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Upgrading SP 2010 solutions to SP 2013 with resources in _layouts

Posted by Patrick Boom on July 24, 2013

As SharePoint 2013 is making it way to the developers, solutions get upgraded to SharePoint 2013.

One of the things people encountered is issues with javascripts and images when upgrading their solutions.
Thanks to Keith Tuomi, I will post the source of the problems here.

SharePoint 2013 offers the ability to be compatible with SharePoint 2010. In short, this means that a lot of features are ‘double’, one of which is the special reference in IIS to the _layouts folder.

In SharePoint 2013, the reference to the 15 hive is “_layouts/15” and NOT “_layouts”. Instead, “_layouts” points to the 14 hive.

In short, if you have resources and code relying on server side code and mappings, make sure you update the references to these files to point to the correct virtual directory!

Thanks to Keith for this information.


Posted in SharePoint 2010, SharePoint 2013 | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Co-writers wanted

Posted by Patrick Boom on July 23, 2013

Keeping a blog requires quite some time to keep up with the trends and technologies. Someone suggested in the past to co-write on my blog.

Consider this as an open sollicitation ūüėȬ† Obviously, knowledge about SharePoint 2010/2013 is required, but not all articles have to be purely technical. I am also looking to expand the articles to more IT pro related posts, as well as trending technologies like Azure and Windows 8.1 applications in combination with SharePoint.

If you think you have info to share that is worth reading and you would like to participate on this blog by writing articles, please drop me an email with your credentials, ideas and what you think you can contribute.

Obviously, your name will be published as an author on this site, as well as your own profile page.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

Workflow activity: Set Managed Metadata column

Posted by Patrick Boom on July 23, 2013

Sometimes you wonder why certain things are not possible or why Microsoft did not included that in their shipping of the product. On the other hand, it makes sure we also have a job to do ūüėČ
One of those things is the fact that the out-of-the-box version of SharePoint 2010 seems to miss certain workflow actions that seem logical. This blog post covers one of those, the in-ability to set a Managed Metadata column.

In my current project, we encountered this behaviour when trying to create workflows that modify mms columns. Out of the box, the only way available is to use either the Update List Item or Set Field actions.
In both cases however, you need to provide the exact string for the MMS value, in the form of <id>;<value>, i.e. 34;My Value. Not ideal as this could be different here and there and could change in the future. More importantly though, it does not work in all cases. It seems to work fine when no value was set for the column yet, but as soon as it is, you are not able to modify it from the workflow.

So I decided to develop a small custom action to overcome this problem and enable us to update MMS columns, whatever their current value is. In this post, I will not go over the entire setup of developing a custom action. Please review my other post on email activities for more info on that. Instead, I will only cover the code needed specifically for this action.

Actions file

     <Action Name=Set Managed Metadata Column



Category=List Actions>
      <RuleDesigner Sentence=Update %1 with %2 from %3 and %4>
        <FieldBind Field=ColumnName Text=this column DesignerType=TextArea Id=1/>
        <FieldBind Field=TermName Text=this term DesignerType=TextArea Id=2/>
        <FieldBind Field=TermSetName Text=this termset DesignerType=TextArea Id=3/>
        <FieldBind Field=GroupName Text=this group DesignerType=TextArea Id=4/>
        <Parameter Name=__Context Type=Microsoft.SharePoint.WorkflowActions.WorkflowContext Direction=In />
        <Parameter Name=__ListId Type=System.String, mscorlib Direction=In />
        <Parameter Name=__ListItem Type=System.Int32, mscorlib Direction=In />
        <Parameter Name=__ActivationProperties Type=Microsoft.SharePoint.Workflow.SPWorkflowActivationProperties, Microsoft.SharePoint Direction=Out />
        <Paramater Name=ColumnName Type=System.String, mscorlib Direction=In/>
        <Paramater Name=TermName Type=System.String, mscorlib Direction=In/>
        <Paramater Name=TermSetName Type=System.String, mscorlib Direction=In/>
        <Paramater Name=GroupName Type=System.String, mscorlib Direction=In/>

As you can see above, the action defines an action with 4 parameters, the name of the MMS column, the name of the term, the name of the termset and finally the name of the group. The other 4 parameters are default parameters that allow you to get the context of the workflow.

