Tuesday, 21 December 2010

grepWin–A lightweight replacement for Windows Search

I don't know if Windows Search on my Windows Server 2008 R2 machine is crippled because it's a server machine (I'm all set up to run Search) but I invariably have trouble finding strings I know exist in files. In other words, search in files or search in content doesn't seem to work despite my configuration, rebuilding the search index, and pulling my hair out.

Having yet another service running that indexes the majority of the non-system files on my computer also doesn't really appeal and for that reason (among others) I've also decided I don't want to add more search indexing with the likes of Google Desktop Search.

In fact, what I want is a lightweight search application that I can occasionally use with regular expressions. It should be fast and convenient to use, preferably without a command line. I want to be able to specify a start directory and optionally have it search subdirectories and file contents.

And here is a tool that meets all of the above criteria: http://tools.tortoisesvn.net/grepWin.html

(FWIW, this is not an infomercial—I haven no affiliation with Stefan or grepWin and am not paid to write this)

grepWin is 64-bit compatible and Stephan offers an installable version that offers Explorer context menu integration or a portable version that doesn't need to be installed.

There's no indexing involved so you'll likely want to narrow the start location of your search as much as possible but it's still fast.

Your search can be case sensitive or not and you can limit file sizes. A search can also exclude directories.

The results pane lists file details (size, path, date, etc) and also offers a content view so you can preview the match.

Search settings are automatically persisted so using the tool is incredibly convenient.


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Wednesday, 15 December 2010

How to disable web part chrome

In the context of a highly-branded WCM site, the default "chrome" (border and title) SharePoint wraps around your custom web parts can be ugly and inconvenient. At worst, it will make your site look SharePoint-y and require every web part added to a page to have its Chrome settings manually adjusted.

Chrome Type

That's no way for a web part to behave in content management system but what to do?

In the past I've set the chrome type explicitly for each custom web part, either in the .webpart/.dwp file itself or programmatically:

<property name="ChromeType" type="chrometype">None</property>

this.ChromeType = PartChromeType.None;

To avoid doing this per web part (or cluttering up your nice little base web part class), you can set the PartChromeType property on the WebPartZone declared in your page layout:

<WebPartPages:WebPartZone id="wpzLeftColumn" runat="server" title="Left Column" PartChromeType="None">

Any web parts added to that zone with a default Chrome Type (aptly named "Default") will inherit this setting from the web part zone. Of course individual web parts can override this as required.

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Enumeration-based property with initialiser fails to load in tool pane

I encountered what is likely an obscure issue today while using an existing enumeration to populate a drop down list in the tool pane of a SharePoint web part.

The web part didn't require a custom toolpart so I'm referring to a web part property defined within the web part class itself:

[SPWebCategoryName ("TWA")]
[FriendlyNameAttribute ("Region Override")]
[WebDescription ("Explicitly configure the region displayed when the mode is set to Region.")]
[Personalizable (PersonalizationScope.Shared, false)]
[WebBrowsable (true)]
public WARegions RegionOverride { get; set; }

Notice how the public RegionOverride property has a type of WARegions. Normally, the end result is an additional custom property displayed in the web part tool pane; in this case, the WARegions type is an enumeration and SharePoint therefore renders this as a drop down list:

Enumeration DDL

I say normally because today I was only getting a disabled DDL containing a single item ("Perth"). SharePoint was also kind enough to present me with this vaguely useful error message:

Some of the properties for this Web Part cannot be displayed properly. For more information, see your site administrator.

The WARegions enumeration is an existing enum I chose to reuse for the sake of convenience. Upon further inspection, I noticed the first element in the enum (Perth) was explicitly assigned a value of 1. Acting on my suspicion, I removed the explicit assignment and the DDL would then display as expected.

As a final test to confirm whether the explicit initialisation was somehow behind the single list item being displayed, I set default values for all elements in the enum but the error returned. Fortunately in my case I can do away with the explicit initialisation (which I'm not keen on—I prefer to initialise enums myself).

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Monday, 13 December 2010

My custom Visual Studio keyboard shortcuts

I do all of the builds in my position as Development Coordinator but with the Visual Studio project context menus out of control and nearly unusable with clutter from various plugins (including ReSharper, PowerCommands, and Productivity Power Tools), I've finally cracked.

Since we don't (yet) have a build server, a normal manual build workflow goes something like "do stuff, do more stuff, BUILD, do stuff, OPEN DEPLOYMENT FOLDER IN EXPLORER, copy files to drop folder, etc. Before installing ReSharper, the VS team finally had all context menu items displaying on a single screen, with no scrolling required; ReSharper has ruined all of that again and I now find myself forever scrolling the context menu from the top (Rebuild) to the bottom (Open Folder in Windows Explorer).

Because I'm forever installing Visual Studio in different environments/upgrading/etc, I'm loathe to define custom keyboard mappings (likely a hangover from my days of using the product before Import and Export Settings… was introduced). Nonetheless, these are the shortcuts I've finally created:

Project.OpenFolderinWindowsExplorer – Alt+ O

Build.RebuildSolution – Alt+ R (Why rebuild instead of build? Personal preference)

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Friday, 3 December 2010

Relative URLs, the Rich Text Editor, and Reusable Content

We recently started leveraging the Reusable Content list to supply user-editable content to one of our interactive online forms and outbound emails. This allows the content owner to tweak the content as required as this content isn't locked away in custom code or resource files—no build and deploy required and the content management system is even used as such (whatdya know?!).

The Reusable Content list is provisioned by SharePoint when the Publishing feature is enabled; it allows users to define content snippets that can be maintained in a single location and updated automatically wherever they're used. You can optionally treat a reusable content snippet as a template—an editable copy is inserted into the page instead of a read-only, auto-updating view.

Reusable Content list items are pretty straightforward and, most importantly, contain a single HTML (rich text) field. SharePoint naturally displays its rich text editor around this field in edit mode so the edit user experience is similar to editing page content.

Unfortunately HTML fields in SharePoint are smarter than they should be and (in MOSS 2007), the product will mangle some content. I recently discovered it refuses to play with background-image style—they're silently removed whether they're inline or in an embedded stylesheet. (And yes, I know, inline styles are evil but this snippet was actually being plugged into an email so everything had to be self-contained).

Despite the tricks SharePoint plays on you with "managed" URLs, it seems the rich text field also stores URLs pointing to content within the current site as relative URLs. Absolute URLs are converted automagically but you'll never really see this until you pull the content out via the API.

We hunted for a way within SharePoint to convert all relative URLs in this content to absolute URLS but without much luck. I think there may be a Javascript function in one of the client scripts to do so for a chunk of content but there's nothing obvious in the server-side API.

To address this, we replace all relative URLs using the regex below (note the URL group) (is using regex to parse HTML bad? You be the judge). You may want to use SPUtility.GetFullUrl() to convert individual URLs.


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