Clearing SPD Cache from SharePoint Designer

Our good old friend SharePoint Designer is old, but I still find it useful for editing JavaScript files in development for quick tests.

Because SharePoint Designer caches what it thinks the site's contents look like, sometimes, this cache gets out of date with reality and you will see issues when SPD thinks you have some files checked out, but you don't.

And in the past, I would go and Bing and search "clear SharePoint Designer cache" and this will net you:

So there's no shortage of finding the command to clear the folder.

Until Today

I came across this part of the SPD UI by accident.

  • Select Home in the current site. 
  • Go to Site Options.
  • Select Advanced Tab
  • Click Delete Files (temporary files)

You will see that any currently Opened Folders views will be empty. 

As the cache for the site has been dumped.  You need to refresh from the Ribbon Bar and you'll see the status of the items has updated correctly.

SharePoint Designer 2013

The same UI exists for SharePoint Designer 2013 as well.

No more command line, perhaps.

Let me know in the comments if this was something you've ALWAYS known about, or whether it also made you feel foolish that you've been using the command-line or deleting cryptic user profile temporary folders for years, literally.  When there's a button that does this for me.


Feb 2015 CU SP2013: Workflow CurrentSiteUrl is fixed

Assume that you create a SharePoint 2013 workflow by using SharePoint Designer 2013, and that the workflow contains an action that retrieves data from the "Current Site URL" field in the "Workflow Context" data source. When you run the workflow, the value retrieved from the "Current Site URL" field is missing a forward slash ("/") at the end of the URL.


A few months ago, Microsoft released an update to SharePoint 2013, and it broke many SharePoint Designer Workflows.

If you use the new capabilities in SharePoint 2013 to call REST services, it is very common to concatenate the URL using a combination of the Current Site Url as well as the api/ path.

"http://server/site/" + "_api/web/lists/getbytitle('Announcements')"

The problem is that Microsoft removed the trailing / in the Current Site Url.  This broke many REST calls.

"http://server/site" + "_api/web/lists/getbytitle('Announcements')"

Is no longer valid.  The fix is to reopen all your workflows that are showing this problem, and add a preceding / before _api.  Like this:

"http://server/site" + "/_api/web/lists/getbytitle('Announcements')"


Now, with the February 2015 patch, Microsoft is fixing the workflow action again.  Guess what.

"http://server/site/" + "/_api/web/lists/getbytitle('Announcements')"


I think this looks dirty


Technically, your workflow probably won't break over this.


Should return you the same values as



But it looks terrible.

SPD2013 Workflow - how to check user is member of group


I want to describe a method that I use to check if a user is a member of a group.



  • Call a REST webservice
    • Reference MSDN for the correct API
    • Build a RequestURL and a basic RequestHeader
    • Figure out what the results mean
  • Wrap it up in a Workflow Custom Activity



MSDN ( - this needs to be a SharePoint Developer's home page) documents a few REST end points that I use for this.

Says you can get to a sharepoint group via:

  • http://<site url>/_api/web/sitegroups(<group id>)
  • http://<site url>/_api/web/sitegroups(<group name>)

The group also has a Users property that points to a Users Collection.

This expands our example to:

  • http://<site url>/_api/web/sitegroups(<group id>)/users

For example:


The Users Collection does not have a method for testing if a user exists.  So I've taken the shortcut and basically brute force the service and just try to retrieve a user.  If you try to request a user that doesn't exist in the collection, it will just error, and I just catch that error.


SharePoint Designer workflow




Build Request Header


Both Accept and Content-Type needs to be "application/json;odata=verbose"


Build Request URL


Concatenate Current Site URL (which ends without a trailing /) and the earlier API.

Note my group name is 'john Members'


Call Web Service



Catch and process the result value.



The ResponseCode could be either OK or InternalServerError

Get a property from the returned Response variable "d/Title" would correspond to the Display Name of the user returned.  If the ResponseCode was Error, then there would be no value in the Response object.



Sandbox Custom Workflow Activity


In Visual Studio, these activities can be bundled into one single Activity that can be reused in SharePoint Designer.  I'll update this in a future blog post on Visual Studio.



Thoughts on checking nested group or AD group memberships

  • There are no way to check member with nested groups.  One possibility is to not think of it as membership, but think of it as whether the person has a certain permission.

    Does the current user have permission to do Contribute on the current Site. 
  • A more complicated thinking could be to create a list, kick out everyone except the group you are interested in, and check if the current user has permission to that list.



