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Experience Sitecore! | All posts tagged 'Troubleshooting'

Experience Sitecore!

Martin Miles on Sitecore

Troubleshooting SXA "Failed to render rendering. Message: An unhandled exception occurred. Source: Sitecore.Mvc"

Got a weird exception, very similar to the one described at StackExchange (SXA Error when open page in Experience Editor). It happened at my CI server, so decided to reproduce locally, deploying on top of a clean instance of Sitecore, and got an issue reproduced.

Here's a call stack:

17264 22:03:56 ERROR Failed to render rendering
Exception: System.Web.HttpUnhandledException
Message: An unhandled exception occurred.
Source: Sitecore.Mvc
   at Sitecore.Mvc.Pipelines.MvcEvents.Exception.ShowAspNetErrorMessage.ShowErrorMessage(ExceptionContext exceptionContext, ExceptionArgs args)
   at Sitecore.Mvc.Pipelines.MvcEvents.Exception.ShowAspNetErrorMessage.Process(ExceptionArgs args)
   at (Object , Object )
   at Sitecore.Pipelines.CorePipeline.Run(PipelineArgs args)
   at Sitecore.Pipelines.DefaultCorePipelineManager.Run(String pipelineName, PipelineArgs args, String pipelineDomain, Boolean failIfNotExists)
   at Sitecore.Pipelines.DefaultCorePipelineManager.Run(String pipelineName, PipelineArgs args, String pipelineDomain)
   at Sitecore.Mvc.Pipelines.PipelineService.RunPipeline[TArgs](String pipelineName, TArgs args)
   at Sitecore.Mvc.Filters.PipelineBasedRequestFilter.OnException(ExceptionContext exceptionContext)
   at System.Web.Mvc.ControllerActionInvoker.InvokeExceptionFilters(ControllerContext controllerContext, IList`1 filters, Exception exception)
   at System.Web.Mvc.ControllerActionInvoker.InvokeAction(ControllerContext controllerContext, String actionName)
   at System.Web.Mvc.Controller.ExecuteCore()
   at System.Web.Mvc.ControllerBase.Execute(RequestContext requestContext)
   at Sitecore.Mvc.Controllers.ControllerRunner.ExecuteController(Controller controller)
   at Sitecore.Mvc.Controllers.ControllerRunner.Execute(TextWriter writer)
   at Sitecore.Mvc.Pipelines.Response.RenderRendering.ExecuteRenderer.Render(Renderer renderer, TextWriter writer, RenderRenderingArgs args)

