Remove orphaned tasks from the aggregated task list on MySite in SharePoint 2013

For some reason a deleted task was still visible in the aggregated task list for a end-user. The task itself had been deleted from the source site, so when you clicked the task you got an error message telling you it did not exist anymore. The problem was that SharePoint was unable to remove the task from the aggregated view, so now we had to deal with a ghost task!

Solution

The new task aggregation is performed with the help of the Service Application “Work Management Service”, and the users MySite. When the service has aggregated your tasks, it stores the data itself in a list called “WmaAggregatedList_User”. Since it is a traditional list,  you might think: “This is easy! Just go to the list and delete the task!”. Sorry, but no. This list is only intended as a system list, and nothing we ever should care about, so it’s actually has no available views.

Step-by-step to remove the task

  1. Start “SharePoint Manager 2013” on one server in the farm (download from CodePlex)
  2. Navigate to the correct web application, and locate the users MySite site collection under “/personal” or your preferred managed path.
  3. Expand the structure and locate the list “WmaAggregatorList_User”, and choose to browse the “GridView”. If the user doesn’t have to many tasks, you should now be able to use this to visualy inspect the data.
  4. Locate the column named “TxEditUrl” and verify that it matched the URL of the ghost task. In my case I ignored the “&source=” end of the URL. Make a note of the list item ID for the task (the first column)
  5. Fire up good old “SharePoint 2013 Management Shell” to do some PowerShell magic.
  6. Example how to locate the task and remove it:

# Open the users personal site colletion and retrieve the list
$web = Get-SPWeb "http://mysite/personal/adamb"
$list = $web.Lists["WmaAggregatorList_User"] 

# Get the task with the ID located with SharePoint Manager
$item = $list.GetItemById(1) # NOTE: Use the correct ID here

# Now delete the task
$list.Items.DeleteItemById(1)

Summary

In some very rare cases, you can end up with users having orphaned tasks in their aggregated task list on MySite. I never got a understanding why this happened, but it was possible to remove this and get thing back to normal.

Add web parts from the gallery in SharePoint by code

For some reason I have never until now needed to add web parts to a page from the gallery using code. Why would I ever do this? The code runs inside a Feature Receiver, and is executed when creating new sites. The web part had been extended from a standard Content by Query Web Part (CBWP) with no code, and for that reason it was not possible to reference a unique class. So for this rare case I ended up with creating a utility function I thought was nice to share.

Function to add web parts from gallery


private static WebPart AddWebPartFromGallery(SPWeb web, SPLimitedWebPartManager wpm, string webPartFilename)
{
	string errorMessage;

	var query = new SPQuery
	{
		Query = String.Format(CultureInfo.CurrentCulture,
			"<Where><Eq><FieldRef Name='FileLeafRef'/><Value Type='File'>{0}</Value></Eq></Where>",
			webPartFilename)
	};

	var webPartGallery = web.IsRootWeb ? web.GetCatalog(SPListTemplateType.WebPartCatalog) : web.Site.RootWeb.GetCatalog(SPListTemplateType.WebPartCatalog);
	var webParts = webPartGallery.GetItems(query);
	XmlReader xmlReader = new XmlTextReader(webParts[0].File.OpenBinaryStream());
	var webPart = (WebPart) wpm.ImportWebPart(xmlReader, out errorMessage);

	if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(errorMessage))
		throw new ApplicationException("Error importing Web Part (" + webPartFilename + "): " + errorMessage);

	return webPart;
}

How to use the function

This example code shows how to retreive the web part manager, checkout the file, add the web part and finally publish it again.


// Get web and its web part manager
var web = new SPWeb("http://intranet.contoso.com");
var pagesLibraryName = SPUtility.GetLocalizedString("$Resources:List_Pages_UrlName", "cmscore", web.Language);
var file = web.GetFile(web.Url + "/" + pagesLibraryName + "/" + "default.aspx");
file.CheckOut();
var wpm = web.GetLimitedWebPartManager(web.Url + "/" + pagesLibraryName + "/" + "default.aspx", PersonalizationScope.Shared);

// Get the web part from the sites gallery
var customWebPart = AddWebPartFromGallery(web, wpm, "CustomWebPart.webpart");

// Add the web part to the page and publish the page
wpm.AddWebPart(customWebPart, MyZoneId, 1);
wpm.SaveChanges(customWebPart);
file.CheckIn("Checked in by feature");
file.Publish("Published by feature");

Summary

Retrieving and adding web parts from the web part gallery by code is more complex than utilizing web parts you can access by their class. This post shows you how to retrieve the web part from the gallery and add it to a web part zone within a standard publishing page.

