Neil on SharePoint -

Problem using Managed Metadata fields in the User Profile Service

Ever got this helpful message when trying to configure the user profile to use a termset?

There was a problem retrieving data for this field. Updating values in this field is disabled temporarily. You can still update values in other fields.

Love it!

There are lots of potential causes for this. Earlier today I found that my problem was caused by an issue outlined on Donal Colon’s blog.

Here’s my setup:

  • Managed metadata started, configured and running as the only MM Service in my farm
  • MM service was associated with all web apps
  • User profile service was configured correctly (I could do profile syncing) and could even associate fields with a Managed Metadata term.

However, with all these things, I wasn’t feeling any User Profile / Managed Metadata love. This was potentially a big problem as I have a client delivery counting on User Contexts in Search (depending upon said UP/MM love).

Enter Donal Colon.

His post suggests that if you don’t tick the default storage location for keywords when you have TWO MM services then you can get problems like the one I encountered. He also highlighted that having two MM services conflicting can cause a problem.









Well, I only had one Managed Metadata service, but if you don’t have this  box ticked, then you aren’t getting any terms in your User Profile Service either.

Thanks Donal!



By admin on March 7, 2011 | Sharepoint, sharepoint2010 | A comment?

Rendering html in a SharePoint Dialog requires a DOM element and not a String

Most of the examples of using dialogs in SharePoint refer to calling other pages, effectively creating a popup iframe. This approach is both useful and reasonably well documented (Charlie Holland’s blog has the best examples I’ve seen to date).



	function ShowDialog()
		var options = {
			url: '',
			title: 'Test dialog',
			showClose: true,
		var dialog = SP.UI.ModalDialog.showModalDialog(options);


<a href="javascript:ShowDialog()">Boo</a>

What isn’t well documented is using SharePoint modal dialogs to render dynamically generated html. When you call SP.UI.ModalDialog.ShowModalDialog you need to pass in a SP.UI.DialogOptions object. Charlie kindly posted the list onto MSDN, but with regards to passing in html it’s incorrect. It seems to indicate that raw html can be passed in.


	function ShowDialog()
		var htmlString = 'hello world';

		var options = {
			html: htmlString,
			title: 'Test dialog',
			showClose: true,

		var dialog = SP.UI.ModalDialog.showModalDialog(options);


<a href="javascript:ShowDialog()">Boo</a>


However if you try this you’ll just get an error like this:


Message: Object doesn't support this property or method
Line: 2
Char: 18225
Code: 0
URI: http:///_layouts/sp.ui.dialog.js?rev=IuXtJ2CrScK6oX4zOTTy%2BA%3D%3D


This is because the string that gets passed in is evaluated for nodeType (if you want to check for yourself, see around line 764 in SP.UI.Dialog.debug.js, there is a function that the html string is passed into with a definition that looks like $13_0: function($p0).


What this means is that you have to pass in a DOM element.



	function ShowDialog()
		var htmlElement = document.createElement('p');

		var helloWorldNode = document.createTextNode('Hello world!');

		var options = {
			html: htmlElement,
			title: 'Test dialog',
			showClose: true,

		var dialog = SP.UI.ModalDialog.showModalDialog(options);


<a href="javascript:ShowDialog()">Boo</a>

Do that, and you’ll get your dynamic-html dialog!



By admin on February 26, 2011 | Ajax, Design, sharepoint2010 | 7 comments

Debugging FAST for SharePoint : Part 1 – the QRServer

With FAST for SharePoint being so new, it’s difficult to know how to work with the product when it comes to debugging. There are many different questions:

  • What does it know about document x?
  • What is FAST returning to my SharePoint server?
  • What is the rank of a certain document?
  • What is SharePoint asking FAST?
  • Why aren’t User Contexts working? Are User Contexts working?

For all of these questions, the QRServer is an invaluable tool.

What is the QR Server?