Nested Exception

Exception: System.NullReferenceException
Message: Object reference not set to an instance of an object.
Source: Sitecore.XA.Foundation.Grid
   at Sitecore.XA.Foundation.Grid.Commands.ShowGridPropertiesDialog.QueryState(CommandContext context)
   at Sitecore.Shell.Framework.Commands.CommandManager.QueryState(Command command, CommandContext context)
   at Sitecore.Pipelines.GetChromeData.GetChromeDataProcessor.QueryButtonState(WebEditButton button, CommandContext context, String click)
   at Sitecore.Pipelines.GetChromeData.GetChromeDataProcessor.AddButtonToChromeData(WebEditButton button, GetChromeDataArgs args)
   at Sitecore.Pipelines.GetChromeData.GetChromeDataProcessor.AddButtonsToChromeData(IEnumerable`1 buttons, GetChromeDataArgs args)
   at Sitecore.Pipelines.GetChromeData.GetRenderingChromeData.Process(GetChromeDataArgs args)
   at (Object , Object )
   at Sitecore.Pipelines.CorePipeline.Run(PipelineArgs args)
   at Sitecore.Pipelines.DefaultCorePipelineManager.Run(String pipelineName, PipelineArgs args, String pipelineDomain, Boolean failIfNotExists)
   at Sitecore.Pipelines.DefaultCorePipelineManager.Run(String pipelineName, PipelineArgs args, String pipelineDomain)
   at Sitecore.Pipelines.GetChromeData.GetChromeDataPipeline.Run(GetChromeDataArgs args)
   at Sitecore.Mvc.ExperienceEditor.Presentation.RenderingMarker.GetClientData()
   at Sitecore.Mvc.ExperienceEditor.Presentation.RenderingMarker.get_ClientData()
   at Sitecore.Mvc.ExperienceEditor.Presentation.RenderingMarker.GetStart()
   at Sitecore.Mvc.ExperienceEditor.Presentation.Wrapper..ctor(TextWriter writer, IMarker marker)
   at Sitecore.Mvc.ExperienceEditor.Pipelines.Response.RenderRendering.AddWrapper.Process(RenderRenderingArgs args)
   at (Object , Object )
   at Sitecore.Pipelines.CorePipeline.Run(PipelineArgs args)
   at Sitecore.Pipelines.DefaultCorePipelineManager.Run(String pipelineName, PipelineArgs args, String pipelineDomain, Boolean failIfNotExists)
   at Sitecore.Pipelines.DefaultCorePipelineManager.Run(String pipelineName, PipelineArgs args, String pipelineDomain)
   at Sitecore.Mvc.Pipelines.PipelineService.RunPipeline[TArgs](String pipelineName, TArgs args)
   at Sitecore.Mvc.Pipelines.Response.RenderPlaceholder.PerformRendering.Render(String placeholderName, TextWriter writer, RenderPlaceholderArgs args)
   at (Object , Object )
   at Sitecore.Pipelines.CorePipeline.Run(PipelineArgs args)
   at Sitecore.Pipelines.DefaultCorePipelineManager.Run(String pipelineName, PipelineArgs args, String pipelineDomain, Boolean failIfNotExists)
   at Sitecore.Pipelines.DefaultCorePipelineManager.Run(String pipelineName, PipelineArgs args, String pipelineDomain)
   at Sitecore.Mvc.Pipelines.PipelineService.RunPipeline[TArgs](String pipelineName, TArgs args)
   at Sitecore.Mvc.Helpers.SitecoreHelper.RenderPlaceholderCore(String placeholderName, TextWriter writer)
   at Sitecore.Mvc.Helpers.SitecoreHelper.Placeholder(String placeholderName)
   at ASP._Page_Views_Shared_Partial_Design_Dynamic_Placeholder_cshtml.Execute() in c:\inetpub\wwwroot\\Views\Shared\Partial Design Dynamic Placeholder.cshtml:line 5
   at System.Web.WebPages.WebPageBase.ExecutePageHierarchy()
   at System.Web.Mvc.WebViewPage.ExecutePageHierarchy()
   at System.Web.WebPages.WebPageBase.ExecutePageHierarchy(WebPageContext pageContext, TextWriter writer, WebPageRenderingBase startPage)
   at System.Web.Mvc.ViewResultBase.ExecuteResult(ControllerContext context)
   at System.Web.Mvc.ControllerActionInvoker.InvokeActionResultFilterRecursive(IList`1 filters, Int32 filterIndex, ResultExecutingContext preContext, ControllerContext controllerContext, ActionResult actionResult)
   at System.Web.Mvc.ControllerActionInvoker.InvokeActionResultFilterRecursive(IList`1 filters, Int32 filterIndex, ResultExecutingContext preContext, ControllerContext controllerContext, ActionResult actionResult)
   at System.Web.Mvc.ControllerActionInvoker.InvokeActionResultFilterRecursive(IList`1 filters, Int32 filterIndex, ResultExecutingContext preContext, ControllerContext controllerContext, ActionResult actionResult)
   at System.Web.Mvc.ControllerActionInvoker.InvokeActionResultWithFilters(ControllerContext controllerContext, IList`1 filters, ActionResult actionResult)
   at System.Web.Mvc.ControllerActionInvoker.InvokeAction(ControllerContext controllerContext, String actionName)

No single reference to my code, or whatsoever prompting to the actual reason.

