Top Link Bar Navigation To XML

Applies To: SharePoint

Continuing in my series on SharePoint’s Top Link Bar (sometimes called the Tab Bar) I want to show you how to serialize a site collection’s Global Navigation Nodes to XML using PowerShell. This isn’t quite the same as just using the Export-Clixml command since we are interested in very specific properties and their format.

In my previous post, Multi-Level Top Link Bar Navigation (Sub Menus), I showed you how to enable additional sub menus using the native control in SharePoint by editing a simple attribute in the Master Page. However, it quickly became clear that the native navigation editor (Site Actions > Site Settings > Navigation) won’t allow you to edit anything greater than 2 levels despite the control’s support for it. In this post I’ll show you how to output a site’s navigation to XML. In my next post I’ll show how to edit it and then import it to create multiple levels.

The Script

Copy and paste the code below into notepad and save it as NavigationToXML.ps1

$xmlFile = "d:\scripts\navigation\ExportedNavigation.xml"
$sourceweb = "http://somesite.com"
$keepAudiences = $true

Function ProcessNode($nodeCollection) {
    $parentCollection = @()
    foreach($node in $nodeCollection) {
       if ($node.Properties.NodeType -ne [Microsoft.SharePoint.Publishing.NodeTypes]::Area -and $node.Properties.NodeType -ne [Microsoft.SharePoint.Publishing.NodeTypes]::Page) {
	   $nHash = New-Object System.Object
           $nHash | Add-Member -type NoteProperty -name IsNode -value "yes"
           $nHash | Add-Member -type NoteProperty -name Title -value $node.Title
           $nHash | Add-Member -type NoteProperty -name Url -value $node.Url
           $nHash | Add-Member -type NoteProperty -name NodeType -value $node.Properties.NodeType
           $nHash | Add-Member -type NoteProperty -name Description -value $node.Properties.Description
           if($keepAudiences){
                $nHash | Add-Member -type NoteProperty -name Audience -value $node.Properties.Audience
           } else {
                $nHash | Add-Member -type NoteProperty -name Audience -value ""
           }
           $nHash | Add-Member -type NoteProperty -name Target -value $node.Target
           if($node.Children.Count -gt 0){
                $nHashChildren = ProcessNode($node.Children)
                $nHash | Add-Member -type NoteProperty -name Children -value $nHashChildren
           } else {
                $nHash | Add-Member -type NoteProperty -name Children -value @()
           }
           $parentCollection += $nHash
       }
    }
    $parentCollection
}

$sw = Get-SPWeb $sourceweb
$psw = [Microsoft.SharePoint.Publishing.PublishingWeb]::GetPublishingWeb($sw)

ProcessNode($psw.Navigation.GlobalNavigationNodes) | Export-Clixml $xmlFile

#cleanup
$sw.dispose()

What it Does and How to Use It

There are 3 parameters at the top of the script you will need to change:

  • $xmlFile: The path to use for the XML output
  • $sourceweb: The URL of the site whose navigation you are serializing
  • $keepAudiences: When $true audience values are serialized, when $false they are left blank

Once you set those and save, open the SharePoint Management Shell (You’ll want to run-as a farm administrator) and navigate to the location of the script. You can run it by typing: .\NavigationToXml.ps1

RunNavigationToXMLScript

The script will create an array of custom objects that correspond to the $sourceweb‘s navigation nodes and then use standard PowerShell serialization to create a simplified XML document at the location specified by $xmlFile. For instance, given the navigation shown here:

IMG_0347

The XML output will look similar to this:

