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May 2010

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Dynamics CRM 4: Fixing broken entities

The reason entities sometimes break after importing in CRM is that CRM only exports relationships between two custom entities if both entities are included in an export. I assume this is to avoid breaking on import into a system that doesn’t have the associated custom entity.  You can avoid the problem if you are able to export all related entities together, but sometimes you can’t do that because one is not ready to be deployed for example.

I saw the problem show up when trying to export all forms with a Javascript export tool (both so I could search our javascript easily with Agent Ransack and so I could check in any recent changes to keep a history):

“"\n 0x80040216\n An unexpected error occurred.\n Platform\n"”

Trace log showed:

System.Web.Services.Protocols.SoapException: Server was unable to process request. ---> System.Reflection.TargetInvocationException: Exception has been thrown by the target of an invocation. ---> System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object.

at Microsoft.Crm.ObjectModel.OrganizationUIService.LabelLoaderPublished.LoadMetadataLabel(Int32 entityType, String attributeName, ExecutionContext context)

Exporting all customizations manually via the export UI resulted in the same exception as was in trace log:

Problem XML

At that point I did a manual binary search of exporting entities to narrow down which entity was the problem.  (It might also show up in trace log; in my case, no such luck.)

Going back to customize entities and looking at the form for the offending entity, there were empty spaces where links to two particular custom entities should be.

Problem Form

Goal now is to delete them from the form and the entity so I can recreate them. has the steps:

Open up the problem attributes and note their names.

Create temporary attributes with the same names. This turns the previously broken references on the form into valid references to a text attribute.

Then delete the attributes from the form and any views & publish. This gets references to the attributes off the list of published attributes.

Then delete the attributes and save and publish again to remove any final traces of them.

Then I can manually recreate the relationships and re-add them to the form and views.

Posted by David Eison on Thursday, May 27, 2010 3:47 PM
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SQL 2008 Won’t Install – Error About Conflict with SQL 2005 Express

I’ve been fighting an error trying to install SQL 2008 R2.  The installer gives an error, “The SQL Server 2005 Express Tools are installed. To continue, remove the SQL Server 2005 Express Tools.”  It turns out, the error was due to Red Gate SQL Compare, not SQL 2005.  Thanks to this article, I was able to uninstall Red Gate to get SQL 2008 R2 installed.

Posted by Eric Stoll on Thursday, May 27, 2010 1:55 PM
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Sitecore:Web Forms for Marketers: Send Email

To have the save action for your form actually send email, you will need to change one of the settings, otherwise you will receive this error whenever submitting the form:

We experience a technical difficulty while processing your request. Your data may not have been correctly saved.

Also in your log (/data/logs/newest log file) you will see this error after the form has been submitted:

Exception: System.Net.WebException
Message: The remote name could not be resolved: ''
Source: System
   at System.Net.ServicePoint.GetConnection(PooledStream PooledStream, Object owner, Boolean async, IPAddress& address, Socket& abortSocket, Socket& abortSocket6, Int32 timeout)
   at System.Net.PooledStream.Activate(Object owningObject, Boolean async, Int32 timeout, GeneralAsyncDelegate asyncCallback)
   at System.Net.PooledStream.Activate(Object owningObject, GeneralAsyncDelegate asyncCallback)
   at System.Net.ConnectionPool.GetConnection(Object owningObject, GeneralAsyncDelegate asyncCallback, Int32 creationTimeout)
   at System.Net.Mail.SmtpConnection.GetConnection(String host, Int32 port)
   at System.Net.Mail.SmtpTransport.GetConnection(String host, Int32 port)
   at System.Net.Mail.SmtpClient.GetConnection()
   at System.Net.Mail.SmtpClient.Send(MailMessage message)
WARN  Web Forms for Marketers: an unhandled exception: Failure sending mail. has occured while trying to execute an action.

In your content tree, browse down to: /sitecore/system/Modules/Web Forms for Marketers/Settings/Actions/Save Actions/Send Mail

Under that item there will be a submit section with parameters:


Just replace with your SMTP host information for the server, and with the address you want to send mail from – save, and republish!

That should correct the error above and, barring any other issues, hopefully the form will be working as intended!

Posted by Amy Winburn on Tuesday, May 18, 2010 6:16 PM
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Nicer Sitecore URL’s

Sitecore has a concept for replacing special characters in a URL. By default, their config file isn’t set to translate spaces. So URLS like, World.aspx translate to For SEO purposes, its best to translate spaces. Add the following line to your Sitecore web.configs so the URL would translate to

    <replace mode="on" find="&amp;" replaceWith=",-a-," />
    <replace mode="on" find="?" replaceWith=",-q-," />
    <replace mode="on" find="/" replaceWith=",-s-," />
    <replace mode="on" find="*" replaceWith=",-w-," />
    <replace mode="on" find="." replaceWith=",-d-," />
    <replace mode="on" find=":" replaceWith=",-c-," />
    <replace mode="on" find=" " replaceWith="-" />

Posted by Eric Stoll on Tuesday, May 18, 2010 10:32 AM
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Sitecore: External and Internal Links as Items

I ran into a problem creating the navigation for the footer rendering on a page – On there I needed to have links to the following pages: terms, contact, careers, and the sitemap. The problem arose when trying to add ‘Contact’ and ‘Careers’: ‘Contact’ was a few levels down in the tree of content items and ‘Careers’ was an external page. Initially, I had a checkbox in the template of each page for if the item was in the footer (ie: InFooterNav checked) and then the XSLT file would go through the entire list of items to find what would be in the footer navigation. It wasn’t an ideal solution when so few items had the tag in the entire site and it did not help with my external link at all. Thus was born: The Link Template!