Troubleshooting this was not an easy walk out. Logs also contained nothing relevant to the issue. Since I always keep at least daily backups done with a helpful tool Sif0n, it was relatively easy to substitute a web root folder from a fully functional solution. but the problem persisted. Then it is likely to be caused by something stored in a database.

I suspected something could be wrong with my serialization, I checked the settings but those were all correct. Then I restored fully functional database along with existing instance, calling it master_OK and started comparing those items one by one. And finally, I found the difference:

Reason for error: Rendering parameters template was missing due not being serialized and synced on that new environment. How could that happen? Don't know for sure, but a very alike suspect is that when using a clone rendering SXA script I accidentally missed out secondary options, so that script cloned rendering parameters for a new rendering, but left it underneath Experience Accelerator folder. Which is kept outside of serialization (as I more or less correctly predicted at the beginning of my investigation). So rendering parameters template was referenced, but did not exist on the target system. 

After fixing it, the site worked well. I do understand that the call stack I included above and the error messages are quite generic and may be met but any other scenarios, so probably Sitecore needs to assert and explicitly log such errors. At least I shared the way of dealing with it and my exact reason with you, hope it may help someone.

Troubleshooting Solr populate schema for Sitecore Commerce 9.0 update 3 installation

I was installing Sitecore Commerce 9.0 update 3 and after a long successful run, it broke out with an error saying that Solr fails to populate schema.
After digging out, I found out that this issue is coming from Sitecore-commerce-solr.json has capitalized argument Name that is further concatenated with other arguments into a URL: 


where it should be with lower case 'n' instead:


As I later cleared up from Sitecore, the issue comes from using SIF 2.0 for installing XC 9.0 update 3, which is not supported -we should use SIF 1.2.1 instead. However, changing these configuration json file arguments to lowercase make the trick work.

Mythical SXA body-top placeholder shown in Experience Editor

Recently I came into a weird situation. So, to start with ...

I got Sitecore 9.0 update 2, installed SXA 1.8 for 9.0 on top of it. Created a tenant and a site, also made few pages for test and some initial settings as we usually do as per documentation, so far so good. 

Then I made a solution, configuration and serialized everything I made on the previous step, then reinstalled an instance in order to test my solution, configuration and serialization deploys well on top of clean Sitecore and to confirm everything works as expected.

Build process went fine, deployment worked well, Unicorn ran and created the site with all my pages and all relevant items - all good, except for one issue. Before Sitecore reinstallation, a new page in Experience Editor looked that way:

After the deployment on top of the new clean instance, running Experience Editor brought the following layout:

Clearly, there was something missing from either my configuration or serialization. So I started troubleshooting and comparing.

In both scenarios, I had instances sites of the same version and both with SXA 1.8. Since this issue was reproducible, next time I made git init just within webroot in order to get a version diff with a post-deployment state, so that I could see all modified files and see the diff as I usually do with git tools. However, nothing suspicious found at bin and within App_config folder. Deployment went as expected so that should be something in Sitecore then.

First of all, I compared templates and standard values, but they were the same for both cases. Next, I ensured presentation details are also identical, even ensured Layout files and binary equal.  Yes, it contains body-top placeholder, but in one scenario it is presented for some reason.

Then I went to the actual page items in order to compare those, but they were also the same. View options have same parameters checked. No idea then...

Finally, after spending plenty of time I figured out that something was wrong with SXA themes. Unfortunately, did not identify what exactly causes the problem, but after re-creating it at serialization config and re-serializing items the issue has gone. So, the outcome is: if you see unexpected placeholders - please make sure your SXA theme is in the correct state and serialized properly.

Fixing issues preventing one having solution with SXA 1.8 along with Sitecore XP 9.0 update 2

I was very anticipating to upgrade my solution to recently released XP 9.1 with SXA 1.8 and all its great features, however, I got a dependency on Sitecore Commerce, which hasn't (yet) updated to 9.1. Got nothing to do with that, but just wait for a month or so until XC 9.1 is out...