<Objs Version="1.1.0.1" xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/powershell/2004/04">
  <Obj RefId="0">
    <TN RefId="0">
      <T>System.Object</T>
    </TN>
    <ToString>System.Object</ToString>
    <MS>
      <S N="IsNode">yes</S>
      <S N="Title">Some Sites</S>
      <S N="Url">/personal/ckent/navtest</S>
      <S N="NodeType">Heading</S>
      <S N="Description"></S>
      <S N="Audience"></S>
      <Nil N="Target" />
      <Obj N="Children" RefId="1">
        <TN RefId="1">
          <T>System.Object[]</T>
          <T>System.Array</T>
          <T>System.Object</T>
        </TN>
        <LST>
          <Obj RefId="2">
            <TNRef RefId="0" />
            <ToString>System.Object</ToString>
            <MS>
              <S N="IsNode">yes</S>
              <S N="Title">theChrisKent</S>
              <S N="Url">http://thechriskent.com</S>
              <S N="NodeType">AuthoredLinkPlain</S>
              <S N="Description"></S>
              <S N="Audience"></S>
              <Nil N="Target" />
              <Obj N="Children" RefId="3">
                <TNRef RefId="1" />
                <LST />
              </Obj>
            </MS>
          </Obj>
          <Obj RefId="4">
            <TNRef RefId="0" />
            <ToString>System.Object</ToString>
            <MS>
              <S N="IsNode">yes</S>
              <S N="Title">Microsoft</S>
              <S N="Url">http://microsoft.com</S>
              <S N="NodeType">AuthoredLinkPlain</S>
              <S N="Description"></S>
              <S N="Audience"></S>
              <Nil N="Target" />
              <Ref N="Children" RefId="3" />
            </MS>
          </Obj>
        </LST>
      </Obj>
    </MS>
  </Obj>
  <Obj RefId="5">
    <TNRef RefId="0" />
    <ToString>System.Object</ToString>
    <MS>
      <S N="IsNode">yes</S>
      <S N="Title">Google</S>
      <S N="Url">http://google.com</S>
      <S N="NodeType">AuthoredLinkPlain</S>
      <S N="Description"></S>
      <S N="Audience"></S>
      <Nil N="Target" />
      <Ref N="Children" RefId="3" />
    </MS>
  </Obj>
</Objs>

For those familiar with the Export-Clixml PowerShell command this shouldn’t look too crazy. For the rest of us, I will go into detail about this in my next post. Regardless of how complicated that may look to you, it is much simpler than if we had just called Export-Clixml on the Global Navigation Nodes object for the site.

How it Works

The main code begins at line 33 where the $sourceweb is retrieved and then the ProcessNode function (Lines 5-31) is called on the GlobalNavigationNodes collection. This generates an array of custom objects that are then serialized to the $xmlFile using Export-Clixml.

The ProcessNode function creates a custom object for every node and captures the Title, Url, NodeType, Description, Target, and when $keepAudiences is $true the audience information. Every custom object is also given a Children property (lines 21-26) and this is set to an array recursively for all child nodes that exist. This has been written to capture any number of levels of children. (This script does, however, skip all Area and Page node types since these are automatic and shouldn’t be edited manually)

 

So what do we do with this XML document? In my next post I’ll show you how to read, edit and ultimately import these nodes back into the site collection. This can be helpful to copy nodes from one site colleciton to another (although my post on SharePoint Top Link Bar Synchronization provided a much cleaner approach for this). More importantly this will provide you an easy way to have multiple sub menus in the SharePoint Top Link Bar.

SharePoint Top Link Bar Synchronization

Applies To: SharePoint

The Top Link Bar (sometimes called the Tab bar) provides global navigation for a site collection. It’s a great spot to link to subsites, other site collections and more. It’s also relatively easy to use and customize. On a standard team site you can go to Site Actions > Site Settings and then choose the Navigation link under Look and Feel to customize. This all works really well. However, it can be difficult to maintain consistent navigation between multiple site collections. Add in the complication of relative URLs, audiences and attempting to keep those sites in sync with any more than 2 or 3 site collections – suddenly any navigational changes become a full project!

IMG_0347

Fortunately, using the below PowerShell script you can easily setup navigation on a single site collection using the out of the box tools and then propagate those changes to as many additional site collections as needed:

The Script

You can copy the script below and paste it into notepad and save it as NavigationPropagation.ps1

$sourceweb = "http://somesite.com"
$destwebs = "http://somesite.com/sites/humanresources", "http://somesite.com/panda", "http://someothersite.com/pickles"

$keepAudiences = $true #set to false to have it totally ignore audiences (good for testing)

Function CreateNode($node,$dWeb,$destCollection){
    if ($node.Properties.NodeType -ne [Microsoft.SharePoint.Publishing.NodeTypes]::Area -and $node.Properties.NodeType -ne [Microsoft.SharePoint.Publishing.NodeTypes]::Page) {

