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Packaging Your Advanced SharePoint Customizations. Neil Iversen Inetium Solution Basics. At its core, a solution pushes files around The File Bus of SharePoint ‘Farm Safe’ – Works across Front Ends Deployed to the Farm. Solution Life Cycle – High Level. Features.

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packaging your advanced sharepoint customizations

Packaging Your Advanced SharePoint Customizations

Neil Iversen


solution basics
Solution Basics
  • At its core, a solution pushes files around
    • The File Bus of SharePoint
  • ‘Farm Safe’ – Works across Front Ends
  • Deployed to the Farm
  • Deployable unit of functionality
  • Used to customize SharePoint
  • Extensively used by SharePoint itself
  • Stored in the Hive
    • Each feature in its own directory
types of features
Types of Features
  • Content Type
  • Custom Action
  • Delegate Controls
  • Events
  • Feature Stapling
  • Field
  • Lists (Templates and Instances)
  • Module
  • Workflow
why do i need this fancy packaging
Why do I need this fancy packaging?
  • You need something that isn’t available in the OOB Features
  • The OOB Features do/don’t do something you need
  • You are deploying something outside of SharePoint
  • And you still care about change control

Individual Developer Environments

    • Developers build functionality into features/solutions

Developer Merge

Developer Alice

Developer Bob

Developer Charlie



feature receivers
Feature Receivers
  • Executes code when the state changes
  • Key to our ability to make drastic changes
    • “If you can code it you can do it”
  • Allows for extremely powerful code to get added
    • While still being easily deployable
    • Overrides
      • FeatureInstalled, FeatureUninstalling
      • FeatureActivated, FeatureDeactivating
  • Example
    • <Feature Id="0a7e1ca9-ee71-4407-80a0-b5b57f4f6f5d"

Title=“My Feature Reciever"


ReceiverAssembly=“MyAssembly, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=e35a4d2663eae0ae" ReceiverClass=“MyAssembly.MyFeatureReciever"


feature receivers getting context
Feature Receivers – Getting Context
  • Getting Context
    • Retrieving the Current Scoped Object
      • SPFeatureReceiverProperties
        • SPFeatureReceiverProperties.Feature.Parent
      • Cast to the appropriate type
        • Scope: Web
          • SPWeb web = (SPWeb)properties.Feature.Parent;
          • SPSite site = (SPSite)properties.Feature.Parent
  • Farm
  • Web App
  • Site
  • Web





Extranet WFE






feature receivers debugging
Feature Receivers - Debugging
  • Based on Deployment/Activation Method
  • Stsadm
    • Runs as currently logged in user
    • Debug/Console.WriteLine
    • System.Diagnostics.Debugger.Launch();
  • Web Interface
    • Runs as App Pool user
    • Need to use logger (EventLog, or some Logging code)
    • Attach to w3wp.exe
  • DLL Deployment
    • Overwrite Existing DLL
    • iisreset
    • stsadm –o activatefeature -force
testing your code
Testing Your Code
  • Unit Testing Features
    • Pretty straight forward if you Develop on a SharePoint environment
    • Probably want to ignore your abstraction violations (SharePoint mocks are tough)
  • Always test Farm/Scope safety
    • Need a multi server environment
    • Can you make it part of your build?
feature object model
Feature Object Model
  • SPFarm.FeatureDefinitions
  • SPSite.Features
  • SPWeb.Features
  • SPFeature
    • SPFeatureDefinition
feature properties
Feature Properties
  • Configuration for your Feature
  • Allow different values for Dev/Test/Prod
  • Combine with scoped property bags to set configurations
  • Example


<Property Key=“MyKey" Value=“123" />

<Property Key=“DBServer" Value=“prodsql001" />


manually activating features
Manually Activating Features
  • Why?
    • Evade chaining restrictions (at your own peril)
    • Working with Hidden Features
    • Manage Stages of a Site with a Web Part
    • Creating a ‘Suicide Feature’
manually activating a feature
Manually Activating a Feature
  • Get your Context
    • Ex: SPWeb
  • Find the Feature Collection
    • Ex: SPWeb.Features
  • Find the Feature’s Guid
    • Ex: Guid featureGuid = new Guid(“0a7e1ca9-ee71-4407-80a0-b5b57f4f6f5d”)
  • Activate!
    • Ex: SPWeb.Features.Add(featureGuid)
feature properties22
Feature Properties
  • Configuration for your Feature
  • Allow different values for Dev/Test/Prod
  • Combine with scoped property bags to set configurations
  • Example


<Property Key=“MyKey" Value=“123" />

<Property Key=“DBServer" Value=“prodsql001" />


dependencies and features
Dependencies and Features
  • Your Feature might need to assume another feature is already active
  • Make several smaller features, then wrap them into a single feature that is dependant on them
  • Dependencies can only be one level deep
  • Example
    • <ActivationDependencies>

<ActivationDependency FeatureId="52890518-036f- 4027-babd-f4c7df3ee429" />

<ActivationDependency FeatureId="6d276cfc-1c84- 46cc-8566-500e66213e06 " />


dependency limitations
Dependency Limitations
  • Feature Chains
    • Limited to one visible feature
  • Dependencies can’t be triggered at a higher scope
    • Ex: Farm Feature can’t depend on a Web Feature
  • Features can’t be automatically activated at different scopes
    • Ex: Web Feature can’t activate a Farm Feature
feature dependency
Feature Dependency



putting it together
Putting it Together
  • Problem: Modifying the web.config in a Farm Safe manner
  • Solution: SPWebConfigModification and Features
    • SPWebConfigModification is Farm Safe
    • Scoping does become an issuee
getting a little crazy
Getting a little crazy
  • What about non-SharePoint assets?
    • Databases, other web sites, …
  • Is there an advantage?
    • Depends on reason for creating the Feature
    • Most common is Devs can’t touch Prod
other interesting approaches
Other Interesting Approaches
  • Manually Deploy across a Farm
    • Create your own Timer Jobs
    • Manually add them to the different WFEs
  • PowerShell ‘Feature’
    • Execute PowerShell via a Feature
  • PowerShell v2 Scripts
    • Has ability to execute remote commands
your feedback is important
Your Feedback is Important

Please fill out a session evaluation form and either put them in the basket near the exit or drop them off at the conference registration desk.

Thank you!


Neil Iversen