Using the SharePoint 2013 social Newsfeed on other sites than the MySite host

The “Newsfeed” found on MySite, is a web part with the same name, and can easily be added to other sites if you enable a hidden feature. From what I can tell, this work fine, but not perfect.

The reason I don’t feel this is a perfect good solution is due to a bug within the web part. The bug is a bit hidden if you haven’t tested all the features within the the feed. This bug has not been fixed at the time of writing, and also present in Office 365.

Enable the “Newsfeed” web part

To enable the social newsfeed on another site, first you have to activate a hidden feature named “MySiteLayouts” in PowerShell (replace the URL with your site):

Enable-SPFeature -Identity "6928b0e5-5707-46a1-ae16-d6e52522d52b" -Url http://sp2013

Now the WebPart we are looking for, Newsfeed, is available at the current site under the “Social Collaboration” group:

mysite-newsfeed-1

The “Newsfeed” now appears as expected, and we can start using it without any more configuration. If you place both the Newsfeed and Sitefeed on the same page, then the Newsfeed won’t load. Not that I can find any good reason why you even would think of doing so… well, I tried… 😉

The bug I mentioned above is hidden in a popup-notification when you create a new task to follow up a social post.

Reproducing the bug in the newsfeed

Post a new message to the feed, and open the context menu on the message by selecting “…”. Choose “Follow up”.

mysite-newsfeed-2

A popup in the upper right corner will appear like this example:

mysite-newsfeed-3

If you now try to click the link in the popup like it states, then you get in trouble:

mysite-newsfeed-4

You will end up with this spinner. From the URL, I assume that this feature was designed for a relative linking to the MySite host. The same bug can also be found in the “Sitefeed” web part.

Summary

It is possible to use the standard “Newsfeed” from MySite on other sites in SharePoint. Even if the feed appears to work pretty fine, there is a bug hidden below the “Follow up” function. This combined with the feature being hidden, using the feed in other ways than Microsoft intended us to do might not be a risk free alternative.

So instead of trying to re-engineer a social intranet site somewhere else, why not build the intranet on the MySite Host? I have also explored this approach, and might share more details here in the future.

Export-SPWeb fails with “These columns don’t currently have unique values”

During a content database migration from SharePoint 2010 to 2013, we also had a requirement to move a few sites (SPWeb) to new locations. The plan was to first mount the Content Database on the SharePoint 2013 farm, create an evaluation upgrade site collection and then export the content from the upgraded site using “Export-SPWeb”. This operation failed, and after several retries it seems like this is not supported.

PowerShell command to export site:

Export-SPWeb http://sps:8080/ -Path "C:\Backup\sps-8080.bak"

This error was found in the log file:

[13.01.2014 10:26:58] FatalError: These columns don't currently have unique values.
[13.01.2014 10:26:58] Debug:    at System.Data.ConstraintCollection.AddUniqueConstraint(UniqueConstraint constraint)
   at System.Data.ConstraintCollection.Add(Constraint constraint, Boolean addUniqueWhenAddingForeign)
   at System.Data.ConstraintCollection.Add(Constraint constraint, Boolean addUniqueWhenAddingForeign)
   at System.Data.DataRelationCollection.DataSetRelationCollection.AddCore(DataRelation relation)
   at System.Data.DataRelationCollection.Add(DataRelation relation)
   at System.Data.DataRelationCollection.Add(String name, DataColumn parentColumn, DataColumn childColumn)
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Deployment.ListObjectHelper.GetNextBatch()
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Deployment.ObjectHelper.RetrieveDataFromDatabase(ExportObject exportObject)
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Deployment.ListObjectHelper.RetrieveData(ExportObject exportObject)
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Deployment.ExportObjectManager.GetObjectData(ExportObject exportObject)
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Deployment.ExportObjectManager.MoveNext()
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Deployment.ExportObjectManager.ExportObjectEnumerator.MoveNext()
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Deployment.SPExport.SerializeObjects()
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Deployment.SPExport.Run()
[13.01.2014 10:26:58] Progress: Export did not complete.

Solution

This problem seems to occur once you have created an evaluation site within the same content database. Deleting the evaluation site does not fix the problem unfortunately.

  • Restore site collection from backup to a new content database
  • Export data with Export-SPWeb from the site, but avoid using an evaluation site.

It is possible to run Export-SPWeb both when the site collection is in 2010-mode and naturally after upgrading it to 2013 as long you stay away from creating an evaluation site.

Summary

If you plan to reorganize the content in the same operation as a content database migration from SharePoint 2010 to 2013, avoid using an evaluation site as it leaves your entire site collection in a state where content cannot be exported. With this experience I now always take a extra site collection backup before using creating evaluation sites (which itself is a excellent feature).

