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Experience Sitecore! | Martin Miles on Sitecore

Experience Sitecore!

Martin Miles on Sitecore

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Field level deny permissions in Helix based on Habitat and how that affects your workflows?

If you decide to use Habitat as a bootstrap platform for your Helix solution, while setting up workflows for your solution, you may come across a situation described below. By this blog post I will try to explain what happens, why is it so, and how to make things work.

Symptoms: you are about to set up workflows for the solution and have created a role for the content editors. Then you give read / write permissions for that role to the site content (likely to be /Home and /Global nodes under your site definition item, recursively). When logging as a user having Content Editor role mention above, you are able to Lock and Edit and later to Check-In an item, but the fields for that item are disabled. Weird. But doing the same on other items outside your website works well (for instance - Home item coming with Sitecore initial installation). Why is it so?


There are few of StackOverflow questions trying to sort this out: one and two. I have left few comments there helping other to solve the situation.


Explanation: Habitat uses an "intersection" of feature-or-foundation-level permissions (also knows as Functional roles) with project-level permissions (also knows as organisational rights). Most of the Habitat modules have such a functional role coming as a part of the module, is in the following format: modules\Feature XXX Admin or modules\Foundation XXX Admin. 

What habitat does - it denies write access for the inheritance for all the fields by default and then explicitly allows writing permission for that particular Functional Role within a module. That is briefly explained in the official Helix documentation but two images below would be more descriptive: 


Solution: two potential ways of sorting this out. The first option is when you decide to keep Functional roles as a part of your solution. In that case, you need to make sure your Content Editor roles also inherits from these Functional roles (or from an umbrella role inheriting a combination of Functional roles). 

Another way will be if you decide to drop these Functional roles. In that case, you'll need to remove them from serialization config and source control, and also perform the following for each field affected:

1. Navigate to that field in Sitecore, for example: /sitecore/templates/Feature/Navigation/_Navigable/Navigation/ShowInNavigation

2. Click Security tab, then Assign. You'll see at least two roles available - Everyone and a Functional role for that module.

3. Selecting Everyone, remove Inheritance denial for both Item and Descendants by clicking both red crosses, then save (OK).

4. Repeat that for each field of each template for each of the Feature / Foundation layers.

Then users from Content Editors role will be able to edit all the fields.

Hope this helps!

Some useful batch and PowerShell snippents helping Sitecore automationf

From time to time working with Sitecore I have to rely on automation (especially when working with CI / CD) so just decided to store some snippets for myself that use occasionally. This list will update with time.

  1. Run MsBuild from a console
  2. Config transform
  3. Test SQL connectivity from PowerShell
  4. Archive a folder and place it into a specific location using PowerShell only
  5. Unzip a folder from an archive using PowerShell only
  6. Install a NuGet package using CLI
  7. Run xUnit tests
  8. Push a NuGet package into a repository on example of Ocopus with API secret
  9. Upload a file to FTP using WebClient via PowerShell
  10. Transform of webconfig setting Sitecore 9 "role" and "localenv" variables
  11. Deserialize Unicorn from a PowerShell
  12. Create new IIS hostname winding for existing website

1. Run MsBuild from a console
Building solution outside of Visual Studio or alternative IDE requires a manual call of MsBuild. In the very simple call you need to pass just two parameters - a solution itself and target, that can be Clean, Build etc.:
"c:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2017\Enterprise\MSBuild\15.0\Bin\MSBuild.exe" c:\Projects\Platform\Platform.sln  /t:Build

2. Config transform
Calling config transform described in more details by this link, so there is just a snippet below: 
"C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2017\Enterprise\MSBuild\15.0\Bin\amd64\MSBuild.exe" 
/nologo /maxcpucount 
/nodeReuse:False 
/property:Configuration=Debug 
/property:Platform="Any CPU" 
/property:WebConfigToTransform=C:\inetpub\wwwroot\Platform.dev.local\ 
/property:TransformFile=C:\Projects\Platform\src\Project\YourWebsite\code\web.config.xdt 
/property:FileToTransform=web.config 
/target:ApplyTransform 
/toolsversion:15.0 
/verbosity:minimal 
C:\Projects\Platform\scripts\applytransform.targets