But wait, why not just update at least SXA to version 1.8 meanwhile? SXA 1.8 comes for both versions for 9.1 and 9.0 which means - in two runtimes .NET 4.7.1 and .NET 4.6.2 correspondingly. Done, upgraded. SXA 1.8 works well on top of clean Sitecore 9.0 update 2 instance for me.

But when it came to updating NuGet packages in my solution, I was unable to do so because NuGet packages for my version for some reason demand .NET 4.7.1:

And that is my error:

Package Sitecore.XA.Feature.CreativeExchange 3.8.0 is not compatible with net462 (.NETFramework,Version=v4.6.2) / win-x86. Package Sitecore.XA.Feature.CreativeExchange 3.8.0 supports: net471 (.NETFramework,Version=v4.7.1)

Version 3.8.0 is the correct version of SXA 1.8 for 9.0 and it should support .NET 4.6.2, not 4.7.2. Version of SXA 1.8 for 9.1 has number 4.8.0 and that one indeed supports 4.7.1 runtime.

Since I cannot do anything about NuGet feeds, I turned back to the old lib\LocalRepository folder in my solution, simply copying all the required SXA 1.8 libraries from instance webroot (where I have SXA 1.8 working with clean 9.0 update instance) and referencing them instead from affected projects. 

That did me a job for the moment. I will either update to the NuGets once it is fixed with the correct version or upgrade the entire solution to 9.1 when XC 9.1 is out, whatever comes earlier.

Troubleshooting Sitecore Commerce 9 installation

While installing Sitecore Commerce I came across several blockers I had to sort out in:

  1. SIF
  2. Business Tools
  3. Storefront

1. You are getting 500.19 error during SIF. Other people who came across advice that you are to install ASP.NET Core 2. That's correct, as Commerce micro-services utilize .NET core, but not everything. There was a strong assumption of something missing from IIS or being mis-configured, so in my case it was this component unchecked:

Also, keep in mind you must have URL-Rewrite module installed (the easiest way is: choco install urlrewrite).

Another non-critical error I am getting from time to time is "The service cannot accept control messages at this time". IIS does respond at the moment - you may run iisreset and try warm it up by hitting URL manually in browser. Then repeat SIF deploy.

If SIF is complaining about duplicate certificates, you may need to delete those from Microsoft Management Console (MMC). In order to do that, click Start button, then type in mmc and hit enter. Once there, File - Add/Remove Snap-ins and select Certificates, as on screenshot below:

One more error from SIF: "Error: Unable to add user SITECOREDEV\WindowsUserName. Details: Database 'sc902com_Core' does not exist. Make sure that the name is entered correctly." In that case, ensure you're referencing correct database name for SitecoreCoreDbName variable (line 29 of default deploy script)

2. Running Business Tools may bring an error. In some previous versions Business Tools desktop icon was referencing invalid port, so make sure it is 4200 (by default). You can do that by changing Link field for Business Tools launchpad icon, as you usually do in corу database (item path: /sitecore/client/Applications/Launchpad/PageSettings/Buttons/Commerce/BusinessTools)

While running Business Tools, if you may see to following error:

The error means your browser needs a security exception for self-signed certificate, no worries - that's only for localhost and needs to be done once. Just open a new browser tab and follow to localhost:5000, confirming security exception, as prompted.

3. Once you have successfully installed Sitecore Commerce, you try to access storefront. So you hit URL in browser ( and ... see default Sitecore home page. Why?

The first assumption coming into one's mind is that since storefront is running on top of SXA - you should configure the hostname at HostName field of /sitecore/content/Sitecore/Storefront/Settings/Site Grouping/Storefront item. But wait! is the default value and already presents there. Does it work now? Nope ...

Firstly, try open storefront in Experience Editor (from master database). If you see the right storefront - just re-publish site, and update indexes - it will work from web database then. But if not - the answer is different: it appeared that my current partner's license does not include SXA. Not obvious, but when you're out of license - storefront default to Home page rather than notify you re. that error.