Preparing the users MySite after a upgrade from SharePoint 2010 to 2013

A common part of a migration from SharePoint 2010 to 2013, is to include the MySite user profile and personal site collections. Both the User Profile and Managed Metadata service applications must be migrated first. After the web application has been created, and the content database(s) has been reattached, the MySite host must be upgraded to 2013. This can easily be done either from the web page or with PowerShell. All customization to the branding will be lost as the Master Page is reverted to “mysite15.master”, and you will be required to create a new Master Page based on this one to keep a custom branding. In 2013 the user will now be presented with a dialog with 1-2 options the first time they visit their MySite after the upgrade. To avoid unnecessary interruption and confusion, I think it is a good think to prepare the MySite so these choices is already set for the user from a company policy.

What will it look to the end users?

Scenario 1: The user only has a user profile, and no personal site collection

mysite 2

This gives the user the option to have some of the options regarding the social features in their user profile activated. It could be better to set this for all users, and give them a guide how to changes it afterwards instead. Most people won’t care, and keep the default settings.

Scenario 2: The user had both  a user profile and a personal site collection

mysite 1

In the last option, SharePoint has detected that the user has a site collection, and that one or more document libraries exists within it. Keeping this option without being aware of what it does can end in trouble.

For a personal site collection with no customization, this probably will work out fine. But if you have created personal document libraries, or even having custom solutions with their own document libraries, this must be handled differently.

What happens if I choose “Ok” (as ALWAYS)?

If the document library “Shared Documents” exists, it is automatically mapped to the folder “Shared with everyone”. All other document libraries are created as new folders. A few libraries are always ignored; Style Library, SiteAssets and FormServerTemplates.

For testing purposes it is possible to run the initial setup multiple times as long you clean up the “Documents” library to only contain the “Shared with everyone” folder.

After the files have been moved to SkyDrive, the original library is removed. SkyDrive itself is stored in the “Documents” library with the hard coded URL “/Documents”.

Permissions are not copied, so if you had libraries, folder or files with unique permissions set, these must be reapplies manually after the merge.

It can be a bit tricky to test and get a good understanding of what will happen, but luckily this one-time dialog can be open up and reapplied as many times you want by using this URL: http://mysite/_layouts/15/InitialSetup.aspx?IsDlg=1&HasMysite=1

To simulate the last option in the dialog box, switch the query attribute “HasMysite” between 0 and 1.

Disabling the default “Let’s get social” dialog

Found a hint at this blog, but it didn’t for some reason work for me: http://www.ilovesharepoint.com/2013/03/get-rid-of-mysite-lets-get-social-dialog.html.

By adding the value to the AllProperties, instead of Properties bag of the SPWeb object as suggested in the article above, the dialog was suppressed.

$web = Get-SPWeb http://mysite/
$web.AllProperties["urn:schemas-microsoft-com:sharepoint:portal:profile:SPS-O15FirstRunExperience"] = "Off";
$web.Update();

Just as a reminder when you are removing this dialog, you should make sure the default MySite configuration that is correct for your organization.

Enable social data for existing users

For all new users, these settings are configured and managed by the service application. For existing users, a policy to enable social data can be applied with PowerShell.

mysite 3

$site = Get-SPSite -Limit 1
$context = Get-SPServiceContext $site
$profileManager = New-Object Microsoft.Office.Server.UserProfiles.UserProfileManager($context)
$profiles = $profileManager.GetEnumerator()
$profiles | where {  $_.ShareAllSocialData($true); }

Summary

After migrating MySite from SharePoint 2010 to 2013, new features including Social and SkyDrive requires end-users to take action. This article discusses what these options include, and how you could set the policy up front, and suppress the dialog from appearing at all.

Disable site collection upgrades after migrating from SharePoint 2010 to 2013

When migrating SharePoint from 2010 to 2013, it depend of the migration strategy you choose how the end result will appear for your end users. Two different approaches when migrating to SharePoint 2013 can be:

  1. Migrate the farm, content and solutions from 2010 to 2013
  2. Migrate the farm to 2013, but keep the content and solutions in 2010-mode

Selecting the last approach requires the least effort, and could be preferred for several reasons:

  • Reduce the scope of the migration to only include the farm. Less risk and effort needed.
  • Migrate content and solution in a later stage after the new 2013 farm has been stabilized.
  • Keep solutions who will have an end-of-life in near future without extra effort to migrate it.
  • Customer has no functional requirements to adopt 2013 functionality at the current time for all or parts of the solutions, and only requires a platform upgrade.

Since the site collection administrators can on their own effort start the upgrade of their site, I will cover how to get control of this process by disabling the site collection upgrades. As an farm administrator you can then later re-enable this feature, or perform the migration on behalf of the owners (maybe preferred)-

How will a upgraded site collection in 2010-mode appear?