3. Test SQL connectivity from PowerShell
The easiest way to test connectivity between a custom machine running PowerShell and the desired SQL Server instance:
Invoke-Sqlcmd -ServerInstance 'hostname-and-instance-and-optionally-port' `
                      -Username 'sa' `
                      -Password 'Pa55W0rd!' `
                      -Query 'SELECT GETDATE() AS TimeOfQuery'

4. Archive a folder a place it into a specific location using PowerShell only
When you need to archive a folder you need to rely on an external tool such as zip, which brings another dependency into your pipeline. But that is not a case anymore when using PowerShell as it has entire power of .NET and that in turn has zip support within the namespaceSystem.Net.Compression. So why not to rely on PowerShell and .NET to do the entire job?
IF EXIST output.zip DEL /F output.zip
powershell.exe -nologo -noprofile -command "& { Add-Type -A 'System.IO.Compression.FileSystem'; [IO.Compression.ZipFile]::CreateFromDirectory('c:\Projects\Platform\build\output\', 'output.zip'); }"

5. Unzip a folder from an archive using PowerShell only
The reverse procedure of unzipping an archive into a folder can also be performed with .NET and PowerShell in the same manner:
powershell.exe -nologo -noprofile -command "& { Add-Type -A 'System.IO.Compression.FileSystem'; [IO.Compression.ZipFile]::ExtractToDirectory('c:\Projects\SomeArchive.zip', 'c:\inetpub\wwwroot\TargetFolder'); }"

6. Install a NuGet package using CLI
When you need to use NuGet from a console, you will be likely using NuGet CL. An example below shows installing a NuGet package into a folder passed as a parameter. Please keep in mind that package repositories should be mentioned in the accompanying configuration for nuget.exe:
nuget install xunit.runner.console -OutputDirectory c:\Projects\!\NuGet\

7 Run xUnit tests
After installing xUnit running unit tests from a console, the rest is easy as than simply passing a library containing tests as a parameter:
c:\Projects\!\NuGet\xunit.runner.console.2.3.1\tools\net452\xunit.console.exe c:\Projects\Platform\src\Foundation\Dictionary\tests\bin\Debug\Sitecore.Foundation.Dictionary.Tests.dll

8. Push a NuGet package into a repository on an example of Octopus with API secret key
When you create a versioned package and may want to push that into NuGet repository, you will rely on nuget push command. A snippet shown below demonstrates that on the example of Octopus Deploy, passing it API key. A code below use to substitute current site context, pretty easy:
NuGet.exe push Platform.68.0.0.nupkg -ApiKey API-UZYKODSIIRJZQF25QP2T7WFWG -Source http://winbuildserver.local:8080/nuget/packages

9. Upload a file to FTP using WebClient via PowerShell
One more trick to avoid using system dependencies by calling .NET commands via PowerShell. This time it is for sending a file over FTP to the remote server. Quite a disadvantage is storing the details open-text, including a password. That should be parametrised, of course:
$File = "c:\Projects\archive.zip"
$ftp = "ftp://hostname-and-port\username:Pa55w0rd@domain/path/more-folder/archive.zip"

"ftp url: $ftp"

$webclient = New-Object System.Net.WebClient
#$uri = New-Object System.Uri($ftp)

$uri = [uri]::EscapeUriString($ftp)

"Uploading $File..."

$webclient.UploadFile($uri, $File)

10. Transform of web.config settings for "role" and "localenv" variables
In Sitecore 9, one can set up an instance into a specific role that also takes predefined configurations. Further ahead, you may keep your numerous custom configurations next to each other targeting different 'roles' - that avoids clumsy config pathing and keeps settings functionally together in order to simplify maintenance. There is also localenv setting that helps you to distinguish various groups of servers from the same role, but residing in the different environments. 
I have a separate blog post dedicated to this task.