        Write-Host "    Node: " + $node.Title

        #make URLs relative to destination
    	$hnUrl = $node.Url
    	#Write-Host "O URL: $hnUrl"
        $IsHeading = $false
        if($node.Properties.NodeType -eq [Microsoft.SharePoint.Publishing.NodeTypes]::Heading){
            $IsHeading = $true
        }
    	$hnUrl = SwapUrl $hnUrl $sourceWeb $dWeb $IsHeading
    	#Write-Host "N URL: $hnUrl"

        $hnType = $node.Properties.NodeType
        if($hnType -eq $null){
            $hnType = "None"
        }

        $hNode = [Microsoft.SharePoint.Publishing.Navigation.SPNavigationSiteMapNode]::CreateSPNavigationNode($node.Title,$hnUrl,[Microsoft.SharePoint.Publishing.NodeTypes]$hnType, $destCollection)
    	$hNode.Properties.Description = $node.Properties.Description
        if($keepAudiences){
    	   $hNode.Properties.Audience = $node.Properties.Audience
        }
    	$hNode.Properties.Target = $node.Properties.Target
        $hNode.Update()

        if($node.Children.Count -gt 0) {
    	   foreach($child in $node.Children) {
                CreateNode $child $dWeb $hNode.Children
    	   }
        }
    }
}

Function SwapUrl([string]$currentUrl,[string]$sourceRoot,[string]$destRoot,[boolean]$isHeading) {
	if ($currentUrl -ne "/") {
		if ($currentUrl.StartsWith("/")) {
			$currentUrl = $sourceRoot + $currentUrl
		} elseif ($currentUrl.StartsWith($destRoot)) {
			$currentUrl = $currentUrl.Replace($destRoot, "")
		}
	} else {
		$currentUrl = [System.String]::Empty
        if(!$isHeading){
            Write-Host "        This is a blank non-heading! Using $sourceRoot" -ForegroundColor Yellow
            $currentUrl = $sourceRoot
        }
	}
	$currentUrl
}

$sw = Get-SPWeb $sourceweb
$psw = [Microsoft.SharePoint.Publishing.PublishingWeb]::GetPublishingWeb($sw)

foreach ($destweb in $destwebs) {

	Write-Host "***************************************" -ForegroundColor Cyan
	Write-Host "Propogatin' That There $destweb" -ForegroundColor Cyan
	Write-Host "***************************************" -ForegroundColor Cyan

	$dw = Get-SPWeb $destweb
	$pdw = [Microsoft.SharePoint.Publishing.PublishingWeb]::GetPublishingWeb($dw)

	$nodeCount = $pdw.Navigation.GlobalNavigationNodes.Count
	Write-Host "  Removing Current Nodes ($nodeCount)..." -ForegroundColor DarkYellow
	for ($i=$nodeCount-1; $i -ge 0; $i--) {
		$pdw.Navigation.GlobalNavigationNodes[$i].Delete()
	}

	Write-Host "  Propagating to $destweb..." -ForegroundColor DarkYellow
	foreach($n in $psw.Navigation.GlobalNavigationNodes){
		[void](CreateNode $n $destweb $pdw.Navigation.GlobalNavigationNodes)
	}

	$dw.dispose()
}

$sw.dispose()

What it Does and How to Use it

Since this is a script that you will typically run with the same parameters over and over I just made them variables at the top of the script. There are just 3 of them:

  • $sourceweb: This is the url of the site collection to copy the navigation from
  • $destwebs: This is a comma separated (array) list of urls to copy the navigation to
  • $keepAudiences: When $true audiences are propagated along with the links, when $false then these are totally ignored. Setting this to $false can be really helpful for testing just to make sure everything is being copied correctly before you add in the complication of audience filtering

Once you set those and save, open the SharePoint Management Shell (You’ll want to run-as a farm administrator) and navigate to the location of the script you can simply run it by typing: .\NavigationPropagation.ps1

IMG_0349

The script will cycle through each of the $destwebs and delete all the Global Navigation Nodes from the site. It will then copy all the nodes (excluding Area and Page types since these are automatic depending on your settings) from the $sourceweb. Each URL is made relative or adjusted to be fully qualified as needed. This is done recursively allowing any number of levels of child nodes (more on this in an upcoming post).

