Emit($op, $args[0])


    function GetDelegate { param ( [type]$type, [ScriptBlock]$scriptBlock )

    # Get the method info for this delegate invoke...
    $delegateInvoke = $type.GetMethod("Invoke")
    # Get the argument type signature for the delegate invoke
    $parameters = @($delegateInvoke.GetParameters())
    $returnType = $delegateInvoke.ReturnParameter.ParameterType
    $argList = new-object Collections.ArrayList
    [void] $argList.Add([ScriptBlock])
    foreach ($p in $parameters)
        [void] $argList.Add($p.ParameterType);
    $dynMethod = new-object reflection.emit.dynamicmethod ("",
        $returnType, $argList.ToArray(), [object], $false)
    $ilg = $dynMethod.GetILGenerator()
    # Place the scriptblock on the stack for the method call
    emit Ldarg_0
    emit Ldc_I4 ($argList.Count - 1)  # Create the parameter array
    emit Newarr ([object])
    for ($opCount = 1; $opCount -lt $argList.Count; $opCount++)
        emit Dup                    # Dup the array reference
        emit Ldc_I4 ($opCount - 1); # Load the index
        emit Ldarg $opCount         # Load the argument
        if ($argList[$opCount].IsValueType) # Box if necessary
            emit Box $argList[$opCount]
        emit Stelem ([object])  # Store it in the array
    # Now emit the call to the ScriptBlock invoke method
    emit Call ([ScriptBlock].GetMethod("InvokeReturnAsIs"))
    if ($returnType -eq [void])
        # If the return type is void, pop the returned object
        emit Pop
        # Otherwise emit code to convert the result type which looks
        # like LanguagePrimitives.ConvertTo(value, type)
        $signature = [object], [type]
        $convertMethod =
                "ConvertTo", $signature);
        $GetTypeFromHandle = [Type].GetMethod("GetTypeFromHandle");
        emit Ldtoken $returnType  # And the return type token...
        emit Call $GetTypeFromHandle
        emit Call $convertMethod
    emit Ret
    # Now return a delegate from this dynamic method...
    $dynMethod.CreateDelegate($type, $scriptBlock)



    Write-Verbose "Template-Expand:" if ($path -ne $null) { if (!(Test-Path -Path $path)) { throw "Template-Expand: path '$path' can't be found" }

    # Read text and join the returned Object[] with newlines
    $text = [string]::join([environment]::newline, (Get-Content -Path $path -Encoding $Encoding))


    if ($text -eq $null) { throw 'Template-Expand: template to expand should be specified through -text or -path option' }

    if ($psConfigurationPath -ne $null) { # Source the powershell configuration, so we don't have to declare variables in the # configuration globally if (!(Test-Path -Path $psConfigurationPath)) { throw "Template-Expand: psConfigurationPath '$psConfigurationPath' can't be found" } . $psConfigurationPath }

    $pattern = New-Object -Type System.Text.RegularExpressions.Regex -ArgumentList "$leftMarker(.*?)$rightMarker",([System.Text.RegularExpressions.RegexOptions]::Singleline) $matchEvaluatorDelegate = GetDelegate System.Text.RegularExpressions.MatchEvaluator { $match = $args[0] $expression = $match.get_Groups()[1].Value # content between markers Write-Verbose " -- expanding expression: $expression" trap { Write-Error "Expansion on template '$name' failed. Can't evaluate expression '$expression'. The following error occured: $_"; break } Invoke-Expression -command $expression }

    Execute the pattern replacements and return the result

    $expandedText = $pattern.Replace($text, $matchEvaluatorDelegate)

    if ($destination -eq $null) { # Return as string $expandedText } else { Set-Content -Path $destination -value $expandedText -encoding $Encoding }

  • PowerShell pitfalls: reading text from file using get-content

    I had a really strange effect in PowerShell that puzzled me for hours!

    I have the following script:

    $a = @'
    $p = [regex]"One"
    $p.Replace($a, "OneReplaced")

    $b = get-content -path templ.txt $b $q = [regex]"One" $q.Replace($b, "OneReplaced")

    And a file templ.txt containing the following text:


    When I execute the script I get the following output:

    OneReplaced Two

    So what happens:

    I initialize a variable $a with two lines of text: line 1: One, line 2: Two. When I display variable $a it shows One and Two on two seperate lines. I now replace One with OneReplaced. Output of the replacement is two lines of text. Line 1: OneReplaced, line 2: Two.

    Everything ok so far.

    I now read the contents of variable $b from the file templ.txt. This file contains two lines of text: line 1: One, line 2: Two. When I display variable $b it shows One and Two on two seperate lines. I now replace One with OneReplaced. Output of the replacement is ONE LINE of text: OneReplaced Two.

    This is not what I expected.

    After a lot of debugging I found out why this happened. When you do $b = get-content -path templ.txt you don't get a string back, but an object array. You can see that when you do: (get-content -path templ.txt).GetType(), this displays:

    IsPublic IsSerial Name                                     BaseType
    -------- -------- ----                                     --------
    True     True     Object[]                                 System.Array

    If you inspect the Object[] variable $b, you see that $b[0] = "One" and $b[1] = "Two".

    When the command $q.Replace($b, "OneReplaced") is executed, the variable $b of type Object[] is cast to a string. This cast combines the string objects in the Object[] by appending them with a space in the middle.

    So what is the simple solution to all this: when reading the content, join all lines with a newline, as in the following code line:

    $b = [string]::join([environment]::newline, (get-content -path templ.txt))

    Such a pity that this costed me 4 hours, I thought it was in the regular expression replacement:-(

    But the good thing is that I can now solve that nasty bug in my Template Engine using PowerShell expressions.

  • PowerShell: calculating a relative path

    Sometimes you need a simple thing like calculating the relative path of a file given its full path and a base path. For example you have a file c:\a\b\c\d\e.doc and a base path c:\a\b\c, the relative path is now d\e.doc. I use the following PowerShell function to do this, actually using only .Net framework commands;-)

    function global:RelativePath
            [string]$path = $(throw "Missing: path"),
            [string]$basepath = $(throw "Missing: base path")
        return []::GetFullPath($path).SubString([]::GetFullPath($basepath).Length + 1)

    Note that I use GetFullPath to get rid of things like .. in a path, like in c:\a\b..\c\d\e.

  • PowerShell and debugging

    I still did not found a good debugging environment for my PowerShell development. The thing I use most is a command I found in this blog post, part of a great blog post series on PowerShell debugging on the Windows PowerShell blog by the PowerShell team. The command allows you to set a breakpoint at any location in your script, and enter an interactive shell where you can do whatever you need to do. I made a minimal modification to the command so I can see at which breakpoint I am:

    # Start-Debug (alias: bp)
    # Stop running current script and go into interactive mode so values of variables can be inspected
    function global:Start-Debug
            $name = ""
           $scriptName = $MyInvocation.ScriptName
           function prompt
              "Debugging [{0}]>" -f $(if ([String]::IsNullOrEmpty($scriptName)) { "globalscope:$name" } else { "$scriptName:$name" } )
    Set-Alias bp Start-Debug -Scope "global"

    You can now set a breakpoint in your code by adding just the command bp, or by adding a parameter like in bp "new piece of code" so you get a prompt indicating at which breakpoint you are.

    If you enter the nested prompt you can do things like listing all variables with the command ls variable:*, or show the values of all ther currently defined environment variables with ls env:*.

  • PowerShell: "Cleaning" a path name, searching for smarter solution...

    When you construct a path in powershell with for example Join-Path, you can get things like ".."in your path.

    For example:

    Join-Path -Path "c:\program files" -ChildPath "..\Temp"

    results in:

    "c:\program files\..\Temp"

    Instead of:


     I had to solve this problem, and now came up with the below dirty solution. Any cleaner solutions are appreciated;-)


    # CleanPathName
    # Clean a given path from elements like .. in the path and trailing '\',
    # so c:\program files\..\temp\ becomes c:\temp.
    # The given Path must exist.
    # Should be rewritten if a cleaner approach is found
    function global:CleanPathName
        [string]$path = $(throw "Missing: path")
      $orgLocation = Get-Location
      Set-Location -Path $path
      $cleanPath = Get-Location

    # restore original location
      Set-Location -Path $orgLocation

      return $cleanPath.Path

  • PowerShell and using .Net enum types

    [NOTE: Because this page is the first hit in Google when you search on Powershell + enum, and I landed on this page too often myself, I decided to expand the page with some additional information] 

    Scripting is heaven when you can utilize the complete .Net framework. One thing that was not directly clear for me was how to use enum values when calling .Net functions. It happened to be really easy, just cast the string representative of the enum value.

    $myString = "/A/B/C//D/E//F/G"

    $myParts = $myString.Split("/", [System.StringSplitOptions]"RemoveEmptyEntries")

    results in an array of A,B,C,D,E,F,G

    UPDATE: it happens to be even easier, you can say:


    And you can even binary-or them together:

    [System.Text.RegularExpressions.RegexOptions]::Singleline -bor [System.Text.RegularExpressions.RegexOptions]::ExplicitCapture

    It is also possible that an enum is defined within an enclosed type, in this case use [<namespace>.<enclosing type>+<nested type>]::EnumValue (thanks Alex)

    For example:


    It is also possible to create a new real .net enum from PowerShell script. See

    And in PowerShell 2.0 you can do it even cleaner:


  • PowerShell Community Extensions 1.0 Released @ CodePlex

    Keith Hill released the PowerShell Community Extensions version 1.0 at This well documented set of extra CmdLets, aliases and scripts provides you with a lot of goodies that make life in both PowerShell as a Shell and PowerShell as a scripting language way easier.

    One of the nice goodies is the Get-CmdletMaml cmdlet which reflects over a snapin assembly and produces PowerShell MAML help.  It uses a number of attributes defined by PowerShell and .NET as well as some defined by PSCX. Maml is an XML format to describe help on PowerShell cmdlets and their arguments.

    It also contains the latest version of TabExpansion functionality I wrote about in this blog post.

    See the Documentation for details on all the new commands. Check this out if you live your life in PowerShell.

    And by the way: CodePlex provides source code to the goodies, so there is a lot of code here to learn from how to do PowerShell development!

  • PowerShell: $null and parameter type

    One of those things that can take you ages to find out: I create a function where a parameters that can either have a string value or can be $null:

    function doit
        [string]$a = $( throw "Missing: parameter a"),
        $b = $( throw "Missing: parameter b")

      if ($a -eq $null) { Write-Host "a is null" } else { write-Host "a is not null" }
      if ($b -eq $null) { Write-Host "b is null" } else { Write-Host "b is not null" }

    If I call this function with: doit $null $null

    I get the following result:

    a is not null
    b is null

    What happened: because I specified a type [string] for parameter a, the $null value gets casted to a string with value "". 

  • PowerShell: strict mode and the variable provider

    When working in script languages where declaration of variables is not used there is always the problem of typos in names. PowerShell has a possibility to use 'strict" mode: when a variable is used without an initial assignment you get an error:

    set-psdebug -strict -trace 0

    But now I have problems with third-party scripts that check for the existance of variables by comparing them to $null like this:

    if ($var -eq $null) { ... }

    This throws an error in strict mode.

    To solve this problem use the variable provider. The variable provider gives you access to all variables. There is also a provider for functions, the environment variables, etc. You can even write your own providers.

    Check this out:

    ls variable:*

    ls function:*

    ls env:*

    To prevent the error in the variable existance check do the following:

    if (!(Test-Path variable:var)) { ... }

  • PowerShell: Tab Expansion wonders

    I assume that by now everyone is using PowerShell as their default shell, if not, time to get rid of that ancient cmd.exe thingy;-) If you are working within PowerShell, one of the powerful features is tab expansion. When you start a command you can type the first letters of the command, press tab and voila. But it does not have to stop there! Tab expansion can be extended, and that is whart a lot of people are doing!

    For some background on tab expansion see the blog entry by the powershell team on this topic:

    You can find a great series on developing tab expansion at

    And /\/\o\/\/ has another great series at

    I'm currently using a tab expansion script from, it's wonderful!

  • WPF/E is there, but one thing puzzles me...

    The samples of WPF/E look stunning, the kind of effects we are used to see in Flash applications. I had a quick look at the WPF/E SDK, and one thing puzzled me: it looks like WPF/E currently only provides a DOM, and that the Javascript runtime as available in your browser is used to access the WPF/E DOM. This means that you still have to solve all Javascript language differences between different browser platforms. It also means that things like interaction with the server (for example AJAX calls) must be handled through the browser Javascript. If my quick observations are correct it means that for WPF/E we are still dependend on the same cross-browser AJAX solution libraries as we are using for our current AJAX sites; libraries like prototype, , scriptaculous, AJAX .NET Professional, and of course ASP.NET Ajax.

    At one side this is great, all knowledge on this technology can be reused and the possibilities are infinite. On the other side: there is not a well defined boundary to do your programming in, where you are sure it works on all platforms. I think this is one of the advantages of a platform like Flash.

    On the other hand: in a future release a micro version of the .Net framework will be embedded, maybe this will provide this boundary. In the mean time I forsee all the cross browser problems we all love in our current "old technology" web solutions.

  • actual facts on 3000 open-source projects with 220 million lines of source code - impressive!!

    Thanks to born2code (Dutch blogger) I was introduced to the impressive site, a directory of open-source projects where the code repositories of the projects are crawled to gather all kinds of statistic and historical facts. is launched by ex Microsoft employees to evaluate open-source projects.

    Why is this site interesting? It can provide you with information on why you could put trust in the project to include in your own solution because it has an active community of developers, or that you should be careful because it is a one man show, or because ti is developed in the languages that your development team can support.

    For example the Mono project has the following statistics:

    And if you need some "facts" on what it would cost you if you have to do the same development yourself: 

    For more background information on the site see the followoing articles:

    Check it out!

  • PowerShell and some adventures in environment variables, quotes and output wrapping

    Summary: Solving issues with implementing a PowerShell script that generates PowerShell code with correct quoting and no output wrapping, and calling this PowerShell generator script from a cmd.exe batch script.

    The story:

    In my adventures with PowerShell I have such a simple problem that is giving me a headache for hours now.

    I want to write out a set environment variables to a PowerShell file as PowerShell variables with the same name as the environment variable that are assigned the value of the environment variable.

    So there is an environment variable set as follows:

    set MyFirstLittleEnvironmentVariable=Hello Amsterdam!

    And I want to write this out to:

    $MyFirstLittleEnvironmentVariable = 'Hello Amsterdam!'

    Powerful as PowerShell is, this is simple. For example I want to write out all variables starting with "My":

    Get-Item -path env:My* | foreach { [String]::Format("{0}{1} = {2}{3}{4}", "`$", $_.Name, "`'", $_.Value, "`'")

    Note all the trickery to get the quotes around the value, if you know a smarter way, please let me know. This costed me another hour:-(

    This all works nice and sweet, if I execute this command from a PowerShell prompt I get exactly what I want.

    Now I want to redirect this output into a file. I save the above command to file SaveMyEnvironmentVariables.ps1, and then I execute the following command:

    SaveMyEnvironmentVariables.ps1 > "c:\My Script Files\MyEnvironmentVariables.ps1"

    And what happens: the outputted lines are wrapped at 80 characters, not something you want when generating code!

    After some digging I found some some links that helped me out a little bit, but still not solved the problem:

    In my situation my output goes through Host-Out, and Host-Out has by default a formatting specified of 80 characters. See also help about_diplay.xml in your PowerShell command prompt.

    I want to save my output by redirecting the output of my PowerShell script to another file. I could not get this working.

    My current solution is:

    Get-Item -path env:My* | foreach { [String]::Format("{0}{1} = {2}{3}{4}", "`$", $_.Name, "`'", $_.Value, "`'") } | Out-File -FilePath $Args[0] -width 2147483647

    UPDATE: Thanks to The PowerShell Guy I could bring my solution back to the way more readable version below:

    Get-Item -path env:My* | foreach { "`$$($_.Name) = `'$($_.Value)`'" } | Out-File -FilePath $Args[0] -width 2147483647

    And for real good examples of the usage of PowerShell, have a look at

    Where Args[0] is the first parameter specified to the script and 2147483647 is the max width (it's a signed 32 bit parameter).

