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May 06 2013

06:24

Rare errors #1: "Root element is missing"

Our license files are sent out as XML text files. Under very rare circumstances, you may get the following error message when attempting to apply your license file: System.Xml.XmlException: Root element is missing. Here's how to work around this uncommon issue.

September 17 2011

19:16

Manual installation / deployment of our SharePoint WSP Solution Packages

All our Web Parts and SharePoint solutions come with a deploy.exe Windows-based installation+deployment wizard to achieve streamlined installation and deployment. This wizard works smoothly and pleasantly for 99% of users.

Except when it doesn't. With a growing user base, a tiny minority of edge-case users or misconfigurations that prevent the wizard from completing are to be expected, and this article applies only to them.

Always try deploy.exe first. As a reminder, when you download one of our SharePoint tools, you get a roxority_<Product>Zen.zip file, ie. roxority_FilterZen.zip, roxority_PeopleZen.zip etc.

Copy it to your SharePoint server (or in a multi-server farm environment, to the primary web front-end server, ie. the one hosting your SharePoint Central Administration) and extract this ZIP setup package on there.

Now, don't just double-click deploy.exe to run it: instead, right-click it and depending on the Windows Server version, you'll see either a 'Run as administrator' or a 'Run as...' option.

  • If it's the latter ('run as...'), pick that option and then specify a user account that (A) has administrative rights on the machine AND (B) is also a member of the SharePoint Farm Administrators group (review it in Central Administration if unsure). Both conditions should be met for best results. (Better yet, you're already logged in to your Windows Server as such as user account.)
  • If the former ('run as administrator'), be sure you're logged in to the server as a user account that (A) has administrative rights on the machine AND (B) is also a member of the SharePoint Farm Administrators group (review it in Central Administration if unsure). Both conditions should be met for best results.

Things should be smooth sailing from here, but if you belong to the less-than-1% of users where the deploy.exe wizard does not complete successfully, read on.

Manual step 1 — install via STSADM:

If you are about to install one of our add-ons, we have to assume you're already at least remotely familiar with the STSADM tool that ships out-of-box with every SharePoint installation. No need to be a command-line ninja, you'll just need one command:

  • STSADM -o addsolution -file c:\fantasypath\<WspFileName>.wsp

Replace c:\fantasypath with the full directory path of the extracted setup package, which will contain between 2 and 4 WSP files. For <WspFileName>.wsp, substitute the WSP file appropriate for your environment:

Product SPF 2010 SPS 2010 WSS 3.0 MOSS 2007 roxority_ExportZen_… …xiv.wsp …xiv.wsp …xii.wsp …xii.wsp roxority_FilterZen_… …xiv.wsp …xiv.wsp …xii_wss.wsp …xii.wsp roxority_PeopleZen_…   …xiv_wss.wsp …xiv.wsp …xii_wss.wsp …xii.wsp roxority_PrintZen_… …xiv.wsp …xiv.wsp …xii.wsp …xii.wsp roxority_UploadZen_…   …xiv_wss.wsp …xiv.wsp …xii.wsp …xii.wsp

Manual step 2 — deploy via Central Administration:

In SharePoint 2007 (WSS 3.0 or MOSS 2007), go to Central Administration / Operations / Solution Management — in SharePoint 2010, go to Central Administration / System Settings / Farm Management > Manage Farm Solutions.

Next, select the WSP file you just installed in step 1 with STSADM. Click Deploy Solution and follow the on-screen instructions. Do this repeatedly UNTIL you have fully deployed the WSP to:

  • all your content Web Applications applicable for this WSP
  • the Central Administration Web Application (MANDATORY!)
  • all Shared Service Provider (SSP) and Shared Resource Provider (SRP) Web Applications (MANDATORY!)