The Query Result (QR) Server, is a way to speak with FAST directly, without worrying about SharePoint. It’s a web site, accessible only to users logged in to the FAST server that allows users to fire queries into FAST and see the resulting XML. This is important because it allows users to rule-out (or in) SharePoint as the culprit for broken searches.

By default, the QR Server respects content security rules, so using different accounts on the QR Server will give you different results.

How do I find my QR Server?

You access the QR Server via a web-browser. The url to type is http://<fastservername>:<basePortNumber+280>/. So let’s say the ever popular is served by a FAST server with the name using the default base port number of 13000. In that case you’d need to navigate to

The QR Server is ONLY accessible directly from a FAST server, so you must Remote Desktop onto the server to use it. From there, you find your base port number by looking at the hostconfiguration.xml in the < FASTInstallLocation>/etc/ folder

The FAST Query Game

Debugging queries in a production or UAT environment is a serious pain. This technique was taught to me by a FAST Ninja (thanks Torstein!) and is a bit bizarre. It involves running a query from SharePoint and then extracting the data passed to FAST out of a log file and manually resubmitting the query on the FAST server, all within 15 seconds.

This approach is necessary because along with your query, SharePoint sends FAST  a user authorization token that is only valid for a short period of time.


  • You must be logged into the FAST server
  • Open Windows Explorer and navigate to <FASTInstallLocation>/var/logs/querylogs/. Find the most recently modified file.
  • Open a copy of NotePad (or your favourite text editor)
  • On the FAST server, open a web browser and navigate to the QR Server.
    • Search for the term “test”
  • Anywhere
    • Open a web browser and navigate to the SharePoint search UI.
  • At this stage you will have 1x Notepad, 1x Windows Explorer, 2x Web browsers

The rules:

  • You must execute your queries from the SharePoint server, via the UI
  • You have 15 seconds to complete the following process… or you die… probably.

STEP 1: On your SharePoint FAST Search Centre, execute your query

STEP 2: Quickly switch to the FAST server and into the the FAST log folder. Open the most recent log file in Notepad and navigate to the bottom, making sure Word Wrap is on.

STEP 3: Take the last url in the file

You will need to grab the url from the  querystring, taking everything after “search?” until the HTTP/1.1 text. In a production environment this can span multiple lines and be tricky to select within the 15 second limit. This is usually the part where I run out of time.

STEP 4: On the QR Server, paste the querystring into the location noted below

STEP 5: Hit “go”, “enter” or whatever to start your search and see the results FAST sent back to SharePoint

If you run out of time, you’ll see the same QUERYTRANSFORMS elements, but nothing else.

Interpreting the results

Following a successful round of the FAST Debugging game, you can investigate the results. I can’t possibly describe each element, but at a high-level:

  • QUERYTRANSFORMS à Describes what was submitted through SharePoint. Refiner selections, user contexts, sorting selections will all appear here.
  • NAVIGATION à Indicate what refinement data is being sent back to the server. Useful when the number of displayed refiners seems incorrect.
  • RESULTSET à Includes all the search hits from the current “page”, including the value of every managed property (i.e. attributes of a document that FAST gives special treatment). While it doesn’t give you a way to interrogate every crawled property you also get to look at the rank of a document
  • PAGENAVIGATION à If you work in Collaboration you’re smart enough to figure this out.

I’ll talk more about interpreting the results in my next post, but for now, I hope this helps.



By admin on February 3, 2011 | FAST, Sharepoint | 5 comments

Fixing the SharePoint 2010 Breadcrumb

In SharePoint 2010 default masterpage (v4.master) has delivered Breadcrumbs in a new, and I think confusing, way.

SharePoint 2010 Breadcrumb

SharePoint 2010 Breadcrumb

From my perspective, this approach is difficult to use because it is hidden from the user. Once you know about it the breadcrumb is easier to find, but its nowhere near as usable as a traditional breadcrumb.

