Meet Sitecore at MSBuild 2017 conference!

This year, Sitecore will be exhibiting at the Microsoft Build conference in Seattle. This will be my first time attending the conference and I look forward to getting the chance to meet so many of the developers in our industry!

I have been working with the team to put together some cool stuff for visitors to the booth, so if you happen to be swinging by the conference this year, come say hello at Booth 118!

I promise, I will not sing any Taylor Swift at you. Much. ūüėČ

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A new challenge with an old friend

Today I embark upon a brand new journey in my career. Excitement. Trepidation. Giddiness? Perhaps! Part of me is sad to leave my Nonlinear family behind, but I am so very excited about the opportunity to join Sitecore as a Technical Evangelist starting today.

That’s right, no more MVP for me! As a wise man once said: “I’ll lose my Sitecore MVP status in the best way possible”. I hope to see many of you again soon, and I will continue helping out in the community as I always have. If you’re at an upcoming Sitecore event,¬†find me and let’s talk!

To sum up my current emotions:

Fallon-Elmo-Dance

Using Epics to drive a fixed-price backlog

You probably read the title and said to yourself: “Epic: you keep using that word, but I don’t think it means what you thinks it means”.

It is true. The fixed-price agile backlog exists.

Now, if you are lucky enough to have never faced such a beast, then I bow to you and wish upon you continued good fortune. However, many of us have lived Agile in the Iron Triangle. Many of us have walked away as shattered and broken shadows of our former selves. We have lived, lost, learned, and ranted to whomever would listen.

This post is brought to you by an experiment in requirements cross-checking.

Continue reading Using Epics to drive a fixed-price backlog

Speaking this week at Toronto SUG

On Wednesday evening I’ll be visiting Toronto to speak about all the buzz about Sitecore and Azure. You should come on out and say hello!

To get a taste of some of the things you might hear about, here are a few lead-up blogs that went out on the Nonlinear site:

The Sitecore Shibboleth Login module – SSO one header at a time

When you start using Sitecore as an intranet you inevitably must face the identity management scenario: where are the users who are visiting the intranet going to be stored?

In most established organizations, a centralized identity management system is already in place. For a recent project, I came across the need to get Sitecore to act as a Shibboleth Service Provider and perform Single Sign-on (SSO) with a Shibboleth Identity Provider.

Shibboleth itself handles most of the heavy lifting, but there are some steps to force Sitecore to get out of Shibboleth’s way. Also, once you actually authenticate to Shibboleth you still need to authenticate to Sitecore with the header details you receive.

Enter the Shibboleth Login module, now available for download on my GitHub repository: https://github.com/jst-cyr/SitecoreShibbolethLogin

The module will get inject a pipeline handler to read the headers from Shibboleth and log in a virtual user for you with the information from the identity provider.

This has been tested against Sitecore 8.2 update 2, but I’m fairly certain that the API calls I made should work across other 8.x versions.¬†Let me know if you find a problem getting it set up!

A first look at IBM Bluemix

On Thursday evening, I got my first taste of this hip and happening Internet of Things (IoT) by attending a workshop at the Ottawa IBM campus organized by Hacking Health Ottawa.¬†The workshop was centered on getting folks ready for a hackathon coming up in April where we will focus on the use of¬†IoT technology and cloud services to improve health care services. I had little knowledge of this stuff¬†and had no idea what to expect…

Continue reading A first look at IBM Bluemix

Sitecore 8.2 ProtectedImageLinkRenderer throws “Length cannot be less than zero” exception

I ran into this particular bug when upgrading a client to Sitecore 8.2 update 2. Whenever a RichText block had both a link to a media document (like a PDF) and an anchor with no HREF the processing pipelines that update the HREF links would blow up. For those who may google it in the future, here are the details!

IMPORTANT UPDATE (2017-09-18): Thank you to Viktor who has pointed out that this is now fixed in 8.2 update 5!

