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Experience Sitecore! | December 2017

Experience Sitecore!

Martin Miles on Sitecore

Sitecore Link gained a list of Sitecore modules and implementations as well as their authors

Sitecore Link project gained a list of additional Sitecore modules and implementations as well as their authors. With time, I tend to make it something more useful than Marketplace, so withing first quarter of 2018 will be populating it with the data and add features.

With an initial starting set of data for the beginning, it is available at:

Modules: http://Sitecore.Link/Modules



Authors: http://Sitecore.Link/Authors


Routine for renaming a Helix module

That would be a quick one. Once you decide to rename existing module, you should follow this consequence order to avoid potential errors. When modifying a module, the higher layer of the changed module is - the more changes require to commit. There is a general consequence of steps below, some of them may not be necessary for your module, so you may skip them. Anyway, here we go:

  1. In serialization file, rename module name for each of predicate records. However, do not rename serialization config file itself at this stage. Publish that particular config to web root (Alt + ,; ALT + P hotkey combination) in order to overwrite existing config. That will enable change tracking for serialization for new paths already.
  2. Once published, rename corresponding items in Sitecore, as per serialization predicates changed on the previous step. Keep in mind that not all predicates are listed in serialization as they are configured at other places by the wildcard (ie. templates), but you need also to change them as well. As the result, there will be a new folder created under src\{layer}\{module_name}\serialization\ and it will have all root items serialized, per each of predicate.
  3. No go to Unicorn console (/unicorn.aspx) and re-serialize modified project. That will bring the rest of the items serialized.
  4. Now it's time to rename the module in Visual Studio:
    1. Change solution folder
    2. Change project name, right underneath solution folder
    3. Remove project out of solution and move it into parent folder having a new name, then add this project back to the solution as existing.
    4. Change Assembly Name and Default Namespace, also perform changes at AssemblyInfo.cs file.
    5. Iterate through all C# classes and adjust the namespaces to match the one changed at 4.3, (In case you're using ReSharper, it will highlight you invalid namespace, so hit ALT + ENTER in and select "Move to {your_new} namespace"). For T4 code generated models however it would be nice to delete those models and re-create just to ensure code generates correctly.
    6. Now go to App_Config/include folder and rename configs: {module_name}.{layer}.config and {module_name}.{layer}.Serialization.config
    7. Do the same for other configs, ie. App_Config/Environment/{layer} and so on.
    8. Also, in configs, you'll need to adjust namespaces, where {type, assembly} are referenced. That may be for instance a configuration of dependency injection, route definition, or any other references to custom classes.
    9. Go and check your /Views folder in order to adjust references
  5. Next step is to delete old module already existing at web root (if you're deploying on clean - you may omit this step). To get rid of existing items with old name, delete the following:
    1. App_Config\Include\{layer}\ - all configs having old module name as the part of their filename
    2. Within /bin folder, delete compiled module, for example: {Solution_name}.{old_name}.Website.dll
    3. Clean up /Views folder for old references as well.
  6. Now it is a good time to remove old serialization - it is kept under an old project name, actually almost duplicating the same you've produced at step 3 (except location and serialized paths, of course). 
  7. Before publishing changes to web root folder, go to Sitecore and rename strongly type references within the Sitecore content. That's in case you've got any custom functionality stored within items that having references in format "{srong_type, assembly}", so please go to Sitecore and rename them all to new namespaces, as was set in 4.3
  8. Finally, re-build the solution and use gulp script, select: publish-all-{layer} task.
  9. If you're renaming a project layer - there're few more things to be done. You would likely to change hostName attribute of the site definition node. In that situation, adjust IIS binding and create a hosts file record for that hostname (if not yet there).
  10. Post-deploy step: rename other content stored in Sitecore items. As for example, you could have a layout called oldsiteLayout.cshtml. Despite it still functions, it would be great to change its name to newsietLayout.cshtml for consistency. But in that case, you also need to change that name in Layout definition item for that project in Sitecore. Do that for all layouts or other affected items.
  11. Last, but not the least. Perform manual and/or integration tests in order to make sure your solution won't break. Breaking tests are always good as they make you critically review certain pieces of implementation, refactor them, or at least keep tests actual to your solution.