Manual step 3 — enabling, and then IISRESET:

Using farm-administrative credentials (best to follow the recommendations from the beginning of this article regarding deploy.exe), open any one page linked under the <Product>Zen Studio section on the Central Administration / Site Settings page. This should "enable" the software for full use in this SharePoint server farm, AND notify you about the success of this "enabling" operation too.

The software will not work unless and until this "enabling" procedure has been completed (just opening any <Product>Zen Studio page under Central Administration as per above should do this) and all web front-end servers in the SharePoint server farm have been IISRESET afterwards.

Manual step 4 — activate Site Collection Features:

In the root Web Site of your content Site Collection, go to the Site Settings page. In the Site Collection Administration section, click Site Collection Features (NOT Site Features!) and on the next page, activate the Site Collection Feature(s) you need.

Uninstalling our SharePoint WSP Solution Packages

Just like installation, your best choice for uninstallation is our deploy.exe wizard that is part of the downloaded roxority_<Product>Zen.zip setup package. But if you need to uninstall the solution package manually:

  • first perform manual step 4 above, but instead of activating the Site Collection Features, deactivate them.
  • then perform manual step 2 above, but instead of choosing Deploy Solution, repeatedly Retract Solution until it is no longer deploy to any Web Application.
  • then perform manual step 2 above, but instead of choosing Deploy Solution, click Remove Solution.
  • IISRESET all web front-end servers in the SharePoint server farm

 

April 06 2011

09:40

SharePoint "Unknown Error": How to Show All the Details

Every couple of months, we receive a support request that goes something like this: "when I attempt to do X, SharePoint says Unknown Error". Of course there is no way we can fix an "unknown error". Yet these errors are not unknown, by default SharePoint simply does not show their inner details — presumably the user experience designers at Microsoft presumed that a real error message is too scary for SharePoint end users, but an "unknown error" is somehow so much more reassuring... or maybe there really are too many 3rd-party developers who as a matter of habit always include sensitive passwords in their error messages.

Anyway, if you do encounter an Unknown Error (this has become spectacularly rare fortunately as our software has grown ever more stable over the last 2 years), then we need you to turn on Detailed Error Messages in your SharePoint environment. This is easy to do and absolutely non-dangerous, plus typically you will be reporting your issue from your QA, test or dev server rather than production. Here is what we need you to do.

February 20 2011

09:53

PeopleZen Data Field Templates: one new feature, many new possibilities

Lately we received a number of feature requests that could all be addressed by a single feature we've been meaning to add for quite some time, so we finally implemented it for the 1.9 release of PeopleZen: Customizable Data Field Templates.

Simply put, this gives you an easy tool that lets you fully redefine how PeopleZen displays or transforms certain user information, which is typically returned in rather raw form by your Data Source and may not be ready for human consumption as is.

PeopleZen has since its inception for many a common User Profile Property adopted "the most meaningful or usable way to display it", based on hard-coded heuristics driven initially by educated guesses and then increasingly by user feedback:

  • multi-valued properties are displayed comma-separated (but this is configurable)
  • email addresses are typically displayed as hyperlinks
  • date/time values are slightly re-formatted
  • all other information is displayed as plain text

But even if PeopleZen gets 90% of your needs right, out of the box, sometimes your users require more sophistication unique enough to your organization that we cannot simply hard-code it into the tool for everyone. Instead, with the new Custom Data Field Templates feature you can easily define your custom property display logic yourself — without having to struggle with messy XSLT.

Because this feature is so flexible, we will walk you through three real-world scenario of our users (anonymized) and how this new feature lets them implement their requirements:

Scenario 1: a better Manager field

Real-world user request:

I'm showing Manager as a column in my newest iteration. I'd like to display that as a clickable link to the manager's profile page (just like the main link in the far left column). Can I do that and at the same time show the person name rather than account name?