11. Deserialize Unicorn from a PowerShell
If you are using Unicorn in a Continuous Delivery pipeline, you need to make unicorn deserialise (sync) items into Sitecore from a console. Luckily, Unicorn has support for doing that by calling sync.ps1 that uses MicroCHAP.dll and supporting script Unicorn.psm1, passing Unicorn URL and a secret key as a parameter. That secret key can be configured at Unicorn.SharedSecret.config. Make sure there is unrestricted execution policy. Usage is pretty easy: 
sync.ps1 -secret 749CABBC85EAD20CE55E2C6066F1BE375D2115696C8A8B24DB6ED1FD60613086 -url http://platform.dev.local/unicorn.aspx

12. Create new IIS hostname winding for existing website
When installing Sitecore with SIF, it makes sense also to add all your additional custom domain names bindings into IIS website, that has been just created by SIF, ideally should be done for both HTTP on port 80 and HTTPS on 443. The last one also requires creating a self-signed certificate for given hostname. So you may create a step having this command at the very end of installation PowerShell script:
	$Hostname = "YourSiteCustomHostname.dev.local" 
	$SiteNameHere = "$SolutionPrefix.$SitePostFix" # "Platform.dev.local"
	
        write-host "Adding IIS Hostname Binding for Careers website (HTTP and HTTPS)"
        write-host "Site name: $SiteNameHere"
        write-host "Hostname: $Hostname"

	$cert=(Get-ChildItem cert:\LocalMachine\My | where-object { $_.Subject -match "CN=$Hostname" } | Select-Object -First 1) 
	if ($cert  -eq $null) { 
		$cert = New-SelfSignedCertificate -DnsName $Hostname -CertStoreLocation "Cert:\LocalMachine\My" 
	} 
	$binding = (Get-WebBinding -Name $SiteNameHere | where-object {$_.protocol -eq "https"})
	if($binding -ne $null) {
		try{
	     	Remove-WebBinding -Name $SiteNameHere -Port 80 -Protocol "http" -HostHeader $Hostname
	     	Remove-WebBinding -Name $SiteNameHere -Port 443 -Protocol "https" -HostHeader $Hostname
		}
		catch{
		     	write-host "$SiteNameHere yet does not have a binding for $Hostname"
		}
	} 
	
	New-WebBinding -Name "$SolutionPrefix.$SitePostFix" -IPAddress "*" -Port 80 -HostHeader careers.dev.local
	
	New-WebBinding -Name $SiteNameHere -Port 443 -Protocol https -HostHeader $Hostname 
	(Get-WebBinding -Name $SiteNameHere -Port 443 -Protocol "https" -HostHeader $Hostname).AddSslCertificate($cert.Thumbprint, "my")

Configuring role and localenv variables in Sitecore 9 - PowerShell way

In Sitecore 9, one can set up an instance into a specific 'role' that also takes predefined configurations. Further ahead, you may keep your numerous custom configurations next to each other targeting different 'roles' - that avoids clumsy config pathing and keeps settings functionally together in order to simplify maintenance. There is also 'localenv' setting that helps you to distinguish various groups of servers from the same role, but residing in the different environments. Not a nice way of changing role and adding environment by simply replacing a string occurrence:
(Get-Content Web.config).replace('    <add key="role:define" value="Standalone" />', '<add key="role:define" value="ContentManagement" /><add key="localenv:define" value="UAT" />') | Set-Content Web.config

Just a string replacement? Errrghh.... Not a nice solution! Let's make it better, by relying on XML namespace (thanks, Neil):
#$webConfigPath = "С:\path\to\your\Web.config"
#$localEnvName = "UAT"

$RptKeyFound=0;
$xml = (get-content $webConfigPath) -as [Xml];              # Create the XML Object and open the web.config file 
$root = $xml.get_DocumentElement();                         # Get the root element of the file

foreach($item in $root.appSettings.add)                     # loop through the child items in appsettings 
{ 
  if($item.key -eq "localenv:define")                       # If the desired element already exists 
    { 
      $RptKeyFound=1;                                       # Set the found flag 
    } 
}

if($RptKeyFound -eq 0)                                      # If the desired element does not exist 
{ 
    $newEl=$xml.CreateElement("add");                       # Create a new Element 
    $nameAtt1=$xml.CreateAttribute("key");                  # Create a new attribute "key" 
    $nameAtt1.psbase.value="localenv:define";               # Set the value of "key" attribute 
    $newEl.SetAttributeNode($nameAtt1);                     # Attach the "key" attribute 
    $nameAtt2=$xml.CreateAttribute("value");                # Create "value" attribute  
    $nameAtt2.psbase.value="$localEnvName";                 # Set the value of "value" attribute 
    $newEl.SetAttributeNode($nameAtt2);                     # Attach the "value" attribute 
    $xml.configuration["appSettings"].AppendChild($newEl);  # Add the newly created element to the right position
}

$xml.Save($webConfigPath)                                   # Save the web.config file
This same approach can be taken for any other XML-based transforms and replacements.