Now let us move on to the code of the action.

       #region [ Custom Workflow Properties ]

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† public static DependencyProperty ColumnNameProperty = DependencyProperty.Register(“ColumnName”, typeof(string), typeof(SetMMSColumn));
        public string ColumnName
                return ((string)(base.GetValue(ColumnNameProperty)));
                base.SetValue(ColumnNameProperty, value);

public static DependencyProperty TermNameProperty = DependencyProperty.Register(“TermName”, typeof(string), typeof(SetMMSColumn));
       public string TermName
                return ((string)(base.GetValue(TermNameProperty)));
                base.SetValue(TermNameProperty, value);

public static DependencyProperty TermSetNameProperty = DependencyProperty.Register(“TermSetName”, typeof(string), typeof(SetMMSColumn));
       public string TermSetName
                return ((string)(base.GetValue(TermSetNameProperty)));
                base.SetValue(TermSetNameProperty, value);

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† public static DependencyProperty GroupNameProperty = DependencyProperty.Register(“GroupName”, typeof(string), typeof(SetMMSColumn));
        public string GroupName
                return ((string)(base.GetValue(GroupNameProperty)));
                base.SetValue(GroupNameProperty, value);

[ Custom Workflow Properties ]

        protected override ActivityExecutionStatus Execute(ActivityExecutionContext executionContext)
            using (var web = __Context.Web)
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Common.AddCommentWorkflowHistory(“Start trying to set MMS column”, executionContext, WorkflowInstanceId);
                    // get column to update
                    SPList list = web.Lists.GetList(new Guid(__ListId), true);
                   SPListItem item = list.GetItemById(__ListItem);
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Common.AddCommentWorkflowHistory(“Obtained list and item references”, executionContext, WorkflowInstanceId);
                   // get MMS column
                   TaxonomyField field = (TaxonomyField)list.Fields[ColumnName];
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Common.AddCommentWorkflowHistory(“Obtained list, item and column references”, executionContext, WorkflowInstanceId);
                   //Get the Guid for the Term Store
                   Guid termStoreID = field.SspId;
                   TaxonomySession session = new TaxonomySession(web.Site);
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Common.AddCommentWorkflowHistory(“Taxonomy session created”, executionContext, WorkflowInstanceId);
                   // Get group, termset and term
                   TermStore store = session.TermStores[termStoreID];
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Common.AddCommentWorkflowHistory(“TermStore reference created”, executionContext, WorkflowInstanceId);
                   // Get Group, Set abd Term
                   Group group = store.Groups[GroupName];
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Common.AddCommentWorkflowHistory(“Found group”, executionContext, WorkflowInstanceId);
                   TermSet set = group.TermSets[TermSetName];
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Common.AddCommentWorkflowHistory(“Found TermSet”, executionContext, WorkflowInstanceId);
                   Term term = set.Terms[TermName];
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Common.AddCommentWorkflowHistory(“Found Term”, executionContext, WorkflowInstanceId);
                   // Set value
                   field.SetFieldValue(item, term);
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Common.AddCommentWorkflowHistory(“Updated column”, executionContext, WorkflowInstanceId);
               catch (Exception ex)
                   // Log entry to Workflow History Log
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Common.WriteFailToHistoryLog(web, WorkflowInstanceId, string.Format(CultureInfo.InvariantCulture, “Failed to set MMS column. Error message: {0}”, ex.Message));
                   // Cleanup РDispose of these private properties before exiting
                  if (__ActivationProperties != null)
                  if (__Context != null)
           return ActivityExecutionStatus.Closed;

Now the real meat to the bone is in the ActivityExecutionStatus method that will be called by our workflow on start. We will first obtain references to the list and current item before proceeding. Once done, we get the MMS column from the item and cast it to a TaxonomyField. We can then obtain the configured TermStore for that column through the field reference.

