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Experience Sitecore! | All posts tagged 'Installation'

Experience Sitecore!

Martin Miles on Sitecore

Which certificates (and where to) got installed with Sitecore 9.1?

Upon the new clean installation, Sitecore 9.1 puts the following certificates (as per below example of habitat project hostnames):

1. Current User\Personal - nothing

2. Current User\Intermediate Certification Authorities - SIF

  • Sitecore Install Framework / Sitecore Install Framework

3. Local Computer\Personal - xConnect and Identity Server

  • / DO_NOT_TRUST_SitecoreRootCert
  • / DO_NOT_TRUST_SitecoreRootCert

4. Local Computer\Intermediate Certification Authorities - Sitecore and SIF

  • DO_NOT_TRUST_SitecoreRootCert / DO_NOT_TRUST_SitecoreRootCert
  • Sitecore Install Framework / Sitecore Install Framework

Hope this helps!

Extracting package installation functionality out of Sitecore Commerce 9 SIF

In one of my previous posts, I've explained how Install-SitecoreConfiguration works in SIF and how to use it for package installation.

As time passed, more and more functionality got natively embedded into SIF, that included some useful things such as config transformations, publishing, rebuilding indexes, and of course, packages/modules installation. I decided to inspect what actually went into the platform and extracted this functionality out of Commerce product for those who want to benefit from package installations with SIF bit does not want to bother with XC9.

So, actually, there is not a big change compared with my previous post. On the lower level, there is still a temporal folder being exposed and *.aspx page placed for actual job to be done. The good thing is that plenty of that functionality now supported out of the box

For legal reasons I cannot include downloadable ready to use package, since the code and scripts belong to Sitecore who only can share it. Instead I will tell you how you can make it on your own copy of Sitecore Commerce 9.0 update 2.

You'll need three parts - Configuration, Modules and SiteUtilityPages, all carefully from within SIF.Sitecore.Commerce.1.2.14 folder:

  • Configurations (json files) taken out of Configuration\Commerce\Master_SingleServer.json and Configuration\SitecoreUtilities\InstallModule.json
  • Then you'll need three modules from Modules folder: InstallSitecoreConfiguration, ManageCommerceService, SitecoreUtilityTasks
  • Also you need SiteUtilityPages folder with InstallModules.aspx file within

If you do not keep a structure as from Commerce Installer (as didn't I) - please make adjust paths of dependencies correspondingly.

Last but not the least, you need to modify main Deploy-Sitecore-Commerce.ps1 PowerShell script, removing everything apart from package installation out of it. I renamed it into Install.ps1 and here is what I end up with:

		[string]$SiteName = "",	           # your sitecore instance name
		[string]$ModulePath = "p:\PowerShell"   # path to the module to be installed

$global:DEPLOYMENT_DIRECTORY=Split-Path $MyInvocation.MyCommand.Path
$modulesPath=( Join-Path -Path $DEPLOYMENT_DIRECTORY -ChildPath "Modules" )
if ($env:PSModulePath -notlike "*$modulesPath*")
    $p = $env:PSModulePath + ";" + $modulesPath

$params = @{
		Path = Resolve-Path '.\Configuration\Master.json'	
		SiteName = $SiteName
		InstallDir = "$($Env:SYSTEMDRIVE)\inetpub\wwwroot\$SiteName"		
		SiteUtilitiesSrc = ( Join-Path -Path $DEPLOYMENT_DIRECTORY -ChildPath "SiteUtilityPages" )	

		ModuleFullPath = Resolve-Path -Path  $ModulePath

Install-SitecoreConfiguration @params

and below there is my tree structure:

There are two parameters to be configured for Install.ps1 script to run:

In case you are working outside of inetpub\wwwroot folder, please also adjust the path for InstallDir variable.

Hope this helps your DevOps!

How to use Install-SitecoreConfiguration from SIF with your custom configuration on example of installing SPE and SXA along with Sitecore

This is an exercise resulting from a blog post by Rob Ahnemann and I will cover Install-SitecoreConfiguration in more details on an example of installing Sitecore modules SPE and SXA as a part of a Sitecore installation by SIF.