Typical use case for us is to save the script with all the parameters set and whenever we make a change on the $sourceweb we simply run the script and everything gets synchronized. If you’re making frequent updates then you could always use Task Scheduler to run the script automatically.

How it Works

There are 2 functions in the script: CreateNode (lines 4-40) and SwapUrl (lines 42-57). CreateNode copies a passed node into the specified collection mapping the necessary properties and calling SwapUrl which ensures relative Urls are fully qualified and Urls that should be relative are made relative. The main thing to note is that CreateNode is recursive and will copy all child nodes as well.

The main execution of the script starts at line 59 and is pretty straightforward. It retrieves the source web and then loops through the destination webs. For each destination web it deletes all the existing navigation nodes and then calls CreateNode passing each of the source web’s nodes and the destinations node collection.

 

Keeping your navigation consistent across the farm is essential to a good user experience but can be difficult to manage using out of the box tools. Fortunately with the above script this can be relatively simple.

Open with Explorer Intermittent Failures

Applies To: SharePoint

Background:

I recently created a new web application that will eventually be used quite a bit, but for now we were only moving one site over. Fortunately, the site collection we were moving was the only thing in the Content Database so I just performed a simple Dismount and then Mount and everything was up and running except for the search results. A quick change of the scopes and a Full Crawl takes care of that. I turned it over to the main user and he immediately called me back and said the Explorer View was not working for him.

Then there was much weeping.

Symptoms:

I immediately confirmed that it worked on my machine (Windows 7) and assumed he was doing it wrong (Cause I’m a bit of a Jerk). A quick visit to his machine proved I didn’t know what I was talking about. He was running XP and everything was working fine in our other main Web Application on his machine for Explorer View, but not in the new Web App.

He would receive an access denied message stating he didn’t have enough permissions but also that the Network Path was not found. I decided to investigate further at my machine only to find that mine only worked intermittently. Sometimes it would open up just fine, but other times I would receive the message “Your client does not support opening this list with windows explorer.” Something had made my machine a liar.

Disclaimer

After a bunch of searching and cross comparing my Web Apps to see what setting I missed, I came across this article on The prostructure blog. Amber Pham lays out the full solution there which I am reproducing here. She got it right but it was so hard to find that I thought rephrasing some things might help the next poor victim find the solution quicker. So it’s below, but it is her solution and I’m very grateful for her help.

Solution:

Turns out, for whatever reason, a missing root site for the Web Application will cause this issue. Since I was only moving the one site for now, I hadn’t yet created a Site Collection at / (Root Site Collection). I didn’t think this was a big deal – and if you’re not using Explorer View, it’s not. But to correct this issue, go into Central Admin and create a new Site Collection at /. Pick any template you want since you can always change it later. I just ensured that I was the only one who had access to it for now and voila, Open with Explorer suddenly works for my XP clients and consistently works for our Windows 7 clients. Sheesh.

Auto Publish and Approve Your Solution Files

Applies To: SharePoint 2010

By default, every file you deploy using a sandboxed solution is left checked out. This can lead to problems depending on the type of site you are deploying to and/or the permissions of your end users.

This post focuses on Branding solutions, but anytime you are deploying a sandboxed solution these techniques should help you. This is especially important for Master Pages since these often need an approved/published version in order to be visible to anyone but the site administrators.

I found an interesting approach by Waldek Mastykarz where he suggests using a “Stamp” (Feature ID property) on each file and using that to find and check in each file. This was very cool, but requires you to modify the Elements.xml entry for each file to ensure that property is added and he also never addressed Master Pages which can be a bit of a special case.