So by default the Manager user profile property stores just the account name / domain login name (ie. in the yourdomain\user123 pattern). Instead, this PeopleZen user wants to:

  1. show the real name (in a Farm User Profiles Data Source, this would be the PreferredName user profile property)
  2. and link it to the manager's profile page

Here are the steps to achieve this:

  • go to Site Settings / PeopleZen Studio / Data Field Templates and add a new Data Field Template. If you do not have any yet, simply use the form readily shown to add one:
    • Name: ShowManager
    • Content mode: HTML source code
    • Template content: <a href="{UserProfiles_PropertyValue;#AccountName;#[Manager];#rox___pu}">{UserProfiles_PropertyValue;#AccountName;#[Manager];#PreferredName}</a>
  • after saving this, replace your previous, unsatisfactory Manager field (in the User Profile Properties section of your PeopleZen Web Part's settings tool pane, and/or in the Default Data Fields setting on the Data Fields tab of your Data Source under Site Settings / PeopleZen Studio / Data Sources) with the following line:
    • {ShowManager}:Manager

The part after the colon is simply the display name of your field as shown to end users. The part before the colon, where you would typically specify a Data Source field, now instead references your own Data Field Template which you called ShowManager.

Inside this template, we used a similar (but a tad more complex) {placeholder syntax} to:

  • obtain both the PreferredName of the manager for the display text inside the <a> hyperlink
  • obtain for the <a href> attribute the profile page URL for which the special built-in field name rox___pu is used (which points back to the Link URL data field/s setting on the Data Source's Data Fields tab)

Inside your template you could use the same {placeholder syntax} to "call" any of your other Data Field Templates, if you have more than one. In fact this is precisely what is happening here -- a call to "another template" -- only you have never defined a template named UserProfiles_PropertyValue before, instead it is already built into PeopleZen and is simply a "predefined template" performing some very specific logic. In the above examples, when invoking the UserProfiles_PropertyValue template, it requires and is given three values:

  1. the User Profile Property to match with the next (2nd) given value. That property is AccountName for Farm User Profiles Data Sources.
  2. the value to obtain the User Profile to use for the next (3rd) given value. We pass [Manager] so now the template knows: pick the user profile whose AccountName is the Manager field of the current user profile.
  3. the property value to obtain from the fetched user profile. In this case, we want to show the PreferredName inside the link and for its URL, the rox___pu user profile page link.

All values given to a template are separated from each other and from the template name with SharePoint's ubiquitous ;# separator. So this is how you end up with an initially scary-looking, but ultimately very simple definition such as {UserProfiles_PropertyValue;#AccountName;#[Manager];#PreferredName}...

Scenario 2: display a field value but linked to a custom-composed dynamic URL

The next scenario is pretty similar in kind:

We need a special formatting for a certain Data Field in the rendered PeopleZen Web Part: <a href="http://roxority.com/ats/pages.aspx?param2=CurrentlyLoggedOnUser">datafieldValue</a> — is it possible to render a Data Field as a hyperlink exactly like in that example? All values in the column should have that rendering format. The currently logged-on user is also needed!

The steps are almost identical to scenario #1 above but let's walk through them again:

  • go to Site Settings / PeopleZen Studio / Data Field Templates and add a new Data Field Template. If you do not have any yet, simply use the form readily shown to add one:
  • after saving this, add your custom linked field to your user profile lists (via the User Profile Properties section of your PeopleZen Web Part's settings tool pane, and/or in the Default Data Fields setting on the Data Fields tab of your Data Source under Site Settings / PeopleZen Studio / Data Sources) with the following line:
    • {CustomLink}:Field Title

The part after the colon is simply the display name of your field as shown to end users. The part before the colon, where you would typically specify a Data Source field, now instead references your own Data Field Template which you called CustomLink.

Inside this template, we used a similar {placeholder syntax} to obtain the acount name of the current calling SharePoint user via the special, built-in "template" {UserProfiles_CurrentUser}. Note that the use of [Department] is just an example, this user probably wanted to show another User Profile Property but didn't tell us which. So replace [Department] with another know User Profile Property as required.

