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Archive for February, 2016

Confusion with Site Definition & Site Pages

Posted by Paul on February 17, 2016

One of my co-worker raised a concern over editing Site Pages in Advanced Mode. This is regarding my previous article Sleek Way Of Developing Fully Immersive SharePoint Pages.

The argument raised was “We should not edit Site Definition” due to the reasons mentioned in the article here. Please refer the section on it.

image

I would like to clarify this here as more people would be thinking the same.

image

Site Definition vs. Site Pages

The core point of clarification is Site Definition is different from Site Pages.

Site Definition consists of:

· Web Parts

· Workflows

· XML Files

· Lists & Libraries

So Site Definition is a Package of Solution.

For example, Let us take example of Publishing Site Definition.

Publishing Site Definition

As you know Publishing Site Definition provides the following advantages:

· An author can create content using a page template

· Content will be reviewed & approved by Approvers

· Content gets Published

To incorporate all these functionalities, the Publishing Site Definition has:

· Built-in Permission Groups

· Built-in Workflows

· Built-in Pages

· Built-in Code

So, if we are going & modifying the above Site Definition using SharePoint Designer Advanced Mode editing, we are risking the following:

· Future updates to above Site Definition will not be applied

· Future SharePoint upgrades can break functionalities

image

Normal Mode Editing is done through Browser & only the content in Web Part Zone is edited. Advanced Mode Editing is done through SharePoint Designer Advanced Mode. Here the page area which cannot be accessible in Normal Mode Editing too is editable. This causes detaching from Site Definition formats.

Our Case

Coming back to our case of Site Pages, we are clearly not breaking any functionality. Following are the reasons:

· We are just using a Site Page & not a Site Definition

· We do not use any Site Definition features like Workflows, Approval etc.

· We are inheriting a Standalone ASPX page with less minimal SharePoint tags

The following link too recommends Advanced Mode editing.
image

Conclusion

The conclusion is we can continue with Advanced Mode editing of our Standalone ASPX Pages.

image

You can also use notepad for creating the above Site Page. No special requirement for SharePoint Designer.

References

https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Create-SharePoint-site-pages-0ee31678-ee55-40cd-9f48-ea8700035dbd

https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Managing-SharePoint-Designer-2010-E12D76CE-83F7-4DDE-864C-6C1E210399B6

Summary

In this article we have clarified a Confusion scenario with Site Definition & Site Pages.

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Posted in SharePoint, SharePoint 2013 | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

BCS External Content Type Configuration

Posted by Paul on February 7, 2016

 

In this article we can explore how to configure BCS External Content Type in SharePoint 2013.

BCS

BCS (Business Connectivity Services) allows Interfacing to Data that does not Live in SharePoint. For example, we can connect to External Databases, OData Sources etc.

When to use BCS?

The ideal scenarios to use BCS are:

· To leverage an existing SQL Server Table containing Data. BCS would free us from duplicating the Table in SharePoint. BCS also saves the cost involved in Synchronizing Data if there are users working on updating the source table.

· In Internal SharePoint application requiring data from External application. In this case we can create Custom .Net BCS Providers.

BCS Example

In our example we are creating a BCS List pointing to SQL Server Table. Please follow the steps below to create the BCS List in SharePoint. After the List creation, you will be able to Add/Edit/Delete items in the List & everything will reflect back in the SQL Server Table.

Step 1

Create a new SQL Server table named Customer.
image

Use the following structure:

1. Id Integer Identity

2. Name Nvarchar (max)

3. Address Nvarchar (max)

Fill the Table with some data as shown below.
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Step 2

Open SharePoint Designer 2013 & Go to External Content Types pane as shown below.

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Choose the External Content Type button from the left pane for creating a New External Content Type. (External Content Type is the keyword for referring BCS Content Types)

Enter the Name for the Content Type and click the highlighted area below to configure External Data Source.

image

You will get the following dialog. Choose Add Connection option.

image

In the appearing dialog choose SQL Server.

image

Enter the Credentials to SQL Server.
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Choose our table. Right click and choose Create All Operations.
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You will get the following wizard.

image

Click Next with default values.

Step 3

Now we need to create the List Instance. Go to Lists and Libraries in Designer and click the External List ribbon item.

image

Choose our Content Type from the appearing dialog box.

image

Click OK to continue. Enter the name as Customers for the list. Now you have successfully created the List Instance of our External Content Type.

Step 4

Now we can Test our new List. Open SharePoint & You should be able to see the Customers list in the Quick Launch. Click on it to see the items below.

image

Once you can see the data like above – You have successfully configured BCS External Content Type.

Errors

It is not surprising that you may get the following errors. You can refer the associated links to resolve them.