For my needs, I generally take a simpler approach of just deploying my resources to one root folder and creating sub folders as needed. This makes it easier to find stuff, but it also means I don’t need to track each file individually. Obviously if you are doing something a little more extensive then you may need to take a hybrid approach of using the featureid property and/or just tracking the various folders you are deploying too. But for a simple branding solution you really just need to:

  1. Apply your branding to each site
  2. Publish and Approve each resource file
  3. Publish and Approve each Master Page

All of this can be done in the FeatureActivating event with a simpler helper method:

    Public Overrides Sub FeatureActivated(ByVal properties As SPFeatureReceiverProperties)
        Dim siteCollection As SPSite = CType(properties.Feature.Parent, SPSite)
        If siteCollection IsNot Nothing Then
            Dim topSite As SPWeb = siteCollection.RootWeb

            'Calculate relative path to site from Web Application root
            Dim WebAppRelativePath As String = topSite.ServerRelativeUrl
            If Not WebAppRelativePath.EndsWith("/") Then WebAppRelativePath &= "/"

            'Enumerate through each site and apply branding
            For Each site As SPWeb In siteCollection.AllWebs
                If Not site.MasterUrl.EndsWith("minimal.master") Then
                    site.MasterUrl = WebAppRelativePath & "_catalogs/masterpage/BSmain.master"
                Else
                    site.MasterUrl = WebAppRelativePath & "_catalogs/masterpage/BSminimal.master"
                End If
                If Not site.CustomMasterUrl.EndsWith("minimal.master") Then
                    site.CustomMasterUrl = WebAppRelativePath & "_catalogs/masterpage/BSmain.master"
                Else
                    site.CustomMasterUrl = WebAppRelativePath & "_catalogs/masterpage/BSminimal.master"
                End If
                site.AlternateCssUrl = WebAppRelativePath & "Style%20Library/BSResources/BS.css"
                site.SiteLogoUrl = WebAppRelativePath & "Style%20Library/BSResources/Images/BSlogo.png"
                site.UIVersion = 4
                site.Update()
            Next

            'Publish and Approve each file
            Dim styleLibrary As SPList = topSite.Lists.TryGetList("Style Library")
            If styleLibrary IsNot Nothing Then
                Dim folders As SPListItemCollection = styleLibrary.Folders
                Dim item As SPListItem = DirectCast((From i In folders Where DirectCast(i, SPListItem).Url = "Style Library/BSResources" Select i).FirstOrDefault(), SPListItem)
                ApproveAndPublish(item.Folder, styleLibrary.EnableModeration)
            End If

            'Publish and Approve the Master Pages
            Dim mpGallery As SPList = siteCollection.GetCatalog(SPListTemplateType.MasterPageCatalog)
            If mpGallery IsNot Nothing Then
                Dim mpages As SPListItemCollection = mpGallery.GetItems(New SPQuery With {.Query = "<Where><Or><Eq><FieldRef Name='FileLeafRef' /><Value Type='Text'>RegalIC.master</Value></Eq><Eq><FieldRef Name='FileLeafRef' /><Value Type='Text'>RegalICminimal.master</Value></Eq></Or></Where>"})
                If mpages IsNot Nothing Then
                    For Each i As SPListItem In mpages
                        If Not i.File.CheckOutType = SPFile.SPCheckOutType.None Then
                            i.File.CheckIn("Feature Activation", SPCheckinType.MajorCheckIn)
                            If mpGallery.EnableModeration Then
                                i.File.Approve("Feature Activation")
                            End If
                        End If
                    Next
                End If
            End If

        End If
    End Sub

    Private Sub ApproveAndPublish(folder As SPFolder, Approve As Boolean)
        If folder Is Nothing Then Return
        For Each subfolder As SPFolder In folder.SubFolders
            ApproveAndPublish(subfolder, Approve)
        Next
        For Each file As SPFile In folder.Files
            If Not file.CheckOutType = SPFile.SPCheckOutType.None Then
                file.CheckIn("Feature Activation", SPCheckinType.MajorCheckIn)
                If Approve Then
                    file.Approve("Feature Activation")
                End If
            End If
        Next
    End Sub

1. Apply your branding to each site

After gathering basic information about where the feature is being deployed and getting the correct reference URLs, we begin looping through every site in the sitecollection and setting the master page, sitelogo, and CSS settings to use our custom branding beginning in line 11.

The only thing different than the approach described in the Microsoft article, Deploying Branding Solutions for SharePoint 2010 Sites Using Sandboxed Solutions is that I am checking if the current master page is the minimal.master and if so, using my BSminimal.master file instead. This allows me to have both master pages deployed correctly, but it also allows me to restore these settings more accurately in the deactivating event (See my previous post).

