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Issues Moving SharePoint Access Apps Between Farms

I hit an issue recently that was a little tricky in regards to Access Services and SharePoint 2013.  (Not Access Services 2010)  The issue arose when saving an Access app that was created in a development farm and trying to publish it to production.  Here are the steps to create an Access app package for an on-premises Access app.  What was unique about this situation that moving apps in any other direction worked.  You were able to go Prod->Prod, Prod->Dev, Dev->Dev but Dev->Prod failed.  You were also able to create new Access apps in both environments.

When deploying the app to a site in the production environment these were the errors that were received…

————–

DacManagerPeer.Install: Exception thrown installing DAC. Exception {Microsoft.SqlServer.Dac.DacServicesException: Could not deploy package. —> Microsoft.Data.Tools.Schema.Sql.Deployment.DeploymentFailedException: Internal Error.  The internal target platform type Sql110DatabaseSchemaProvider does not support schema file version ‘2.5’.     at Microsoft.Data.Tools.Schema.Sql.Deployment.SqlDeployment.CreateExtensionManagerFromModel(SqlPackage package)

————–

DacManager.ExecuteDacOperation: DAC operation failed with exception {Microsoft.SqlServer.Dac.DacServicesException: Could not deploy package. —> Microsoft.Data.Tools.Schema.Sql.Deployment.DeploymentFailedException: Internal Error.  The internal target platform type Sql110DatabaseSchemaProvider does not support schema file version ‘2.5’.     at Microsoft.Data.Tools.Schema.Sql.Deployment.SqlDeployment.CreateExtensionManagerFromModel(SqlPackage package) 

————–

I had never heard of DAC as it relates to SharePoint (it’s not Dedicated Administrator Connection) before so I had to do some digging.  From the sound of the error it sounded like software was mismatched between environments.  I first double-checked all of the install tasks to ensure they were completed – Here is a great white paper on setting up Access Services.  While going through this I saw that one of the prerequisites referenced DAC, the Data-Tier Application Framework.

image

So I went and looked at both environments and sure enough there were multiple versions of the Data-Tier Application Framework across all servers (APP & SQL) in both environments.  There were versions 10 up to 12 with no standardization.  I then went ahead and installed the latest version of the DACFramework.msi file that I could find in the download center which was from June 22nd 2015 and version 13+.  I received the same error after this install so I started to dig deeper by going into the Access app package.  I first changed the extension of the app package to .zip.

image

And I found these files:

image

Great start, time to compare between apps build in Prod vs Dev!  At first glance nothing stood out between the manifest and .xml files, but then I started looking into the .dacpac file as I had never heard of this before.  Here is what I found:

  • A data-tier application (DAC) is a logical database management entity that defines all of the SQL Server objects – like tables, views, and instance objects, including logins – associated with a user’s database. A DAC is a self-contained unit of SQL Server database deployment that enables data-tier developers and database administrators to package SQL Server objects into a portable artifact called a DAC package, also known as a DACPAC.

It was now making more sense.  Access Services in 2013 uses an entire SQL DB per app you create.  So SharePoint is utilizing the logic behind the DAC framework to package and move databases between environments.  (This took software on the SQL server out of the picture).  But I must go deeper so lets open up this file…. was able to use the same logic as before and convert the extension to .zip to open it up.

image

Yay! More files to open and compare. I first looked at Origin.xml and nearly found what I was looking for.

Dev

image
Prod

image

Dev has a newer DAC version than Prod.  Ok is there anything else?  What is this schema error?  Opening up the model.xml file I found the answer.

image

Inside of the model.xml file existed the corresponding Schema for the DB provider that was throwing the error.  And sure enough apps created in Prod had Schema Version 2.4.  This made sense but I had installed the latest DAC version on both environments?  What I found out is that installing the newest DAC framework version 13.0.2993.2 does not upgrade the previous version.  I then remove everything I can find for older DAC versions and give it a shot.

image

Another error? Come on!  At least I got a correlation ID.

————–

DacManager.ExecuteDacOperation: DAC operation failed with exception {Microsoft.Office.Access.Services.Design.TemplateException: Sorry, an app package could not be created.  

————–

Well that didn’t appear too helpful.  The next shot I took was a guess that the version I installed was too new.  So I installed the Data-Tier Application Framework August 2013 version 11.1.2902.0 and completely uninstalled version 13.0.2993.2.

image

SUCCESS!  I was then able to successfully add an app that was created in the Dev environment to Prod.  Mission completed, let’s load this app and move on…..(queue up loading music)……Error…..dang……

image

————–

We weren’t able to load the app’s home page. Please let your administrator know about this.