    I now have to call my script as follows:

    SaveMyEnvironmentVariables.ps1 "c:\My Script Files\MyEnvironmentVariables.ps1" from the PowerShell prompt.

    But actually I need to call it from a good old cmd.exe batch script. And there is got complex, so that is why I initially decided to solve my problem by redirecting my output. Examine the following statement carefully and especially look at the quotes;-), it took me another half an hour to solve all the problems you get with spaces in paths:

    PowerShell -Command "& 'c:\My Script Files\SaveMyEnvironmentVariables.ps1' 'c:\My Script Files\MyEnvironmentVariables.ps1'"

  • NAnt XmlList command updated

    A while a go I wrote a handly NAnt task to select data from XML files using XPath expressions. A few days ago I got a reaction on the blog by Matt who wants to try to get it in NAntContrib, and suddenly I got a new and improved version by Jonni Faiga through e-mail!!!

    I also included a small zip file with the source code, a small build script, and a dll (probably for .Net 2.0).

    Extract the zip file somewhere, go to the directory in a command shell, execute NAnt and you have a tested dll for your .Net platform. Copy the resulting dll Macaw.XmlList.dll next to your NAnt executable and for the rest of your programming live you have the power of the xmllist command at your fingertips!

    Matt, I hope you can get it included in NantContrib!

    The new and improved version:

    // Serge van den Oever (
    // Based on idea from weblog entry: combined with the code of xmlpeek.
    // Feedback by Matt (
    // Extended by Jonni Faiga [december 1, 2006]
    // Publication of this source in weblog entry:

    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 { /// <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> /// <thirdnode xmlns="http://thirdnodenamespace">namespacednode</thirdnode> /// <fourthnode>${myproperty}</fourthnode> /// <fifthnode>${myproperty=='Hi'}</fifthnode>
    /// </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=${prop6}"/> /// <fail message="TEST6: Expected: prop6=one,two,three" unless="${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'}"/> /// /// <!-- TEST9: node exists, is single node, get value expanded via current nant properties--> /// <property name="myproperty" value="Hi"/> /// <xmllist file="xmllisttest.xml" property="prop9" delim="," xpath="/xmllisttest/fourthnode"/> /// <echo message="prop9=${prop9}"/> /// <fail message="TEST9: Expected: prop1=${myproperty}" unless="${prop9 == myproperty}"/> /// /// <!-- TEST10: node exists, is single node, get value expanded via current nant function--> /// <xmllist file="xmllisttest.xml" property="prop10" delim="," xpath="/xmllisttest/fifthnode"/> /// <echo message="prop10=${prop10}"/> /// <fail message="TEST10: Expected: prop10=True" unless="${prop10 == 'True'}"/> /// </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" /// [echo] prop9="Hi" /// [echo] prop10="True" /// /// BUILD SUCCEEDED /// ]] /// </code> /// </example> [TaskName ("xmllist")] public class XmlListTask : Task { #region Private Instance Fields

        <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">private</span> <span style="color: rgb(0,128,128)">FileInfo</span> _xmlFile;
        <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">private</span> <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">string</span> _xPath;
        <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">private</span> <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">string</span> _property;
        <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">private</span> <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">string</span> _delimiter = <span style="color: rgb(128,0,0)">","</span>;
        <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">private</span> <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">bool</span> _unique = <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">false</span>; <span style="color: rgb(0,128,0)">// assume we return all values

    private XmlNamespaceCollection _namespaces = new XmlNamespaceCollection(); private bool _expandProps = true;

    #endregion Private Instance Fields

    #region Public Instance Properties /// <summary> /// The name of the file that contains the XML document /// that is going to be interrogated. /// </summary> [TaskAttribute("file", Required=true)] public FileInfo XmlFile { get { return _xmlFile; } set { _xmlFile = value; } }

        <span style="color: rgb(128,128,128)">///</span><span style="color: rgb(0,128,0)"> </span><span style="color: rgb(128,128,128)">&lt;summary&gt;

    /// The XPath expression used to select which nodes to read. /// </summary> [TaskAttribute ("xpath", Required = true)] [StringValidator (AllowEmpty = false)] public string XPath { get { return _xPath; } set { _xPath = value; } }

        <span style="color: rgb(128,128,128)">///</span><span style="color: rgb(0,128,0)"> </span><span style="color: rgb(128,128,128)">&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. /// </summary> [TaskAttribute ("property", Required = true)] [StringValidator (AllowEmpty = false)] public string Property { get { return _property; } set { _property = value; } }

        <span style="color: rgb(128,128,128)">///</span><span style="color: rgb(0,128,0)"> </span><span style="color: rgb(128,128,128)">&lt;summary&gt;

    /// The delimiter string. /// </summary> [TaskAttribute ("delim", Required = false)] [StringValidator (AllowEmpty = false)] public string Delimiter { get { return _delimiter; } set { _delimiter = value; } }

        <span style="color: rgb(128,128,128)">///</span><span style="color: rgb(0,128,0)"> </span><span style="color: rgb(128,128,128)">&lt;summary&gt;

    /// If unique, no duplicate vaslues are returned. By default unique is false and all values are returned. /// </summary> [TaskAttribute ("unique", Required = false)] [BooleanValidator()] public bool Unique { get { return _unique; } set { _unique = value; } }

        <span style="color: rgb(128,128,128)">///</span><span style="color: rgb(0,128,0)"> </span><span style="color: rgb(128,128,128)">&lt;summary&gt;

    /// Namespace definitions to resolve prefixes in the XPath expression. /// </summary> [BuildElementCollection("namespaces", "namespace")] public XmlNamespaceCollection Namespaces { get { return _namespaces; } set { _namespaces = value; } } /// <summary> /// If true, the any nant-style properties on the result will be /// expanded before returning. Default is true. /// </summary> [TaskAttribute("expandprops")] [BooleanValidator()] public bool ExpandProperties { get{ return _expandProps; } set { _expandProps = value; } }

    #endregion Public Instance Properties

    #region Override implementation of Task

        <span style="color: rgb(128,128,128)">///</span><span style="color: rgb(0,128,0)"> </span><span style="color: rgb(128,128,128)">&lt;summary&gt;

    /// Executes the XML reading task. /// </summary> protected override void ExecuteTask() { Log(Level.Verbose, "Looking at '{0}' with XPath expression '{1}'.", XmlFile.FullName, XPath);

            <span style="color: rgb(0,128,0)">// ensure the specified xml file exists

    if (!XmlFile.Exists) { throw new BuildException(string.Format(CultureInfo.InvariantCulture, "The XML file '{0}' does not exist.", XmlFile.FullName), Location); } try { XmlDocument document = LoadDocument(XmlFile.FullName); Properties[Property] = ExpandProps(GetNodeContents(XPath, document)); } catch (BuildException ex) { throw ex; // Just re-throw the build exceptions. } catch (Exception ex) { throw new BuildException(string.Format(CultureInfo.InvariantCulture, "Retrieving the information from '{0}' failed.", XmlFile.FullName), Location, ex); } }

    #endregion Override implementation of Task

    #region private Instance Methods

        <span style="color: rgb(128,128,128)">///</span><span style="color: rgb(0,128,0)"> </span><span style="color: rgb(128,128,128)">&lt;summary&gt;

    /// Loads an XML document from a file on disk. /// </summary> /// <param name="fileName">The file name of the file to load the XML document from.</param> /// <returns> /// A <see cref="XmlDocument">document</see> containing /// the document object representing the file. /// </returns> private XmlDocument LoadDocument(string fileName)
    { XmlDocument document = null;

            <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">try</span> 
                document = <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">new</span> XmlDocument();
                <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">return</span> document;
            <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">catch</span> (<span style="color: rgb(0,128,128)">Exception</span> ex) 
                <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">throw</span> <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">new</span> BuildException(<span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">string</span>.Format(<span style="color: rgb(0,128,128)">CultureInfo</span>.InvariantCulture,
                    <span style="color: rgb(128,0,0)">"Can't load XML file '{0}'."</span>, fileName), Location, 
        <span style="color: rgb(128,128,128)">///</span><span style="color: rgb(0,128,0)"> </span><span style="color: rgb(128,128,128)">&lt;summary&gt;

    /// Gets the contents of the list of nodes specified by the XPath expression. /// </summary> /// <param name="xpath">The XPath expression used to determine the nodes.</param> /// <param name="document">The XML document to select the nodes from.</param> /// <returns> /// The contents of the nodes specified by the XPath expression, delimited by /// the delimiter string. /// </returns> private string GetNodeContents(string xpath, XmlDocument document) { XmlNodeList nodes;

            <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">try</span> 
                XmlNamespaceManager nsMgr = <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">new</span> XmlNamespaceManager(document.NameTable);
                <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">foreach</span> (XmlNamespace xmlNamespace <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">in</span> Namespaces) 
                    <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">if</span> (xmlNamespace.IfDefined &amp;&amp; !xmlNamespace.UnlessDefined) 
                        nsMgr.AddNamespace(xmlNamespace.Prefix, xmlNamespace.Uri);
                nodes = document.SelectNodes(xpath, nsMgr);
            <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">catch</span> (<span style="color: rgb(0,128,128)">Exception</span> ex) 
                <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">throw</span> <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">new</span> BuildException(<span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">string</span>.Format(<span style="color: rgb(0,128,128)">CultureInfo</span>.InvariantCulture,
                    <span style="color: rgb(128,0,0)">"Failed to execute the xpath expression {0}."</span>, xpath), 
                    Location, ex);
            Log(Level.Verbose, <span style="color: rgb(128,0,0)">"Found '{0}' nodes with the XPath expression '{1}'."</span>,
                nodes.Count, xpath);
            <span style="color: rgb(0,128,0)">// 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)) { texts.Add(text); } }

            <span style="color: rgb(0,128,0)">// 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 > 0) { builder.Append(Delimiter); } builder.Append(text); }

            <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">return</span> builder.ToString();
        <span style="color: rgb(128,128,128)">///</span><span style="color: rgb(0,128,0)"> </span><span style="color: rgb(128,128,128)">&lt;summary&gt;

    /// Expands project properties in the string /// </summary> /// <param name="result"></param> /// <returns></returns> private string ExpandProps(string result) { if (Properties == null || !ExpandProperties) { return result; } return Properties.ExpandProperties(result, null); } #endregion private Instance Methods } }


  • PowerShell: calling a function with parameters

    I just started with PowerShell to do some complex scripting. As a beginner in this new language I will probably run into all the quirks that the language has, but hey thats the fun with learning something new. The first quirk: calling a function with parameters.

    function f([string]$a, [string]$b)
      Write-Host "a:", $a, " b:", $b

    f("hello", "world") # Results in: a: hello world b:
    f "hello" "world"   # Results in a: hello b: world

    If you put something between parentheses, it is executed as an expression first.

    For more information on what you can do with functions, execute the following command in your PowerShell: Get-Help about_function

  • Running Wss2 and Wss3 side-by-side

    I didn't know that it was possible, but Microsoft posted a document describing how to do it. Didn't test it out yet, please share you're experiences if you do try it out. Would be great for on a development box where you are developing things for both platforms.


  • SharePoint 2007: using the masterpage from your site in custom _layouts pages

    I got a question from Jeff:

    I'm wondering if you have experimented with creating application pages that will both run in the sharepoint context and that can use the default.master of the web. When creating application pages in the _layouts folder these pages can use the application.master, but cannot use the default.master.

    I tried to do some theoretical thinking on this topic, but it could be that I'm way off. So here are my thoughts. Please let me know if you tried it out, if you were successful, and what the best solution to this interesting problem is.

    Hi Jeff,

    If I understand you correctly you want to create application pages running in _layouts that uses the same masterpage as the site in which context the page is running.

    First thing is that if you want to use a masterpage from the site context, you need to have the same content placeholders as are expected by the master page.

    Master pages can be loaded dynamically. This can be done by assigning a master page file to the MasterPageFile property in the Page object. This property may only be assigned in the Page PreInit event, this is the first event executed page execution lifecycle.

    SharePoint has a set of static and dynamic tokens for specifying the masterpage to use:

    ~masterurl, ~site, and ~sitecollection. I assume you already tried to use ~site, that would be the easiest solution.

    Assuming that ~site does not work, one problem is now: how can we access the master page file that is in the site context. I don't know if it works if you specify a path pointing to a file in the site, because we are running in a different virtual directory. Otherwise you could implements a VirtualPathProvider that allows you to access files in the SPWeb that is your current context.

    Could be that you first have to assign a dummy masterpage that has all the correct placeholders, and that this masterpage must be stored in the _layouts pages as well.


    UPDATE: From the comments, Roni Hofer confirms that he got it working as follows:

    protected override void OnPreInit(EventArgs e)



     SPWeb myWeb = SPControl.GetContextSite(Context).OpenWeb();

     string strUrl = myWeb.ServerRelativeUrl + "/_catalogs/masterpage/my.master";

     this.MasterPageFile = strUrl;



    Where "my.master" has to be stored in master page gallery of the site.

  • SharePoint Solution Generator - part 2: the internals of the created site definition project

    In the first part of this serie on SharePoint Solution Generator I just went through the creation of a site definition project, compiling it, deploying it, and create a new site based on our new site definition. Now that we know that that part works, it is time to look into what we exactly are getting in the site definition project as created by the SharePoint Solution Generator. The SharePoint Solution Generator is part of Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Tools: Visual Studio 2005 Extensions, a set of tools and templates for creating solutions for SharePoint 2005 that recently came out in beta. See this blog post for more information.

    As a quick recall what we are looking at: I created a site based on the out of the box team site site definition, created a site definition solution from it with the SharePoint Solution Generator, which resulted in a compilable and deployable Visual Studio 2005 C# project with the following structure:

    A good look at onet.xml

    A site definition is described by its onet.xml file. A small recap from the Windows SharePoint Service SDK on the function of onet.xml:

    Functions of ONET.XML

    ONET.XML has the following functions:

    • Defines the top and side navigation areas that appear on the home page and in list views.

    • Specifies the list definitions that are used in the site definition and whether they are available for creating lists on the Create page.

    • Specifies document templates that are available for creating document library lists on the New Document Library page and specifies the files used in the document templates.

    • Defines the base list types from which default Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services lists are derived.

    • Specifies the configurations of lists and modules that are used within site definitions.

    Site Definition Tasks with ONET.XML

    The following kinds of tasks can be performed in ONET.XML to customize a site definition:

    • Specify an alternate cascading style sheet (CSS) file, JavaScript file, or ASPX header file for a site definition.

    • Modify navigation areas for the home page and list pages.

    • Add a list definition as an option to the Create page.

    • Add a document template for creating document libraries.

    • Define a configuration for a site definition, specifying the lists, modules, files, and Web Parts that are included when a site is instantiated.

    Because we created our site definition solution from an untouched instance of the wss team site, it is an interesting excercise to compare the onet.xml file in our site definition solution with the onet.xml file in the wss team site site definition (sts).

    A good way to do such a comparision is by using a good diff tool, I used the SuperDiff power toy for Visual Studio 2005:

    During the comparison the following things came to my attention:

    1. Resources get expanded. The original site definition uses resource files for all texts in the site definition. Our new site definition has all the texts expanded into the language we selected when creating the instance of the site we created our site definition project from (see picture above). This is understandable, on creation of the site the resource references in the onet.xml are expanded into the selected language. But actually this is a pity and a bit of a design flaw in WSS. WSS would have been better designed if it was possible to have resource references in the site instance as well. In MOSS 2007 there is such a feature for the PublishingWeb sites called variations. But what does this mean: it is not possible to create an instance of an existing language agnostic site definition, make some changes, and publish it again in a language agnostic way. The only thing you can do to accomplish this is to create a tool that rewrites the expanded text strings back to their resource file references. Good opportunity for a third-party tool here? There is one exception where the expanded resource is turned into a resource reference again: the NavBarPage element with the link to the Home of the site, probably because that one is assumed to be always there.
    2. Only one configuration. The SharePoint built-in site definitions have a concept called Configurations: based on the same site definition and list definitions, different configurations can be specified where a configuration describes which lists, modules, site features and web features to include when creating an instance of that configuration of the site definition. For example the sts site definition  has three configurations: Default (STS#0), Blank (STS#1) and DWS = Document WorkSpace (STS#2). On creating a site definition project based on an existing site, it only knows of one configuration, the configuration used for instantiating the site. This configuration is always called the Default configuration with ID 0.
    3. Web parts has all properties. A web part has a large set of properties, and most properties have a default value. An example of such a property is IsVisible with a default value true. In the built-in site definitions only the required properties are included, in the created site definition solution all properties are included, but hey, who cares! Another thing is that web part properties can use resource strings as well, but those are expanded in the site definition solution.