2. Publish and Approve each resource file

To keep things simple, I keep all of my resource files in a single root folder within the Style Library. This makes looping through each subfolder and resource very simple to ensure that each one gets checked in and/or approved as necessary.

Lines 29-34 get a reference to the resource folder within the Style Library and pass that information over to a helper method called ApproveAndPublish. This method takes an SPFolder reference and a boolean indicating if approval is necessary or not. For the initial call, the folder is our resource folder and the approval setting comes directly from the Style Library and is found in the EnableModeration property of the SPList object.

The ApproveAndPublish method (Lines 55-68) is a recursive function that loops through every subfolder and checks in every file found. If Approval is required, it also marks them as approved.

This means you don’t have to track each file (either through stamping or keeping a list). This really cuts down on all the plumbing that is often necessary when working on a SharePoint solution.

3. Publish and Approve each Master Page

Unfortunately, Master Pages aren’t usually deployed to a sub folder and so the above technique for approval and check in has to be tweaked slightly. Lines 37-50 take care of this. Basically, we get a reference to the Master Page Catalog and use some basic CAML to isolate our master pages and then loop through them to check them in and/or activate them if required.

That’s all that’s required. You now have your files successfully deployed and ready to be used. Be sure to check out my previous post Branding Solution Cleanup. In that post I describe how to remove all of your solution files when your solution gets deactivated.

Branding Solution Cleanup

Applies To: SharePoint 2010

I followed the Microsoft article, Deploying Branding Solutions for SharePoint 2010 Sites Using Sandboxed Solutions and I was able to quickly get the bones of a Branding project put together. Unfortunately, I found that when the solution was deactivated all the files I deployed remained exactly where they were.

I found various solutions for removing your files ranging from individual file lists to marking every file with your feature ID, but for a simple Branding project all you really need to do is:

  1. Remove usage of your Master Pages from every site referencing them
  2. Remove your files from the Style Library
  3. Remove your Master Page files from the Master Page Catalog

The first two can be done in the FeatureDeactivating event handler and the third can be done in the FeatureUninstalling event handler. For those that just want the code, here it is:

    Public Overrides Sub FeatureDeactivating(ByVal properties As SPFeatureReceiverProperties)
        Dim siteCollection As SPSite = CType(properties.Feature.Parent, SPSite)
        If siteCollection IsNot Nothing Then
            Dim topSite As SPWeb = siteCollection.RootWeb

            'Calculate relative path to site from Web Application root
            Dim WebAppRelativePath As String = topSite.ServerRelativeUrl
            If Not WebAppRelativePath.EndsWith("/") Then WebAppRelativePath &= "/"

            'Enumerate through each site and remove branding
            For Each site As SPWeb In siteCollection.AllWebs
                If Not site.MasterUrl.EndsWith("minimal.master") Then
                    site.MasterUrl = WebAppRelativePath & "_catalogs/masterpage/v4.master"
                Else
                    site.MasterUrl = WebAppRelativePath & "_catalogs/masterpage/minimal.master"
                End If
                If Not site.CustomMasterUrl.EndsWith("minimal.master") Then
                    site.CustomMasterUrl = WebAppRelativePath & "_catalogs/masterpage/v4.master"
                Else
                    site.CustomMasterUrl = WebAppRelativePath & "_catalogs/masterpage/minimal.master"
                End If
                site.AlternateCssUrl = String.Empty
                site.SiteLogoUrl = String.Empty
                site.Update()
            Next

            'Kill Style Library Folder
            Dim styleLibrary As SPList = topSite.Lists.TryGetList("Style Library")
            If styleLibrary IsNot Nothing Then
                Dim folders As SPListItemCollection = styleLibrary.Folders
                Dim item As SPListItem = DirectCast((From i In folders Where DirectCast(i, SPListItem).Url = "Style Library/BSResources" Select i).FirstOrDefault(), SPListItem)
                item.Delete()
            End If

        End If
    End Sub

    Public Overrides Sub FeatureUninstalling(ByVal properties As SPFeatureReceiverProperties)
        Dim siteCollection As SPSite = properties.UserCodeSite
        If siteCollection IsNot Nothing Then