Hope that guide helps.

Glass Mapper with Sitecore 9 and Helix

I was trying to implement T4 CodeGeneration of Glass Mapper for my current Helix on Sitecore 9 project. In the beginning, it all went well, and I did not suspect any of issues. However, the issues still occurred later when trying to navigate to LaunchPad. I have been presented a very confusing error with the description, saying:

The file '/sitecore/shell/client/Speak/Layouts/Layouts/Speak-Layout.cshtml' does not exist.

on the following screen:


After investigating a call stack, I came to the conclusion that it is definitely something with Glass Mapper. After playing a while with my configuration, I have identified exact getModel pipeline processor that triggered that issue:

  <mvc.getModel>
    <processor patch:before="*[@type='Sitecore.Mvc.Pipelines.Response.GetModel.GetFromItem, Sitecore.Mvc']" 
         type="Glass.Mapper.Sc.Pipelines.Response.GetModelFromView, Glass.Mapper.Sc.Mvc"/>
  </mvc.getModel>

Commenting this line returned LaunchPad fully functional, however, obviously, Glass Mapper stopped working with a familiar Sitecore MVC error:

The model item passed into the dictionary is of type 'Sitecore.Mvc.Presentation.RenderingModel', but this dictionary requires a model item of type 'Sitecore.Feature.Navigation.Models.ILink'.

So I started digging around and assumed that maybe I have got not the latest version of Glass, that does not support Sitecore 9. With that in mind, I updated to latest stable version of Glass, which was 4.4.0.199. After upgrading, I tried to run build but it failed. Again, much time spent on investigation, so later found out that latest version of Glass does not have namespace Glass.Mapper.Sc.Configuration.Attributes. Previously that namespace was at Glass.Mapper.Sc.dll but that dll did not present within the latest package.

Suddenly ReSharper came into a play, obligingly offering to reference required library. After ReSharper added that reference - project compiled successfully. I performed a deployment, and ... it broke again, with the same error. What? Why? How? I couldn't understand that...

Furthermore investigations... at some moment, I noticed that ReSharper referenced one of the old Glass.Mapper.Sc.dll from somewhere, so the very first thing I made sure was to provide thorough sanity check and fix across entire solution. After removing all Glass Mapper trails, I've readded latest version of Glass Mapper again, and expectedly it did not find that namespace, mentioned above.

At this time I took dotPeek and carefully went through all the libraries. Just to find out that there is no such namespace, indeed- in all of the Glass libraries.

But wait! What if... What if.. If I try to check that namespace in the latest beta version?

So I picked up the latest available beta version, which was 4.4.1.331 ...

Install-Package Glass.Mapper.Sc -Version 4.4.1.331-beta

... and voila!!! Namespaces were there. So I decided to go ahead with that beta versions, and trick did work!

After couple more sanity clean-up in both my solution and web folder, I finally did some required configuration changes, then install for certain projects in your solution and finally concluded that solution work well for me.

Sitecore gives 60 days of trial for developers

Previously, it was sort of vicious circle for new developers willing to start learning Sitecore. "How can I start working with Sitecore" - one of the most common questions asked at StackOverflow and (mostly non-Sitecore) user groups when enthusiasts wanted to download their developer copy and play with it on his/her local dev. machine. 

The problem came from a situation when one could install Sitecore only with having a license file, that could be taken from a client he's already working for. Surely, in order to obtain such a job, one should already have reasonable skills with Sitecore obtained from somewhere. Also, Sitecore installers are also not in the free access and require at SDN credentials to be downloaded, even with SIM tool.

