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July 2, 2010 / rusitecore

Subject Suggestions

Please post your topic suggestions to this post and ask any questions that haven’t been covered by the topics posted.

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November 23, 2015 / rusitecore

Multiple Title Tags?

After noticing some weird validation errors, and in reviewing the Source on our web pages, we noticed something strange: Additional (empty) TITLE tags were showing up on pages throughout our website.  Huh? Where were those coming from?

The <title> tag is populated in the header from Sitecore content pulled into our layout through an XSLT file.  The content is a field that we control for SEO purposes, so where was this second empty field coming from?

We checked the layout file, the XSLT files – it was nowhere to be found. A ghost.  So after wielding my trusty Google sword, I came across this article:  http://www.mikkelhm.dk/blog/doublicate-title-tags-wtf/ and found this is a “feature” of ASP.net and has nothing to do with Sitecore.

So the short version of the article: if you add a new page in Visual Studio, it “kindly” adds the runat=”server” to the <head> tag, which, as a “feature” provides an empty title field for you.  The fix is simple.  Remove runat=”server” from the head tag and your dupes will go away. Such a simple fix for hours of troubleshooting…

UPDATE: Sitecore support recommended pulling the title tag into it’s own XSLT rendering for the template and moving it up to the top of the <head> tag. Interesting approach – we may try that in our redesign.

March 26, 2015 / rusitecore

Sitecore Upgrade Disappointment

We’re currently sitting at the latest and greatest Sitecore release of version 6.6, and there we may stay, indefinitely.

I’ll have to admit I was curious about what was over that Sitecore 7 “wall”, so I took a peek. I had visions of grandeur, like maybe a more attractive interface, some cool new functionality, a more efficient back-end. Maybe I set myself up for disappointment.

DISAPPOINTMENT #1

Right out of the gate I noticed that Sitecore *still* hasn’t figured out a more efficient way to do upgrades on existing installations. I’m sure there’s probably a good back-end reason as to why, but from where I sit (the poor schlock who has to actually do the upgrade), it’s a major hassle. More specifically, instead of going directly from version 6.6 to version 7.2, I had to go from version 6.6 to version 7, to version 7.1 to version 7.2.  Really? This is reminiscent of the IBM AS-400 PTFs we had to do “back in the day”.  Is it so hard to just include *all* of the improvements into the latest version, saving me a week of my life that I will never get back?

DISAPPOINTMENT #2

It looks exactly the same. There were no visual improvements aside from the addition of a search tab, which I don’t find especially useful at this time (see disappointment #3 below). Who knows, maybe if I use it more I’ll change my mind.

DISAPPOINTMENT #3

“Features”

Okay, there is new search functionality and it seems to work well. Almost too well… Have you ever gone into a Superstore to buy cereal? You just want some cereal, but you go into the aisle and there’s about 200 boxes to choose from? Overkill. I just wanted cereal. That’s how I feel about the search. I put in a simple search term for a page we created and it brought back a few hundred results. Ok, that’s nice, but what is the function for?

Along those same lines we have “buckets”. Ok, I know what a bucket is, but what is it for in Sitecore? I read the entire manual about it and I still don’t get it. Maybe someone who gets it might enlighten me in simple-word, short sentences. I’m not sure how it works into the website infrastructure overall or how it affects a page URL. More research to be done.

 

There’s something called a “Launch Pad”, which I’m still puzzled about. I’ll have to do some more reading on it because my launch pad didn’t do anything.

Marketing. Don’t get me started. See disappointment #4 below.

DISAPPOINTMENT #4

Marketing. I suppose if you’re using Sitecore for Marketing purposes, then you’re in 7th heaven. With every new release it appears to get more and more robust. It kind of looks to me as if Sitecore has taken off on a tangent to become the content manager’s answer to Constant Contact and the like. That’s great…except for those of us who purchased a CMS to manage our content.  I didn’t even bother upgrading my development system to Sitecore 7.5 or Sitecore 8.0 because we have no interest in an uber-marketing solution, so it has nothing to offer us.

All of Sitecore’s energy seems to be invested in upgrades and development of this marketing campaign, click-through, social-stalking thing, none of which customers like us use or have ever used. Yes it all looks slick in the demonstrations, but it’s just not the product we need or want. Where does that leave us? Maybe looking for a new CMS solution.

So now that I have peeked over the fence, I am not impressed and not 100% sure we should go through the major hassle of upgrading all of our SQL Server, Visual Studio, TFS installations for such a small return. Maybe we should just stay put for now. Maybe Sitecore 9 should revisit their original bread-and-butter… the content management system.

Disappointing, Sitecore. Very disappointing.