            'Kill Master Pages
            Dim mpGallery As SPList = siteCollection.GetCatalog(SPListTemplateType.MasterPageCatalog)
            If mpGallery IsNot Nothing Then
                Dim mpages As SPListItemCollection = mpGallery.GetItems(New SPQuery With {.Query = "<Where><Or><Eq><FieldRef Name='FileLeafRef' /><Value Type='Text'>BSmain.master</Value></Eq><Eq><FieldRef Name='FileLeafRef' /><Value Type='Text'>BSminimal.master</Value></Eq></Or></Where>"})
                If mpages IsNot Nothing Then
                    For i As Integer = mpages.Count - 1 To 0 Step -1
                        mpages(i).Delete()
                    Next
                End If
            End If

        End If
    End Sub

Wow code! Alright Scriptkitties, copy away! Everyone else, here’s what we’re doing and why:

1. Remove usage of your Master Pages from every site referencing them

After gathering basic information about where the feature was deployed and figuring out the correct reference URLs, we begin looping through every site in the sitecollection and resetting the master page to the defaults beginning in line 11.

We are just undoing what was done in the FeatureActivating event. The only thing of note is that I hate when a Branding solution replaces every MasterPage with theirs and then just blindly restores v4.master. Mostly this is fine, but if one of your subsites is an Enterprise Search site or anything else using the minimal.master you’ve just wrecked it. Obviously if you know you aren’t using minimal.master then you can simplify this section. Also, I always name my minimal.master replacement in the form [Something]minimal.master to ensure this works out.

2. Remove your files from the Style Library

To keep things simple, I keep all of my resource files in a single root folder within the Style Library. Obviously I have subfolders to organize images, fonts, etc. but all of those are within my one folder. This makes finding stuff much easier, but more than that it makes removing the files super easy – Just delete that folder.

Lines 27-33 do just that. After getting a reference to the Style Library (Every sitecollection in SharePoint 2010 has one of these), grab the folder (just replace the “Style Library/BSResources” string in line 31 with your folder path) and delete.

3. Remove your Master Page files from the Master Page Catalog

There are lots of guides for deleting deployed master pages and I didn’t find any that worked. Basically every time I tried to delete a master page from within the FeatureDeactivating event I got an error about them still being used. I’m sure there’s a good reason for this (feel free to let me know in the comments), but it doesn’t really matter because as long as you followed step 1 above, it’ll work in the FeatureUninstalling event.

We simply grab a reference to the sitecollection’s Master Page Gallery and use some simple CAML to grab references to our Master Pages. Then we walk through them and delete them.

That’s it, you now have a self-cleaning solution and you are a responsible member of the SharePoint community.

Relative Paths in SharePoint using SPUrlExpressionBuilder ($SPUrl)

Applies To: SharePoint Server (MOSS)

When you edit pages and/or master pages in SharePoint either for branding or some other project you will eventually come across the need to link to some resource file whether it’s an image, icon, CSS, etc. When this came up for me, I realized I had no idea how to do this properly.

Sure you can hardcode a link, but if this is part of a solution (especially a sandboxed solution) then this quickly becomes an unusable option. You can use the dots to do relative links, but again this can easily break on system pages or when you need to reference site collection level items from any sub site regardless of level.

Fortunately, some quick searching found the solution I needed. I came across Bugra Postaci’s blog post on the subject and that got me going. Be sure to check it out for some background, but the basic idea is to use the SPUrlExpressionBuilder class to generate relative links. Unfortunately, this class is part of the publishing namespace and so is only available in SharePoint Server (2010) and MOSS (2007).

He gives an example of linking to an image within the Style Library of the site collection using the following code directly within the master page:

<asp:Image ImageUrl="<% $SPUrl:~sitecollection/Style Library/CustomImages/BlogofBugra.jpg %>" runat="server" />

The key thing to note is the inline use of the $SPUrl command. The example shows this within an asp:Image control but this can be done in a standard tag as well (img, link, etc.).

After seeing that, I really wanted to know what other magic tokens you can use, but the Microsoft Documentaiton on the class doesn’t even show the inline $SPUrl syntax, let alone list any of the usable tokens! Doing a quick search will find you an assortment of undocumented tokens. However this can be misleading as the tokens listed in {} braces are generally only for custom actions and not for inline links (you can find examples of those lists here and here).