Smashing Magazine offers a range of alternatives you can consider in implementing your own breadcrumb which are worth considering if you want to create a fully-customised master page.

However, want if you want a breadcrumb of the same style as SP2007?

What if you want to revert the 2010 breadcrumb into the style of the 2007 breadcrumb? Well it turns out that the v3 masterpage(the 2007-style masterpage that runs on SharePoint 2010 to allow companies to avoid a visual upgrade) runs the old-school masterpage.

If you dive into the v3 masterpage (default.master) you can see the following snippet to in place of the breadcrumbs.

<asp:SiteMapPath SiteMapProvider=”SPContentMapProvider” id=”ContentMap”  SkipLinkText=”” RenderCurrentNodeAsLink=”true”  NodeStyle-CssClass=”ms-sitemapdirectional” runat=”server”/>

As it turns out, if you paste that snippet into the v4 masterpage it will work perfectly.

Update: Turns out it won’t work perfectly, but its pretty good. There are a number of circumstances (i.e. site settings page) where it falls short, but for most users its better than nothing. To have a perfect breadcrumb, unfortunately you’ll need to open up visual studio.

Install Active Directory onto a Sharepoint VM AFTER having setup Sharepoint

**Note: this post it limited in scope to the Single Sharepoint VM environment, anything more complicated is frankly beyond my feeble server administration skills.

If you try to install AD and DNS onto a Sharepoint VM after having already installed Sharepoint you run into a range of problems. The first time I tried to fix the problem I fried my environment and had to revert to a snapshot.

First, install AD and DNS as you normally would. Here’s a link to the guide I used.

At this point if you try to hit your Central Administration site or any other Sharepoint site, you’ll get a Service Unavailable message on any page you hit.

I tried the following to bring up something, anything Sharepoint:

  • Hitting my server via the computer name (http://phoenix:5555)
  • Hitting my server via the IP address (
  • Hitting my server via localhost (http://localhost:5555)
  • Hitting my server via the fully qualified domain name (http://phoenix.kmtests.local:5555/)

None of these works, and if I wasn’t getting the Service Unavailable message, I was getting one that said:

Under Construction

The site you are trying to view does not currently have a default page. It may be in the process of being upgraded and configured.

Looking at the server logs, you see two errors:

Application Log Screenshot

Application Log Screenshot

System Log screenshot

System Log screenshot

Aha! Adding a domain to the mix changes all the user accounts so that your old accounts need to be reconfigured. This is easily done by going into IIS Manager and updating the Identities of all of the app pools to reflect the new, domain enabled accounts.

i.e. servername\MossServiceAcct becomes domainName\MossServiceAcct



Having reconfigured the app pools, trying to hit the server again give you a message that says

The current identity (domainName\MossServiceAcct) does not have write access to ‘c:\WINDOWS\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727\Temporary ASP.NET Files’.

You can resolve this easily by navigating to that location and by granting write access to the folder in question (you will need to do this for each unique service account which hits the Temporary ASP.NET Files folder).

Central Admin will loads, but hold on cowboy/girl, you won’t be able to get to any of the pages on the Operations or Application Management tabs.

Some or all identity references could not be translated.   at System.Security.Principal.NTAccount.Translate(IdentityReferenceCollection sourceAccounts, Type targetType, Boolean forceSuccess)

Will it never end?

Ultimately I followed the process outlined on two specific web pages (retyping them would be silly)

Following Joel’s tips I got 100% of the way, but the other page a good reference anyways. I found that there were so many passwords to re-enter that I missed a couple (specifically the stsadm -o editssp command) but got there in the end.

Good luck, it’s a painful process, but a possible one. Just be careful and meticulous and you should be okay.

By admin on October 14, 2009 | Sharepoint | A comment?
Tags: ,

How to reattach a Sharepoint workflow

Have you ever had to re-attach a Sharepoint workflow after it has been removed?