January 6, 2015 / rusitecore

Those Pesky Browser Updates

Remember the good ole days when Chrome was the “preferred” browser for Sitecore and you didn’t have to deal with the “walking through molasses” speed issues of IE or just the general funky-ness of Firefox?

Several months ago, the user complaints started hitting my desk. Just one or two at first, then a few more…then it started happening to me. Pop-up menus were making Chrome go into a permanent zombie-like state. It was so bad that there was no getting out of it aside from killing the session and starting all over again. I re-checked my browser settings, pop-up blockers, etc. (although I knew it wasn’t a pop-up blocker issues because the window was popping up, just making my computer lock up).  Also, this problem was happening not only in Chrome, but also in IE. Firefox was the only way to get around it, but I wasn’t satisfied with the “use another browser” solution.  So, on this very rare occasion when I actually submitted a ticket for help (I hate admitting defeat), Sitecore immediately recognized the problem and…there’s a patch for that.

According to the Sitecore knowledge base:  “Sitecore versions prior to Sitecore CMS 7.1 might be not working properly in Chrome 37 and later due to the deprecated support for modal dialog boxes in these versions of Chrome.”  Their recommendation is to either upgrade to version 7.1, where the problem has been addressed and fixed, OR apply a patch.  The full knowledge base article and subsequent patches can be found at https://kb.sitecore.net/articles/581527

Since we are running the very latest version of 6.6, this seemed to fix our issues.  Strangely enough, it even fixed the problem with Internet Explorer even though the article doesn’t specifically mention the problem as it pertains to IE.

Sitecore tech support saves the day!!

July 25, 2014 / rusitecore

Specified URL Cannot Be Found

Oh I love Microsoft. Truly. And someday I will send them a bill for the hours of my life that I have lost endlessly chasing after phantom error messages that have nothing to do with the actual problem.  I am documenting the following problem, not because it has anything to do with Sitecore, but because, after a thorough scouring of the internet for a solution to this problem over the past few days, I turned up nothing. So let me be the first to see if I can save countless hours of frustration for my programming cohorts.

We have a legacy form that was written in ASP Classic on our legacy website. It is only on a rare occasion that we are asked to do anything with this code because (1) it is old; (2) it is written poorly; and (3) we are trying to convert everything over to C# in an ASP.NET platform.   So when someone calls with “the forms aren’t working on XYZ page anymore”, my first thought is – what did Microsoft do now?

PROBLEM:

When someone submits the form (written in ASP with VBScript on the back-end), the form data is sent to a pop-up confirmation page which processes the email using CDOSYS in the local mail pickup folder. Fairly simple – when it works.  Except now we are getting “Specified URL cannot be found”.   Strange because this same form that hasn’t been touched by anybody in over 2 years was working just last week.

TROUBLESHOOTING:

1. Check the log files. Nothing. Seriously. According to the IIS log files, the form processed fine. Maybe it’s because the pop-up isn’t registering anything?
2. Code analyzer – Nothing. Although the code is poorly formed and horrible, it is functional on a basic syntactical level.
3. Slash and burn:  I remove the whole body of the message and SCORE! The email submits.  Is it a string length problem?
4. Test string length:  Start adding “a” in the text body.  aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa   Still works. Add a few more… still works. Huh?  Now I have more “a’s” than the length of my original email. Clearly not a string length problem.
5. Start removing odd characters from the original email. Removed the colons and… DINGDINGDINGDING! It works!
6. Checked the Security Updates on the server over the past 2 weeks, and there just happen to be 4 of them.

CONCLUSION:

Microsoft put something in one of their security updates that disallows the use of the colon (:) and probably other characters in a request string between web pages, probably to protect against script injection, but to seriously mess up legacy code.

So there you have it. If you are getting a meaningless “Specified URL Cannot Be Found” when trying to submit a form, check your colons.

November 18, 2013 / rusitecore

Internet Explorer 11 vs Sitecore – The Saga Continues

If you don’t use Internet Explorer to access Sitecore, stop reading now and have a nice day.

For the rest of you, though, Microsoft pushed out a set of updates last week which quietly had Internet Explorer 11 packaged with it. As always, these major browser releases almost always adversely affect how major software tools, like Sitecore, can function in some way.  Many of you who have auto-updates enabled on your computer may be unaware that this was even installed until you log in to Sitecore and can no longer see the content tree. Surprise!

I downloaded IE 11 on purpose to see exactly what problems lie ahead for us. The most harrowing one I found was that the entire content tree on the left of the screen was missing! Not just the scroll bars this time, but the whole thing. After tinkering with a bunch of settings (found in Sitecore’s browser configuration reference documentation), which Microsoft kindly reset for me when they downloaded the new browser, I found it had no effect on the invisibility problem.

So what does work?