    Are the above points a show stopper? No absolutely not! If you want to create a really language agnostic version of your site definition that utilize resource files for your different supported language you have to do some extra work. In most cases you will be creating a solution for a customer in a chosen language.

    The Site Provisioning Handler

    The Site Provisioning Handler is a feature that enables the execution of code on provisioning an instance of a site based on the site definition. The feature has web scope and is defined as follows:

    <Feature  Title="TeamSite" Id="fe034860-4954-4b13-859f-892267dc0045" Description="" Version="" 
              Scope="Web" Hidden="TRUE" DefaultResourceFile="core" 
              ReceiverAssembly="TeamSite, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=3b0f9fb38a73e4fc" 
              ReceiverClass="TeamSite.TeamSite" xmlns="">
        <ElementFile Location="provisioner.xml" />

    The ReceiverAssembly is the assembly created by compiling the code in the site definition solution. The relevant code for the provisioning feature can be found in the partial files SiteProvisioning.cs and SiteProvisioning.internal.cs. Especially the internal file is interesting, it contains the code as defined by the developers of the SharePoint Solution Generator. The code in this file does the following on provisioning of a new site:

    1. Restore web properties for the site
    2. Add custom CSS files available in the site in a folder with the name _styles to the site using the SPWeb.CustomizeCSS method (what does this do? I assume writing out links to these CSS files in all pages rendered for the web.)
    3. Restore Data View Web Part guids outside web part zones
    4. Restore Data View Web Part guids inside web part zones

    Creating a site definition containing data view web parts has always been a mess. Data View Web Parts use all kind of GUID's to reference to list instances in a site. But on site definition time you don't know these GUID's yet. Another problem are the GUID's for web part connections This code seems to fix these problems, but I need more time to dive into the exact innerworkings.

    The feature uses a provisioner.xml file containing specifications of things to fix. Our site definition has the following provisioner.xml file:

      <!-- _filecategory="Provisioner" _filetype="File" _filename="provisioner.xml" _uniqueid="b8b1d607-d3ea-4a77-9302-2dc5c6d57e0f" -->
        <ListInstance Id="9d519060-66f4-4bd6-9216-be608493d134" Title="Announcements" FeatureId="00bfea71-d1ce-42de-9c63-a44004ce0104" />
        <ListInstance Id="f7a6a984-f2bb-4ddb-a131-cd9ae58e645e" Title="Calendar" FeatureId="00bfea71-ec85-4903-972d-ebe475780106" />
        <ListInstance Id="258accc5-3f74-460d-8ce8-2d682f5de4df" Title="Links" FeatureId="00bfea71-2062-426c-90bf-714c59600103" />
        <ListInstance Id="69f5806c-ebcf-40ec-bce8-bcfa65eb8e58" Title="Master Page Gallery" FeatureId="00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000" />
        <ListInstance Id="65a1e744-6ba6-433f-a1c1-a75d31a0f713" Title="Shared Documents" FeatureId="00bfea71-e717-4e80-aa17-d0c71b360101" />
        <ListInstance Id="655db2ef-1ae9-4ea0-9e31-d8ed15402539" Title="Tasks" FeatureId="00bfea71-a83e-497e-9ba0-7a5c597d0107" />
        <ListInstance Id="587c255b-ffde-4cd0-b042-fba67f20ba65" Title="Team Discussion" FeatureId="00bfea71-6a49-43fa-b535-d15c05500108" />
        <WebProperty Key="vti_extenderversion" Value="" />
        <WebProperty Key="vti_defaultlanguage" Value="en-us" />
        <WebProperty Key="vti_categories" Value="Business Competition Expense\ Report Goals/Objectives Ideas In\ Process Miscellaneous Planning Schedule Travel VIP Waiting" />
        <WebProperty Key="vti_approvallevels" Value="Approved Rejected Pending\ Review" />

    The exact possibilities within this file will be the topic of a future blog post, if I ever get to it.

    The resulting solution file: TeamSite.wsp

    The final result of all the work is a SharePoint solution file with the extension .wsp. See this blog post by Chris Johnson for some more background info. This solution file can be deployed to your development server or your server farm.

    A .wsp file is actually just a CAB file that is renamed. If you rename it to a file .cab extension you can have a peek into it:

    <Click the image to enlarge it>

    But this is actually the exact same structure as you can find in your build output directory:


    Is this all?

    There is a short answer and a long answer.

    First the short answer: no. I only exported a site I made no modifications to, so it was still very close to it's underlying site definition. This was on purpose, to see how far it would match its underlying site definition. If you have a more complex site with modification the whole thing will become way more complex.

    Now the long answer: no. Given your site definition project, you can extend it with additional features, your own site provisioning code, your own content types, new list definitions, additional web parts, custom field controls, additional modules etc. etc. The Visual Studio 2005 Extensions for SharePoint give you all the tools do do exactly this. More on this in a future blog post.

  • SharePoint Solution Generator - part 1: create a site definition from an existing site

    This is part 1 in a series of blog post on the SharePoint Solution Generator.

    The SharePoint Solution Generator is a stand-alone application that can convert Wss3 web (SPWeb) into a Visual Studio 2005 site definition project that can be compiled into a SharePoint solution for deployment into your SharePoint farm. The SharePoint Solution Generator is part of Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Tools: Visual Studio 2005 Extensions, a set of tools and templates for creating solutions for SharePoint 2005 that recently came out in beta. See this blog post for more information. This blog post documents the steps that I took in creating a site definition from an instantiation of a standard Windows SharePoint Services Team Site, and all things I noticed on the created site definition. For me it is a kind of documenting my findings in a way I can find it back when I Google for information on this topic later on. I have a short memory;-)

    Ok, lets get started. I created a site called TeamSite based on the standard Team Site template. I have three language packs installed, English, German and Japanese. I chose the English version.


    Without making any modification to the team site I fire up the SharePoint Solution Generator and start creating the site definition solution.

     The result is a C# site definition solution with the following elements in it:

    The project has a SharePoint Specific properties tab with a tree view on all features and the site definition in this project. If we had modified lists in the team site like adding new columns and new views, we probably also had list definitions included in this tree view. Below are the screen shots of all the configuration screens, so you get a feeling of what configuration capabilities are dynamically created:

    To prevent clashes on deployment, the specified Folder Name is appended with a GUID to create the folder during deployment on the server.

    Note that the Language is set to 1033 (English), this is the language we created our instance of the TeamSite in.

    Microsoft advises to use unique values greater than 10,000 for the ID attribute of your site template. The value is set to 10002 as you can see in the picture above. This is because I created a test site definition before with ID 10003 and deployed it to the server. I hope that the SharePoint Solution Generator makes a roundtrip to the server to check for the highest site definition ID with a minimum value of 10000, and adds 1 to it. I wonder what happens if all site definition creators in the world starts creating site definitions with the same ID's due to the usage of this tool;-) You can also specify the image to display on template selection, and the name of the template selection tab.

    Creating the SharePoint Solution file TeamSite.wsp and deploy it to our development server

    Visual Studio can do a deployment of our project (menu: Build -> Deploy TeamSite, or in the context menu of the project: Deploy) to the development server, assuming you have Visual studio running on your SharePoint developer server. The following appears in the Visual Studio output window:

    ------ Build started: Project: TeamSite, Configuration: Debug Any CPU ------
    C:\WINDOWS\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727\Csc.exe /noconfig /nowarn:1701,1702 /errorreport:prompt /warn:4 /define:DEBUG;TRACE /reference:"C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\12\ISAPI\Microsoft.SharePoint.dll" /reference:"C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\12\ISAPI\Microsoft.SharePoint.Security.dll" /reference:C:\WINDOWS\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727\System.dll /reference:C:\WINDOWS\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727\System.Web.dll /reference:C:\WINDOWS\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727\System.XML.dll /debug+ /debug:full /keyfile:Properties\Temporary.snk /optimize- /out:obj\Debug\TeamSite.dll /target:library Properties\AssemblyInfo.cs "Site Provisioning Handler\SiteProvisioning.cs" "Site Provisioning Handler\SiteProvisioning.Internal.cs"

    Compile complete -- 0 errors, 0 warnings TeamSite -> F:\Sources\SharePointProjects\TeamSiteSiteDefinition\TeamSite\bin\Debug\TeamSite.dll ------ Deploy started: Project: TeamSite, Configuration: Debug Any CPU ------ ------ Generate TeamSite.wsp file and setup batch file------ Creating solution ... Operation completed successfully.

    Creating setup batch file ... Operation completed successfully.

    ------ Add and deploy TeamSite.wsp to the SharePoint ------ Adding solution ... Operation completed successfully.

    Deploying solution ... Operation completed successfully.

    ------ Activate features in solution if necessary ------ No features in this solution were activated

    Restarting IIS ... Operation completed successfully.

    ========== Build: 1 succeeded or up-to-date, 0 failed, 0 skipped ========== ========== Deploy: 1 succeeded, 0 failed, 0 skipped ==========

    As you can see the project is compiled, a SharePoint solution file TeamSite.wsp is created including a batch script to simplify installation, the solution is deployed to the server and and IIS is restarted so the new site definition becomes active.

    This solution is a really simple solution, in more complex solutions additional steps are taken with repsect to feature activation.

    Create an instance of our new site definition

    We can now create an instance of our new site definition. If we go to the create site screen there appeared an extra template selection tab called "Development" where our new site definition appears:

    And it all just works! I'm amazed.

    In the next blog post I will dive deeper in what is actually created in the site definition project. This is absolutely not trivial, so please continue reading to get a better understanding of the inner workings.


  • Really useful PowerShell help application

    When you get started with PowerShell you get overwelmed by the new command to learn. PowerShell has a built-in help command that gives you an overview of all available commands, and per command you can get help on it's exact syntax. You get something like:

    But it is difficult to get a direct overview of what commands are there, and what they exactly do.

    Tonight I stumbled into a great little tool on CodePlex that does give you the same help information in a simple Windows application: ShinyPower.

    The good thing is that it reads its help information from PowerShell itself, so if you add new command-lets, they automatically show up in ShinyPower.

  • It is possible to run VMware images and Windows Server 2003 on Amazon's EC2!!

    I just got a reaction on my blog post Microsoft and virtualisation: Amazon EC2 functionality using Windows Hypervisor technology code-named Viridian? from Reuven. See for more information. Of course there are some issues:

    1. Licensing

    2. Qemu running in the AMI is used to virtualize Windows.

    The first steps are there... lets see where it goes!

  • Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Tools: Visual Studio 2005 Extensions available for download, it's cool!

    Creating complex SharePoint solutions and deploying those solutions has always been sub optimal in the old versions of SharePoint. In SharePoint 2007 (Wss3, MOSS 2007) our trouble is over. We now have powerful deployment capabilities in the form of features and SharePoint solutions.

    But creating SharePoint 2007 solutions and creating the feature and solution configuration files was still something for the experts only, until today...

    Rumors have been around for a while that Microsoft would provide Visual Studio 2005 extension to help us create SharePoint solutions. In the mean time people had their own shot at making development and deployment easier. A good example is this blog post by Tony Bierman.

    Tonight I got a pointer from Mark Arend (thanks Mark!) to the Novermber CTP version of the Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Tools: Visual Studio 2005 Extensions.

    I directly downloaded the stuff, and must say I was impressed. It does a lot of the things I was currently working on in the construction of a SharePoint Software Factory, and a lot more.

    From the download page:

    This Community Technology Preview (CTP) of the Visual Studio 2005 Extensions for Windows SharePoint Services contains the following tools to aid developers in building SharePoint applications:
    Visual Studio 2005 Project Templates

    • Web Part
    • Team Site Definition
    • Blank Site Definition
    • List Definition

    Visual Studio 2005 Item Templates (items that can be added into an existing project)
    • Web Part
    • Custom Field
    • List Definition (with optional Event Receiver)
    • Content Type (with optional Event Receiver)
    • Module

    SharePoint Solution Generator
    • This stand-alone program generates a Site Definition project from an existing SharePoint site. The program enables developers to use the browser and Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer to customize the content of their sites before creating code by using Visual Studio.

    Based on the elements in your project web part manifests, features and a solution file are automatically created and published when you do an explicit publish, or when you do F5 debugging.

    If you have questions or want to discuss this new stuff:


    The next days I will blog a lot more on my experiences with these extensions, I already did some deep-diving. But now it is time to get some sleep.

    One small teaser, the SharePoint Solution Generator in action:

    And to show it is still beta:

    But this looks like something that can be easily solved.


  • SharePoint 2007: Accessing information on the SharePoint Web Server Extensions folder

    Information on SharePoint and the path where it manages its information can be found in the registry. For example the registry entry SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Web Server Extensions\12.0\Location contains the path to the Web Server Extensions folder for SharePoint 2007, and SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Web Server Extensions\12.0\Version contains the current version of SharePoint 2007. Yes I know, RTM is out, and I'm still running on Beta 2 TR:-(


    I came accross the following code by Microsoft for getting the Features folder:


            private string GetSharePointFeaturesDirectory()
                string key = @"SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Web Server Extensions\12.0";
                string name = "Location";
            <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">string</span> featuresDir = <span style="color: rgb(0,128,128)">String</span>.Empty;
            <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">try

    { RegistryKey regKey = Registry.LocalMachine.OpenSubKey(key); string value = regKey.GetValue(name) as string; regKey.Close();

                featuresDir = <span style="color: rgb(0,128,128)">Path</span>.Combine(value, <span style="color: rgb(128,0,0)">@"template\features"</span>);
            <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">catch</span> (<span style="color: rgb(0,128,128)">SecurityException</span>)
                featuresDir = <span style="color: rgb(0,128,128)">String</span>.Empty;
            <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">catch</span> (<span style="color: rgb(0,128,128)">ArgumentNullException</span>)
                featuresDir = <span style="color: rgb(0,128,128)">String</span>.Empty;
            <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">catch</span> (<span style="color: rgb(0,128,128)">ArgumentException</span>)
                featuresDir = <span style="color: rgb(0,128,128)">String</span>.Empty;
            <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">catch</span> (<span style="color: rgb(0,128,128)">ObjectDisposedException</span>)
                featuresDir = <span style="color: rgb(0,128,128)">String</span>.Empty;
            <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">catch</span> (<span style="color: rgb(0,128,128)">IOException</span>)
                featuresDir = <span style="color: rgb(0,128,128)">String</span>.Empty;
            <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">catch</span> (<span style="color: rgb(0,128,128)">UnauthorizedAccessException</span>)
                featuresDir = <span style="color: rgb(0,128,128)">String</span>.Empty;
            <span style="color: rgb(0,0,255)">return</span> featuresDir;

  • SharePoint 2007 - /_layouts and how to create pages that run in site context

    Ages ago, in the time that SharePoint 2007 was still beta, I dived into how to create "in site context" pages that should be hosted in the /_layouts directory of SharePoint. My adventures from back then can be found in this blog post. I don't want to take the default Microsoft approach where all server-side code is included in the aspx pages themselves. Developing this way is way more difficult that using code-behind files. I found a solution by creating a Visual Studio 2005 web site in the /_layouts virtual directory of my SharePoint web site, which points to the physical folder C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\TEMPLATE\LAYOUTS. In this approach all code behind files are part of the solution, and are compiled and cached on page request. Although this approach works, I don't really like it. I prefer the Visual Studio 2003 approach where all code-behind is compiled into a single assembly that can be deployed. Another problem is the location of referenced assemblies. I had my referenced assemblies in the GAC, but I prefer to deploy to a bin folder so no IISRESET recycling of the SharePoint application pool is needed on recompilation.