We then setup a TaxonomySession and obtain a reference to the TermStore. From that point on, easy to get the Group, TermSet and Term required for the update. We finally update the item using the SetFieldValue method from the TaxonomyField.

This simple action can be extended by allowing parameters from the start of the action to allow the end-user to enter the appropriate term, set and group on start of the workflow. That is however beyond the scope of this blog.

Couple of things you should be aware of.

  1. When no TermStores are returned by the session object, please ensure that your MMS service proxy is added to the default proxy group using the following PowerShell command:

    Set-SPMetadataServiceApplicationProxy¬†-Identity¬†“<your MMS name>”¬†‚ÄďDefaultProxyGroup

  2. If your activity does not show up in SharePoint designer, please check if you created the appropriate language folder in your project for the ACTIONS file. Misplacing this file will cause the activity not to show up.
  3. The session object is not very consistent. I found it more reliable to use the term store ID from the taxonomy field to request the TermStore from the session object.
  4. When deployed, run the workflow a couple of times. It takes a while for the connections to be setup and running the workflow directly after deployment might cause an exception in finding the TermStore.
  5. I suspect the reason why we cannot update a MMS column from a workflow using the OOB actions is because the link to the TermStore fails in doing the update. I have not reveived the OOB code using Reflector or something, but it could explain why it is not posisble.

Hope this fills a gap in your requirements!

Update: I have updated the code of the email activity to include this activity too. Download the sample solution here!

Posted in SharePoint 2010 | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

SharePoint Conference 2012 Las Vegas: Thoughts and Experiences

Posted by Patrick Boom on November 16, 2012

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. A common used phrase around here to reflect the joy and possibilities of this city. This years SharePoint Conference was held at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.

This years conference also marked the beginning of a new era, as Microsoft launched the new version of SharePoint: SharePoint 2013! In 4 days time, Microsoft brought around 10.000 developers, enthousiast, IT Pros and Business Decision makers up to speed on the road ahead, the new features and the direction they are taking with their products. And believe me, things are going to change!

Microsoft bets heavily on their cloud offerings, with multiple clients and devices, not necessarily on premise or within their suite of products. In this article, I would like to highlight some of the key takeaways I have noticed during this years conference.

Cloud, cloud, cloud

Did I already said cloud? So the main message here is that Microsoft is dedicated one hundred percent to the cloud and their Office 365 offerings. No longer will Office 365 be trailing on the on-premise, full server product. Instead, all features will be implemented online first, in a 90 days update cycle, and be offered to the server versions in later updates. The Windows Azure platform is maturing, although obvisously there are still limitations to what you can do opposed to the on-premise freedom. This freedom however will less outweigh the costs more and more.


Microsoft acquisition of Fast Server has lead¬†to the full integration of the product in 2013. No longer will SharePoint 2013 offer two search engines, but just one. Microsoft has worked the capabilities of the product to be flexible, yet easy to use. Where Search was primarily used for serving search results to the end users, Search will be more and more used for targeted publishing and content disclosure. Search driven applications will find their way to the desktop (Windows 8), the tablet (Microsoft Surface) and phones (Windows Phone 8). Apps are the keyword here and will release a new way of interacting with SharePoint, with rich UI’s of which the end users is unaware of SharePoint. Really cool stuff. Daniel Kogan showed a very interesting session on what you can do with search.


Yeah, so are we getting tired of Social already. Well, social features are taken to the next level with SP 2013. The My Site concept will be replaced with SkyDrive Pro, where people will find their newsfeed on their home site. This newsfeed will surface documents they are following, people, people that follow them, discussions, @mentions and the works. With Yammer tob e fully integrated, Social will become a more vital part of SharePoint than ever before. Key thing here is that anything can be tracked. People, Sites, Documents, Discussion, Tags, @Mentions and so on. And as each of those entitites can have other entities linked, endless possibilities arise when working with Social objects. Imagine what we could do with Apps running on both Windows 8, Windows 8 RT (Surface) and the Phones.