The new template basically consisted of:

Link Data:

  • Link: General Link //This is the link to our item or the URL for the external page
  • Nav Title: Single Line Text //The title we want to have displayed in our menu – this is the same as in my regular items
  • Target: Single Line Text (or a drop down list) //The target if we want to open the page in a new window


  • InFooterNav: Checkbox //Just a checkbox to see if this link is going to be in our footer, this is the same as regular items.

Within the Standard Values I assigned a new layout for the items with the following code within:

<% Sitecore.Data.Items.Item item = Sitecore.Context.Item; 
   Response.Redirect(((Sitecore.Data.Fields.LinkField)item.Fields["Link"]).Url); %>

The above redirects the user to whatever URL was provided within the “Link” field.

I then created a bunch of items with the appropriate links in the folder where other footer only type items also lived – for our example let us say “/sitecore/content/Home/Footer/”

To retrieve my footer items I now only had to check that folder and not search the entire site to actually see if the box is checked.

And a little more useful - using this template, I could put a link to any external page under any item – allowing me to have external links within my navigation such as Careers.

The above layout will work fine for my footer, but what if you wanted links to open in other windows? Or didn’t want to take the extra step of creating a layout? The rendering can be changed to make use of our new template:

      <xsl:for-each select="$home/Footer/item[sc:fld('InFooterNav',.) = '1']">
            <xsl:when test="@template = 'link template'">
              <xsl:variable name="linkTarget" select="sc:fld('Target',.)" />
              <sc:link field="Link" target="{$linkTarget}" >
                <sc:text field="Nav Title" />
                <sc:text field="Nav Title" />

Above we have a choose statement to determine if this is using the new link template or not (called “Link Template” but listed in lowercase):

<xsl:when test="@template = 'link template'">


Then we create a variable for our target and create the link based on our General Link field called “Link” by specifying it for field:

<xsl:variable name="linkTarget" select="sc:fld('Target',.)" />
<sc:link field="Link" target="{$linkTarget}" >
  <sc:text field="Nav Title" />


Otherwise if it is a normal item in the tree, we give it a normal link and continue to the next item!

     <sc:text field="Nav Title" />

Categories: Sitecore
Posted by Amy Winburn on Thursday, May 13, 2010 2:41 PM
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Sitecore: A Simple Single Level Menu with Rounded Edges

After taking some time to figure this out, I thought I’d share my approach to a simple single level menu rendering with rounded edges. Initially, the idea here is very straight forward – create a list, style it, voila! Unfortunately, Round edges and dynamic content make it a little less forgiving.

Here is an Example of what we are trying to achieve:


Each of these items would be a sub item in the site, all at the same level  under ‘/Sitecore/Content/Site’

In our XSLT  rendering we need to grab the list, and apply the appropriate styles to the appropriate items, notably: The first item needs to have a round corner on the left, the Last item needs to have a round corner on the right, and the inner items need to have borders around them all – and we need to be able to Hover for a different effect.

To do this I did the following:

<xsl:template match="*" mode="main">
  <ul id="MainNav">
    <xsl:for-each select="$SiteContent/item[sc:fld('InTopNav',.) = '1']">
      <xsl:variable name="EdgeClass">
        <xsl:if test="position()='1'">FirstItem</xsl:if>
        <xsl:if test="position() = last()">LastItem</xsl:if>
      <xsl:if test="position() = last()">
        <li class="preLastItem">
      <li class="{$EdgeClass}" >
          <sc:link >
            <sc:text field="Nav Title" />

The above runs through every item which has InTopNav checked in that level (if you had /SiteCore/Content/Site/Home and then all the items under Home, it would be a bit different)

In terms of what happens when this runs:

1. First item is read and link displayed -- given the “FirstItem” class.

2. 2nd item is read -- link is displayed with No class assigned.

N. Last item is read: $EdgeClass is now “LastItem”, list item with a period is displayed followed by the list item for the last link -- given the “LastItem” class.

All that is left is styling the menu: I created extra wide images for the left rounded edge, right rounded edge and the general middle links so that they could overlap and slide around depending on the length of the text and set them as the background images for the links (ie: #Menu li.FirstItem a).

Categories: Sitecore
Posted by Amy Winburn on Tuesday, May 11, 2010 11:09 AM
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The new CRM 4 SDK is out

Just an FYI to anyone not aware, the new CRM 4 SDK has been released.

This one includes full support for LINQ, more support for development in CRM Online, and other goodies. There's also a whole new microsoft.xrm folder with samples and walkthroughs!

The Microsoft Dynamics SDK documentation website hasn't been updated yet, but I'm sure it will soon.

Posted by Wayne Walton on Thursday, May 6, 2010 4:40 PM
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