Separating content items from definition using Unicorn's NewItemsEvaluator

The vast majority of my readers are already familiar with Unicorn (if not - please take your time to familiarize with it by this link) and understand the principles of how it works. In few words, it serializes your Sitecore items into text files so that you can store them under source control along with the rest of your solution code.Then you can sync these files back into Sitecore, either manually from its admin page, or automatically by PowerShell or deployment script on CI / CD pipeline.  If the item has was changed, Unicorn automatically modifies its serialization file (so that changed file goes to source control to all other developers) and the reverse - newer items from source control will update those in Sitecore. So far, so good.

Problem: your solution infrastructure has numerous environments from lower (Dev) to higher (Prod) where the actual site is running. But not just the site itself - Sitecore also is there. Your content editors will be using Sitecore on prod, bringing plenty changes. But with next deployment all that new content will be automatically overwritten by older serialized items. What is good - now we have Helix principles, that classifies two types of Sitecore items - definition items to be passed along with the rest of solution code and actual content item. For Content items source of truth is Production, while for definition items source of truth is Development. But how do we actually define and set up content items?

Solution: the best automated approach also comes with Unicorn, however almost not documented and very little people know about it. It is called NewItemsEvaluator. Let's take a look at how it works:

By default, Unicorn predicate runs with Master Evaluator, which always overwrites Sitecore item with whatever comes from serialization. Because of Master Evaluator, content items on production will be overwritten by serialization with each deployment's sync unless actions are taken. NewItemsEvaluator also creates an item in Sitecore, but only if that item does not (yet) exist in the target environment. But if the item with such ID already exists there - it won't be affected and overwritten.

Firstly, we need to define what content items are. That typically will be all the items underneath /sitecore/YourProjectName/Home including Home item itself. Also, that will be all items within /sitecore/media library/Project/YourProjectName and items within /sitecore/content/YourProjectName/Global including Global item itself and its folder-based children that have insert options assigned.

Secondly, we need to create a new unicorn predicate for those content items identified. That predicate should be driven by New Item Evaluator:

<evaluator type="Unicorn.Evaluators.NewItemOnlyEvaluator, Unicorn" singleInstance="true" />
Thirdly, we need to exclude content items from the default website predicate driven by Master Evaluator. Luckily, Unicorn comes with handy exclusion syntax (more examples can be found at this link):
<include name="Some children" database="master" path="/sitecore/content/YourWebsite">
  <exclude children="true">
    <except name="Settings" />
    <except name="Global" />
  </exclude>
</include>

Finally, your website project layer serialization configuration file will have two predicate configurations similar to one below:
<configuration xmlns:patch="http://www.sitecore.net/xmlconfig/" xmlns:role="http://www.sitecore.net/xmlconfig/role/" xmlns:localenv="http://www.sitecore.net/xmlconfig/localenv/">
    <sitecore role:require="Standalone or ContentManagement">
        <unicorn>
            <configurations>
                <configuration 
                    name="Project.YourProjectName.Website" 
                    description="YourProjectName content" 
dependencies="Foundation.*,Feature.*,Project.Common" extends="Helix.Project"> <predicate> <include name="Project.YourProjectName.Layouts" database="master" path="/sitecore/layout/layouts/Project/YourProjectName" />
<include name="Project.YourProjectName.PlaceholderSettings" database="master" path="/sitecore/layout/placeholder settings/Project/YourProjectName" />
<include name="Project.YourProjectName.Content" database="master" path="/sitecore/content/YourProjectName">
<exclude path="/sitecore/content/YourProjectName/Home" />
<exclude childrenOfPath="/sitecore/content/YourProjectName/Global/Button Styles" />
<exclude childrenOfPath="/sitecore/content/YourProjectName/Global/Font Styles" />
<exclude childrenOfPath="/sitecore/content/YourProjectName/Global/Image Container Css" />
<exclude childrenOfPath="/sitecore/content/YourProjectName/Global/Landing Css Classes" />
<exclude childrenOfPath="/sitecore/content/YourProjectName/Global/Links/Footer Menu" />
<exclude childrenOfPath="/sitecore/content/YourProjectName/Global/Links/Header Menu" />
<exclude childrenOfPath="/sitecore/content/YourProjectName/Global/Links/Social Media" />
</include> <include name="Project.YourProjectName.Media" database="master" path="/sitecore/media library/Project/YourProjectName">
<exclude children="true" /> </include> <include name="Project.YourProjectName.ExperienceEditor" database="core" path="/sitecore/client/Applications/ExperienceEditor/Pipelines/InitializePageEdit" />
</predicate> <!-- roles and user data stores skipped here --> </configuration> <configuration name="Project.YourProjectName.Website.AuthoredContent"
description="Sample site content (New Item Provider)" dependencies="Foundation.*,Feature.*,Project.YourProjectNamev.Website"
patch:after="configuration[@name='Project.YourProjectName.Website']"
extends="Helix.Project"> <targetDataStore physicalRootPath="$(sourceFolder)\$(layer)\$(module)\serialization\Content" type="Rainbow.Storage.SerializationFileSystemDataStore, Rainbow" useDataCache="false" singleInstance="true" /> <evaluator type="Unicorn.Evaluators.NewItemOnlyEvaluator, Unicorn" singleInstance="true" /> <dataProviderConfiguration enableTransparentSync="false" type="Unicorn.Data.DataProvider.DefaultUnicornDataProviderConfiguration, Unicorn" /> <predicate type="Unicorn.Predicates.SerializationPresetPredicate, Unicorn" singleInstance="true"> <include name="Project.YourProjectName.Home" database="master" path="/sitecore/content/YourProjectName/Home" />
<include name="Project.YourProjectName.Global.ButtonStyles" database="master" path="/sitecore/content/YourProjectName/Global/Button Styles" />
<include name="Project.YourProjectName.Global.FontStyles" database="master" path="/sitecore/content/YourProjectName/Global/Font Styles" />
<include name="Project.YourProjectName.Global.HeroCss Classes" database="master" path="/sitecore/content/YourProjectName/Global/Hero Css Classes" />
<include name="Project.YourProjectName.Global.HeroMobile Background Image" database="master" path="/sitecore/content/YourProjectName/Global/Hero Mobile Background Image" />
<include name="Project.YourProjectName.Global.ImageContainerCss" database="master" path="/sitecore/content/YourProjectName/Global/Image Container Css" />
<include name="Project.YourProjectName.Global.LandingCssClasses" database="master" path="/sitecore/content/YourProjectName/Global/Landing Css Classes" />
<include name="Project.YourProjectName.Global.Recruiters" database="master" path="/sitecore/content/YourProjectName/Global/Recruiters" />
<include name="Project.YourProjectName.Global.HigllightCssClasses" database="master" path="/sitecore/content/YourProjectName/Global/Higllight Css Classes" />
<include name="Project.YourProjectName.Global.TabsCssClasses" database="master" path="/sitecore/content/YourProjectName/Global/Tabs Css Classes" />
<include name="Project.YourProjectName.Global.Leaders" database="master" path="/sitecore/content/YourProjectName/Global/Leaders" />
<include name="Project.YourProjectName.Global.Links.FooterMenu" database="master" path="/sitecore/content/YourProjectName/Global/Links/Footer Menu" />
<include name="Project.YourProjectName.Global.Links.HeaderMenu" database="master" path="/sitecore/content/YourProjectName/Global/Links/Header Menu" />
<include name="Project.YourProjectName.Global.Links.SocialMedia" database="master" path="/sitecore/content/YourProjectName/Global/Links/Social Media" />
<include name="Project.YourProjectName.Media.Content" database="master" path="/sitecore/media library/Project/YourProjectName" />
</predicate> </configuration> </configurations> </unicorn> </sitecore> </configuration>

Hope this helps!

Creating XML Sitemap for the Helix solution

I am working on a solution that already has HTML sitemap as a part of Navigation feature. Now I got a request to add also a basic XML sitemap with common set requirements. Habitat ships with an interface template _Navigable, so let's extend this template by adding a checkbox field called

ShowInSitemap, stating whether a particular page will be shown in that sitemap:


In order to start, we need to create a handler. Having handlers in web.config is not the desired way of doing things, it will require also doing configuration transform for the deployments, so let's do things in a Sitecore way (Feature.Navigation.config file):

<configuration xmlns:patch="http://www.sitecore.net/xmlconfig/">
    <sitecore>
        <pipelines>
            <httpRequestBegin>
                <processor type="Platform.Feature.Navigation.Pipelines.SitemapHandler, Platform.Feature.Navigation"
                           patch:before="processor[@type='Sitecore.Pipelines.HttpRequest.CustomHandlers, Sitecore.Kernel']">
                </processor>
            </httpRequestBegin>
            <preprocessRequest>
                <processor type="Sitecore.Pipelines.PreprocessRequest.FilterUrlExtensions, Sitecore.Kernel">
                    <param desc="Allowed extensions">aspx, ashx, asmx, xml</param>
                </processor>
            </preprocessRequest>
        </pipelines>
    </sitecore>
</configuration>

We rely on httpRequestBegin pipeline and incline our new SitemapHandler from Navigation feature right before CustomHandlers processor. 

SitemapHandler is an ordinary pipeline processor for httpRequestBegin pipeline, so is inherited from HttpRequestProcessor:

    public class SitemapHandler : HttpRequestProcessor
    {
        const string sitemapHandler = "sitemap.xml";

        private readonly INavigationRepository _navigationRepository;

        public SitemapHandler()
        {
            _navigationRepository = new NavigationRepository(RootItem);
        }

        public override void Process(HttpRequestArgs args)
        {
            if (Context.Site == null 
                || args == null
                || string.IsNullOrEmpty(Context.Site.RootPath.Trim()) 
                || Context.Page.FilePath.Length > 0 
                || !args.Url.FilePath.Contains(sitemapHandler))
            {
                return;
            }

            Response.ClearHeaders();
            Response.ClearContent();
            Response.ContentType = "text/xml";

            try
            {
                var navigationItems = _navigationRepository.GetSitemapItems(RootItem);
                string xml = new XmlSitemapService().BuildSitemapXML(flatItems);

                Response.Write(xml);
            }
            finally
            {
                Response.Flush();
                Response.End();
            }
        }

        private Item RootItem => Context.Site.GetRootItem();

        private HttpResponse Response => HttpContext.Current.Response;
    }

And XmlSitemapService code below:

    public class XmlSitemapService
    {
        public string CreateSitemapXml(IEnumerable<NavigationItem> items)
        {
            var doc = new XmlDocument();

            var declarationNode = doc.CreateXmlDeclaration("1.0", "UTF-8", null);
            doc.AppendChild(declarationNode);

            var urlsetNode = doc.CreateElement("urlset");

            var xmlnsAttr = doc.CreateAttribute("xmlns");
            xmlnsAttr.Value = "http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9";
            urlsetNode.Attributes.Append(xmlnsAttr);
            doc.AppendChild(urlsetNode);

            foreach (NavigationItem itm in items)
            {
                doc = CreateSitemapRecord(doc, itm);
            }
            return doc.OuterXml;
        }

        private XmlDocument CreateSitemapRecord(XmlDocument doc, NavigationItem item)
        {
            string link = item.Url;

            string lastModified = HttpUtility
             .HtmlEncode(item.Item.Statistics.Updated.ToString("yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:sszzz"));

            XmlNode urlsetNode = doc.LastChild;

            XmlNode url = doc.CreateElement("url");
            urlsetNode.AppendChild(url);

            XmlNode loc = doc.CreateElement("loc");
            url.AppendChild(loc);
            loc.AppendChild(doc.CreateTextNode(link));

            XmlNode lastmod = doc.CreateElement("lastmod");
            url.AppendChild(lastmod);
            lastmod.AppendChild(doc.CreateTextNode(lastModified));

            return doc;
        }
    }
Also, NavigationItem is a custom POCO:
 
public class NavigationItem
{
    public Item Item { get; set; }
    public string Title { get; set; }
    public string Url { get; set; }
    public bool IsActive { get; set; }
    public int Level { get; set; }
    public NavigationItems Children { get; set; }
    public string Target { get; set; }
    public bool ShowChildren { get; set; }
}


Few things to mention. 
1. Since you are using LinkManager in order to generate the links, you need to make sure you have full URL path as required by protocol, not the site-root-relative path. So you'll need to pass custom options in that case:

2. Once deployed to production, you may face an unpleasant behavior of HTTPS links generated along with 443 port number (such as . That is thanks to LinkManager not being wise enough to predict such a case. However there is a setting that make LinkManager works as expected. Not obvious
 var options = LinkManager.GetDefaultUrlOptions();
            options.AlwaysIncludeServerUrl = true;
            options.SiteResolving = true;
LinkManager.GetItemUrl(item, options);

or better option in Heliix to rely on Sitecore.Foundation.SitecoreExtensions:

item.Url(options) from 


//TODO: Update the code with the recent



That's it!

Handling 404 in Helix

When creating websites with Sitecore it is always nice to a have a nice and shiny 404-page that complies with the website styles and is content editable. Which will not work in all the cases, unfortunately. If the request falls out of site context - user won't get that nice and shiny page. So let's see what we can do in Helix, as it assumes multisite by design. The code below is written on top of Habitat, but that should not make a big difference.

Since this functionality is website agnostic and relates to Project layer, we will be using Project.Common.Website. Here is the  configuration within Common.Website.config:

<httpRequestBegin>
   <processor patch:before="processor[@type='Sitecore.Pipelines.HttpRequest.LayoutResolver, Sitecore.Kernel']"
    type="Sitecore.Common.Website.Pipelines.HandleRequestError, Sitecore.Common.Website"
    patch:after="processor[@type='Sitecore.Pipelines.HttpRequest.ItemResolver, Sitecore.Kernel']" />
</httpRequestBegin>

And the processor HandleRequestError.cs:

public class HandleRequestError : HttpRequestProcessor
{
    public override void Process(HttpRequestArgs args)
    {
        if (Context.Item != null || Context.Site == null)
        {
            return;
        }

        string filePath = HttpContext.Current.Server.MapPath(args.Url.FilePath);

        if (IsValidItem() 
             || ReservedUrls.Includes(args.Url.FilePath) 
             || File.Exists(filePath)) 
        {
            return;
        }

        if (Context.Database != null)
        {
            // if we are in a context of a specific site - serve content-editable 404
            Context.Item = Context.Database.GetItem(Context.Site.StartPath + "/404");
        }

        // return 404 HTTP status code in either cases, to be picked up further ahead
        HttpContext.Current.Response.TrySkipIisCustomErrors = true;
        HttpContext.Current.Response.StatusCode = (int)HttpStatusCode.NotFound;
    }

    private bool IsValidItem()
    {
        if (Context.Item == null || Context.Item.Versions.Count == 0) return false;

        if (Context.Item.Visualization.Layout == null) return false;

        return true;
    }
}
So briefly, if we have website resolved - we serve its customized content-editable /404 page item (each of the sites has this page under the same root-relative path).

Fixing: Sitecore 9 installer unable to connect to Solr server, while it is available

Recently tried to reinstall Sitecore 9.0 update 1 and got the following message:

"Request failed: Unable to connect to remote server" (and the URL which is default https://localhost:8389/solr)


Opening Solr in browser went well, and there were no existing cores that could prevent the installation. Weird...


After experiments, I found out that was an antivirus preventing such requests. Disabling it allowed cores to be installed well and thу rest of install script succeeded.

How Apply-Xml-Transform works in Helix / Habitat

I was recently investigating gulp file of Habitat for interesting goodies and came across taskApply-Xml-Transform, so decided to dig deeper into the one.

What it does?

It looks within all Foundation, Feature and Project layers for config transformations (*.xdt files) in order to run each of them and transform into target Sitecore web.config from the web root folder.

What is XDT?

In very simple, XDT is just an XML file with a set of rules of what and how to transform within web.comfig. We may use them in cases when we need to somehow transform web.config outside of <sitecore> node of configuration so that we can't rely on config paths that only apply within the <sitecore> node. XDT structure corresponds to the structure of target web.config file with additional commands coming from XML-Document-Transform XML namespace. Below is an example of such XDT file, that adds Microsoft.Codedom compiler references into web.config in case they don't exist:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<configuration  xmlns:xdt="http://schemas.microsoft.com/XML-Document-Transform">
  <system.codedom xdt:Transform="InsertIfMissing">
    <compilers xdt:Transform="InsertIfMissing">
      <compiler xdt:Transform="InsertIfMissing" xdt:Locator="Match(language)" language="c#;cs;csharp" extension=".cs" type="Microsoft.CodeDom.Providers.DotNetCompilerPlatform.CSharpCodeProvider, Microsoft.CodeDom.Providers.DotNetCompilerPlatform, Version=1.0.3.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35" warningLevel="4" compilerOptions="/langversion:6 /nowarn:1659;1699;1701" />
      <compiler xdt:Transform="InsertIfMissing" xdt:Locator="Match(language)" language="vb;vbs;visualbasic;vbscript" extension=".vb" type="Microsoft.CodeDom.Providers.DotNetCompilerPlatform.VBCodeProvider, Microsoft.CodeDom.Providers.DotNetCompilerPlatform, Version=1.0.3.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35" warningLevel="4" compilerOptions="/langversion:14 /nowarn:41008 /define:_MYTYPE=\&quot;Web\&quot; /optionInfer+" />
    </compilers>
  </system.codedom>
</configuration>

I wanted to see how exactly it's being triggered, so running script in a verbose mode, brought me to the following conclusion:

How does it run?

So, configuration transform relies on msbuild to do this job. But instead of Debug, Release or Clean targets, it uses a target calledApplyTransform It accepts numerous parameters, among those we have XDT file to transform, target folder, target configuration file to be transformed and few other parameters. Entire call extracted from a batch looks like below:

C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio\2017\Enterprise\MSBuild\15.0\Bin\amd64\MSBuild.exe 
/nologo /maxcpucount /nodeReuse:False 
/property:Configuration=Debug 
/property:Platform="Any CPU" 
/property:WebConfigToTransform=C:\inetpub\wwwroot\Platform.dev.local\ 
/property:TransformFile=C:\Platform\src\Feature\Accounts\code\App_Config\Web.config.xdt 
/property:FileToTransform=App_Config\Security\Domains.config 
/target:ApplyTransform 
/toolsversion:15.0 
/verbosity:diagnostic 
C:\Projects\Platform\scripts\applytransform.targets

You may modify the code above and run it on your own casual day-to-day activities outside of gulp, Habitat and other tools.

Hope this helps!

Adding Unicorn icon to Sitecore Launchpad

Seriously, I cannot understand why no one hasn't done that earlier before myself!

Recently, yet another time bookmarking a unicorn.aspx for another specific environment, I caught myself on why not to have Unicorn icon as a standard launchpad tile icon. Benefits of having it there against bookmarking:

  • it becomes available not only for myself but for the rest of admin users in particular environment
  • yes, by saying admin, I want to say that you can customize security for that shortcut
  • if serialized, this icon shortcut becomes available on all the environments it is being deploys

So please welcome Unicorn Launchpad icon. You may download the installation package at the bottom of this blog post.


So, as you might know, all the Launchpad icons are taken from core database and you may find them by the following path:/sitecore/client/Applications/Launchpad/PageSettings/Buttons. So you may add a new icon by simply creating an item called Unicorn (of the template /sitecore/client/Applications/Launchpad/PageSettings/Templates/LaunchPad-Button) as a child of any LaunchPad-Group items (for example, Tools, along with Content Editor). 


The much better option would be to duplicate already existing item that is available to admins only - in such case you'll also inherit permissions set) - AppCenter for instance. Once done, adjusts all the fields correspondingly.  The most important field to set is Link, so make it pointing to /unicorn.aspx (but remember you may also include parameters, such as unicorn.aspx?verb=sync).

The next challenge is to set an icon. Unicorn is not a part of Sitecore, obviously, Sitecore won't have icon packs for it. Let's create our own icon pack for Unicorn.