    What I really want to achieve is the following:

    Create a web application project that can be deployed to the SharePoint /_layouts virtual directory, so my code is executed in the context of a site.

    The solution happens to be really easy:

    Create a web application project, either directly in the /_layouts folder or somewhere else and copy over all files needed to run your application.

    The *.dll and *.pdb files produced as build output must be places in the bin folder of your SharePoint web site. In my test situation this is the folder C:\Inetpub\wwwroot\wss\VirtualDirectories\3a938f6a-15f2-49ae-be78-328ad78974f5\bin. You can find this folder in your Internet Information Server Manager as follows:

    • Right-click of the SharePoint web site
    • Select properties
    • Go to the Home Directory tab

    The value in Local Path specifies the path to the virtual directory, and in this virtual directory you find a folder bin.

    If you create your web application project within the /_layouts virtual directory, you can set the build output path directly to this bin folder.

    Note that you can't use the Publish Web feature of the web application project, because you can't specify a separate path to deploy your assemblies to:

    For my test I created the following project:

    I added some really simple code to the Default.aspx and Default.aspx.cs files to prove that it works:


    <%@ Page Language="C#" AutoEventWireup="true" CodeBehind="Default.aspx.cs" Inherits="SergeLayoutsTest._Default" %>

    <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "">

    <html xmlns="" > <head runat="server"> <title>Site title test</title> </head> <body> <form id="form1" runat="server"> <div> Title of this site: <asp:Label ID="LabelTitle" runat="server" Text="Label"></asp:Label> </div> </form> </body> </html>


    using System;
    using Microsoft.SharePoint;

    namespace SergeLayoutsTest { public partial class _Default : System.Web.UI.Page { protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e) { SPWeb web = SPContext.Current.Web; LabelTitle.Text = web.Title; } } }

    There is one more thing to do, exclude the selection of the authentication mode from your web.config file:


    <?xml version="1.0"?>

    <configuration> <appSettings/> <connectionStrings/> <system.web> <compilation debug="true" /> <!-- <authentication mode="Windows" /> --> </system.web> </configuration>

     We can now run the page in the context of two different sites to see that it works:

  • Microsoft and virtualisation: Amazon EC2 functionality using Windows Hypervisor technology code-named Viridian?

    A weblog post with info on two amazing services of Amazon:  S3 (Amazon Simple Storage Service) and EC2 (Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud), virtualized computing power. Could Microsoft deliver comparable functionality using their Hypervisor technology code-named Viridian, the new virtualization technology from Microsoft?

    A few weeks ago I attended a presentation by Werner Vogels, CTO of He stated that Amazon is more than just an online  bookshop, it is an IT company. He told about the possibility to utilize Amazon’s computing power at 10 dollarcents an hour. After some browsing on the Amazon site I found the two amazing services he was mentioning:

    Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3)

    Amazon S3 is storage for the Internet. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.

    Amazon S3 provides a simple web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web. It gives any developer access to the same highly scalable, reliable, fast, inexpensive data storage infrastructure that Amazon uses to run its own global network of web sites. The service aims to maximize benefits of scale and to pass those benefits on to developers.

    Amazon S3 Functionality

    Amazon S3 is intentionally built with a minimal feature set.

    • Write, read, and delete objects containing from 1 byte to 5 gigabytes of data each. The number of objects you can store is unlimited.
    • Each object is stored and retrieved via a unique, developer-assigned key.
    • Authentication mechanisms are provided to ensure that data is kept secure from unauthorized access. Objects can be made private or public, and rights can be granted to specific users.
    • Uses standards-based REST and SOAP interfaces designed to work with any Internet-development toolkit.
    • Built to be flexible so that protocol or functional layers can easily be added.  Default download protocol is HTTP.  A BitTorrent(TM)protocol interface is provided to lower costs for high-scale distribution.  Additional interfaces will be added in the future. 


    • Pay only for what you use. There is no minimum fee, and no start-up cost.
    • $0.15 per GB-Month of storage used.
    • $0.20 per GB of data transferred.

    Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) - Limited Beta

    Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.

    Just as Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) enables storage in the cloud, Amazon EC2 enables "compute" in the cloud. Amazon EC2's simple web service interface allows you to obtain and configure capacity with minimal friction. It provides you with complete control of your computing resources and lets you run on Amazon's proven computing environment. Amazon EC2 reduces the time required to obtain and boot new server instances to minutes, allowing you to quickly scale capacity, both up and down, as your computing requirements change. Amazon EC2 changes the economics of computing by allowing you to pay only for capacity that you actually use.

    Amazon EC2 Functionality

    Amazon EC2 presents a true virtual computing environment, allowing you to use web service interfaces to requisition machines for use, load them with your custom application environment, manage your network's access permissions, and run your image using as many or few systems as you desire.

    To use Amazon EC2, you simply:

    • Create an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) containing your applications, libraries, data and associated configuration settings. Or use our pre-configured, templated images to get up and running immediately.
    • Upload the AMI into Amazon S3. Amazon EC2 provides tools that make storing the AMI simple. Amazon S3 provides a safe, reliable and fast repository to store your images.
    • Use Amazon EC2 web service to configure security and network access.
    • Use Amazon EC2 web service to start, terminate, and monitor as many instances of your AMI as needed.
    • Pay for the instance hours and bandwidth that you actually consume.

    Service Highlights

    • Elastic
      Amazon EC2 enables you to increase or decrease capacity within minutes, not hours or days. You can commission one, hundreds or even thousands of server instances simultaneously. Of course, because this is all controlled with web service APIs, your application can automatically scale itself up and down depending on its needs.

    • Completely Controlled
      You have complete control of your instances. You have root access to each one, and you can interact with them as you would any machine. Each instance predictably provides the equivalent of a system with a 1.7Ghz Xeon CPU, 1.75GB of RAM, 160GB of local disk, and 250Mb/s of network bandwidth.

    • Designed for use with Amazon S3
      Amazon EC2 works in conjunction with Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to provide a combined solution for computing and storage across a wide range of applications.

    • Reliable
      Amazon EC2 offers a highly reliable environment where replacement instances can be rapidly and reliably commissioned. The service runs within Amazon's proven network infrastructure and datacenters.

    • Secure
      Amazon EC2 provides web service interfaces to control network security. You define groups of instances and their desired accessibility.

    • Inexpensive
      Amazon EC2 passes on to you the financial benefits of Amazon's scale. You pay a very low rate for the compute capacity you actually consume. Compare this with the significant up-front expenditures traditionally required to purchase and maintain hardware, either in-house or hosted. This frees you from many of the complexities of capacity planning, transforms what are commonly large fixed costs into much smaller variable costs, and removes the need to over-buy "safety net" capacity to handle periodic traffic spikes.


    • Pay only for what you use.
    • $0.10 per instance-hour consumed (or part of an hour consumed).
    • $0.20 per GB of data transferred outside of Amazon (i.e., Internet traffic).
    • $0.15 per GB-Month of Amazon S3 storage used for your images (charged by Amazon S3).

    Data transferred within the Amazon EC2 environment, or between Amazon EC2 and Amazon S3, is free of charge (i.e., $0.00 per GB).

    Amazon S3 usage is billed separately from Amazon EC2; charges for each service will be billed at the end of the month.

    It is my feeling that solutions like S3 and EC2 will be the future of software development and deployment. Especially startup companies can benefit from these kind of solutions: at $72/month you have a server up and running, and you can scale up the number of servers when needed. Especially very useful if you need huge computing power during small amounts of time, like for example a three days online action. 

    After some reading I found out that the EC2 virtualization technology is Xen. Currently only Linux images can be hosted on EC2.

    Viridian, Microsoft’s new virtualization technology

    Although I have been using Microsoft’s virtualization technology for a few years with Virtual Server and Virtual PC, I was never very impressed by its performance when you compare it to VMWare. I mostly use it to run SharePoint in a virtual machine, and as you can see in this weblog post by Todd Baginski VMWare is the better option with respect to performance.

    Wouldn’t it be great if we could have EC2 like functionality using Microsoft Windows Server 2003 images? VMWare has such capabilites using the VMWare ESX Server. Microsoft is currently working on similar technology with their Hypervisor technology based product code-named Viridian, which architecture seems to be similar to the architecture of Xen, a technology Microsoft Research contributed to.

    And now someone please build a similar hosted virtual server model to EC2 where we can build our applications using the Microsoft .Net platform technology at comparable prices to Amazon!

    For more info on Viridian:

  • Comparing the features Microsoft Office SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint Portal Server 2003

    On the official blog of the SharePoint product group a link to a spreadsheet containing a comparison of the features of MOSS 2007 to the features of SPS 2003 is provided. It provides a feature comparision between the following products:

    • SharePoint portal Server 2003
    • Windows SharePoint Services 3.0
    • Office SharePoint Server 2007 for Search
    • Office Forms Server 2007
    • Office SharePoint Server 2007 Standard CAL
    • Office SharePoint Server 2007 Enterprise CAL or for Internet Site

    It is an extensive overview subdivided in the following categories:

    • Collaboration
    • Portal
    • Search
    • Content Management
    • Business Process and Forms
    • Business Inteligence
    • Management
    • Platform

    The Search category definitly proves me wrong on the rumors I had heard with respect to the search functionality available in the Standard CAL versus the Enterprise CAL: Only the BDC search functionality is part of the Enterprise CAL.

  • MOSS 2007 - Search only in Enterprise CAL?

    Like WSS2, WSS3 will be free of charge, covered by the standard Windows Client Access License (CAL).

    In the new version of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS 2007) there will be two different CALs: Standard CAL and Enterprise CAL.

    Users of SharePoint Portal Server 2003 (SPS) will be “migrated” to the MOSS 2007 Standard CAL. Extra money has to be payed for the Enterprise CAL.

    No sweat until this point. But rumours have reached me…

    Standard CAL: Workflow, Document Management, Web Content Management, Site Model and Security

    Enterprise CAL: Data Integration (BDC), E-Forms (Forms Server), Excel Services and…. Search

    Although the search in WSS3 (the basis for MOSS 2007) is way better than the current WSS2 search (which is completely different from SPS search) and can now searchover complete site collections, I’m more than surprised that the full Search is no longer part of Standard CAL.

    Current customers of SPS 2003 using features of the full Search like indexing Exchange, Web Sites and the Filesystem, and defining custom properties for search will be not amused (to say the least).

    Is there someone out there who can confirm this?

    UPDATE: Dustin Miller pointed me to a weblog entry by Arpan Shah, a Group Product Manager for SharePoint Products and Technologies who has more details on Microsoft Enterprise Search and SKU breakdown.

    The following quote is important:

    It's important to note that there are different SKUs available that contain SharePoint search. Depending on your business needs, you want to explore the following.

    1. SharePoint Server for Search. This is a "Search SKU" and the licensing model is dollars/server. It comes in two versions (Standard and Enterprise) and depending on the number of documents, you want to choose the appropriate one. This SKU builds on top of Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) v3 and has all the extensibility that SPS 2003 has today. There's also an upgrade path from the search SKU to the Standard and Enterprise versions of SharePoint Server.

    2. SharePoint Server w/ Standard CAL. This is a Server/CAL licensing model and provides a lot more functionality across the board than the "search SKU". This is also built on WSS v3 and gives you portal and enterprise content management features (for specifics on what SharePoint Server provides, read this post). From a search perspective, this adds the ability to search people and introduces a new extensibility and UI experience known as the Search Center. People search can be enhanced with Knowledge Network for SharePoint which is an add-on if you own this SKU.

    3. SharePoint Server w/ Enterprise CAL. This is a Server/CAL liecnsing model and in addition to the capabilities provided w/ Standard, this provides rich Business Intelligence and Forms capabilities. From a search perspective, above and beyond what Standard provides, this introduces a new feature known as the Business Data Catalog (BDC) that allows you to easily search structured LOB systems without writing code. Out of the box, we plan to provide integration with SAP and Seibel as well as any database via ADO.NET. Any LOB system that exposes information via XML Web Services can be connected to.

    Please note: While #2 and #3 provide search functionality, they provide rich Information management features that helps information workers share, collaborate, find and retain information end-to-end. It's more than search!

    In recap (all will be available in the Office 2007 timeframe):

    1. Office SharePoint Server for Search follows a per server licensing model, is extensibile, crawls file shares, sharepoint sites, web sites, exchange pfs, lotus notes databases out of the box. it comes in to versions: standard and enterprise - you choose depending on how many docs. it upgrades to the other office sharepoint server skus.

    2. Office SharePoint Server Standard follows a CAL/server licensing model. It provides much richer features than the search SKU. From a search perspective, it provides people search and the Search Center.

    3. Office SharePoint Server Enterprise follows a CAL/server licensing mode. It provides more features than Standard such as BI and Forms. From a search perspective, it introduces the Business Data Catalog (BDC) that allows you to connect to LOB systems without writing code.

    Lets hope this SKU approach is true, it would mean that the only thing that SharePoint Search will privide in the Enterprise version is search through the BDC in LOB systems.


  • MOSS2007, Wss3 and extending stsadm.exe

    When you fire up stsadm.exe, the administrative “do it all” tool for SharePoint, you get the idea that it must be possible to add new commands because you see different available commands in different situations.

    I already dived into this a while a go but I stopped because there were so many other things to look into. Tony Bierman didn’t stop! He went all the way, and was even willing to share it with us in a great blog post including a sample solution with sample commands. 

  • SharePoint 2007: using ASP.NET server side code in your pages

    Remember the problems you had in SharePoint 2003 pages because it was not possible to plug in a simple piece of server side script in your pages? That you always had to write custom controls to accomplish this? Those times could be over, as longs as you approach this with great care.

    In the web.config file in the SharePoint virtual directory contains the following section:

        <SafeMode MaxControls="200" CallStack="false" DirectFileDependencies="10" TotalFileDependencies="50" AllowPageLevelTrace="false">

    By default the node <PageParserPaths> is empty. You can add <PageParserPath> nodes to specify the virtual paths where you want to allow server side scripts:

            <PageParserPath VirtualPath="/pages/*" CompilationMode="Always" AllowServerSideScript="true" IncludeSubFolders="true"/>

    Where CompilationMode is one of the following values:

    Always The page should always be compiled (default value)
    Auto ASP.NET will not compile the page, if possible. 
    Never The page or control should never be dynamically compiled.

    I assume that the AllowServerSideScript and IncludeSubFolders flags speak for themselves.

    Be careful with the virtual paths you specify in your PageParserPaths. Anyone that can modify or add a page to the virtual path can insert code that will be executed server side with no restrictions.

    A good location to specify as a PageParserPath is the location where you store your masterpages, for example /_catalogs/masterpage. You can now add server side script to your masterpages, which makes it available in all pages using this masterpage.

            <PageParserPath VirtualPath="/_layouts/masterpage/*" CompilationMode="Always" AllowServerSideScript="true" IncludeSubFolders="true"/>

    There is no documentation available on this functionality. I found two references in the Microsoft SharePoint documentation that handled with variations: and

    Maurice Prather also describes the PageParserPath functionality in this blog post.

    Thanks to Stramit for pointing me in the right direction in this blog post on SharePoint navigation.

  • SharePoint 2007 Navigation - part 3

    Stramit wrote a real good blog post on SharePoint 2007 TreeView navigation. He is used our good friend Reflector to dive into the SPTreeView and SPHierarchyDataSourceControl to find out what you can accomplish with the SharePoint TreeView navigation controls. He explains how to create a custom masterpage where he modifies the properties of the SPHierarchyDataSourceControl to configure what to display in the TreeView, like Lists, Document Libraries, Sub webs. He also explains how to set to root context from where navigation is displayed to the root web of the site collection by using custom server side script in the masterpage. But hé, you can’t use serverside code in your masterpage I hear you think… wrong!! With some tricks you can get it working. Read Stramits blog post if you are into the navigation game. Good work Stramit!