Scenario 3: Date/Time conversions

Real-world user request:

Our date of birth and hire date are entered into AD as Long Integers (ie. 122918688000000000 for 7/6/1990). Is there a way in PeopleZen to convert these to "human readable" dates?

Here you do not even really need to define your own custom Data Field Template. Simply replace your

  • SPS-Birthday:Birthday (or SPS-HireDate:Hire Date etc.)

or similar line (via the User Profile Properties section of your PeopleZen Web Part's settings tool pane, and/or in the Default Data Fields setting on the Data Fields tab of your Data Source under Site Settings / PeopleZen Studio / Data Sources) with any one of the following:

  • {DateTime_FromBinary;#[SPS-Birthday]}:Birthday
  • {DateTime_FromFileTime;#[SPS-Birthday]}:Birthday
  • {DateTime_FromFileTimeUtc;#[SPS-Birthday]}:Birthday
  • {DateTime_FromTicks;#[SPS-Birthday]}:Birthday

These are simply different conversion functions for long integer representations of date/time values. Try them all if you're not sure which long format your Data Source's date/time values are in fact using.

October 09 2010

20:47

Sync User Profiles' Picture URL with Active Directory images (thumbnailPhoto / jpegPhoto)

As you know, the SharePoint 2010 User Profile synchronization features sync up all your people data as stored in Active Directory (or other LDAP service) — except your profile pictures, if your AD uses the jpegPhoto or thumbnailPhoto properties for those.

The main reason for this is quite simply that the PictureURL property is a URL field (storing only the HTTP address pointing to a picture file), whereas AD stores the entire image itself as a "binary large object" (blob). So any synchronization will involve downloading the pictures stored in AD, putting them somewhere HTTP-accessible, and then setting the PictureURL user profile property to the address of this copied image file.

We wanted a sync-all, batch solution — you launch it and it just runs — so we wrote a free tool to help you with this, greatly assisted (thanks again, Robert! :) by a User Profiles Web Part user who had a vested interest in such a tool.

We packaged this up with PeopleZen but you won't even need a license to keep using this free sync tool indefinitely. If you need the source code for more sophisticated customizations, simply contact us and we'll send it to you.

September 25 2010

16:33

Print-Friendly SharePoint Calendar / List Views & User Profiles Web Parts

We recently launched PrintZen, which lets you offer printer-friendly Views of SharePoint List, Calendar and other Web Parts. This article shows you how to integrate PrintZen with PeopleZen to offer print views for your User Profile Web Parts. Once you have both solution packages installed in your SharePoint environment — it's really easy.

August 06 2010

07:00

July 22 2010

14:42

April 23 2010

16:15

Sprechen Sie Deutsch? We certainly do! (French, too.)

We're all about simplification and making things easier, particularly all things SharePoint. Now we made it even easier for all German speaker — ja, auch Sie! — to explore our software: we just launched our first non-English site at ROXORITY.de.

January 29 2010

06:55

It's all Give-and-Take: introducing our free Lite editions

Effective today, we're changing our licensing model from Commercial-only to a Free-and-Commercial hybrid, and I'm very happy and excited to announce this.

We streamlined our previous three commercial editions (Standard, Professional and Enterprise) into two (Basic and Ultimate) and added a freeware edition called Lite. Starting today, each of our current and future SharePoint add-ons, Web Parts, tools and solutions will always be also offered in an unlimited freeware Lite edition, no strings attached...

January 10 2010

18:16

Introduction to PeopleZen CSS Customizations

In this article, we give you an often-requested PeopleZen visual layout customization: a "business cards"-like design, and it's ready-to-add to your Web Part pages, no custom coding required.

December 27 2009

16:04

An 'Upcoming Birthdays' Web Part in 10 minutes

Who doesn't love birthday calendars? So let's add one to your team site! Out of the box, SharePoint does not offer much help with that assignment. What are your options?

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