Monday, November 29, 2010

SharePoint 2010 - Replace missing Publishing Site Columns and Content Types

While working on a new content type that inherited from Article Page, I somehow lost a lot of Site Columns. When I tried to view the Article Page content type, it had no columns listed!

This ended up being a simple fix. Run the following command to reinstall the Site Columns and Content Types that are used by Publishing:

stsadm -o activatefeature -name PublishingResources -url http://MySharePointSite -force

Once that operation completes, the missing columns should now be back. Don't forget to fix the feature that caused the problem!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

SharePoint 2010 - Content Deployment Woes Part 2: Custom Features

If you are reading this post, please read through my previous post on this topic to get some background on tricks to solving the "Could not find Feature" issue with built-in SharePoint features.

If you are still reading, then you have probably built and deployed custom features to your farm, such as a web part. You are then running into problems during Content Deployment jobs between farms that have different SharePoint versions on them, such as deploying from Enterprise to Standard.

The solution that worked for the built-in features was appropriate because the features that were causing the problems didn't need to be installed on your destination farm. But with custom features, that is not the case. You built them precisely because you need to be able to run them on the destination farm.

I encountered this same problem and it took me a little while to figure out why it was unhappy. Here are the steps I'd suggest you follow:

  • Check the 14-hive on the destination Web Front End to verify your feature is there.
  • Verify that your feature is installed in the destination site. For instance, check the Site Features page for features scoped to the Site level
  • Try enabling the feature and making sure it doesn't thrown any errors

Maybe you've done all those things and the feature looks good, but it's still not working? At this point, you should be confused. I know I was. I decided to check the settings on my package in Visual Studio. The Deployment Server Type was set to WebFrontEnd, which was correct. I then checked the 14-hive on the destination App Server, which is where Content Deployment jobs are run. No feature folder there.

Now I know what you're thinking - isn't that what we want? Solutions that are targeted as WebFrontEnd are marked that way for a reason - they don't need to be on the App Server because it's not serving up those web parts. Well, when it comes to Content Deployment, apparently they DO need to be there. I assume this is because the Content Deployment job is going through Central Administration, which is living on your App Server.

The solution I came up with was to enable the Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Web Application service on my App Server, effectively making it a Web Front End as well. This ensures that when I add solutions to my farm that the features get deployed to my App Server as well, effectively squashing the Content Deployment job errors I was receiving.

My App Server is already segmented off from the Web Front Ends by a firewall to keep it from being accessible from the internet. However, to ensure that my App Server is never used as a Web Front End, I am also making sure it is never listed in the load balancer and I am blocking traffic to port 80 on that box. This means there should be no real impact to the machine and my Content Deployment jobs can now run successfully.

SharePoint 2010 - Content Deployment Woes

Lately I've been working a lot with Publishing sites, which means I've been using Content Deployment jobs to move content between my farms. Unfortunately, I've learned the hard way that this part of SharePoint is rather particular about farm setups.

I have an Enterprise development farm that I use for consulting work. I built some pages on it and then wanted to deploy them to my customer's test farm, which runs a Standard license. This broke on me every single time. Specifically, I kept getting errors that features didn't exist on my destination farm.

One message I got was "Could not find feature IPFSSiteFeatures". Here are the screenshots from my deployment report:

These are all the features that existed on my Enterprise development farm but not on my Standard test farm:
  • IPFSSiteFeatures
  • WACustomReports
  • PPSWorkspaceCtype
  • PPSMonDatasourceCtype
  • PPSWebParts
  • PPSSiteCollectionMaster
To get my content deployment working again, I enabled them temporarily on the destination farm, performed the deployment, and then disabled them again. You might also be able to disable/uninstall those features on your Enterprise farm before doing the content deployment job and achieve success, but I didn't test that option.  
Note: Make sure you disable these features on your destination farm after deployment, or you may be in violation of your SharePoint license.

If you made the mistake of installing Excel Services and PerformancePoint Services on your Enterprise environment, your problems are more difficult. If you run Get-SPFeature, you will see more items in the list that will cause your content deployment to fail, such as BizAppsListTemplates.

You might be tempted to disable them on your source farm. Unfortunately, when I tried, I learned you cannot disable them with PowerShell because they are still in use. However, those features aren't activated on any of my sites. Because of my failure to disable them on the source farm, I did not test enabling them on the destination farm because I wasn't sure I'd be able to get rid of them and I didn't want to have to rebuild the entire farm again and lose my content.

I believe these features might be activated inside the service application itself, but I have not found a way to confirm this theory. I tried deleting the Service Application, but the features still couldn't be removed. If you figure this out, let me know.


In short, here are the things to keep in mind if you want to do a Content Deployment job between two farms:
  • Source and Destination farms should be on the same version of SharePoint
  • You must deploy solutions that exist on your source farm to your destination farm prior to running the job.
  • Features that are enabled on your source farm will automatically get enabled on your destination farm, but if you encounter an error with a feature, verify that the feature is installed on the destination
There are some additional quirks if you receive the "Could not find feature X" for custom features that you have developed. I'll cover those in a followup post.