    Some of my earlier SharePoint navigation related posts:

    SharePoint 2007 navigation dissected – part 1
    SharePoint 2007 navigation - part 2

  • SharePoint 2007 navigation - part 2

    I while ago I started with a blog post serie on SharePoint 2007 navigation. I got to part one so far. Time is my enemy! We have been working on some great things with respect to SharePoint navigation lately like completely modified navigation elements and custom SiteMapProviders. I hope I have the time to elaborate on that in some future blog posts. I the mean time I point you to some nice posts on SharePoint navigation I ran into. Kudos to their authors!

    • Modifying the WSS3 tree navigation control explains how to turn on a tree navigation structure to get results like this:
    • On the SharePoint 2007 documentation on MSDN there is a section called How to: Customize the Display of Quick Launch which describes how to replace the Menu Control with the TreeView Control.
    • Another section in the SharePoint 2007 documentation on MSDN  called Using a Custom Data Source for Navigation describes how to use a delegate feature to replace the QuickLaunchDataSource delegate control in the default master page by defining your custom navigation data source that uses a SiteMapProvider. Cool but advanced stuff!


  • SharePoint: WSS versus OSS, a blogger from Iran

    Farvashan, a SharePoint Solution provider and blogger from Iran started blogging at Its first post is about WSS (Windows SharePoint Services) versus OSS (Office SharePoint Server). WSS the free extension of Windows Server 2003 and OSS that needs additional licenses and is built on top of WSS. He argues that you should only use OSS if you use more than 30% of its features, and that WSS is a powerful application platform you can build your applications on. I totally agree with him. Have a look at the about link for some screendumps of his projects and links to live SharePoint based sites in a language I don’t understand but which looks great.

  • SharePoint and printing the contents of a web part

    When you have complex web parts with all kind of navigational structures around then there is often the need with customers to only print the content of that web part, without all surrouding information.Marian Lishman wrote a nice blog post on how to do exactly that. The approach is actually really neat: collect some information on your HTML page by collecting the HTML data from an innerText property of a specified tag, and write the collected content (together with some additional markup if needed) to a new window that you popup, and automatically print the contents of this popup window. This approach would allow you to write headers and footer, and could be extended to print for example everything within your web part zones.

  • Get the url to the virtual root for the current request

    Sometimes you get into the situation that you have to build a Url within the current request to a page that you know the virtual path for, but it has to be on the same server as the current request. The problem is to find the url for the virtual root of the request. So for the request https://server:1234/myfolder/mypage.aspx we need to find https://server:1234.

    Often you see code like:

    Uri requestUri = Context.Request.Url;
    string baseUrl = requestUri.Scheme + Uri.SchemeDelimiter + requestUri.Host + (requestUri.IsDefaultPort ? "" : ":" + requestUri.Port);

    This can be done much easier with the following code:

    string baseUrl = Request.Url.GetLeftPart(UriPartial.Authority);

  • .Net 2.0 smart String Split() functionality

    There is a new version of the String Split() function, a split with the option to remove empty entries is the resulting string array. This new function solves your problems with lazy encoded multi-value strings. I know, this is one of the zillion things that were improved in .Net 2.0, and a lot of people probably know this one for ages. For me it was completely new however, and if it is new for me, there must be someone out there who didn’t know this as well;-)

    The case:

    Often you create a multi-value string separated with a special character at one end of your application, and you retrieve them at the other end of you application by splitting the string on the special character.

    Example: at one side you have list of users that you encode as a string;

    List of users: "serge", "dinah", "scott", "dean". Encode as: "serge;dinah;scott;dean"

    There are two special cases you have to take into account, either on constructing the multi-value string, or on splitting the multi-value string into its values:

    • Empty entries
    • A trailing special character

    Assume you have the following array of strings: "one","", "three","","five". You can either encode it the lazy and simple way, or the complex way. In the simple way you leave it up to the receiving side to skip empty entries and the trailing special character. In the complex way you deliver clean data on the producing side by skipping empty entries and not writing the special character after the last entry.

    Producing Lazy and Simple:

    Resulting string: "one;;three;;five;"

    string result;
    foreach (string s in stringArray)
        result += s + ";";

    UPDATE: As Danny de Haas pointed out to me this can ofcourse be done even lazier:

    string result = String.Join(";", stringArray);

    Producing Complex:

    Resulting string: "one;three;five"

    string result;
    for (int i=0; i<stringArray.Length; i++)
        if (!String.IsNullOrEmpty(stringArray[i]))
            result += stringArray[i];
            if (i != stringArray.Length – 1)
                 result += ";";

    The above code is maybe not the smartest code, but you get the drift.


    If you receive a string and you want to take into account that the string could be produced in the lazy and simple way you had to do extra processing on the array you get from result.Split(‘;’) to remove empty entries resulting from encoded empty entries or the trailing special character when working with the .Net 1.1 framework. The .Net 2.0 framework now provides an overload of the String Split() function that is smart enough to handle this case:

    string[] resultArray = result.Split(new char[] {';'}, StringSplitOptions.RemoveEmptyEntries);

    This call takes care of the empty entries and the empty entry at the end produced due to a trailing special character.

    See for more information in the Microsoft documentation on all overloads of the split function, and for more information on the StringSplitOptions.

    Name Description
    String.Split (Char[]) Returns a String array containing the substrings in this instance that are delimited by elements of a specified Char array.

    Supported by the .NET Compact Framework.

    String.Split (Char[], Int32) Returns a String array containing the substrings in this instance that are delimited by elements of a specified Char array. A parameter specifies the maximum number of substrings to return.
    String.Split (Char[], StringSplitOptions) Returns a String array containing the substrings in this string that are delimited by elements of a specified Char array. A parameter specifies whether to return empty array elements.
    String.Split (String[], StringSplitOptions) Returns a String array containing the substrings in this string that are delimited by elements of a specified String array. A parameter specifies whether to return empty array elements.
    String.Split (Char[], Int32, StringSplitOptions) Returns a String array containing the substrings in this string that are delimited by elements of a specified Char array. Parameters specify the maximum number of substrings to return and whether to return empty array elements.
    String.Split (String[], Int32, StringSplitOptions) Returns a String array containing the substrings in this string that are delimited by elements of a specified String array. Parameters specify the maximum number of substrings to return and whether to return empty array elements.


  • NAnt task for SharePoint: Save SPWeb as site template to the filesystem

    I love NAnt as a tool to automate deployment processes. Kris Syverstad created a nice set of NAnt tasks for SharePoint that he uploaded to a GotDotNet workspace. My latest task was to save a site as a site template to the filesystem for deployment to another system. I decided to create a task in the same spirit to Kris his tasks. You can add it to the set of tasks that Kris already created. That is what I did.

    The code:


    // NAnt.SharePoint Microsoft Sharepoint Server utility tasks.

    // Copyright (C) 2006 Macaw, Serge van den Oever


    // This library is free software; you can redistribute it and/or

    // modify it under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public

    // License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either

    // version 2.1 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.


    // This library is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,

    // but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of


    // Lesser General Public License for more details.


    // You should have received a copy of the GNU Lesser General Public

    // License along with this library; if not, write to the Free Software

    // Foundation, Inc., 59 Temple Place, Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111-1307 USA


    using System;

    using System.IO;

    using System.Globalization;


    using Microsoft.SharePoint;


    using NAnt.Core;

    using NAnt.Core.Attributes;

    using NAnt.Core.Types;


    namespace NAnt.SharePoint.Tasks


        /// <summary>

        /// Save SPWeb as template.

        /// </summary>

        /// <remarks>

        ///   <para>

        ///   Save a template of the SPWebs pecified by a Url on the local machine.

        ///   </para>

        ///   <note>

        ///   If the <see cref="Url" /> specified does not exist, a

        ///   <see cref="BuildException" /> will be raised.

        ///   </note>

        /// </remarks>

        /// <example>

        ///   <para>Delete a SPSite.</para>

        ///   <code>

        ///    <![CDATA[

        /// <deletespsite Url="http://myserver/sites/mysite" />

        ///    ]]>

        ///   </code>

        /// </example>

        /// <example>

        ///   <para>

        ///   Save SPWeb as template. If the SPWeb does not exist, the task does nothing.

        ///   </para>

        ///   <code>

        ///    <![CDATA[

        /// <savespwebastemplate url="${url}" templatename="myTemplate" title="My Template" description="A Template Of My Site" savedata="true" tofile="c:\template.stp" failonerror="false" />

        ///    ]]>

        ///   </code>

        /// </example>


        public class SaveSPWebAsTemplateTask : Task



            private string _url = "";

            private string _templatename = "";

            private string _title = "";

            private string _description = "";

            private bool _savedata = false;

            private string _tofile = null;


            /// <summary>

            /// The URL for the SPWeb to save as template.

            /// </summary>

            [TaskAttribute("url", Required = true)]

            public string Url


                get { return _url; }

                set { _url = value; }



            /// <summary>

            /// The name for the template.

            /// </summary>

            [TaskAttribute("templatename", Required = true)]

            public string TemplateName


                get { return _templatename; }

                set { _templatename = value; }



            /// <summary>

            /// The title for the template.

            /// </summary>

            [TaskAttribute("title", Required = false)]

            public string Title


                get { return _title; }

                set { _title = value; }



            /// <summary>

            /// The description for the template.

            /// </summary>

            [TaskAttribute("description", Required = false)]

            public string Description


                get { return _description; }

                set { _description = value; }



            /// <summary>

            /// Boolean specifying if data of the SPWeb should be included in the template.

            /// Only data up to 10Mb can be included.

            /// </summary>

            [TaskAttribute("savedata", Required = false)]

            public bool SaveData


                get { return _savedata; }

                set { _savedata = value; }



            /// <summary>

            /// The file to save the template to.

            /// </summary>

            [TaskAttribute("tofile", Required = false)]

            public string ToFile


                get { return _tofile; }

                set { _tofile = value; }



            /// <summary>

            /// Because ExecuteTask is protected added this function to debug the task.

            /// </summary>

            public void DebugTask()





            /// <summary>

            /// Task for saving a SPWeb as template.

            /// </summary>

            protected override void ExecuteTask()


                string templateFilename = TemplateName + ".stp";



                    using (SPSite site = new SPSite(Url))




                            using (SPWeb web = site.OpenWeb(site.ServerRelativeUrl))


                                // Delete site template with name TemplateName if it exists

                                SPDocumentLibrary webTemplates;



                                    webTemplates = site.GetCatalog(SPListTemplateType.WebTemplateCatalog) as SPDocumentLibrary;


                                catch (Exception ex)


                                    throw new BuildException(

                                        string.Format("The site collection of the SPWeb '{0}' does not contain a Site Template Gallery.",

                                        Url), Location, ex);


                                SPFolder folder = web.Folders["_catalogs"];

                                SPFolder subfolder = folder.SubFolders["wt"];




                        catch (Exception)


                            // ignore, no template to delete



                        // Save the SPWeb as template

                        using (SPWeb web = site.OpenWeb())


                            // If no title is specified, use same as template name

                            if (Title.Length == 0)


                                Title = TemplateName;



                            web.SaveAsTemplate(templateFilename, Title, Description, SaveData);




                    Log(Level.Info, LogPrefix + "Save SPWeb '{0}' as template with name '{1}'.", Url, TemplateName);


                catch (Exception ex)


                    // The SPS API will throw an exception when you try and create an

                    // instance of SPSite for a URL that doesn't exist. 

                    throw new BuildException(

                        string.Format("Cannot save SPWeb '{0}' as template. Either the SPWeb does not exist, or savedata is true and the size of the SPWeb > 10MB, or there is already a template by this name.",

                        Url), Location, ex);



                if (ToFile != null)




                        using (SPSite site = new SPSite(Url))


                            string templateUrl = site.Url + "/_catalogs/wt/" + templateFilename;

                            System.Net.WebClient objWebClient = new System.Net.WebClient();

                            objWebClient.Credentials = System.Net.CredentialCache.DefaultCredentials;

                            objWebClient.DownloadFile(templateUrl, ToFile);



                    catch(Exception ex)


                        throw new BuildException(

                            string.Format("The SPWeb '{0}' is saved as template '{1}' in the Site Template Gallery, but downloading the template to file '{2}' failed.",

                            Url, Name, ToFile), Location, ex);






  • SharePoint and objects disposal, the definitive guide!

    One of those difficult things to handle in the construction of SharePoint related code is the cleaning up of used objects. The problem is that if you don't clean up your mess, the garbage collector does its job, and nothing really bad seems to happen. Problems only occur when your site is on heavy load in the production environment, and you have no clue how to solve that problem where your processor hits the 100% and used memory goes sky high.

    Finally there is a great article out there that explains in great detail the best programming practices with SharePoint objects. Go grab it and start reviewing your code!

    Article: Best Practices: Using Disposable Windows SharePoint Services Objects

    Blog post with further discussions:

  • SharePoint 2007 - _layouts, pages in site context, help!

    NOTE: See this blogpost for updated information on this topic.

    SharePoint 2003 has a very powerful feature to run pages in the context of a site, this is especially used for the administrative pages. All these administrative pages live in the “/_layouts” folder. If you have two sites, http://server/A and http://server/B, and an administrative page admin.aspx, you can execute this page in site context as follows:

    http://server/A/_layouts/admin.aspx executes in the context of site A

    http://server/B/_layouts/admin.aspx executes in the context of site B

    Within those pages you can directly access the current site with the following line of code:

           SPWeb site = SPControl.GetContextWeb(Context);

    With this site object as starting point you can access all information that is in your site.

    This approach is used in all standard pages in /_layouts, with all pages containing inline code.

    All the years I have been working with SharePoint 2003 I had another approach to create web pages to run in the context of a site. I just create a web project, deploy the aspx pages, images, client scripts etc to a directory in /_layouts, and put the "code behind" dll's into /_layouts/bin.

    This approach no longer works, and a new adventure begins...


    1. In SharePoint 2007 the _layouts virtual directory no longer contains a "bin" directory, all pages use inline code. First thing I tried was to add a "bin" directory, deploy my "code behind" dll's there and go to my page http://server/_layouts/myapp/default.aspx. Nothing happened, not even an error, just a blank page.
    2. I change the name of of the page to a non-existant name: http://server/_layouts/myapps/blabladefault.aspx. Again nothing happened. All url's requested in _layouts that don't exist just give a blank page!!
    3. After looking at the web.config in SharePoint 2003  I see that the line:

      <trust level="Full" originUrl="" />

      is missing, so I add that line. Still the same result, a blank page. But at the same time strange things start to happen to other parts of SharePoint. The other administrative pages return a blank page as well, and the pages in the SharePoint administration site start to loose their design. After looking at the source of the page it is not so strange: a lot of assets from the /_layouts path are referenced. But it is strange that with trust level "Full", the highest as far as I know, things stop working!

    4. I remove the "bin" directory, the web.config is as prestine as it was, and I try again. Something happens: I get an expected error, the "code behind" dll can't be found! A nice error is displayed in "SharePoint syle", with the message: Could not load type 'myapp._Default'. Ah, almost there I'm thinking, we just need a probing path.

    5. I add the probing path to give .Net direction on where to look for the dll's:

          <assemblyBinding xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:asm.v1">
              <probing privatePath="myapp\bin"/>

      and I hit the refresh button in great expectation... same error. the "code behind" dll can't be found.

    6. One last thing to try that must work, otherwise I'm getting mad: throw the "code behind" assembly into the GAC. I strong-sign my assembly, drag it to the GAC, do an IISRESET and... shoot! I'm mad! Still the same error!

    7. Back to the model that Microsoft uses in the _layouts pages: all code inline in the aspx pages, and this works... I hate this approach, but it seams the only way.


    And now my questions!!! There must be someone out there who knows how to solve my problem.

    1. Is it possible to have pages with code behind in _layouts, and have the code behind assemblies in a bin directory?
    2. Is it possible to have our own custom"_layouts" like virtual directory that executes "in context" of a page?

    UPDATE: I managed to get a 2005 web project working, where the code is not precompiled. You don’t need to deploy your code-behind code deployed as a DLL. One thing to watch out for however: if you have a web.config file in your project, comment out the following line: <authentication mode="Windows"/>.

  • SharePoint 2007 ends the bucket nightmare.. move those sites!!!

    Do you still remember that good old bucket system in SharePoint Portal Server 2003 where the first 20 portal area's ended up with nice urls, but then the buckets started kicking in and provided you with urls like http:/server/C0/myarea/default.aspx? Those days are over.

    The reason behind the bucket system in Portal Server was understandable; Microsoft expected a huge number of areas, with deep hierarchies that could be moved around at will without breaking links, and probably performance was an issue. But the bucket solution is a really machine oriented solution, users want to be able to understand their urls. If not we could use GUID's instead of urls;-) But I think they calculated wrong, I never saw really deep hierarchies appearing, and in most cases not that many areas, because you don't want to do to many things in areas due to all the limitations imposed compared to the standard WSS sites: no list and document library security, no possibility to backup a single area, no possibility to create a template from an existing area, or create an area based on a template... should I continue?

    In SharePoint 2007 Microsoft got rid of the bucket system. You can move sites around, and the urls of the sites change!! But what happens to urls pointing to those sites? There is a good side to the story, and a bad side. The good side is that all urls in url fields in lists and metadata are rewritten. This is actually quite cool! Move your site and all lists like links lists are updated!! But the bad thing is that all urls NOT managed by SharePoint will NOT be updated (SharePoint has no control over them), and this will break a lot of links.

    I wonder about links within documents within document libraries in SharePoint... would be a nice excercise to update those as well;-)

    Another thing I heard, but not verified yet, is that if you put a url in a url field in a list, and this url points to something within SharePoint it is actually stored as a relative url. You can also store a releative url in a url field now, but if you edit the field again it shows the full url, but still stores the url in a relative format.

  • Web Deployment Projects and deploying web.config settings for multiple machines

    I wrote the following comment on a post about having machine dependent configurations in your web.config. DFindley expresses some frustrations with the web deployment projects on configuring per machine settings in the web.config, but he found the fix right away. This approach is powerful, but sometimes not clear where the settings are actually managed. I use another approach that works quite well for me. I posted this as a comment on the mentioned post.

    Scott mentions in his comment to have a web.config per machine, and copy the correct web.config on deployment.
    I prefer to only have replacements for the changing sections per machine. Often these settings are the appSettings, connections and an impersonation account.
    In this approach you can manage the other settings in a generic web.config that is used for all machines.
    So what I do is the following:

    Create appSettings files per machine:


    Create connections files per machine:


    On automated deployment check your machine name, and copy:

    MACHINEX.appSettings.config to appSettings.config
    MACHINEX.connections.config to connections.config

    In your web.config you refer to those external files as follows:

    <appSettings configSource="appSettings.Config"/>
    <connectionStrings configSource="connections.config"/>

    Another thing you often want to set is the impersonation account, we manage those in the registry per server in a secure way as follows:

    <!-- Impersonation identity is encrypted in the registry. Identity is set with the following command:
    aspnet_setreg.exe -k:SOFTWARE\MyApp\identity -u:"yourdomainname\username" -p:"password"
    Tool can be downloaded at:
    <identity impersonate="true"
              password="registry:HKLM\SOFTWARE\MyApp\identity\ASPNET_SETREG,password" />

  • SharePoint 2007 navigation dissected – part 1

    One of the areas SharePoint 2003 was suboptimal was site navigation. SPS 2003 has some quite restrictive navigation functionality to navigate through the portal areas. When you end up in a team site you only have your quick links bar at the left side to navigate to lists and libraries within your site, but there is no way to navigate to your sub sites.

    As always the next version will solve all our problems… so let’s have a look at the new and improved, but still beta 2, SharePoint 2007 standard navigation options. I’m working with an out-of-the-box SharePoint installation that includes the portal.

    First thing I did was creating a set of sites and sub sites under the site Sites of type Site Directory with the following structure:



    This results in the following homepage navigation:

    As you can see, two levels of navigation are displayed.

    Navigation Inheritance

    When a site is created you are prompted with the following option:

    The default setting for this option is Yes. I created site1 and site2 using the Yes setting, and a site3 using the No setting. The results are as follows:

    For site2 (use the top link bar from the parent site):

    For site3 (don’t use the top link bar from the parent site):

    I can see no difference between the two options, both shows their complete path in the breadcrumb bar:

    Home > Sites > site2 > Pages > Home

    Home > Sites > site3 > Pages > Home

    For site3 I actually expected to see:

    Site3 > Pages > Home

    Another strange thing is that I didn’t find an option in the UI with the same phrasing to modify this setting after initial creation of the site. This option can be set in a working way however, keep on reading!

    Site navigation

    If you navigate to Sites you get the following navigation:

    So all sub sites are displayed, with one level of the sub-sub sites.

    If you navigate from here to site2 you get the following navigation:

    This is a different navigation. The current site (site2) is displayed with one level of children (site2sub1, site2sub2), and sites at the same level (site1, site2).

    The question now is: what configures the navigation? If you go to Site Actions >Site Settings >Modify Navigation you get to the Site Navigation Settings.

    The Site Navigation Settings screen looks as follows:

    This screen asks for some experiments!

    Site Navigation Settings

    The Site Navigation Settings screen gives us some configuration options on how navigation works on a site. Lets start with the following options:

    Global Navigation: Use global navigation of the parent site or of this site.

    Current Navigation: Use navigation items of the parent site or of this site. If this site is selected, you can enable to show siblings of this site in the current navigation.

    For the site site1sub1 we go through the different possibilities.

    Global navigation: global navigation of parent

    We see three elements on the above screenshot:

    1.       At the top the path of the root site who’s navigation is used is displayed (empty, the root site)

    2.       The complete parent navigation bar is displayed

    3.       The complete path to the parent sites is displayed

    Global navigation: global navigation of this site

    We see three elements on the above screenshot:

    1.       At the top the path of the root site who’s navigation is used is displayed: site1sub1

    2.       The navigation bar of the current site + it’s sub sites is displayed

    3.       The complete breadcrumb path to the parent sites is displayed

    I created two additional sub sites under site1sub1subA: site1sub1subAsubX and site1sub1subAsubY. Note that these sites become available in a drop down box in the global navigation bar (2):


    But what happens if we have set global navigation of the parent site on a site, but a site somewhere up the path has set its global navigation to this site.

    In the above example site site1sub1  has set its global navigation to this site, while site1sub1subA and site1sub1subAsubX have set their global navigation of the parent site. If we now go to the site site1sub1subAsubX we see the following navigation:

    The result is that a site goes up to the hierarchy to the first parent site, and displays its navigation with respect to this parent site!

    Current navigation: use navigation items from the parent site

    We are at site site1sub1. This site is highlighted in the left hand navigation structure. We see the parent site, and all sites at the same level as the parent site. Under the parent site we see the current site (highlighted), and all sites at the same level.

    Current navigation: use navigation items from this site

    We are at site site1sub1. This site is not visible in the left hand navigation structure, the current location can be determined from the site title, the global navigation, and the breadcrumb path as shown in the picture below. We see all sub sites with their sub-sub sites (2 levels).

    Current navigation: use navigation items from this site, show siblings

    We are at site site1sub1. This site is visible in the left hand navigation structure (but not highlighted), We see the sub sites of the current site, and all sibling sites (sites at the same level as the current site), but without their sub sites.

    Showing pages in the navigation

    Besides sub sites a site can contain pages. It is possible to display these pages in the left hand navigation:

    The pages of site1sub1 are displayed in the left hand navigation. Note that the “Home” page is not displayed in this navigation. If we navigate to a page available in the navigation this page gets highlighted in the left hand navigation:

    I did not find a way to make the “Home” page (Pages/default.aspx) part of the left hand navigation.

    Note that the pages are always displayed in the breadcrumb trail.


    SharePoint 2007 contains a very powerful navigation system that allows you to completely configure the way your site navigation is presented. I did only scratch the surface however. In a upcoming posts I will dive into the following topics:

    Navigation Editing and Sorting – this functionality allows you to add custom additional navigation items and to show or hide sites and pages in the navigation (but not the default page in the Pages library!)

    Navigation under the hood – which navigation controls are used by SharePoint, what are their possibilities and how can you for example change the current depth of 2 that is currently shown in the hierarchy.

    Custom navigation providers – how can you utilize the SharePoint navigation controls with custom navigation information?

    Any feedback is highly appreciated!

  • Microsoft goes Social Networking on SharePoint

    In the last week conference a new part of the ShaerPoint family was announced: Knowledge Network.

    To say it in Microsoft own words:

    Knowledge Network for Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Server 2007
    Knowledge Network for Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Server 2007 is software for enterprise search and social networking that helps users collaborate more effectively by automating the discovery and sharing of previously undocumented information and relationships. Knowledge Network enhances Office SharePoint Server 2007 by adding the ability to search for who knows whom and who knows what in an organization.

    You can use Knowledge Network to do the following:

    • Find people who have expertise in a subject
    • Find people who can help you connect with someone else
    • Find people who have contacts at a specific company or organization
    • Find out who and what you have in common with others

    Knowledge Network is composed of two components, a client-side and a server-side. The client-side component analyzes emails at a local level searching for keywords and contacts and creates automated profiles for each member who joins the network. Each member in the Knowledge Network controls their information at a local level, deciding which information they share with others in the network, so personal information stays private. The server-side component, hosted within Office SharePoint Server 2007, aggregates and indexes profiles across the enterprise. Together, the client and server modules enhance the SharePoint 2007 platform with powerful social networking capabilities.

    De software is now available for download on Microsoft Betaplace.

    There is a blog on Knowledge Network from the development team:


    Other blog entries to have a look at: 

    I wonder is the client software that analyzes your mail is the Snarf application from Microsoft Research.

  • NAnt, and devenv.exe

    In NAnt there is a solution task that works for VS.NET 2003, but not for VS.NET 2005. I needed to build a VS.NET 2005 solution from NAnt, so devenv.exe to the rescue: devenv.exe mysolution.sln /build Debug. Problem was that I did not get any output from the build process, not even if there were errors. A non 0 value was returned in case of errors, but I’m integrating with CruiseControl.Net (ccnet) and want my compilation output from the buildserver in case of errors. After some digging aand Googling I found the solution. Don’t use devenv.exe, but and you get your output!!

  • Add item to SharePoint list but returning to another location

    Brad asked me for a solution to the following scenario:

    I have two WSS sites -
    - Site A is a project site for all project team members
    - Site B is an issue capture and resolution site for three project issue trouble shooters.

    Question: How can I call the newitem.aspx, located in Site B - Issues webpart from a link on Site A so that the newitem.aspx form pops up and the Site A users can fill it out. When they click the submit button, they return to Site A?

    In other words, SIte A users only need to fill out the issues form. Site B users collect the issues and work them to resolution. My requirement is that Site B issues should be worked and reviewed on Site B, not on Site A.

    This can be resolved using the Source parameter on the url of newitem.aspx:

    You can add Source=xxx on the url, so:
    Note the encoding!!!
    After filling out the item, it will bring you back to the specified URL.
  • Execute your custom code after instantiating a SharePoint site based on a Site Definition using ExecuteURL

    Sometimes you know you can do something, but are completely forgotten how. This is a kind of post to self, so if I search for it again, I will end up on my own blog again. This actually happens 80% of the time when I search for something on SharePoint;-).

    When you have a Site Definition, but want to execute code after a site is instantited based on the Site Definition (a first time run after creation), you can add a CAML tag ExecuteURL to your Site Definition that points to an ASPX page in the _layouts directory. This tag must be placed in the ONET.XML file for the Site Definition, in the Configuration section.

    In this page you can do things like applying a theme, creation of Site Groups, add users to these groups, or even start an interactive session with the user to request aditional information.

    The documentation can be found here in the SharePoint SDK.

  • Using Office SharePoint Designer 2007 with SharePoint 2003

    Note: the information in this weblog post is based on the Beta version of SharePoint Designer 2007 (version 12.0.3820.1002), the information might not reflect the working and available functionality of newer beta versions or the final product.

    Did you know you can use the new SharePoint Designer 2007 on SharePoint 2003 sites? Well… it works! Still looks a lot like FrontPage, but it has some great new features. It can be installed side-by-side with FrontPage 2003, but switching between SharePoint Designer and FrontPage causes some strange error messages and automatic reinstallation/reconfiguration actions. Don’t try it on a machine where you depend on for real development work, after switching my FrontPage I had some strange behavior.

    NOTE: I’m running WSS 2.0 SP2 under ASP.NET 2.0, I don’t know if everything reported here works the same for ASP.NET 1.1.

    Ok, after all the warnings and disclaimers: let’s get started!

    SharePoint Designer 2007 and WSS 2

    Although FrontPage is renamed to SharePoint Designer, it looks like all the non-SharePoint functionality that was available in FrontPage is still available. I will look at the available fatures in the context of WSS 2, not the new WSS 3 (SharePoint 2007) platform.

    For the Microsoft marketing speech on the full features of SharePoint Designer for SharePoint 2007, have look at

    Master pages

    Earlier I already tried to create a master page for usage with a WSS page, but didn’t get it working. I’m using ASP.NET 2.0 with WSS 2, so I actualy thought that that might work. I think that due to changes to the page the page got unghosted, and the Safe Mode parser prevented the usage of master pages. I didn’t try to add a master page to the site definition, that might work because ghosted pages linking to the pages in the site definition are not interpreted by the Safe Mode parser, but directly by ASP.NET 2.0.

    SharePoint Designer has the capabilities to design a master page through File - New – Page – Master Page.


    New content regions can be added through Format – Master Page – Manage Content Regions …, which hows the following dialog:


    I even managed to create a page based on the master page:


    When I load the test.aspx file in the browser I get the following error however:

    [WebPartPageUserException: Unknown attribute "masterpagefile" found in @Page directive.]

    The page is unghosted and does not seem to support master pages. I think due to the all the restrictions that exists for pages executed by the Safe Mode parser

    Gladly enough good old Dynamic Web Templates, one of the most powerful and overlooked features in FrontPage,  is still suported.. Where master pages combine at runtime, Dynamic Web Templates combine on save or attach of the Dynamic Web Template file I will spend a separate weblog entry on this topic in the near future.

    CSS Styles

    SharePoint Designer has a nice style selector to select a style of one of the connected stylesheets:


    Data View

    One of the renamed menu entries is Data View, which was named just Data in FrontPage 2003. Data Views are one of my favorite parts of WSS, and it is good to see that Data Views will still be there in WSS 3 and the support within SharePoint Designer is better than ever. Some disassembling of the Data View Web Part code and DDWRT XSLT function extension code in WSS 3 reveals that not much changes in the new version of WSS.

    One of the biggest problems with FrontPage 2003 was that when data was retrieved for a Data View, the data querying could become really slow when a lot of items are retrieved. This made the user-interface often really sluggish. Data Views now have a special Data View Preview setting that solves these kind of problems:


    Another good improvement in Data View editing is the Data View parameter editor:


    This translates in the following parameter bindings in the Data View Web Part:

    <ParameterBinding Name="ParamConnection" Location="Connection" DefaultValue=""/>
      <ParameterBinding Name="ParamControl" Location="Control(L_SearchView)" DefaultValue=""/>
      <ParameterBinding Name="ParamForm" Location="Form(FormField)" DefaultValue=""/>
      <ParameterBinding Name="ParamCookie" Location="Cookie(MyCookie)" DefaultValue=""/>
      <ParameterBinding Name="ParamQueryString" Location="QueryString(queryvar)" DefaultValue=""/>
      <ParameterBinding Name="ParamServerVar" Location="ServerVariable(servervar)" DefaultValue=""/>

    The editing of the Data View properties is a bit extended, but the supported functionality didn’t really change:


    The Layout possibilities didn’t change, and there seems to be no way to extend the layouts. Specifying your own XSLT in the XSLT Source tab is new as far as I know.

    The column header sorting bug is NOT solved in XSLT generator of SharePoint Designer.