Embracing open standards

Yes, Microsoft has embraced open standards, to the full! This means that they are fully targeting on HTLM5, JavaScript and for example REST services. Any major browser on any platform is now supported to interact with SharePoint, removing the boundaries within companies and end-users on how to consume the content. Output from SP in term of HTML has again undergone a serious overhaul, removing all non-neccessary HTML and complex structures. No ActiveX, but JavaScript. The standard api webservices are deemed depricated in this version and replaced with REST services, enabling communication and interaction across multiple platforms.


What? Yeah, copy that. Microsoft has introduced a new security mechanism based on the OAuth¬†protocol to leverage interfarm¬†and inter product communication. This was neccessary¬†to fully integrate products like Exchange, Lync¬†and SQL Server. The OAuth¬†principles are based on the Kerberos priciples, with tokes and claims. They use a Trust Broker to mediate between two products (like for example SP and Exchange) and serve secure communication. It will be a challenge for developers to fully grasp this concept and make more flexible architectures between LoB’s and SharePoint.


Following the trend, SharePoint now also embraces the concept of Apps. In fact, anything within SharePoint, whether it is a document library, list or site, is now considered an App. It bridges the gap between consumers and SharePoint on how to work and interact with SharePoint. Apps can be published and shared through the Office Store and SharePoint Store, which can also contain apps from thrid parties, like Bamboo for example. A whole variety of apps can be created through Visual Studio 2012, written in various languages, to extend and enhace the out of the box features.

Customizing the look and feel

SharePoint 2013 features a new Themes engine that can seriously change the way your SharePoint site looks and feels. Easier than ever before, the clean up of HTML and overhaul of the SharePoint style sheets will make it far more easier to created branded sites in SharePoint. The CSS classes have been renamed to more semantical¬†names like BodyText, BodyTitle¬†and so on, so that developers understand which part of the UI they are customizing. The number of CSS files have been reduced and are easier to navigate. New files like spcolor¬†and spfonts¬†allow for easier seggregation¬†between master pages and css files and will speed up your modification of your site. SharePoint 2013 also comes out of the box with a variety of Themes that also includes backgrounds, logo’s and even allow pictures to assume the colors of the theme. Really cool!

Well, I could go on for ages on what has changed in SharePoint 2013, as well as covering all the new features. In fact, so much has changed in 2013, that i twill require quite some investments from the community to get up to speed and discover the possibilities of what SharePoint 2013 offers. Exiting times, where I see the full ecosystem and Microsoft strategic decisions coming together. During the conference, I picked up a MS Surface tablet and really, once you have experienced that, you notice how limited and iPad was. A marvelous device, I love it.

So go out and experience SharePoint 2013. Be insipred!

Posted in SharePoint 2013 | Tagged: , , , | 10 Comments »

Windows Surface Tablet ‚Äď Windows 8 rules

Posted by Patrick Boom on June 19, 2012

Well, it has been a long time since I wrote a blog post. Various reasons, but most of all just work. We work a lot ūüėČ

That said, exciting times coming up with Wave 15 just around the corner. But MS announced something else today, the new Windows Surface Tablet!

Sure, many will say, too little, too late, too much haging between two worlds, but I must say, after some real life demonstrations on comparable devices (Samsungs primarily) I am convinced.

It now truly becomes a full replacement for the laptop that combines all the freedom, but also offers the easy of use of Tablets these days.
With common stuff like an App Store (but then better with area’s you can make specific for your company), thin layout, capabilities to connect stuff like mouse, monitor, usb support, good Wifi, integration in office networks, side loading, pen support, good graphics, lightweight, your own software, touch or type keyboard attached, stand to avoid a docking station and obviously touch support, it almost sounds to good to be true.

Several colleagues have already replaced their laptop with a Samsung based Win 8 device and never want to go back. And these guys run Visual Studio on their tablet!

So view this announcement video and be impressed! Give me one when it is out!

Posted in SharePoint 2010 | 20 Comments »

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