This Example in JavaScript


The more I work with SharePoint 2013 Workflows the closer parallels I see relating to a traditional programming language.  Here's the same function call in Javascript.

var promise = $.ajax({
        type: "GET",
        url: _spPageContextInfo.siteServerRelativeUrl + "/_api/web/sitegroups/getbyname('john Owners')/users/getbyid(" + _spPageContextInfo.userId + ")",
        headers: {
                "accept": "application/json;odata=verbose"
        contentType: "application/json;odata=verbose",
        dataType: "json",
        cache: false,
        processData: true

        function (data, status) {

                if (status == "success" && data && data.d) {
                        var title = d.Title;

                else {
                    // success, but no records - this can't really happen.
        function () {
                // not successful - usually not a member of that group

SharePoint Saturday Sydney 2014

November 29, 2014 was a great day for SharePoint Saturday.

I presented "Develop and Build Workflow Apps in SP2013. Wait, Workflow Apps?" - which is a session that covers lots of the new things you can build with SharePoint 2013 workflows using primarily Visual Studio 2013.  These work on premises and in Office 365.


The REST end points opens up SharePoint


I still think my transition along with exploring new activity and suddenly jumping into REST was tough.  I need to work on how to introduce that point.

The key point stands.  As a developer, or even a power user using Workflows - the REST API opens SharePoint completely to me.  I can use it to create lists, site columns or assign permission groups.  The trouble is that creating the JSON packet to talk to SharePoint end point is quite hard.  Which is why the need (and the ability) to package existing series of Actions into a reusable Custom Activity is a big deal.


Confusion over Workflow Custom Activity


There was actually a lot of confusion over the artefact "Custom Activity".  In 2010, these were sandbox or coded solutions.  In 2013, Custom Activity is completely declarative.  It is a way for you to save a series of workflow actions into a reusable piece of functionality that you can use over and over.  In my demo project I have about 10 custom activities.





News Update


We announced at the beginning and the end of SharePoint Saturday 2014 that this would be the last SharePoint Saturday in Australia.  As Microsoft and Industry trends towards Office 365, we will move with that trend.

From 2015 onwards, Office 365 Saturday will return, bigger and with more coverage of Office and SharePoint Online, but also address your On Premises needs.

Hope you have a great holidays and see you soon in 2015!

SP2010 Forcing previously deployed file to update to latest version in site definition


I’m a big fan of quickly making changes to my SharePoint JavaScript file in SharePoint Designer and then test whether they work correctly in the browser.  Quick browser refresh and I’m testing.

But I don’t recommend this on your test or production environments.  For those cases, you should package your JavaScript files into a solution and deploy them.

SharePoint 2013 ReplaceContent Attribute

SP2013 introduced a new attribute ReplaceContent=”True” when this attribute is set to True, when your feature is activated it will replace existing files on SharePoint with the contents of the files from the package.  This attribute is excellent for deploying JavaScript files.


SharePoint 2010 IgnoreIfAlreadyExists Attribute

In SP2010, you aren’t as lucky.  The IgnoreIfAlreadyExist attribute needs to be set to true.  Otherwise your feature will most likely fail to activate if a file already exists.  This is troublesome because with the ignore flag on, your JavaScript files won’t update to the latest new version.

There are a few approaches that people take.  Some chooses to delete all the assets when deactivating the feature.  Then on reactivation, the assets are recreated brand new with the latest bits.  This works fine for CSS, JavaScript files, but will not work for MasterPage or PageLayout files that are in use.


Add Reset to Site Definition

I propose this fantastic method:


This forces the SPFile to revert back to the site definition.  Essentially this is what SharePoint Designer does when you click on



When I deploy to production, but I know I need to bump 2 of my JavaScript files to the latest site definition, I run this powershell.

PS D:\> $web = Get-SPWeb http://server
PS D:\> $file = $web.GetFile("Style Library/app/John/john1.js")
PS D:\> $file.CustomizedPageStatus
PS D:\> $file.RevertContentStream()
PS D:\> $file = $web.GetFile("Style Library/app/John/john2.js")
PS D:\> $file.CustomizedPageStatus
PS D:\> $file.RevertContentStream()


This works whether the file is Uncustomized (deployed via a previous package) or Customized (deployed manually or updated by a user).  After the method is run, the file content will be the latest version that was in the deployed WSP package.

Try it out.  Quite useful for fixing 1 JavaScript file in a package.