    The conditional formatting is made even more powerful due to a good style composer and good support for the creation of the xpath rules for conditional formatting. The biggest problem is still there: it is NOT possible to specify a CSS class for styling a conditional format. Microsoft: please change that, you want to be able to maintain style in a centralized place!


    SharePoint Designer is a cool tool that makes nice improvements on the current SharePoint 2003 version that is already really powerful. It is great that all the already available power in SharePoint 2003 that is now “banned” due to the unghosting issues will be “the way to go” in the next version of SharePoint because the unghosting issues and Safe Mode parser will be something of the past.

    SharePoint Designer is not production ready yet. I had a few crashes in preparing this blog entry. But start learning FrontPage 2003 now, and you will enjoy SharePoint Designer 2007 even more when it hits the market!

    In some future blog entries I will describe the way we use FrontPage 2003 to build really powerful business application on the SharePoint development platform today.

  • Great book on the more advanced configuration capabilities in SharePoint 2003

    I just finished browsing through a new book on advanced SharePoint customizations:

    SharePoint 2003 Advanced Concepts: Site Definitions, Custom Templates, and Global Customizations By Nadrowski, Jason/ Draper, Stacy Published by Addison-Wesley, Microsoft Windows Server System Series ISBN: 0321336615; Published: 3/13/2006; Copyright 2006; Pages: T; Edition: 1

    Check the link for an example chapter.

    It is a small book (247 pages) that has great focus. I hate those 1000 pages books that pretend to cover everything, but only scratch the surface on a zillion topics. This book its focus in on creating site definitions, and it does this well with a lot of valuable tips and good examples. It covers some other topics as the backcover mentions:

    · Construct more powerful site and list templates

    · Control how SharePoint uses ghosted and unghosted pages

    · Use custom site definitions to gain finer control over your site

    · Build list definitions with custom metadata, views, and forms

    · Troubleshoot WEBTEMP, ONET.XML, SCHEMA.XML, SharePoint databases, and their interactions

    · Create custom property types to extend SharePoint's functionality

    · Integrate with other systems and SharePoint sites so that you can use their information more effectively

    · Change themes and edit Help, one step at a time

    · Customize email alerts and system notifications

    · Extend the capabilities of document libraries

    · Control document display and behavior based on extensions

    Most information is also available from other sources like the SharePoint SDK documentation, articles on MSDN and blog entries, but here you get a good written, easy read that gets you into the topic in a matter of hours.

    Highly recommended if you need to get up to speed quickly on the topic, and don’t really care to spend a few bucks. But don’t take only my words for it, always check Amazon for the latest reviews.

  • BUG&FIX: SharePoint Data View column header sorting not working with namespaced XML data

    We (Serge van den Oever and Victor Vogelpoel [Macaw]) found a bug with column header sorting within Data View Web Parts when we use a custom web service as the data provider.

    It seems that column header sorting is not working without removing the namespace prefix for the header field names in the XSLT of the Data View. When trying to sort in the Data View Web Part the header indicates a sorting order, the ascending and descending arrows are showing, but the actual sorting of the data is not executed.

    Let us explain it step-by-step:

    We have a web service that produces a non-dataset diffgram result, it actually just produces data in the following format:

    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
    <ArrayOfAccount xmlns:xsi="" xmlns:xsd="" xmlns="urn:my-namespace:webservice:v1">
        <AccountName>Abn Amro</AccountName>
        <AccountName>Nederlandse Spoorwegen</AccountName>

    As you can see in the XML all data is within the namespace “urn:my-namespace:webservice:v1”.


    In our code we deliver data that comes as an array of the following struct:

    public struct Account
            public string AccountName;
            public string AccountCode;

    The web service code is as follows:

    [WebService(Namespace = "urn:my-namespace:webservice:v1")]
    public class AccountService : WebService
      public Account[] GetAccounts()

    When we insert a Data View for this web service on a web part page using FrontPage 2003 and enable “Options—>Enable sorting on column headers” on the Data View Web Part, the headers of the columns show up fine in the Data View (AccountName and AccountCode), but the underlying fieldnames for the headers are prefixed with a mapped namespace (ddw1:AccountName and ddw1:AccountCode). This results in the following XSLT code for the header:

    <th class="ms-vh" nowrap="true">
      <xsl:call-template name="dvt.headerfield" ddwrt:atomic="1">
        <xsl:with-param name="fieldname">ddw1:CompanyName</xsl:with-param>
        <xsl:with-param name="fieldtitle">CompanyName</xsl:with-param>
        <xsl:with-param name="sortable">1</xsl:with-param>
        <xsl:with-param name="attachments">0</xsl:with-param>

    If the namespace prefix (shown in bold) is removed, sorting start working again!

    When a DataSet or DataTable is returned as the result of a web service call this problem does not occur. The reason for this is that the diffgram part of the DataSet or DataTable XML result is not part of the namespace of the web service.

  • SharePoint impersonation the COM+ way

    A lot is written on SharePoint impersonation.One of my collegues Victor Vogelpoel wrote a whole series of blog posts on this topic with a whole bunch of implementations. Using all his described implementation methods one thing was still not possible: check if a user is in a certain role. You need to become admin to do this check, but impersonation by going back to the application pool account (which is also a SharePoint administrator account) as described by Victor is still not good enough for checking roles. Raphael Londner has a blog post on how to achive a kind of impersonation that should be powerful enough in his weblog post SharePoint impersonation using COM+ Components. I did not check it out yet, but it looks promising. Thanks Rui for pointing this out to me!

  • Simultaneous HTTP connections in IE, IE memory leaks (unrelated)... some thoughts and links

    Two things that scares me off a bit with complex client side Javascript programming and AJAX technology are:

    • The number of possible simultaneous connections in a browser
    • IE browser has memory leaks when doing complex operations

    Simultaneous Connections: 

    By default a browser supports only up to 2 simultaneous connections as described by Michael Schwartz in this blog entry. It is possible to increase this amount through a registry setting. Good to increase the amount of simultaneous downloads, but not something you can count on in yor application. This means that you should really watch out in implementing multiple separate XmlHttpRequests from your web page. Although I assume that calls are just blocked when the “request queue” is full, and will be executed when a previous request is finished. I thought that applications in Flash could work around that limitation, but as far as I know Flash utilizes the browser HTTP stack, so will probably suffer from the same restrictions (can someone confirm this?).

    IE memory leaks:

    Something that really “shocked” me a while ago was this weblog post by (again) Michael Schwartz. He describes memory leaks with XmlHttpequests in sites like I didn’t hear much about it after that post, until I stumbled over a blog entry by Telerik (the developers of the great WYSIWYG HTML editor). They describe IE memory leaks, and some tips on how to avoid them. They link to this article at with more pointers to information on IE memory leaks.

    Lets hope that implementations like Ajax.Net, MagicAjax and Atlas and all the other Ajax libraries work around these issues so we simple developers don’t have to take care of all the quirks that the different browsers will definitly have. This is one of the reasons why Flash looks so interesting: one vendor, so probably the same bugs on all platforms;-)


  • WSS+SP2 + .NET 2.0 + Unghosted Page -> Confirmed problem

    In a previous post I described an issue I had with WSS SP2 running on the .Net 2.0 Framework.

    The issue is that in unghosted pages (pages modified through FrontPage, and therefor having a copy of the modified site definition page ending up in the database) it is not possible to add web parts through the web interface. It is still possible through FrontPage though.

    Sources from within Microsoft confirmed that this is indeed a known issue.

    For now there are the following solutions:

    • Continue running WSS on Everett (funy that Microsoft keeps using the code names for there technologies;-) This means; the .Net 1.1 Framework)
    • Reghost* the page (if this is possible, FrontPage should’t have made changes to the page itself, only to web parts and their connections)
    • Use FrontPage to add web parts for these unghosted pages. One ceveat however: this only works for shared web parts, it is not possible to work with personal web parts through FrontPage.

    Lets hope that Microsoft will come out with a hotfix for this issue, so all out trouble will be over. In the mean time: be careful what you edit with FrontPage and don’t mind about to be only editable through FrontPage, and what must be modifyable through the web interface.

    Happy SharePointing!

    *Reghosting can be done through the GhostHunter web part.

  • WSS+SP2 + .NET 2.0 + Unghosted Page --> Problem!?

    UPDATE: This issue is confirmed by Microsoft. See this weblog entry for more information.

    I have WS SP2 + .Net 2.0 framework, with WSS running on .Net 2.0. Everything works fine. Until I have a unghosted page... when I try to add a web part using the web interface I get the following exception:

    Invalid postback or callback argument.  Event validation is enabled using <pages enableEventValidation="true"/> in configuration or <%@ Page EnableEventValidation="true" %> in a page.  For security purposes, this feature verifies that arguments to postback or callback events originate from the server control that originally rendered them.  If the data is valid and expected, use the ClientScriptManager.RegisterForEventValidation method in order to register the postback or callback data for validation.

    I have the enableEventValidation set to false, as configured using the command:

    stsadm.exe –o upgrade –forceupgrade –url http://URLOftheVirtualServer

    I tried to add this setting to other web.config's and to the machine.config, but to no avail.

    Seems like the SharePoint safe mode parser (executed on unghosted apsx pages) is behaving different from the normal ASP.NET page rendere.

    When I modify the pages using FrontPage there is no problem.

    Any ideas? I would hate to go back to the 1.1 FrameWork, because now I can write my web parts using SonOfSmartPart and the full functionality of the ASP.NET 2.0 framework.

    I know I shouldn't unghost pages, but I'm doing a lot of Data View web parts.

    [I'm cross-posting between my weblog ( and the sharepointdisussions group @ yahoo]

  • Chm files and 404 Errors

    I must say I was amazed that when I downloaded the latest Windows SharePoint Services 2.0 Administrators Guide I only got 404 errors on every page in the contents. I downloaded the file another time, to no avail. I gave up and thought: well, the file must be corrupted. But no: this is one more step by Microsoft to provide us ultimate security!

    I stumbled across this blog entry by Mark Kruger that provided the solution:

    1. Right-click the CHM file, and then click Properties.
    2. Click Unblock.
    3. Double-click the .chm file to open the file.


  • Olaf Conijn from Macaw in the Netherlands: patterns&practices champion!

    One of our youngest collegues becomes a patterns&practices champion!! A smart guy with a bright future!! See his blog at See the e-mail below!

    Congratulations to this community's newest "patterns & practices Champions!"
    Congratulations to this community's newest "patterns & practices Champions!"(2/3/2006 3:36:58 PM)
    The p&p Champion award is given on a quarterly(ish) basis to members of our community who have gone "above and beyond" the call of duty with regard to helping their fellow community members. These are the people who answer questions, create useful samples or build extensions to the application blocks. In short, these are the people who really make the patterns & practices program work and we couldn't do it without them! 

    The award winners for February 2006 for the Enterprise Library community are: 

    * Olaf Conijn (OlafC). While Olaf worked on the development team for Enterprise Library for .NET 2.0, this award is for his independent contributions to the community, in particular his Environmental Overrides plug-in.

    * Alois Kraus (akraus2): Alois has been one of the most active members of the Enterprise Library Community, and has provided many community members with assistance in using the new January 2006 release on message boards and via his blog.

    * Francois Tanguay (FrancoisTanguay). Francois provided the Enterprise Library team and the community with some great feedback on Preview releases of Enterprise Library for .NET 2.0, and shared his own blocks and extensions with fellow community members.

    Congratulations to the winners and our thanks to everyone (winner or not!) for your contributions to the community. More information about the p&p Champions program, the winners' accomplishments and winners from other communities are published on MSDN.

    Posted By tomhollander

    Go to patterns & practices: Enterprise Library

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  • Usage Event Logging in Windows SharePoint Services - Annotated

    A great article on Event Logging in Windows SharePoint Service appeared in july 2004 on MSDN on how to parse the log files that Windows SharePoint Services produces when logging is enabled. The article describes the format of these log files and provides a sample that demonstrates some of the basics for creating a tool that parses the files to extract information about site usage.


    This blog post provides more detailed information on the binary log format. This information is especially useful if you want to provide a managed version in for example C# of the log file parser.


    Applies to: Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services 2.0,  Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2003


    Exact binary format (see also the referenced article for more info on the fields):






    4 (ABCD)







    Padding to get to WORD boundary


    2 (AB)

    Value= A|(B<<8)


    2 (AB)

    Value= A|(B<<8)


    2 (AB)

    Value= A|(B<<8)


    2 (AB)

    Value= A|(B<<8)



    Padding to get to DWORD boundary


    4 (ABCD)



    2 (AB)

    Value= A|(B<<8)


    2 (AB)

    Value= A|(B<<8)


    2 (AB)

    Value= A|(B<<8)


    2 (AB)

    Value= A|(B<<8)


    2 (AB)

    Value= A|(B<<8)



    Padding to get to DWORD boundary












    ASCII string



    0 (delimits string in C++)



    ASCII string (HH:MM:SS)



    0 (delimits string in C++)



    ASCII string



    0 (delimits string in C++)



    ASCII string



    0 (delimits string in C++)



    ASCII string



    0 (delimits string in C++)



    ASCII string



    0 (delimits string in C++)



    ASCII string



    0 (delimits string in C++)



    ASCII string



    0 (delimits string in C++)



    ASCII string



    0 (delimits string in C++)


  • Macaw Discussion Board on Quick Launch bar

    If you create an instance of a list  you get the question: “Display this XXX on the Quick Launch bar?”. If you select “Yes” a link to the list is displayed in the quick launch bar of your site. The Macaw Disucussion Board has an issue that even if you select “Yes”,  it does not appear on the quick launch bar.

     If you go to “Modify settings and columns” of a Macaw Discussion Board list and then select “Change general settings”, you can again answer the question “Display on the Quick Launch bar?”. If you answer this question with “Yes” the link to the Discussion Board becomes available on the quick launch bar.

    This same procedure is needed for tools that utilize this setting for displaying lists in their navigation. A good example is the Advis Site Navigator that only displays lists with this setting set to true.

  • MacawSharePointSkinner released

    Welcome to the MacawSharePointSkinner. MacawSharePointSkinner is a tool designed to enable non-intrusive modifications to the visual and functional design of SharePoint. The tool can be used for both Windows SharePoint Services 2.0 and for Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003. Actually, it can be used for any web site utilizing the ASP.NET technology. Download at UPDATE: can now be found at


    One of the major issues that we encounter in the implementation of SharePoint within organizations is that organizations want modifications to the visual and functional design that are almost impossible to implement without a major overhaul of the standard files and templates provided with SharePoint. SharePoint is constructed as a kind of standard product that is best used out of the box. Some design can be applied by specifying themes (for team sites) or by modifying CSS stylesheets (for the portal). The possibilities here are limited however, and changes to the actual HTML that is rendered results in changes to hundreds of the standard files.


    When implementing customer requested visual modifications, one of the big problems that we encountered in making extensive modifications to the files and templates delivered with SharePoint was that the rendering of the same HTML is implemented differently by different pages. Some pages contain the actual HTML that is outputted and can be easily modified. Other pages contain server controls that do the rendering of the same HTML. These pages are almost impossible to modify. Another problem is that modifications must often be made to hundreds of pages.


    The approach that MacawSharePointSkinner takes is two-fold:


    Text Replacements – MacawSharePointSkinner lets SharePoint render the final HTML, and just before this HTML is sent to the browser MacawSharePointSkinner makes the needed modifications to this HTML. This is done in such a way that no modifications are needed to the internal files of SharePoint, so it is non-intrusive. Another advantage is that it will survive service packs (although the output HTML may change in a service pack!) and template modifications.


    Url Redirections – MacawSharePointSkinner can translate requested url’s into other url’s. This allows you to redirect standard SharePoint url’s to your own url’s.


    MacawSharePointSkinner is implemented as an HttpModule that provides functionality for url replacements and powerful replacements in the HTML output rendered by SharePoint.


    I will not describe the inner workings of an HttpModule, for more information have a look at


    1         How to install MacawSharePointSkinner

    1.1      Introduction

    MacawSharePointSkinner is an HttpModule. HttpModules are configured in the web.config of your ASP.NET web site. SharePoint is an ASP.NET web site. The required DLL is installed in the Global Assembly Cache (GAC).