Remember, that you may apply for a developer trial license valid for two month that will include all the features of Sitecore, including SXA and JSS.

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.

Get rid of IIS Express processes when debuggind Helix solutions

Problem: you are running a solution with a large number of projects (as we normally have with Helix) and willing to debug it. You are attaching to IIS process (from Debug menu of Visual Studio, or using magical hotkeys) but that takes way too much time to happen. You CPU usage increases and even likely to boost the cooling fans. Another thing you can evidence - slowly responding icon os IIS Express in the system tray:

What comes to one's mind as the first possible solution? To opt out of using IIS Express in favour of full local IIS, as soon as we are using it anyway to host our Helix-based solution. So you open up Web tab of Project Properties and indeed evidence that IIS Express is configured and has Project Url set to http://localhost with some specific long-digit port number:

Then expectedly you change it to Local IIS with Project Url having something similar to hostname for already exists in your Windows hosts file as well as in IIS binding for that particular website, so that running this URL in a browser will, in fact, give you that locally running website. But you get a weird error instead:

Things are a bit worse, because if you deny creating a Virtual Directory, you'll get a message box as on the image below, and won't be able to close your project tab as it remains modified and will prompt you the same message again and again until you manually terminate devenv.exe process from Task Manager.

What happens? Something has alternative settings preventing you from changing to Local IIS. So need to find this out. After investigating a while I came across...

The solution contains two steps. Part one occurs because there is already a project extension file (ex. Sitecore.Foundation.Serialization.csproj.user) along with your actual project file, that extends (overrides) project settings. Normally, all *.user files are excluded from a source control so your colleague may not experience that same problem despite running the same code from the same repo branch. What exactly prevents you from saving Local IIS changes is UseIISExpress setting, so change it to false:


Or just delete it - then settings from actual *.сsproj file will take effect, but as soon as you somehow customise your project, even as little as just clicking "Show All Files" button in the Solution Explorer - then *.user file will be immediately created. So let's move to the second part of this exercise. Now we need to change actual project to use Local IIS. Make sure you set already familiar UseIISExpress property to false

and also specify Local IIS to false, CustomServerURL to true with the correct URL where your site is running:
So now all works. It loads correctly and you can modify and save Web tab of Project Properties without anу issues:

Also, if you already have virtual folders created under your IIS website, make sure they are removed and the website itself contains the right web folder path:

That's it. Please also pay attention to applicationhost.config file that resides under \.vs\config folder in order to be picked by IIS Express. You may delete it without any potential damage, as we just got rid of IIS Express.

Hope this 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:

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

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 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 ...

Install-Package Glass.Mapper.Sc -Version

... 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.

Why am I getting "Item is not a template" error on data items in Content Editor?

Very simple and even stupid error I have met few times, just want to describe it here to make it google-searchable so that it might help someone.

Image you're going across you content items , and when clicking by one of your data items, you see similar screen, saying: Item "/sitecore/content/Home/Data/Simple item" is not a template.

First of all, why does I got yellow screen? Well, the error is quite descriptive, saying that my Simple item is not a template.

Sure, it isn't, we know that and can prove that by clicking Content tab, that will show us exactly the item's data:

But why on earth do I see other two tabs, that shouldn't be there for data item?

The answer can be either of two cases:

1. Simple silly case - the template of you item is either directly inherited from default Template item (located at /sitecore/templates/System/Templates/Template) rather than Standard template (/sitecore/templates/System/Templates/Standard template).

In that case simply replace one with Standard template to fix.

2. More complex case - when you're likely to have a complicated inheritance chain, especially if you are working with Helix or playing around Habitat. It that case your data item is based on a composite template, that is likely to inherit multiple other templates, at least one of which inherits from Template rather than Standard template, exactly as described in a case above. Solution is the same as above - identify the culprit and change inheritance to Standard template.

Finally your data will be based on correct set of templates and you won't evidence unwanted tabs anymore.

Hope this post helps someone!

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