It is impossible via the browser (from what I can see) and via designer it is far from obvious how to accomplish this. What you need to do is open the workflow in Sharepoint Designer, click “Finish” and the workflow will re-attach itself. Not very obvious, but it works.

Unfortunately there is no way to associate a workflow with another list unless you open the various workflow xml files change the list guids inside.

By admin on October 11, 2009 | Uncategorized | A comment?
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Fixing the Sharepoint RSS Proxy issue in a VMWare environment

I found this to be a total pain to figure out how to fix, but once done, the solution is actually very simple.

My setup:

Most people doing Sharepoint development will be doing so in a proper networked environment (setup by a proper network admin).   In which case this article is unlikely to apply to you and this article, can probably point you in the right direction (hint: you need to set your web.config proxy settings).

I am running a Sharepoint development environment at my house, using VMWare, with a minimal win2k3 setup.  I’m not a server admin and I’m conscious hits to performance so the environment is very lightweight.  No Domain Controller, no Active Directory.  I’m a developer not a sysadmin.

The problem:

Unfortunately, Sharepoint cares not for my developing ways and when I tried adding an RSS webpart to a Sharepoint page got the following on-screen error:

An unexpected error occured processing your request. Check the logs for details and correct the problem.

Crapola.  First I thought dodgy rss.


Then I thought, the IIS account doesn’t have web access.


So then I looked at the million and one “Sharepoint rss proxy” articles on Google  to no avail.  They all want you to make changes to the defaultProxy entry in your Sharepoint’s web.config.


The cause:

For some reason, if you don’t have a proxy setup, Sharepoint throws it’s toys out the pram and won’t work.  It won’t even try to make a network call (I checked using WireShark).  Even when I tried to tell the defaultProxy entry to bypass all addresses, it ignored me.

The solution:

Setup your own proxy.  It’s actually very simple (trust me I hate server admin stuff)

  • disable Windows firewall (should have a firewall on your host anyways)
  • I then followed the instructions on as best I could under the “Installing the Routing and Remote Access Service” heading.
  • Then magically my rss webparts worked

Also important is to make sure you use a proper RSSViewer part instead of a RSSAggregatorWebPart (added manually).  The only difference I can see is in the configuration xml, but the latter continued to break even after my changes.

Hopefully this doesn’t up some insane hole in my firewall.

Hope that helps.

March 31 possible Nokia N97 release date

According to, the N97 is due to be released March 31 and looks to be priced at £479.99.  Now, it’s most likely that have merely put down the last date of Q1 in hope that it will arrive by then, but I can live with that.

It’s also good to know the full retail price is £20 less than the 8gb iPhone 3G and £120 less than the 16gb iPhone 3G.

I’m definitely looking forward to seeing this phone.

Update Jan 26: Looks like Nokia has come out and stated that March 31 IS NOT the official release date.

By admin on January 10, 2009 | Uncategorized | 2 comments

Export a Dataview as part of a Site Template

Out of the box, if you use a list-bound dataview as part of a Sharepoint Site Template, you’ll get a grumpy message when creating a new site

“Unable to display this Web Part. To troubleshoot the problem, open this Web page in a Windows SharePoint Services-compatible HTML editor such as Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer. If the problem persists, contact your Web server administrator.”

How helpful.

The issue is the dataview has a hard-coded reference to the list guid on the original site. To resolve this, simply wrap curly braces “{” and “}” around all instances of the guid. This tells Sharepoint to refer to the newly created list when deploying the site template.

Granted this seems like a bug, but it works.

There should be 6 or 7 references to the listID in any dataview. Just hunt through the code and you should find it fairly easily.

By admin on October 21, 2008 | Sharepoint | A comment?

Music worth listening to

Just heard a great song from the Black Tories called Ghost in the Machine which was played during the into of the most recent podcast from the Canucks Outsider.  You can download it from their website…. and if you like it, buy their album.  One of the best songs I’ve heard all year. 

By admin on October 14, 2008 | music | A comment?