Here is what I’ve found by actually looking at the code using Reflector:

Token Replaced By Version
~site/ SPContext.Current.Web.ServerRelativeUrl 2007, 2010
~sitecollection/ SPContext.Current.Site.ServerRelativeUrl 2007, 2010
~language Thread.CurrentThread.CurrentUICulture.Name 2007, 2010
With the exception of the ~language token, the others are replaced using a call to Microsoft.SharePoint.Utilities.SPUtility.UrlFromPrefixedUrlCore.

Choose Which Content Database to Create Your Site Collection in

Applies to: SharePoint

If you want to choose which Content Database to use when creating a new Site Collection you will have to use Powershell. There are some crazy solutions out there that tell you to do things like detach all other content databases or adjust the site limits to force SharePoint to pick your Content Database, but in a production environment that is usually not possible – not to mention stupid.

You can do all of this with the stsadm tool in SharePoint 2007, but I won’t be covering that here. But a good reference to figure out what commands match the powershell ones can be found here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff621081.aspx

If you already have a Content Database you’d like to use, then skip ahead. Otherwise you can create a new Content Database pretty easy in Powershell using this command:

New-SPContentDatabase -Name MyNewSite_Content -WebApplication http://mysharepointsite.com

One of the main irritations with creating a new Site Collection from Powershell rather than the GUI is, although you gain the ability to specify the Content Database, you have to specify the site template by internal name. To get the internal names of all the Site Templates available, use this command:

Get-SPWebTemplate

But for the lazy (me), I’ve put a quick list of most of the templates and their internal names (For English sites – 1033) at the end of this article.

To create the new Site Collection while specifying the Content Database use the following command:

New-SPSite http://mysharepointsite.com/sites/mynewsite -OwnerAlias "MyDomain\MyUser" -ContentDatabase MyNewSite_Content -Name "My New Site!" -Template "STS#0"

That’s it! There’s a bunch of other parameters for the New-SPSite command you can specify (Like Description), but that’s the basic syntax.

Default Installed Templates and their internal Names:

Internal Name Title
GLOBAL#0 Global template
STS#0 Team Site
STS#1 Blank Site
STS#2 Document Workspace
MPS#0 Basic Meeting Workspace
MPS#1 Blank Meeting Workspace
MPS#2 Decision Meeting Workspace
MPS#3 Social Meeting Workspace
MPS#4 Multipage Meeting Workspace
CENTRALADMIN#0 Central Admin Site
WIKI#0 Wiki Site
BLOG#0 Blog
SGS#0 Group Work Site
TENANTADMIN#0 Tenant Admin Site
ACCSRV#0 Access Services Site
ACCSRV#1 Assets Web Database
ACCSRV#3 Charitable Contributions Web Database
ACCSRV#4 Contacts Web Database
ACCSRV#6 Issues Web Database
ACCSRV#5 Projects Web Database
BDR#0 Document Center
BT#0 Bug Database
OFFILE#0 (obsolete) Records Center
OFFILE#1 Records Center
OSRV#0 Shared Services Administration Site
PPSMASite#0 PerformancePoint
BICenterSite#0 Business Intelligence Center
SPS#0 SharePoint Portal Server Site
SPSPERS#0 SharePoint Portal Server Personal Space
SPSMSITE#0 Personalization Site
SPSTOC#0 Contents area Template
SPSTOPIC#0 Topic area template
SPSNEWS#0 News Site
CMSPUBLISHING#0 Publishing Site
BLANKINTERNET#0 Publishing Site
BLANKINTERNET#1 Press Releases Site
BLANKINTERNET#2 Publishing Site with Workflow
SPSNHOME#0 News Site
SPSSITES#0 Site Directory
SPSCOMMU#0 Community area template
SPSREPORTCENTER#0 Report Center
SPSPORTAL#0 Collaboration Portal
SRCHCEN#0 Enterprise Search Center
PROFILES#0 Profiles
BLANKINTERNETCONTAINER#0 Publishing Portal
SPSMSITEHOST#0 My Site Host
ENTERWIKI#0 Enterprise Wiki
SRCHCENTERLITE#0 Basic Search Center
SRCHCENTERLITE#1 Basic Search Center
SRCHCENTERFAST#0 FAST Search Center
visprus#0 Visio Process Repository