Presenting "PhantomJS" at SPBizConf free online conference on June 18.

I will be presenting "Introducing PhantomJS: Headless Browser for your SharePoint/Online" in the SPBizConf on 18 June.

http://www.spbizconf.com/events/headless-in-sharepoint-phantomjs-will-blow-your-mind/

Despite the -JS in the name of the title, PhantomJS is not another Javascript library.  Instead, it is a headless browser that lets you automate many tasks involving a browser, and there are some very nifty tricks you can use this to build site directories or create PDF snapshot of documents and forms.

Timing

Technically, because of Timezone Differences, it will actually be the 19th of June at 7AM in the morning.  The session is pre-recorded and I will basically be watching it along with the attendees and replying to questions in the chat room.

More Online.  More content.

Online Conferences such as SPBizConf and Unity Online are a new thing for me, and has prompted me to start looking into setting up recording room at home for more, higher quality, recorded content to be made available from my local presentations.  I'm very excited to be able to participate in global conferences like this without the expense of having to do crazy travel - travelling from Australia to "anywhere" tend to get expensive very quickly.

Will it blow my mind?

The curious will see the old name of the session.  I've since calm down and renamed the title, but the old URL has to stick for link reasons.  You need to let me know if this session gave you great ideas about what sort of shenanigans you get up to afterwards.

Feb 2015 CU SP2013: Workflow CurrentSiteUrl is fixed

 

http://support.microsoft.com/KB/2920804

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.

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

Should return you the same values as

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

 

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.

 

Steps

  • 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

 

API

MSDN (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office/dn268594(v=office.15).aspx - this needs to be a SharePoint Developer's home page) documents a few REST end points that I use for this.

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office/dn531432(v=office.15).aspx#bk_Group

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.

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office/dn531432(v=office.15).aspx#bk_UserCollection

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

 

image

 

Build Request Header

image

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

 

Build Request URL

image

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

Note my group name is 'john Members'

 

Call Web Service

image

 

Catch and process the result value.

image

 

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
});

promise.then(
        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.

 

Downloads

 

 

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!

Copying SP2013 Workflow XAML files between VSNET projects

The Error

If you copy Workflow or Workflow Custom Activity objects between your SharePoint VSNET projects, sometimes you would see these errors:

Project file must include the .NET Framework assembly 'WindowsBase, PresentationCore' in the reference list.

Project file must include the .NET Framework assembly 'WindowsBase' in the reference list.

 

Why

This is actually a result of VSNET getting quite confused.  It thinks your workflow.xaml files are WPF XAML files.

image

 

The Build Action "Page" is special and tells VSNET that this is a WPF Page object.  Which then triggers the compiler requirement that the necessary libraries are not included in the project.

This can happen when you copy Workflow or Workflow Custom Activity files from one project to another, then use VSNET to "Include in Project"

image

 

The Fix

Is to tell VSNET the correct Build Action for an Workflow XAML file:

image

 

The correct Build Action for Workflow XAML objects is XamlAppDef

Go through your project and check every XAML file.

 

Result

image

 

Happy again.