Now the process becomes simpler, as Sitecore is going to provide trial licenses for the developers. Currently, they run a pilot testing of that program, offering just 100 developers trial license, with a waiting list for those who not quick enough to get into first hundred. Please read more at the official source of the trial program here: Announcing the preview of the upcoming Developer Trial Program

Hope this helps to attract more developers in order to fill the lack of professionals on the market.

10 Useful tricks for Helix development

1. First, is the most important hotkey that published a single file - whether a static file oк Razor view, to the web folder, preventing you from running gulp script. Selecting the desired file, hold ALT and then click ; (semicolon) and p. Your file will be immediately available at web destination. Then most time-taking is Application pool recycle process, running each time you add/remove/modify a config file or DLL, so current approach prevents you from wasting time on that. The result:



2. Next, in order to run Sitecore in a debugger, one usually need to go to "Debug" menu of Visual Studio, then pick up "Attach to process". Then find w3wp.exe from a long list of available processes after selecting "Show processes from all users" checkbox. When you need to do that multiple times in a day (and you do) it becomes an unwanted waste of time. There is a Visual Studio extension called AttachToAllTheThings that adds 3 handy menu items into Tools menu, one of which is "Attach to IIS". So far so good, but it would be even better to assign a hotkey to make attachments quicker, I use a combination of SHIFT + ALT + I:



3. Working with Helix you often need to run gulp tasks, that is executed from Task Runner Explorer. Normally you need, to go to View menu item then Other windows and there find out Task Runner Explorer. In a clean vanilla Visual Studio you may use CTRL + ALT + BackSpace binding. However those using ReSharper may find that combination re-mapped, so I opt-out in favour of neutral SHIFT + ALT + T combination:



4. If you are using ReSharper, you can benefit from its solution-wide code analysis tool. This is a very handy tool that is often overlooked, but it may give you plenty of insights of what's going wrong with your solution and how to fix that. But please be careful as if it is enabled permanently - if affects your performance. Double click a grey circle at the right bottom corner of Visual Studio in order to enable this feature.


After a while, it presents you with a list of issues you need to review (and likely to fix):



5. Also, one more useful trick of ReSharper will be useful for everyone working with abstractions. We got used to navigating to a class by doing CTRL + Left Mouse Click. But when doing the same on an interface, you'll navigate to the interface definition - not something useful when you expected to get some concrete implementation. Do CTRL + ALT + Left Mouse Click instead and you'll navigate to exact implementation if the is one, or will be presented with a list of all concrete classes implementing that abstraction.


6. Helix: An approach(es) for restoring WebRoot to an initial state of vanilla Sitecore installation.


7. Know your tools: The easiest way to add a new project to your Helix solution


8. Use Helix + Glass Mapper + T4 Templates = Code Generation


9. In addition to T4 Templates code generation, you may use young brother - Visual Studio code snippets. Recently Raul Jimenez prompted at https://github.com/rauljmz/Sitecore.VisualStudio.Snippets.


10. ZeroDeploy from Hedgehog, who also made TDS, Razl and Feydra. This is something unbelievable, you can't imagine that! The idea of the project is to get rid of Application Pool recycles upon deployments of code and config files. How could that be at all possible? ZeroDeploy relied on Sitecore Dependency Injection (that's why it only can run on Sitecore 8.2 or later) and instead of /bin folder it stores versioned libraries into Sitecore database, being even visible at the Sitecore tree! To make this magic possible, it is advised to separate most of your high-level abstractions into standalone libraries, that are very rarely change and that referenced from your web project. At the same time most of the concrete implementation, including Controllers, Services, Repositories and libraries down-referenced by them can be dynamically deployed and loaded back without being put to /bin, retaining the functionality. ZeroDeploy also uses Visual Studio extension and NuGet packages for Sitecore. Seriously, the magic! I am now testing a beta version of ZeroDeploy and am going to write a detailed guide on how to enable this on your development environment (your UAT / staging / prod) still remain untouched.

Hope these tips and tricks will improve your productivity!