    1.2      Procedure

    Follow the steps below for installation:





    Deploy the DLL Macaw.SharePoint.Skinner.dll from the Release directory to the GAC by dragging[1] it to the directory c:\windows\assembly using Explorer.


    Make a directory to contain the MacawSharePointSkinner configuration file, for example c:\MacawSharePointSkinnerConfig. Copy the files SkinConfig.xml and SharePointSkinner.xsd to this directory.


    Open the web.config files of the portal for which you want to enable the MacawSharePointSkinner functionality, and the SharePoint /_layouts virtual directory in NotePad or another text editor. Those files can be found in the virtual directory of the portal (when SharePoint is configured on the default web site, this directory is c:\inetpub\wwwroot), and the directory C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\60\TEMPLATE\LAYOUTS\web.config.


    In step 3-10 the needed changes are described as the bold lines in the boxes. The other lines of the configuration file are there to give you the context where to find the place to do the modifications.


    Enable support for an appSettings section:

        <section name="appSettings" type="System.Configuration.NameValueFileSectionHandler, System, Version=1.0.5000.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b77a5c561934e089" />
        <sectionGroup name="SharePoint">    :


    Add the appSettings section with the following keys:



    Path of the configuration file. Must be a directory path, not an URL.


    ‘on’ or ‘off’ to enable or disable debugging information in comments in the page

    <appSettings><!-- MACAW: configuration for MacawSharePointSkinner --><add key="MacawSharePointSkinner-ConfigFile" value="c:\MacawSharePointSkinnerConfig\SkinConfig.xml"/><add key="MacawSharePointSkinner-Logging" value="on"/><!-- MACAW: end of configuration for MacawSharePointSkinner --></appSettings>
         <SharePoint>  :


    Add the MacawSharePointSkinner HttpModule:

     :<httpModules>  <clear />  <add name="OutputCache" type="System.Web.Caching.OutputCacheModule" />  <add name="WindowsAuthentication" type="System.Web.Security.WindowsAuthenticationModule" />  <!-- <add name="Session" type="System.Web.SessionState.SessionStateModule"/>-->
      <add name="MacawSharePointSkinner" type="Macaw.SharePoint.Skinner.Skin,Macaw.SharePoint.Skinner, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=efcf6ac388b9b555"/>

    1.3      Final step

    The final step is to modify the MacawSharePointSkinner configuration file SkinConfig.xml.

    1.4      Alternative configurations

    This section describes some alternative configuration possibilities for the HttpModule dll, and for the used configuration files.

    1.4.1      HttpModule dll deployment

    The procedure described above deploys the Macaw.SharePoint.Skinner.dll to the global assembly cache. This deployment has the advantage that you only need one step to deploy the assembly and it is available in all virtual directories. Disadvantage is that an IISRESET is needed to activate the DLL.


    If you don’t want to deploy Macaw.SharePoint.Skinner.dll to the global assembly cache, you need to deploy it to the following bin directories:

    • C:\inetpub\wwwroot\bin (the path to the SharePoint virtual directory)
    • C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\60\ISAPI\BIN (to keep FrontPage working, and have skinning support on the help pages)
    • C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\60\TEMPLATE\LAYOUTS\BIN (to have skinning enabled on all pages in the ‘/_layouts/’ directory)

    1.4.2      Configuration files

    It is possible to specify different configuration files for the different virtual directories in their corresponding web.config files. This allows for specific skinning configurations for the SharePoint virtual directory pages and the /_layouts virtual directory pages.


    It is possible to specify a file pattern as a configuration file, instead of a single file. So for example if you specify c:\MacawSharePointSkinnerConfig\SkinnerSharePoint*.xml as configuration file in the web.config of the SharePoint virtual directory and  c:\MacawSharePointSkinnerConfig\SkinnerLayout*.xml in the web.config of the /_layouts virtual directory, you can have multiple configuration files to define your skinning operations. This is used in large Share Point modification projects where each subproject has its own configuration files. Note however that the configuration files are read in undefined order, so make the configuration files as independent as possible of each other. Especially overlapping URL redirections can lead to unpredictable behavior.


    If order of interpretation of configuration files is important, it is also possible to supply multiple configuration files separated by ‘;’ characters. For example: c:\MacawSharePointSkinnerConfig\mefirst.xml; c:\MacawSharePointSkinnerConfig\restoffiles*.xml

    2         MacawSharePointSkinner configuration

    2.1      Introduction

    Configuration of the MacawSharePointSkinner is done in an XML file named SkinConfig.xml. This file can be found in a directory called c:\MacawSharePointSkinnerConfig or another directory as defined in step 2 of the installation procedure defined in section 2.2. This file can be edited in any text editor like notepad or in a special XML editor[2].


    Within the configuration file regular expressions[3] are used extensively to define match patterns.

    2.2      Structure of the configuration file

    The structure of the configuration file is unambiguously defined by the corresponding XSD schema SharePointSkinner.xsd.


    In this chapter some configuration examples are given

    2.3      Skinning language

    This section describes the skinning elements that make up the skinning language. The elements are given, and their hierarchy. Between brackets the occurrence count is specified.



    exactly once




    zero or more times


    one or more times


    skinner (1)

                default-uri-matchtype (0,1)

    cache-time (0,1)

    parameters (0,1)

                parameter (1, n)

    urlredirections (0,1)

                urlredirection (0,n)

    rules (0,1)


                            uris (1)

                                        uri (1,n)

                                                    match (0,1)

    parameters (0,1)

                                                                parameter (1, n)

                                                    texts (0,1)

                                                                text (0,n)

                                                                            match (0,1)

    parameters (0,1)

                                                                                        parameter (1, n)

                            blocks (1)

                                        block (1,n)

                                                    match (0,1)

                                                                replacements (1)

                                                                            replacement (1,n)

                                                                                        find (1)

                                                                                        replace (1)


    Below is a detailed description of the available elements.

    Element Description


    Root element in the skinning configuration file.


    Default way of matching for all match elements for uri.

    Type Name Req. Possible values / description
    Attribute matchtype No RegExp|WildCard|Exact, not specifiedàRegExp

    Currently only the type RegExp is supported. This is always the initial default value.


    Time to cache the configuration file in seconds.

    Type Name Req. Possible values / description
    Attribute duration Yes 0, -1, n

    Currently time expiration is not supported. Only the following values are supported:

    0: the configuration is reread on every replacement (for testing purposes only)

    -1: the configuration is never reread. A new initialization happens on IISRESET


    Group element for specifying parameters using the parameter element.


    Parameter definition that can be used for replacements in other elements like match, find and replace.

    Type Name Req. Possible values / description
    Attribute name Yes Name of the parameter
    Value n.a. Yes Value of the parameter

    Parameters are replaced in the text of elements when the text {{parametername}} occurs.


    Group element for specifying url redirections using the urlredirection element.


    Url redirection definition that specifies how to redirect a matching target url to a destination url.

    Type Name Req. Possible values / description
    Attribute name Yes Name of the redirection rule



    No true|false. If true, redirections are done through an HTTP 301 response. This means an extra roundtrip to the server. Complete Url (http://servername/...) must be specified for the destination.I false, the redirection is done within the same application domain (same virtual directory)
    Attribute enabled No true| false. If true this redirection is used, if not specified redirection is used

    Parameters are replaced in the text of elements when the text {{parametername}} occurs.


    Specifies the expression to match the target uri.

    Type Name Req. Possible values / description
    Attribute matchtype No RegExp|Exact, not specifiedàRegExp
    Value n.a. Yes Expression to match. Regular expression match in CDATA section


    Replacement for the matched uri. May contain captures and parameters.

    Type Name Req. Possible values / description
    Value n.a. Yes Replacement text. Regular expression replacement in CDATA section


    Group element for specifying rules using the rule element.


    Skinning is implemented by execution of rules. More than one rule can be defined. When a rule matches, skinning can stop at this rule or it can continue to match next rules. A rule contains two elements:

    • uris specify the match the requested page must make on uri, text or both
    • blocks to specify the replacements to be executed on the page if matching
    Type Name Req. Possible values / description
    Attribute enabled No true| false. If true this rule is used, if not specified rule is used
    Attribute name Yes Name of the rule
    Attribute description No Description of the rule
    Attribute match-continue No true| false. If true continue matching next rules if this rules already matched, if false stop after match


    Group element for specifying uri matches using the uri element. Within the uris element we specify which pages will match this rule, either on uri match or text match or both.


    Uri match. If no match element is specified all uris match. Parameters can be defined under the uri element that can be used in the block replacements.

    Type Name Req. Possible values / description
    Attribute enabled No true| false. If true this uri is used, if not specified uri is used

    match (in uri)

    Specifies the expression to match the uri. If this element is missing, all uris match.

    Type Name Req. Possible values / description
    Attribute matchtype No RegExp|WildCard|Exact, not specifiedàRegExp
    Value n.a. Yes Expression to match. Expression match in CDATA section


    Group element for specifying texts using the text element.


    Text match. If no match element is specified the text always matches. Parameters can be defined under the text element that can be used in the block replacements.

    Type Name Req. Possible values / description
    Attribute enabled No true| false. If true this text  is used, if not specified text is used

    match (in text)

    Specifies the expression to match the text. If this element is missing, the text always matches.

    Type Name Req. Possible values / description
    Attribute matchtype No RegExp|Exact, not specifiedàRegExp
    Value n.a. Yes Expression to match. Regular expression match in CDATA section


    Group element for specifying blocks using the block element.


    Block selection. If no selection element is specified the whole text is selected for replacements.

    Type Name Req. Possible values / description
    Attribute name No Name of the block
    Attribute description No Description of the block
    Attribute enabled No true| false. If true this block is used, if not specified block is used


    Specifies a selection for a block to do replacements on. If this element is missing, replacements specified in the block are executed on the complete text of the requested page.

    Type Name Req. Possible values / description
    Value n.a. Yes Block selection. Regular expression in CDATA section


    Group element for specifying replacements in the block using the replacement element.


    A replacement to be executed. Contains of a find and replace element.

    Type Name Req. Possible values / description
    Attribute name No Name of the block
    Attribute description No Description of the block
    Attribute count No N, number of replacements to execute, if not specified then infinite
    Attribute enabled No true| false. If true this rule is used, if not specified rule is used


    Regular expression for the selection of text that may contain captures. Find text may contain parameters.

    Type Name Req. Possible values / description
    Attribute matchtype No RegExp|Exact, not specifiedàRegExp
    Value n.a. Yes Expression to find. Regular expression match in CDATA section


    Replacement for the selected text. May contain captures and parameters.

    Type Name Req. Possible values / description
    Value n.a. Yes Replacement text. Regular expression replacement in CDATA section

    When it is specified to specify text in a CDATA section to prevent invalid XML, use the following syntax: <![CDATA[text]]>

    3         Advanced Skinner configurations

    Pages are skinned by the skinner if the following conditions are met:

    • The page request is in a ASP.NET virtual directory
    • The web.config file contains the Macaw.SharePoint.Skinner HTTP module
    • The page request returns content of type text/html

    If you have a page that returns for example XML (content type is text/xml) the page is NOT skinned.


    If you don’t want a page to be skinned (and no comments added tot the top, even if there is no URL match), you can add skinnerskip=1 to the query string.


    Example: http://server/default.aspx?skinnerskip=1


    4         Regular expressions

    4.1      Introduction

    Matches, selections, finds and replacements are all done using regular expressions. There are multiple flavors available in regular expressions. MacawSharePointSkinner uses the .Net flavor. For more information on regular expressions have a look at:

    Description Url

    .Net regular expression documentation

    Small overview of much used language constructs

    4.2      Regular expression matching configuration

    All regular expression matches performed in MacawSharePointSkinner are done with the following options enabled:


    IgnoreCase              Specifies case-insensitive matching.

    Multiline                  Specifies multiline mode. Changes the meaning of ^ and $ so that they match at the beginning and end, respectively, of any line, not just the beginning and end of the whole string.

    CultureInvariant     Specifies that cultural differences in language is ignored.


    To increase the performance of matching, all regular expressions are compiled when the configuration file is read.

    4.3      Tools for regular expression construction

    When constructing regular expressions I always utilize a regular expression construction tool. These tools allow you to specify a source text (use the ‘view source’ text of the page you want to do replacements on), a regular expression (including captures) and a replacement. The tool visualizes the matches in the text and the resulting text after the replacement.


    See for an overview of available tools. One of my favorites in “The regulator” (

    4.4      Tips & tricks

    This section contains some tips and tricks in smart regular expressions to perform skinning tasks.

    4.4.1      Block selection of head

    In one situation we had to replace the stylesheets within the head. These are four replacements. To improve replacement speed the replacements are done on a block that matches only the head section. The head can be matched as follows:


    5         Using MacawSharePointSkinner

    There are many, many usages for the MacawSharePointSkinner. Some examples of the usage of the MacawSharePointSkinner are:

    • Apply different style sheets to different areas in the portal area tree.
    • Remove system account from the “Assigned to:” dropdown boxes in the new and edit pages of certain lists (issues, tasks).
    • Redirect access to certain pages in the /_layouts directory to your own, modified, versions of these pages.

    5.1      Url redirections

    Url redirections in SharePoint works different from url redirections with normal ASP.NET applications. SharePoint uses special handling of url’s, because it uses a kind of “in context” page access. Examples are the pages in the /_layouts virtual directory. If you request the url http://servername/sites/mysite/_layouts/1033/aclinv.aspx, you actually access the page /_layouts/aclinv.aspx, but in the context of the SharePoint site mysite.


    Due to special handling in SharePoint, we also have to take this into account in specifying the url redirections.


    If you want to redirect the page /_layouts/1033/aclinv.aspx to /_layouts/my1033/aclinv.aspx, do the following:

     <urlredirection name="aclinv.aspx"><target>/_layouts/1033/aclinv.aspx</target>      <destination>/_layouts/my1033/aclinv.aspx</destination></urlredirection> 

    This redirection is performed “in context”, so in the destination page we are still in the same context.


    If you want to redirect all access to the “in context” page /_layouts/1033/aclinv.aspx (for example http://servername/sites/mysite/_layouts/1033/aclinv.aspx and http://servername/sites/othersite/_layouts/1033/aclinv.aspx) to a page NOT in /_layouts, the complete url of the destination page must be specified, and the permanent attribute must be set to true (if target is full url, permanent is automatically set to true).

     <urlredirection name="aclinv.aspx" permanent="true"><target>/_layouts/1033/aclinv.aspx</target>      <destination></destination></urlredirection> 

    If you only want to redirect all access to the page http://servername/sites/mysite/_layouts/1033/aclinv.aspx (so NOT access to all /_layouts/1033/aclinv.aspx pages in any context), a complete url of both the target and destination page must be specified, and the permanent attribute must be set to true (if target is full url, permanent is automatically set to true).

     <urlredirection name="aclinv.aspx" permanent="true"><target>http://servername/sites/mysite/_layouts/1033/aclinv.aspx</target>      <destination></destination></urlredirection> 

    6         Frequently Asked Questions

    Q: MacawSharePointSkinner works great in my SharePoint sites and in the portal, but not for the pages in the /_layouts virtual directory. It also does not work for the help pages of SharePoint.

    A: See section 2.2 for information on how to modify the web.config file to add the HttpModule. The procedure to add it to the /_layouts virtual directory is included in this section. For each virtual directory you want to skin you have to modify the web.config file. So for




    /_vti_bin (help pages):

    [1] copy – paste does not work on the assembly directory, dragging is needed for automatic installation of the DLL in the GAC. The assembly can also be installed using the gacutil tool. In this case execute the following command: gacutil /i Macaw.SharePoint.Skinner.dll

    This tool can be found in the directory C:\WINDOWS\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v1.1.4322.


    [2] Because the corresponding XSD schema file is provided, syntax checking on the XML can be used in XML editors like XMLspy and Visual Studio .NET 2003.

    [3] If you don’t know what regular expressions are, go to Google, and in the search string type define:regular expression. See also chapter 4 for more information on regular expressions.