Compatibility view. Except it doesn’t come in a handy icon at the top of the page anymore, now you actually have to search for it. So here are the steps to fix that problem if you happen to have been one of the “lucky” ones to download the new browser version.

  1. In the browser toolbar at the top of the page (not the Sitecore toolbar, but above that), choose “Tools”.
  2. About ½ way down the menu choose “Compatibility View settings”
  3. Another window should pop up (if it does not, turn off the pop-up blocker that Microsoft so kindly turned back on for you).
  4. Add your Sitecore domain to the compatibility view list by typing it into the text box under “Add this website” then clicking the “Add” button
  5. Leave the checkboxes at the bottom checked and click the “Close” button.

You will most likely be kicked out of Sitecore at this point and have to log back in, but when you do, the content tree should be back. If you are not logged out and the content tree is still missing, refresh the page by pressing your F5 key.

Now as a collective group, yell “THANK YOU MICROSOFT!!”

October 16, 2013 / rusitecore

Where are those huge white spaces coming from?

Some of you who are in Sitecore version 6.5 and have tables on your pages may have noticed problems with large areas of white space randomly showing up on your page when it publishes, even though you didn’t specifically put it there.  You’ll be glad to find out that (1) you’re not losing your mind and (2) it’s not your fault. 

With every release of Sitecore, we come across certain imperfections that are mostly just annoyances and need to be worked around. This is just one of them.

Sitecore uses a nifty little user Interface control which converts your visual web page that you see in the content editor screen, into the back-end HTML which renders it on a browser.  Overall, it does a pretty good job of translating things from what you see on the screen into usable HTML, however it is not perfect. With the release of Sitecore we use, this tool it seems to have a problem translating tables that are wrapped in paragraph tags. What’s especially funny (“funny-annoying”, not “funny-haha”) about this scenario is that when you insert a table from the WSYWYG interface, it automatically wraps the table in a paragraph tag without your average content editor even noticing, especially if it’s an inline table surrounded by other text.

Normally it doesn’t really matter if a table is wrapped in a paragraph, but in this case it does. The control gets confused, and instead of rendering proper HTML like this: 

<p>
<table><tr><td>Some stuff here</td></tr></table>
</p>

It ends up looking something like this:

<p>
<table><tr><td>
<p>Some stuff here</p>
<div></div>
<div></div>
<div></div>
<div></div>
</p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>
<p></td></tr></table>
</p>

Unfortunately, the problem gets worse the more times it is opened and closed for editing. It just keeps adding blank lines into the code as it is trying to interpret the bad code. The result?  Pages with huge gaps of white space in between paragraphs, table rows or at the end of the page.

I wish I could pass along some quick-fix to get rid of this problem permanently, but it is going to take an upgrade or patch of the application to see if the issue has been addressed. Hopefully that can get rid of this particular annoyance once and for all. 

In the short term, it’s simply a matter of manually removing the offending paragraph tags that wrap the table and the blank space junk from the middle.

September 25, 2013 / rusitecore

Quick Tip: Sorting

Did you ever have a long list of files in the Content Tree that you wanted to sort quickly?   Yes, you can use the handy-dandy arrow buttons  in the Home tab under the “sorting” section to manually move files around, and yes, you can even use the ALT-(drag & drop) to re-order files directly in the content tree, but what if you need to re-order a long list?

I had about 150 Sitecore files in a folder that I just needed to order alphabetically. This was going to take me a huge chunk of time, not to mention it is mind-numbing work, so I started poking around and found the sort function buried in one of the menus. Sitecore has a lot of functionality that is not always front-and-center and not always easy to find if you don’t use it all the time. This particular function is such a time saver.

So here’s how you do it:

  1. Right-click on the folder containing the files you want to sort.
  2. Choose “Sorting” from the menu
  3. Choose “Subitem Sorting” from that menu
  4. A box will pop up, and in the drop-down at the top of the page, you can choose how you want to sort.  The choices are:
    “Created” (sorts by create date with the most recently created file appearing first)
    “Default” (I have yet to figure out how Sitecore places files in the order that it does – it’s very random)
    “Display name” (sorts alphabetically)
    “Logical” (probably not applicable to most people)
    “Reverse” (kind of like default, but in reverse – don’t be fooled into thinking it’s display name in reverse)
    “Update” (sorts by modified date – most recently updated files will appear first)
  5. Click the RESET button to re-order the files
  6. Finally, click the “OK” button and magically get an hour of your life back.

If you would like a more detailed tutorial on sorting – I came across this article which is very articulate and easy to follow because it provides pictorial examples. I would highly suggest giving it a read.  http://learnsitecore.cmsuniverse.net/en/Editors/Articles/2009/11/SortingItems.aspx

Happy Sorting!