Access denied by business data connectivity.

http://www.jeanpaulva.com/index.php/2016/01/23/bcs-error-access-denied-by-business-data-connectivity/

Login failed for user

http://www.jeanpaulva.com/index.php/2015/12/27/bcs-error-login-failed-for-user/

AuthenticationMode RevertToSelf

http://www.jeanpaulva.com/index.php/2015/10/18/bcs-error-authenticationmode-reverttoself/

References

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee661740.aspx

Summary

In this article we have explored how to configure BCS External Content Type in SharePoint 2013.

Posted in SharePoint, SharePoint 2013 | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sleek SharePoint Pages!

Posted by Paul on February 3, 2016

In real-world projects I have noticed the following SharePoint Branding mistakes.

1. Inheriting a Publishing Page for a Fully Immersive UI where we don’t actually use any Publishing functionalities like Page Layouts, Approval Workflow, Content Authoring etc.

2. Using Content Editor web part to dynamically invoke an HTML file there by delaying loading through unwanted SharePoint stuffs.

Incurred Costs

This will have immediate costs of:

· Increased Development Time

· Reduced Performance

· Increased Download Size

This will have future costs of:

  • Forcing client to purchase SharePoint Standard/Enterprise editions rather using the Free Foundation

Requirement Context

The requirement context here is to have a Fully Immersive Page without SharePoint Branding and allowing REST Operations.

Key Solution

I am providing a Key Solution which is:

1. Sleek in SharePoint Branding

2. Applicable for Fully Immersive Pages

3. Minimal SharePoint Contents loaded

4. SharePoint Foundation compatible

Steps

Open a SharePoint Designer and Choose Site Pages > Page ASPX option. 

p1

Now, Open Designer and Go to Site Pages library.

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You can see our page is listed there and the Content Type is of Wiki Page.  We don’t worry about that since we are not using any Wiki Page functionalities.  Plus, our page is SharePoint Foundation compatible.

image

You can also use HTML page instead of ASPX. In this case we need to change the Web Application property to allow HTML extensions to render instead of download & work with more challenges.

Now open the Page and choose Edit file option.

image

You will see the following page with read-only mode.

p2

Click on the Advanced Mode to edit the contents.

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You will get the page in edit-mode as shown below.

p3

 

From the Immersive Page Perspective, We are expecting a Full Custom Page which does not require any SharePoint Branding or Ribbon elements. The above Page fits our requirement.

Following is the page content.

<%@ Page Language=”C#” %>

<%@ Register tagprefix=”SharePoint” namespace=”Microsoft.SharePoint.WebControls” assembly=”Microsoft.SharePoint, Version=15.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=71e9bce111e9429c” %>

<html dir=”ltr” xmlns=”http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml”&gt;

<head runat=”server”>

<meta name=”WebPartPageExpansion” content=”full” />

<meta http-equiv=”X-UA-Compatible” content=”IE=10″ />

<SharePoint:CssRegistration Name=”default” runat=”server”/>

</head>

<body>

<form id=”form1″ runat=”server”>

</form>

Your HTML content goes here..

</body>

</html>

You can save the page and test in browser. You can see now the SharePoint Branding elements got removed.

image

You can View the source. The source looks simple.

p4

Now you are ready to use the above Page Template for building the Fully Immersive Page with Responsive Or Non-Responsive web design.  Full Control! Sleek! Faster!

html

image

You can also use HTML page instead of ASPX. In this case we need to change the Web Application property to allow HTML extensions to render instead of download & work with more challenges.

The Challenge

Now we need to use JSOM or REST API on the ASPX page. Clearly, we cannot use API because it will throw lot of security errors. The solution is to include the Form Digest tag.

Form Digest tag marks the page with right Security Contexts. This will allow the page to do POST requests to modify the contents in SharePoint.

Following would be the modified code.

<SharePoint:CssRegistration Name=”default” runat=”server”/>

/_layouts/15/init.js

/_layouts/15/MicrosoftAjax.js

/_layouts/15/sp.core.js

/_layouts/15/sp.runtime.js

/_layouts/15/sp.js

Add Form Digest value too.

<form id=”form1″ runat=”server”>

<SharePoint:FormDigest runat=”server”></SharePoint:FormDigest>

Your HTML content goes here..

</form>

The additional contents added ensure that the Page is protected to Post data through APIs.

image

Since we are hiding SharePoint Ribbon, it will hide the User Display Name & Gear Icon too.  If you require these, I would recommend creation of a Custom DIV and Add those Items manually.

Insert Test

Now let us really test an item insertion. You can use the following link for that.

http://www.jeanpaulva.com/index.php/2016/01/23/insert-using-rest-api/

References

SharePoint Pages http://bit.ly/1SKXOrI

SharePoint Editions & Features http://bit.ly/1K0UyY5

Form Digest http://bit.ly/1QIKzWB

Summary

In this article we have explored a sleek way of developing Fully Immersive SharePoint Pages.

Posted in SharePoint, SharePoint 2013 | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »