Author Archives: Danny Jessee

spsbos

SharePoint Event brings Fulcrum to Boston

Photo courtesy @SPBrennan

As you read in my previous post, Fulcrum frequently travels across Virginia and the DC metro area to speak about the capabilities of the SharePoint platform to software developers, IT professionals, and end users at SharePoint user groups and one-day conferences known as SPS (SharePoint Saturday) Events. These events are held in cities around the world and are completely free to the public. The speakers and attendees at these events volunteer their time and sacrifice a Saturday to help others learn more about SharePoint and all the possibilities it offers. On April 12th, I headed north to Beantown to present at the SPS Boston Event at the Microsoft office in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Fulcrum develops and maintains many custom solutions built on the SharePoint platform for our Army INSCOM and Department of Education customers, among others. Many of these solutions are built using a paradigm known as “farm solutions,” where custom code utilizes resources on the same servers that run SharePoint. This can potentially have an adverse impact on the performance of the SharePoint environment. To address this, SharePoint 2013 introduces a brand new app development model that allows custom code to be deployed anywhere, including the cloud or even a Java application server! I presented a session entitled “Build Secure Cloud-Hosted Apps for SharePoint 2013.” In this session, I demonstrated different ways that apps hosted in the cloud can securely work with data stored in SharePoint and discussed how the new app model has the potential to revolutionize SharePoint development, making SharePoint farms run more reliably and efficiently while helping our customers to realize significant cost savings.

If you are interested in learning more about SharePoint 2013 and the new app development model, I encourage you to reach out to me—or any other member of the SharePoint community—anytime. Members of the SharePoint community pride themselves on being accessible and are eager to share their knowledge, guidance, and advice with other SharePoint users around the world. To find the next SPS Event near you, visit http://spsevents.org.

Fulcrum Presents at Regional SharePoint Events

Many of our government customers leverage different versions of SharePoint to collaborate, automate business processes, and share data. Fulcrum has developed numerous custom solutions built on the SharePoint platform. In addition to being a robust and feature-rich platform, SharePoint is widely known for its enthusiastic community of developers, administrators, and end users who freely volunteer their time and energy to share their knowledge at one-day conferences known as SPS (SharePoint Saturday) Events, as well as local and regional SharePoint user groups around the world. These events are completely free to the public, who also volunteer their time to learn more about SharePoint and all the possibilities it offers. I have had the privilege of representing the talented SharePoint professionals at Fulcrum, presenting at several such events over the past few months.

Last November 7th, I presented an introductory session on the new app development model for SharePoint 2013 at the Federal SharePoint User Group and Women in SharePoint DC. This paradigm shift for custom development promises greater reliability and up-time in on-premises SharePoint environments like the ones our customers rely on for critical mission operations. On January 11th, I had the privilege of presenting at SPS Events – Virginia Beach. This was the third year I have spoken at this event. My session was entitled Put it on a Map! Using the new Location and Map Features in SharePoint 2013. As the name implies, I spoke about the many enhancements the latest version of SharePoint offers with respect to “geolocation metadata”—essentially plotting data associated with a particular location on a map. This gives us the potential to bring engaging mapping solutions to our clients and their customers more readily and reliably than ever before. These capabilities are of particular interest to our defense and military customers, where enabling our Armed Forces to quickly and efficiently find information based on a geographic location can save lives. I also presented the Put it on a Map! session at the Reston SharePoint User Group on March 10th.

I will be representing Fulcrum at SPS Events – Boston on April 12th and at several other SPS Events and user groups in the months ahead, presenting more advanced sessions about building secure cloud-hosted apps for SharePoint 2013.

If you are currently using SharePoint, or are just interested in learning more about it, I encourage you to reach out to me—or any other member of the SharePoint community—anytime. Members of the SharePoint community pride themselves on being accessible and are eager to share their knowledge, guidance, and advice with other SharePoint users around the world. If you are interested in learning more about Fulcrum’s capabilities, I encourage you to visit our website at http://www.fulcrumco.com.

Create a custom SharePoint 2013 Geolocation field using Nokia HERE maps

Much has been written about the new Geolocation capabilities of SharePoint 2013. If you haven’t already, I would highly recommend reading this overview on MSDN. In short, SharePoint 2013 offers a new field type called Geolocation, which represents point location data (latitude and longitude) that can be automatically plotted on a Bing map.

But what if you want to leverage a different mapping provider, such as Nokia HERE? Fortunately, SharePoint offers the ability to define custom field types based on an existing field type (in this case, SPGeolocationField). Using SharePoint 2013′s new client-side rendering framework, it is possible to define custom rendering logic for your custom field type using JavaScript.

Microsoft provides sample code that allows you to create a Geolocation field that renders using Nokia maps. The custom field type uses JavaScript to render a text box with a search button that performs a geocoding request on the inputted text string using the Nokia Places API. Once a coordinate location has been returned, a HERE map is rendered with a placemark centered on the inputted location. Unfortunately, the sample code has not been updated since February 2013 and a few changes need to be made in order to make use of Nokia’s new HERE mapping platform. If you would like to make use of this sample code, hopefully this post will help you!

Step 1 – Register a HERE developer account

In order to use HERE maps in your application, you need to first sign up for an account on the HERE developer portal. Once you have registered, go to Create app. Specify the following:

Application platform: Web
Solution: Web Experiences
License type: Platform Evaluation Key

step1

Press Proceed to application details. Specify details about your application, including the Application website URL (the domain name where SharePoint is running). After you provide your contact information and accept the license agreement, you will see a confirmation screen with your App_Id and App_Code values:

appid

Step 2 – Update the sample project

When I first opened the sample project, I was prompted to upgrade it to a SharePoint 2013 solution. After upgrading the project, I had to manually add NokiaMapsControl.js and fldtypes_NokiaMapsControl.xml back to the project (NOTE: These files should be placed directly under the mapped {SharePointRoot}\TEMPLATE\LAYOUTS and {SharePointRoot}\TEMPLATE\XML directories and NOT in subfolders.) The project should now look like this:

solution

Step 3 – Update NokiaMapsControl.js

Make the following changes/updates to NokiaMapsControl.js:

1. In line 1, update the g_appId variable with the App_Id value from your application from the HERE developer portal.
2. In line 2, update the g_authToken variable with the App_Code value from your application from the HERE developer portal.
3. Replace line 138 with the following two lines, which load the new HERE Places API and JavaScript API:

downloadJS('http://js.api.here.com/se/2.5.3/jsPlacesAPI.js');
downloadJS('http://js.api.here.com/se/2.5.3/jsl.js');

4. Update lines 240-241 with the following (the HERE API parameter names have changed from appId and authenticationToken to app_id and app_code, respectively):

nokia.Settings.set("app_id", g_appId);
nokia.Settings.set("app_code", g_authToken);

Step 4 – Build and deploy the project, then add the new field to a list

After deploying the project, add a new column based on the custom field type to a list:

AddColumn

Step 5 – Add a new item to the list

The Nokia Maps Control field renders as a text box with a search button. Enter a location in the text box and press the Search button:

newitem

The HERE geocoder service will return a coordinate location for the inputted string, plotted on a HERE map:

newitem2

Congratulations! You are now ready to use your custom geolocation field with Nokia HERE maps.

You can download a version of the project with all the necessary changes here. Just update lines 1 and 2 of NokiaMapsControl.js with your App_Id and App_Code values and you’ll be good to go!

Set the Bing maps API key in Office 365 using CSOM to leverage SharePoint 2013 Geolocation features

Much has been written about the new Geolocation capabilities of SharePoint 2013. If you haven’t already, I would highly recommend reading this overview on MSDN. In short, SharePoint 2013 offers a new field type called Geolocation, which represents point location data (latitude and longitude) that can be automatically plotted on a Bing map.

In order to take full advantage of the built-in Bing mapping functionality, you must obtain an API key from the Bing Maps portal. Different API key types are available depending on your needs (Trial keys work great for demos and development environments, while Basic or Enterprise keys may better suit your needs in a production environment).

If you attempt to leverage a Geolocation column in SharePoint 2013 (on-premises or in Office 365) without obtaining and setting a Bing Maps API key, you will receive a subtle reminder that you need to do so:

noapikey

In an on-premises environment, you can use the PowerShell Set-SPBingMapsKey cmdlet to set the Bing maps API key at the farm level. However, it is not possible to use this cmdlet in an Office 365 environment. Fortunately, the Bing maps API key is also stored in the property bag of an SPWeb (with key “BING_MAPS_KEY“). We can set this value via .NET or JavaScript using the client object model.

To set the API key I obtained for my Office 365 site, I used the following code in a simple .NET console application:

        static void Main(string[] args)
        {
            var webUrl = new Uri("<Office 365 site URL>");
            using (ClientContext ctx = new ClientContext(webUrl))
            {
                var login = "<Office 365 login email>";
                var password = "<Office 365 password>";
                var secureStrPwd = new SecureString();
                foreach (char c in password)
                {
                    secureStrPwd.AppendChar(c);
                }

                var creds = new SharePointOnlineCredentials(login, secureStrPwd);
                ctx.Credentials = creds;

                var web = ctx.Web;
                web.AllProperties["BING_MAPS_KEY"] = "<Bing maps API key>";
                web.Update();

                ctx.ExecuteQuery();
            }
        }

Once the API key has been set, your maps will render without that annoying message!

apikey

Using JSOM to write (small) files to a SharePoint 2013 document library

Update 3/3/2013: Problem solved! The culprit: “Protected View” in Office 2013. Thanks to this blog post from Tobias Lekman, after disabling protected view in each of the Office 2013 applications (I had to update these settings separately in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint), every document I uploaded using the code below opened without any errors on my CloudShare VM.

Update 2/16/2013: The issue I had opening files uploaded into SharePoint described below may not be an issue after all. As it turns out, the CloudShare VM where I was doing my development and testing is generating the same error for ANY document I upload, even “the old fashioned way.” I accessed the same document library from a remote client and the same products that generated errors when being uploaded using the code above opened just fine, without any issues or errors. I will update this post as I learn more about the root cause of this problem.

A recent post on Yammer lamented the lack of examples in the SharePoint 2013 API documentation that use the JavaScript Object Model (JSOM) to do anything more than create a very basic text file in a SharePoint document library.

After lots of digging and a fair amount of trial and error, I now understand why that is the case.

The use case seems simple enough: allow the user to select a file from his or her local machine using an HTML DOM FileUpload object on a form, then use JSOM to upload this file into a document library. It’s certainly easy enough to do using the Client Script Object Model (CSOM). As it turns out, there are a couple of very good reasons why your document upload capability (whether you package it into an app for SharePoint or something else) should NOT leverage JSOM:

  • Per MSDN, you can only work with files up to 1.5 MB when using JSOM. It is recommended that you use REST to deal with larger files. (Incidentally, there is a comment in the article on using the REST endpoints that reads “See How to: Complete basic operations using JavaScript library code in SharePoint 2013 for a code example that shows you how to upload a binary file that is smaller than 1.5 MB by using the SharePoint 2013 Javascript object model.” Unfortunately, the only code example in that article creates a very rudimentary plain text file.)
  • Unless your browser supports the File APIs introduced in HTML5 (specifically the FileReader API), you are out of luck. As a general rule, browsers will block attempts by JavaScript to access and read files from the local file system for security reasons. If you are using IE, only version 10 supports the FileReader API.

Although I was somewhat discouraged by this news, I was determined to develop an app for SharePoint 2013 that presented a simple file upload control to the user and stored the file in a document library (as long as it was smaller than 1.5 MB, of course). I figured as long as I could save Office documents to the library (i.e., more than a simple plain text file), I would have succeeded.

To accomplish this, I knew I would need to make use of the HTML5 FileReader API. (Because of that, I also knew I would need to test this solution using IE 10, Firefox, or Chrome!) Based on the MSDN documentation, I knew I would be setting the contents of the file by using a new SP.Base64EncodedByteArray. The FileReader API exposes three methods for reading the contents of a file:

  1. readAsText() – this method reads the plain text contents of a file, but does not properly handle binary files.
  2. readAsArrayBuffer() – this seemed to be the most promising option, but no matter how I tried to cast the contents of the ArrayBuffer to a Base64-encoded byte array, I was not able to successfully reproduce a file from the file system in a document library. If anyone out there has any suggestions that might enable readAsArrayBuffer() to work, please let me know in the comments!
  3. readAsDataURL() – this method returns the contents of the file using the Data URI scheme. Thanks to a handy utility method I found here, I can convert this Base64-encoded string into a JavaScript Uint8Array and use that to populate the SP.Base64EncodedByteArray that the JSOM expects.

Here is the JavaScript I ended up using:

$(document).ready(function ()
{
    // Get the URI decoded host web URL
    // We will use this to get a context here to write data
    hostweburl = decodeURIComponent(getQueryStringParameter("SPHostUrl"));
});

function CreateFile()
{
    // Ensure the HTML5 FileReader API is supported
    if (window.FileReader)
    {
        input = document.getElementById("fileinput");
        if (input)
        {
            file = input.files[0];
            fr = new FileReader();
            fr.onload = receivedBinary;
            fr.readAsDataURL(file);
        }
    }
    else
    {
        alert("The HTML5 FileSystem APIs are not fully supported in this browser.");
    }
}

// Callback function for onload event of FileReader
function receivedBinary()
{
    // Get the ClientContext for the app web
    clientContext = new SP.ClientContext.get_current();
    // Use the host web URL to get a parent context - this allows us to get data from the parent
    parentCtx = new SP.AppContextSite(clientContext, hostweburl);
    parentWeb = parentCtx.get_web();
    parentList = parentWeb.get_lists().getByTitle("Documents");

    fileCreateInfo = new SP.FileCreationInformation();
    fileCreateInfo.set_url(file.name);
    fileCreateInfo.set_overwrite(true);
    fileCreateInfo.set_content(new SP.Base64EncodedByteArray());

    // Read the binary contents of the base 64 data URL into a Uint8Array
    // Append the contents of this array to the SP.FileCreationInformation
    var arr = convertDataURIToBinary(this.result);
    for (var i = 0; i < arr.length; ++i)
    {
        fileCreateInfo.get_content().append(arr[i]);
    }

    // Upload the file to the root folder of the document library
    this.newFile = parentList.get_rootFolder().get_files().add(fileCreateInfo);

    clientContext.load(this.newFile);
    clientContext.executeQueryAsync(onSuccess, onFailure);
}

function onSuccess()
{
    // File successfully uploaded
    alert("Success!");
}

function onFailure()
{
    // Error occurred
    alert("Request failed: " + arguments[1].get_message());
}

// Utility function to remove base64 URL prefix and store base64-encoded string in a Uint8Array
// Courtesy: https://gist.github.com/borismus/1032746
function convertDataURIToBinary(dataURI)
{
    var BASE64_MARKER = ';base64,';
    var base64Index = dataURI.indexOf(BASE64_MARKER) + BASE64_MARKER.length;
    var base64 = dataURI.substring(base64Index);
    var raw = window.atob(base64);
    var rawLength = raw.length;
    var array = new Uint8Array(new ArrayBuffer(rawLength));

    for (i = 0; i < rawLength; i++)
    {
        array[i] = raw.charCodeAt(i);
    }
    return array;
}

This code works!–mostly. In my environment, Excel Services was able to successfully open my basic test spreadsheet in the browser:

excelservices

I could also use the Download a Copy option to save local copies and successfully open files of any type:

dlcopy pptx

For a simple Word document, though, I was unable to click the link from the document library and have it open successfully in Word. Instead, Word reported an error when trying to open the document:

If you receive the error shown below when opening a document from SharePoint, it is due to “Protected View” in Office 2013. To disable Protected View, follow the steps outlined here.

worderr

Regardless of your Office 2013 Protected View settings, the Download a Copy option will open the document without the annoying error message.

saveas

testdoc

Customize the Default #WIF ASP.NET #STS to Support Multiple #SharePoint Web Applications

Thanks to Claims-based identity in SharePoint 2010 and 2013, we have the ability to develop our own trusted login providers. These providers take the form of a Security Token Service (STS), an ASP.NET web site that packages and signs SAML tokens containing claims. SharePoint is then configured to trust this STS. In this blog post, I walk through the steps required to develop a custom STS using the Windows Identity Foundation (WIF) SDK 4.0 that supports LinkedIn as an identity provider for SharePoint. However, there is one significant shortcoming with the approach I use in that post: it can only be used for a single SharePoint web application, intranet.contoso.com. This is due to two factors:

  • The realm used by the SPTrustedIdentityTokenIssuer is configured as the URL of SharePoint’s STS within that web application (e.g., intranet.contoso.com/_trust).
  • The default behavior of the WIF STS web site is to forward tokens for authenticated users to the specified realm URL. From there, SharePoint’s STS will forward the logged in user back to the page he or she was trying to access.

If you tried to use this trusted identity provider on another web application (such as hr.contoso.com or finance.contoso.com), you would end up disappointed as your users would be forwarded back to the intranet.contoso.com web application no matter which site they were actually trying to access!

In this blog post, I will make some slight modifications to the out-of-the-box WIF STS web site so that:

  • The same trusted identity provider may be used across multiple different web applications, each with different host header URLs.
  • The SPTrustedIdentityTokenIssuer does not need to be updated and can leverage the same realm value no matter how many web applications make use of it.
  • The WIF STS web site I build and customize does not need to be updated and can leverage the same realm value no matter how many web applications make use of it.

What is a realm?

The default behavior of the WIF STS web site is to forward an authenticated user back to the URL specified as the realm. According to MSDN, the realm value is “used by the STS to identify the relying party instance and to select the corresponding token issuance policy and encryption certificate.” The realm is specified as a URI (which can actually be a URL or a URN), but in many walkthroughs (mine included), we specify a value for the realm that is tied to a specific host header URL (e.g., intranet.contoso.com/_trust).

Decoupling the realm from a specific host header URL

In an environment where only one web application needs to use a trusted identity provider, it may make sense to associate the realm with the URL of that web application. But in an environment where multiple claims web applications in a SharePoint farm need to use that same trusted identity provider, a different approach must be taken. As Steve Peschka describes in this post, we can use a URN (e.g., urn:linkedin:sts) instead of a URL to work around this limitation. In the case of ADFS v2 (disclaimer: I have not worked with ADFS v2), you can define mappings between these URNs and their associated web applications as Steve describes in the blog post linked above.

Updating the default WIF STS web site

If I change my SPTrustedIdentityTokenIssuer to use the generic realm urn:linkedin:sts, but make no changes to my STS web site, what will happen? As it turns out, I will be redirected to this URN, which of course is not the URL I want my logged in users to visit. Hilarity ensues:

sts404

As you can see, the STS redirects the logged in user to urn:linkedin:sts, which of course produces a 404 error.

The key to having the STS redirect logged in users to the proper URL is in the CustomSecurityTokenService class, which contains a function GetScope() that sets the ReplyToAddress of the SecurityTokenService.Scope object. The default STS web site implementation uses the following code:

// Set the ReplyTo address for the WS-Federation passive protocol (wreply). This is the address to which responses will be directed.
// In this template, we have chosen to set this to the AppliesToAddress.
scope.ReplyToAddress = scope.AppliesToAddress;

The AppliesToAddress value is determined from the wtrealm parameter specified as the “OAuth Accept Redirect URL” in our LinkedIn application configuration. Remember that we had previously set this value to intranet.contoso.com/_trust (which would work as a URL), but have since updated it to urn:linkedin:sts.

How can I fix this?

The way you choose to work around this behavior depends on your requirements. If you need to use different token encrypting certificates based on the relying party (RP) application, or if you want to potentially execute any custom business logic specific to some (but not all) of your RP applications, you may choose to update the code in the GetScope() function to look more like the following:

if (scope.AppliesToAddress == "urn:linkedin:sts")
{
    scope.EncryptingCredentials = new X509EncryptingCredentials(CertificateUtil.GetCertificate(StoreName.My, StoreLocation.LocalMachine, "EncryptingCert1"));
    scope.ReplyToAddress = "http://intranet.contoso.com/_trust";
    // More things specific to the intranet web application and the urn:linkedin:sts realm...
}
else if (scope.AppliesToAddress == "urn:someother:sts")
{
    scope.EncryptingCredentials = new X509EncryptingCredentials(CertificateUtil.GetCertificate(StoreName.My, StoreLocation.LocalMachine, "EncryptingCert2"));
    scope.ReplyToAddress = "http://extranet.contoso.com/_trust";
    // More things specific to the extranet web application and the urn:someother:sts realm...
}

This approach carries the following “baggage” (which may be completely necessary based on your requirements):

  • The STS has to be recompiled and redeployed anytime a new web application needs to be supported.
  • It still cannot be reused across any host-header named web applications.

But what if I don’t have any special requirements? What if I just want my STS to redirect authenticated users back to whichever web application referred them, even new web applications that I don’t know about yet? We can do this! The way I chose to accomplish this is as follows:

  • In Login.aspx.cs of my STS web site (which is the first page a user will hit prior to being authenticated), I can grab the host header from the UrlReferrer property of HttpContext.Current.Request and store it in a session variable with /_trust appended. This will serve as the realm value I want my STS to use and will contain the value of the referring SharePoint web application.
  • In Default.aspx.cs of my STS web site, see if the session variable I created above exists. If it does, pass it in to the constructor for my CustomSecurityTokenService class.
  • In App_Code/CustomSecurityTokenService.cs, store the updated realm value in a member variable. If the STS was called with a realm value of urn:linkedin:sts (some minimal validation of the RP), redirect the user to the appropriate realm URL in the GetScope() function.

Here are the relevant code snippets required to accomplish this:

Login.aspx.cs:

Uri referrer = HttpContext.Current.Request.UrlReferrer;
if (referrer != null)
{
    string defaultRealm = referrer.ToString();
    // From SharePoint, this value will be:
    defaultRealm = defaultRealm.Substring(0, defaultRealm.IndexOf("_login")).TrimEnd('/') + "/_trust/";
    Session["defaultRealm"] = defaultRealm;
}

Default.aspx.cs:

// Process signin request.
SignInRequestMessage requestMessage = (SignInRequestMessage)WSFederationMessage.CreateFromUri( Request.Url );

string defaultRealm = "";
if (Session["defaultRealm"] != null)
{
    defaultRealm = Session["defaultRealm"] as string;
}

if ( User != null && User.Identity != null && User.Identity.IsAuthenticated )
{
    SecurityTokenService sts = new CustomSecurityTokenService( CustomSecurityTokenServiceConfiguration.Current, defaultRealm );
    SignInResponseMessage responseMessage = FederatedPassiveSecurityTokenServiceOperations.ProcessSignInRequest( requestMessage, User, sts );
    FederatedPassiveSecurityTokenServiceOperations.ProcessSignInResponse( responseMessage, Response );
}

App_Code/CustomSecurityTokenService.cs:

private string defaultRealm = string.Empty;

public CustomSecurityTokenService( SecurityTokenServiceConfiguration configuration, string realm = "" )
    : base( configuration )
{
    defaultRealm = realm;
}

protected override Scope GetScope( IClaimsPrincipal principal, RequestSecurityToken request )
{
    ValidateAppliesTo( request.AppliesTo );

    Scope scope = new Scope( request.AppliesTo.Uri.OriginalString, SecurityTokenServiceConfiguration.SigningCredentials );

    string encryptingCertificateName = WebConfigurationManager.AppSettings[ "EncryptingCertificateName" ];
    if ( !string.IsNullOrEmpty( encryptingCertificateName ) )
    {
        // Important note on setting the encrypting credentials.
        // In a production deployment, you would need to select a certificate that is specific to the RP that is requesting the token.
        // You can examine the 'request' to obtain information to determine the certificate to use.
        scope.EncryptingCredentials = new X509EncryptingCredentials( CertificateUtil.GetCertificate( StoreName.My, StoreLocation.LocalMachine, encryptingCertificateName ) );
    }
    else
    {
        // If there is no encryption certificate specified, the STS will not perform encryption.
        // This will succeed for tokens that are created without keys (BearerTokens) or asymmetric keys.
        scope.TokenEncryptionRequired = false;
    }

    // Set the ReplyTo address for the WS-Federation passive protocol (wreply). This is the address to which responses will be directed.
    // In this template, we have chosen to set this to the AppliesToAddress.
    if (scope.AppliesToAddress == "urn:linkedin:sts")
    {
        scope.ReplyToAddress = defaultRealm;
    }
    else
    {
        scope.ReplyToAddress = scope.AppliesToAddress;
    }

    return scope;
}

Putting it all together

After deploying this updated STS, any new SharePoint web application I create that leverages the LinkedIn trusted identity provider will redirect users back to the appropriate URL after they are authenticated, regardless of whether the new web applications use a different host header, port, or both. To prove this, I created a new web application on port 39668 and set a “Full Read” user policy for all LinkedIn users. Upon accessing the site, I choose to sign in using my LinkedIn identity provider:

newsts1

newsts2

After supplying my credentials, LinkedIn will redirect me back to my STS. My STS will then determine where to redirect me based on the code above, and voila, I will be taken to my new SharePoint site, authenticated and signed in!

newsts3

JavaScript to Conditionally Enable a SharePoint Custom Ribbon Button

During my session on getting started with apps for SharePoint 2013, I demonstrate how to use the “extension” app shape to define a UI custom action that displays a button in the ribbon. When clicked, this button allows the user to view a Bing traffic map centered at the location specified in the selected list item. This is done using a CustomAction in the same declarative manner as it was done in SharePoint 2010, using the following XML:

customaction1

Installing the app adds a button labeled “Plot on Bing Traffic Map” to the “Items” tab on all custom lists in the host web where the app is installed:

button0

In my CommandAction of the CommandUIHandler for the CommandUIExtension I define to create the button, I specify that clicking the button will take the user to the following URL:

~appWebUrl/Pages/BingTrafficMap.html?{StandardTokens}&ListID={ListId}&ItemID={SelectedItemId}

Note the use of the SelectedItemId token in the URL above. This means my BingTrafficMap.html page can rightly expect to have an ItemID parameter in its query string, which can then be parsed to get the list item and read its properties using JavaScript.

But what if the user hasn’t selected any items? Or multiple items? Since I can only center a map on one single location, I need to have more control over when this button is enabled. In this case, I only want the button to be enabled when exactly one item in the list is selected. (By default, any ribbon buttons you create through custom actions will always be enabled, regardless of whether or not any items are selected.)

As it turns out, there is an EnabledScript attribute of the CommandUIHandler that will enable or disable the button depending on whether the function returns true or false. I was able to adapt this code from Tomasz Rabiński to add the following logic to my CommandUIHandler:

customaction2

Note that the function EnableDisable–which I can define and then call within the EnabledScript attribute–returns true only if the number of selected items equals 1.

Now my button behaves exactly as I would expect.

No items selected (disabled):

button1

One item selected (enabled):

button2

More than one item selected (disabled):

button3

I have updated my demo code to include this change. You can download this code here.

Presenting Apps for SharePoint 2013 at @CapAreaSP!

Thanks to everyone who braved the elements (e.g., the winter storm that never materialized) to see me present “Get Started with Apps for SharePoint 2013!” at the Capital Area .NET SharePoint Special Interest Group at Knowlogy in Tysons Corner tonight! I was very impressed with the level of audience participation and interaction during the session. Feel free to reach out to me anytime (either in the comments here or on Twitter) if you have any questions or just want to chat about Apps for SharePoint 2013!

Slides and code from my session

Code for the sample app I demonstrated can be downloaded here.

To learn more about when and when not to use the new app model for SharePoint 2013 development, attend next month’s @CapAreaSP session featuring Alex Randall from Microsoft!

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Kicking off @RestonSPUG with Apps for SharePoint 2013!

Thanks to everyone who joined me, Scott Hoag, and Dan Usher as we kicked off the new Reston SharePoint User Group today! The group will meet around lunchtime at the Microsoft office in Reston on the first Monday of each month. The group’s meeting time and location should be ideal for the many SharePoint professionals in the Reston area who can’t make it to the various regional SPUGs that traditionally meet in the evenings.

I had the privilege of being the group’s inaugural speaker today, presenting my session “Get Started with Apps for SharePoint 2013!” Much like the session I led last weekend at SPS Virginia Beach, there was great audience participation and interaction. There were a couple of great questions in particular that I wanted to address further here:

If an app requests the Write right at the List scope, is there any way I can install or configure multiple instances of the app to grant it write permissions against two or more lists on a site?

This was an interesting question because the guidance I gave last weekend was that in order to grant the Write right against multiple lists, your app must request permissions at the next highest scope (in the case of this example, that would be the Web scope). However, it is not possible to install multiple instances of an app for SharePoint to the same site. The UI will not show the app in the “Apps you can add” section for that site once an instance of that app is already installed. I even tried forcing my around that by using PowerShell, but was forbidden:

powershell

What is the relationship between OAuth and tokens with apps for SharePoint? Is there a token for the user as well as one for the app that factors into authorization decisions?

The OAuth protocol is used to authenticate and authorize apps for SharePoint. Authentication and authorization of users and apps in SharePoint 2013 is a very advanced subject with many potentially complicated scenarios and unique considerations. To learn more about these topics, I strongly encourage you to read the following articles on MSDN:

Slides and code from my session

Code for the sample app I demonstrated can be downloaded here.

Thanks again to everyone who was part of today’s Reston SPUG event. I look forward to working with the group much more in the future!

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Get Started with Apps for SharePoint 2013! #SPSVB 2013 Recap

Thanks to everyone who attended my session “Get Started with Apps for SharePoint 2013!” at SPSVB yesterday! We had some great discussions and questions about the new app model for SharePoint 2013, and a few questions came up during the session that I wanted to address in more detail here.

How are apps for SharePoint deployed in a production environment?

We demonstrated how to create a new App for SharePoint project in Visual Studio 2012 (where the app is configured to be automatically deployed to a specific site for debugging). But how do developers hand off an app package for a SharePoint-hosted app to be deployed in production?

Visual Studio will generate the .app file in an app.publish subdirectory of the bin\Debug, bin\Release, etc. directory of your project. Assuming your system administrators have configured an app catalog site (these are configured at the web application level), anyone with permissions to the Apps for SharePoint library (automatically configured on the app catalog site) can upload the .app file to make the app available to all sites within that web application.

Uploading the file here:

file

To the library here:

newapp

Makes the app available to be installed on any site within the web application:

addapp

Olivier Carpentier has also written .NET code and PowerShell scripts to install apps for SharePoint, if that is more your speed.

How do you grant an app the Write right on two or more lists?

In our demo, we had our app request the Write right at the List scope. This corresponds to the following entry in the app’s AppManifest.xml:

<AppPermissionRequests>
  <AppPermissionRequest Scope="http://sharepoint/content/sitecollection/web/list" Right="Write" />
</AppPermissionRequests>

When the app is installed, the dialog presented to the user allows the selection of a single list to which the app will be granted Write permissions:

trustdialog

As you can see, however, this dialog only enables me to select a single list. What if we want our app to be able to write to two or more lists? Unfortunately, there is no mechanism to do this right now. If we want our app to be able to write to multiple lists, we must request the right at the next highest scope (in this case, the Web). This corresponds to the following entry in the app’s AppManifest.xml:

<AppPermissionRequests>
  <AppPermissionRequest Scope="http://sharepoint/content/sitecollection/web" Right="Write" />
</AppPermissionRequests>

Unfortunately, this will grant your app permission to write to all lists within the host web where the app is installed.

How can apps for SharePoint support workflow?

The Workflow object model has been greatly enhanced in SharePoint 2013. Among these enhancements include a client object model (CSOM), JavaScript object model (JSOM), and REST-based APIs for workflow. In a SharePoint-hosted app, the JSOM or REST APIs can be used to access the Workflow object model without any server-side code. You can download sample code for a Workflow-powered app for SharePoint from MSDN.

That said, workflow should only be used in an app for SharePoint when the workflow is integral to the app itself. SharePoint Designer 2013 is the recommended tool for authoring workflows in SharePoint 2013.

Can web part connections be set up on .aspx pages within immersive, full-page apps?

Obviously no server-side code is allowed in a SharePoint-hosted app, but every app must contain at least one page (the app’s Start page). This page may be an .aspx page (referencing server controls, but containing no server-side code). Can we connect web parts on this page? Thus far, I have not been able to do this. I even tried following a similar approach to the one outlined here where the connection between two web parts is provisioned declaratively, but to no avail. If anyone out there can shed any additional light on this question, please feel free to leave a comment!

Slides and code from my session

Code for the sample app I demonstrated can be downloaded here.

In conclusion, thank you!

Thanks again to all the attendees, volunteers, sponsors, speakers, and organizers who continue to make these SPS Events so great, and a special thanks to Microsoft consultant Alex Randall who helped answer many of the questions I had about apps for SharePoint 2013 during and after his session yesterday, When and When Not to Use the New App Model.

Happy app development!