Install-SitecoreConfiguration is one of the most what actually SIF is. In my Sitecore installation script I have created a step called Install-Packages. Let's look at how it works:

function Install-Packages {
    Unblock-File .\build\PostInstall\Invoke-InstallPackageTask.psm1 
    Install-SitecoreConfiguration -Path .\build\PostInstall\install-sitecore-package.json -SiteName "$SolutionPrefix.$SitePostFix"

This installs a configuration called install-sitecore-package.json Opening it looks like below:

    "Parameters": {
         "SiteName": {
            "Type": "string",
            "DefaultValue": "Sitecore",
            "Description": "The name of the site to be deployed."
        "InstallDirectory": {
            "Type": "string",
            "DefaultValue": "c:\\inetpub\\wwwroot",
            "Description": "Base folder to where website is deployed."
    "Variables": {
        // The sites full path on disk
        "Site.PhysicalPath": "[joinpath(parameter('InstallDirectory'), parameter('SiteName'))]",
		"Site.Url": "[concat('http://', parameter('SiteName'))]"

    "Tasks": {
			"Type": "InstallPackage",
            "Params": [
                    "SiteFolder": "[variable('Site.PhysicalPath')]",
                    "SiteUrl": "[variable('Site.Url')]",
                    "PackagePath": ".\\build\\assets\\Modules\\Sitecore PowerShell Extensions-4.7.2 for Sitecore"
                    "SiteFolder": "[variable('Site.PhysicalPath')]",
                    "SiteUrl": "[variable('Site.Url')]",
                    "PackagePath": ".\\build\\assets\\Modules\\Sitecore Experience Accelerator 1.6 rev. 180103 for"

Parameters are values that may be passed when Install-SitecoreConfiguration is called. Parameters must declare a Type and may declare a DefaultValue and Description. Parameters with no DefaultValue are required when Install-SitecoreConfiguration is called.

Variables are values calculated in a configuration. They can reference Parameters, other Variables, and config functions.

Tasks are separate units of work in a configuration. Each task is an action that will be completed when Install-SitecoreConfiguration is called. By default, tasks are applied in the order they are declared. Tasks may reference Parameters, Variables, and config functions.

Finally, the last line is actually referencing the actual task - a PowerShell module script (Invoke-InstallPackageTask.psm1) that will be run with given parameters:

Set-StrictMode -Version 2.0

Function Invoke-InstallPackageTask {

    Write-TaskInfo "Installing Package $PackagePath" -Tag 'PackageInstall'

    #Generate a random 10 digit folder name. For security 
	$folderKey = -join ((97..122) | Get-Random -Count 10 | % {[char]$_})
	#Generate a Access Key (hi there TDS)
	$accessKey = New-Guid
	Write-TaskInfo "Folder Key = $folderKey" -Tag 'PackageInstall'
	Write-TaskInfo "Access Guid = $accessKey" -Tag 'PackageInstall'

	#The path to the source Agent.  Should be in the same folder as I'm running
	$sourceAgentPath = Resolve-Path "PackageInstaller.asmx"
	#The folder on the Server where the Sitecore PackageInstaller folder is to be created
	$packageInstallPath = [IO.Path]::Combine($SiteFolder, 'sitecore', 'PackageInstaller')
	#The folder where the actuall install happens
	$destPath = [IO.Path]::Combine($SiteFolder, 'sitecore', 'PackageInstaller', $folderKey)

	#Full path including the installer name
	$fullFileDestPath = Join-Path $destPath "PackageInstaller.asmx"
	Write-TaskInfo "Source Agent [$sourceAgentPath]" -Tag 'PackageInstall'
	Write-TaskInfo "Dest AgentPath [$destPath]" -Tag 'PackageInstall'

	#Forcibly cread the folder 
	New-Item -ItemType Directory -Force -Path $destPath

	#Read contents of the file, and embed the security token
	(Get-Content $sourceAgentPath).replace('[TOKEN]', $accessKey) | Set-Content $fullFileDestPath

	#How do we get to Sitecore? This URL!
	$webURI= "$siteURL/sitecore/PackageInstaller/$folderKey/packageinstaller.asmx?WSDL"
	Write-TaskInfo "Url $webURI" -Tag 'PackageInstall'
	#Do the install here
	$proxy = New-WebServiceProxy -uri $webURI
	$proxy.Timeout = 1800000

	#Invoke our proxy
	$proxy.InstallZipPackage($PackagePath, $accessKey)

	#Remove the folderKey
	Remove-Item $packageInstallPath -Recurse
Register-SitecoreInstallExtension -Command Invoke-InstallPackageTask -As InstallPackage -Type Task

What this task does is locates ASMX file, which is an actual handler and copies it into temp random folder within your Sitecore instance allowing you to execute package installer APIs that itself does require Sitecore context. 