Exception

18340 14:00:52 ERROR A rendering error occurred: Xsl file could not be processed (details: System.Xml.Xsl.XslTransformException: An error occurred during a call to extension function 'field'. See InnerException for a complete description of the error. ---> System.ArgumentOutOfRangeException: Length cannot be less than zero.
Parameter name: length
 at System.String.Substring(Int32 startIndex, Int32 length)
 at Sitecore.Pipelines.RenderField.ProtectedImageLinkRenderer.ReplaceReference(String tagHtml, String urlAttribute)
 at Sitecore.Pipelines.RenderField.ProtectedImageLinkRenderer.HashReferences(String renderedText, String tagName, String urlAttribute)
 at Sitecore.Pipelines.RenderField.ProtectedImageLinkRenderer.Process(RenderFieldArgs args)
 at (Object , Object[] )
 at Sitecore.Pipelines.CorePipeline.Run(PipelineArgs args)
 at Sitecore.Pipelines.DefaultCorePipelineManager.Run(String pipelineName, PipelineArgs args, String pipelineDomain)
 at Sitecore.Web.UI.WebControls.FieldRenderer.RenderField()
 at Sitecore.Xml.Xsl.XslHelper.field(String fieldName, XPathNodeIterator iterator, String parameters)
 --- End of inner exception stack trace ---
 at System.Xml.Xsl.Runtime.XmlExtensionFunction.Invoke(Object extObj, Object[] args)
 at System.Xml.Xsl.Runtime.XmlQueryContext.InvokeXsltLateBoundFunction(String name, String namespaceUri, IList`1[] args)
 at <xsl:template match="*">(XmlQueryRuntime {urn:schemas-microsoft-com:xslt-debug}runtime, XPathNavigator {urn:schemas-microsoft-com:xslt-debug}current)
 at Root(XmlQueryRuntime {urn:schemas-microsoft-com:xslt-debug}runtime)
 at System.Xml.Xsl.XmlILCommand.Execute(Object defaultDocument, XmlResolver dataSources, XsltArgumentList argumentList, XmlWriter writer)
 at Mvp.Xml.Common.Xsl.MvpXslTransform.TransformToWriter(XmlInput defaultDocument, XsltArgumentList xsltArgs, XmlWriter xmlWriter)
 at Mvp.Xml.Common.Xsl.MvpXslTransform.Transform(XmlInput input, XsltArgumentList arguments, XmlOutput output)
 at Sitecore.Web.UI.WebControls.XslFile.DoRender(HtmlTextWriter output, Item item))

Cause

The ProtectedImageLinkRenderer looks for media links and updates the HREF with a correct value for output. The current code in this renderer, however, doesn’t know how to process an anchor tag that has no HREF attribute. You can reproduce this scenario with a clean vanilla install of Sitecore and the following markup in the rich text field of the default home page that is installed:

<p><a>Empty HREF</a></p>
<p><a href="-/media/094AED0302E7486880CB19926661FB77.ashx">Media link</a></p>

Solution

An easy solution is to get rid of empty anchors in your content. However, you may not know how many of these anchors are in your solution. If you’ve upgraded from a previous version where this combination of anchors worked, you may not have the time or ability to clean up all the links.

Alternatively, you can patch the pipeline with your own version and add the following check in to escape the method for empty anchor tags:

//Handle empty tags
if (!tagHtml.Contains(urlAttribute))
  return tagHtml;
I have an open support ticket with Sitecore for an official patch. I’ll update this when I receive it.
UPDATE (March 1st, 2017): Here’s the official Sitecore patch:¬†https://github.com/SitecoreSupport/Sitecore.Support.149817/releases/tag/8.2.2.0
UPDATE (May 5th, 2017): The GitHub repos seem to be private now (thanks for the heads up @JLDeveloper27!), so you’ll need to contact Sitecore Support to ask for the fix. Ask for the Sitecore.Support.149817¬†bug fix for version 8.2.2.0. You can provide the GitHub repo link to support if that helps.
UPDATE (September 18, 2017): This is now corrected in 8.2 update 5. If you can upgrade, that is a better solution than using the support fix.

Affected versions

I tested this starting at 8.2 update 2 and going back to 8.0 Service Pack 1. Sitecore 8.0 and 8.1 seem unaffected, but 8.2 updates 1-4 will simulate this bug. It is corrected in 8.2 update 5.

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Swimming against the waterfall…