When visiting a site collection after the platform has been migrated, pretty much nothing has changed (good!) for the end users, except a light pink (not nice!) bar at the top reminding us that this site should be upgraded.

site collection upgrade 1

On the site collection upgrade page, an option to “Try a demo upgrade” is available. By default this request is put into a queue, and processed once each night. A copy of the site collection is created, and the site owner will receive an e-mail with the URL. After a fixed time of 30 days, the test site will be deleted.

The reason why this is running by night, is by my best guess because the source site will throw an error while the creation of the eval site runs. So don’t be too tempted to run this timer job manually if the site is in use!

The messages on the top of the screen will only be visible to the site collection administrators, so the regular users (visitors, members or owners) will not see this at all.

Disable the self-service evaluation

In the “SharePoint 2013 Management Shell” run the following Powershell script.

$siteUrl = "http://sp2013"; # Change this one!
$site = Get-SPSite $siteUrl;
$site.AllowSelfServiceUpgradeEvaluation = $false;

The option to create a evaluation site is no longer available for the site collection. The next step would be to disable the possibility for the site owners at all to perform the upgrade them self.

site collection upgrade 2

Disable the self-service site collection upgrade

In the “SharePoint 2013 Management Shell” run the following Powershell script.

$siteUrl = "http://sp2013"; # Change this one!
$site = Get-SPSite $siteUrl;
$site.AllowSelfServiceUpgrade = $false;

Now both the options are disabled, and the pink bar at the top of the site is also removed.

site collection upgrade 3

What if I want to disable this on all site collections?

If you want to go all-in, this Powershell script disables both the evaluation site and self-service upgrade for all site collections within a web application:

$webAppUrl = "http://sp2013"; # Change this one!
Get-SPSite -Limit All -CompatibilityLevel 14 -WebApplication $webAppUrl | % { $_.AllowSelfServiceUpgrade = $false; $_.AllowSelfServiceUpgradeEvaluation = $false; }

Summary

In this article we have seen how a site collection appear to the end-users after the farm has been migrated from SharePoint 2010 to 2013, and the content databases attached back on. With a few lines of PowerShell the administrator can disable both the ability to evaluate a upgraded site as well as perform the self-service upgrade.

Installing workflow service for SharePoint 2013 Preview

The workflow service in SharePoint 2013 Preview is no longer a part of the standard SharePoint server installation, and is provided by the Windows Workflow Manager (Azure). The service it self is a huge improvement to the product, but requires additional step as it has to be installed and configured post-installation of SharePoint Server 2013.

Getting the workflow service in SharePoint 2013 Preview up and running on my development environment gave me some challenges that wasn’t well documented at the time, so I decided to list some of the error messages and steps that helped me getting it up and running properly.

Installation and configuration

I started my installation by following this documentation on TechNet:

Installation guide for Workflow Manager 1.0 Beta: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj193478

Configuration guide for connecting SharePoint 2013 to Workflow Manager: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj658588(v=office.15)

Error messages

  • Configuration wizard: Could not successfully create management Service Bus entity ‘WF_Management/WFTOPIC’ with multiple retries within timespan
  • Browsing the WF management site (http://localhost:12291/):”Object reference not set to an instance of an object”
  • Powershell: “The trusted provider certificate which is already in use.” or  “Unable to properly communicate with the workflow endpoint”
  • Service App error (/_admin/WorkflowServiceStatus.aspx): “SharePoint was unable to communicate with the Workflow host”

Tips for troubleshooting

  • Check which regional settings are used on your setup and admin account. When I used something else than “English (United States) I got an error when accessing the configuration database.
  • Remember to start SQL Server Browser, and keep it to start automatic.
  • Grant the workflow service account the server roles “dbcreator” and “securityadmin” in SQL Server.
  • Grant the workflow service account local administrator rights on the server.
  • Run the workflow configuration wizard logged in as the workflow service account.
  • Use a FQDN for the account in the configuration wizard (default suggestion is wrong).
  • To clean up a failed installation:
    • Run workflow configuration wizard, and remove the server from the workflow farm.
    • Manually delete the databases created (prefixed with Wf and Sb in default installation).
    • If registered with SharePoint, remove the service application “App Fabric Application Proxy”.
  • It is possible to run the registration with SharePoint, Register-SPWorkflowService, with a “-Force” switch to get pass a state where it tells you it already has been registered, but still fails.

Summary

This article gives some tips for resolving different errors occurring either when installing the workflow service, or when connecting it with SharePoint.

DISCLAIMER: SharePoint 2013 is in preview at the time this article was written. When the product reaches RTM the content of the article may not be relevant or wrong.