Obviously, before running .\install-xp0.ps1 please make sure you have both installers for modules by their paths as per configuration parameters in PackagePath (from example above, they are):
    .\build\assets\Modules\Sitecore PowerShell Extensions-4.7.2 for Sitecore
    .\build\assets\Modules\Sitecore Experience Accelerator 1.6 rev. 180103 for

So, that's how we added new SitecoreConfiguration in order to achieve automated package installation of SPE and SXA by SIF. Since now new locally installed Sitecore instance already has both SPE and SXA pre-installed and ready to use. This approach also allows installing any other modules as you may need them pre-installed.

Finally, would highly recommend watching a great video by Thomas Eldblom about using SIF configurations:

UPDATE: there is another way of doing this by new built-in SIF functionality, please read the blog post here.

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.

Know your tools: The easiest way to install Habitat - Habitat Solution Installer

Working with Helix often encourages you to perform quick look-ups into the live-standard-implementation - Habitat project. That's why you have to have it installed. I remember the first time I installed Sitecore Habitat in October 2015 and how complicated that seemed at glance.

Luckily we now got a nice tool, that does exactly what it is named for - Habitat Solution Installer written by Neil Shack. So, let's go ahead and install Habitat into a new non-traditional destination using that tool.

Firs of all, let's grab Habitat Solution Installer itself from Sitecore Marketplace. Once downloaded, run HabitatInstaller.exe.

First screen takes three most important Habitat setting that we usually need to change as well as asks for the solution root folder where it will install the code. Once Install is clicked - it will download an archive of master branch from Habitat GitHub repository.

Then it will extract downloaded archive into temporal folder. By the way, you may alternate both path to master archive and your temporal files folder by clicking Settings button on the first (main) screen.

After extracting files, it will run npm install so you need to have node installed as a prerequisite.

Once finished, Habitat Solution Installer will display confirmation box.

So, what it has done - it installed and configured project code folder. But what hasn't it done?

1. It does not install Sitecore. You need to have it installed as another prerequisite, so that you provide Sitecore web folder and hostname to installer as shown on first screenshot. The best way would be to install using SIM (marketplace link). While installing Sitecore, make sure you're installing the right version corresponding to to codebase at Habitat master branch, you may look it up at Habitat Wiki page.

2. Not just to say you need to install Sitecore itself, you also need to install Web Forms for Marketers of the version corresponding to you Sitecore instance. And to ensure WFFM installation not failing, you need to install MongoDB prior to. Luckily that can be done in one click using SIM:

Finally, when all above is done, you may run gulp tasks from Task (View => Other Windows => Task Runner Explorer in Visual Studio 2015). Since npm install was already done for you - tasks are loaded as normal:

That's it! After Sitecore items are deserialised into your Sitecore instance, you'll be able to run Habitat website (however do not forget to publish from master to web unless you run it in live mode). The final result comes in you browser:

StackOverflow: Sitecore 8.1 bug - Launchpad brings HTTP 500 errors and several icons including FXM are missing

Question: today I have came across a question on StackOverflow regarding new 8.1 installation, I couldn't pass by:

I am installing Sitecore 8.1 with SIM and get several JavaScript errors coming from ajax request returning HTTP 500 errors when open my launchpad. Looking in the developers tools shows the message:



"An error occurred when trying to create a controller of type 'AnalyticsDataController'. Make sure that the controller has a parameterless public constructor."
"at System.Web.Http.Dispatcher.DefaultHttpControllerActivator.Create(HttpRequestMessage request, HttpControllerDescriptor controllerDescriptor, Type controllerType) at System.Web.Http.Controllers.HttpControllerDescriptor.CreateController(HttpRequestMessage request) at System.Web.Http.Dispatcher.HttpControllerDispatcher.<SendAsync>d__1.MoveNext()"

That results to several icons missing from Launchpad, for example FXM.

That is exact point of my confusion I've experienced previous week, when Sitecore 8.1 was released. The explanation is below:

Previously in Sitecore 8.0, there was a very confusing situation, when many new features introduced in 8.0 required license for 8.0. Running those features with a license from one of previous Sitecore version did not block those features in UI from working, but still disabled them from inside of CMS. That lead to some confusing situations like I have described in one of my previous blog posts (see: blog post about FXM and question on StackOverflow) when user without appropriate license ran FXM and couldn't add parent placeholder - no relevant error message was said.

Now since 8.1, Sitecore decided to perform very reasonable structural changes to separate CMS from xDB and Analytics with licensing model. They introduces a new CMS-only mode when Sitecore can run without xDB and Mongo, just CMS features. Those who require to use xDB and Analytics in 8.1 now need to request explicit license allowing those features (using this URL). Otherwise their Sitecore instance will default to CMS-only mode. Sitecore download page contains a warning message regarding those changes:

Sitecore 8.1 now requires a license with the “Sitecore.xDB” key to enable all features of the Experience Platform. If your license file does not contain this key, Sitecore will default to Experience Management (CMS-only) mode. Any customers or partners with a license to Experience Platform should contact their account manager or login to SPN if they are missing this key.
But what about javasript errors? Well, that is definitely a bug. I have previously contacted Sitecore support in order to report a bug (issue Id 451464). Even if you explicitly enable CMS-only mode in Sitecore.xDB.config - you'll still get those AJAX errors. It looks that corresponding SPEAK controls try to call to Entity Services (web API) and it returns generic 500-error (internal server error) code, instead of something more specific like 403 (forbidden) and proper handling that code in JavaScript on client side.

Hope Sitecore fixes that shortly!

Update: I have received confirmation that having a license for xDB in 8.1 this issue does not occur.

Know your tools: SIM - Sitecore Instance Manager

Sitecore Instance Manager (SIM) - the must-have tool for all Sitecore professionals and platform enthusiasts. It is a "Swiss army knife" for all types of activities related to installation and configuring Sitecore instances. So, what it does?

As it is obvious from its title, SIM simplifies installation of Sitecore, minimizing it to just few very intuitive clicks. SIM supports all versions of Sitecore, developers work tightly with platform vendor, so since recent they tend to synchronize SIM updates with new Sitecore releases. Oh, nearly forgot to mention, SIM has auto-update module that can update the program silently in background, or with a prompt, or just leave user alone once he prefers getting updates donу manually.

Here is the main screen of Sitecore Instance Manager:

You have all available instances listed, you can install new or remove existing, do some configuration changes and much more. SIM operates "web-folder" installation archives as they came form Sitecore, one can download zip and manually place it into specific folder (that is configurable in program settings) or can download and store any platform version directly from SDN. In that case he/she might need to type in SDN credentials and pick up exact Sitecore version from options drop-down. As soon as zip is downloaded, it can be installed.

The installation process occurs in few clicks and is show on several screenshots below. First of all, we select which version we are going to install from the list of stored in local repository. Also there are fields to specify instance name, hostname and the installation folder.

The program accurately installs files, restores database and sets appropriate SQL permissions, configures Application Pool and create config files with correct values.

SIM is great in that it allows not just install Sitecore itself, but also you may specify which modules you would like to install straight away, just by simply checking them from the list of available.

Apart from modules you may also install certain custom packages, likewise you may have a fully working website - both items and file system substructure packed within a package, so it may become available straight after the installation. As another example, I always install useful Sitecore adjustments with SIM in order to benefit out of them straight away.

Not only custom packages can be auto-installed, but also such called configuration presets. These are certain configuration patches, each addressing small but important setting, will be placed into App_Config/Include folder.

The installation itself does not take much time. Sitecore 8 takes approximately 1 minute in virtual machine on my MacBookPro. Significantly faster comparing with time spent on default installer.

SIM also have multiple useful shortcuts at one place, like links to important Sitecore folders, configuration tools, hosts editor, IIS recycle an many many more.

I would award SIM with the highest rate and highly advise to download and play with it, even if you do not regularly play with installation and instances.

Download: SIM on Sitecore Marketplace