————–

Not helpful, onto ULS logs and actually some helpful info.

————–

The application’s system schema version is newer than what the current version of Access Services understands. AppVersion: 15-0-61-0. ServerVersion 15-0-59-0.

An error occurred reading application properties while opening a command scope. Microsoft.Office.Access.Services.VersioningException: Sorry, the server doesn’t recognize the version of the app you are trying to open.

————–

Alright so more discrepancies between farms.  What I found on dev was a hotfix applied KB2956180.  I knew this had been there as this was the first place I looked when we had server mismatches at the beginning.  I didn’t believe that this was vital as the overall version of Access Services was identical between farms and the KB was a lower build number.   Reviewing the KB though had a lot of direct ties into Access Services.  This was also a large hotfix (154MB) and required PSConfig to be ran.

image

I went ahead an installed this hotfix on all SP servers and ran PSconfig on all servers.  I then opened the app that had threw an error earlier and the sky’s opened up with a wonderful ray of light and I saw my Access app.

image

I certainly hope this post will save someone some time as it was quite an adventure.  The final breakdown and advice of this post:

  1. Ensure the same version of DACFramework.msi is installed across your farms
  2. Ensure you only have 1 version across your farms
  3. Do not use version 13.0.2993.2 of DACFramework.msi
  4. Ensure hotfixes (even if lower build numbers) are matched between farms

Happy SharePoint troubleshooting!

SharePoint 2013 PowerPivot Install – Error Deploying Farm Solutions

I ran into an issue recently that I thought would be good to pass along. I was installing the BI features for SharePoint 2013 on a new farm and ran into an issue when configuring PowerPivot. This environment is a 3 tier environment as depicted in the image below.

2015-07-15 13_24_45-Document1 - Word

These are the BI steps that I had already completed. (along with some helpful links)

Here is the download link for SQL Server 2014. The installer does not deploy or configure Power Pivot features in SharePoint. The following components install by default:

  • Power Pivot for SharePoint 2013. This component includes:
    1. PowerShell scripts (.ps1 files)
    2. SharePoint solution packages (.wsp)
    3. Power Pivot for SharePoint 2013 configuration tool to deploy Power Pivot in a SharePoint 2013 farm
  • Microsoft OLE DB Provider for Analysis Services (MSOLAP).
  • ADOMD.NET data provider.
  • SQL Server Analysis Management Objects.

A recommended best practice is to install spPowerPivot.msi on all servers in the SharePoint farm for configuration consistency, including application servers and web-front end servers. The installer package includes the Analysis Services data providers as well as the Power Pivot for SharePoint 2013 configuration tool. When you install spPowerPivot.msi you can customize the installation by excluding individual components.

The next step is to configure the PowerPivot for SharePoint Add-in

This is the area in which I ran into an issue.  Here is the technet article about the configuration.

  1. I launched the configuration toolimage<
  2. I set the default account information, DB Server and PowerPivot infoimage
  3. I set the parameters for the task “Create PowerPivot Service Application” to use my naming format.  (Remove the GUID from the DB)image
  4. I set the web application deployment location for the task “Deploy Web Application Solution”image
  5. I set the unattended account info for the task “Create Unattended Account for Data Refresh”image
  6. I then clicked Validate and Run

The configuration failed on the task “Deploy Farm Solution” with the error:

Running PS Script failed. Reason: Solution failed to deployed, reason: SPAPP01 :
Error: Cannot add the specified assembly to the global assembly cache: Microsoft.AnalysisServices.SPAddin.dll.

The solution DID deploy to SPWEB01 and SPAPP02.

These were the items I tried to debug first all of which failed:

  1. IIS Reset on all servers
  2. Reset Timer Service on all servers
  3. Ran Configuration tool as Administrator
  4. Set default account to different account names with different permissions (farm/install/service/etc…)

I then stumbled across this blog – Troubleshooting PowerPivot for SharePoint Solution Deployments – which lead me into the correct direction based on this statement:

“…the Timer service depends on the Administration service to carry out the deployment work because the Timer service usually runs under a low-privileged service account that might not have the required permissions to deploy assemblies in the Global Assembly Cache and so forth, while the Administration service uses the high-privileged Local System account with full access to all local resources.”

So I head out to SPAPP01 and check out what account is running the Administration service and sure enough it was set to the fully qualified farm domain account!

I reset the log on to be Local System and reran the configuration.

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Success!

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Hopefully this helps someone else moving forward!

Utilizing the new Related Items column via workflow – Part 2

This is a continuation from Part 1 of the blog post Utilizing the new Related Items column via workflow. In Part 1 I wrote about the scenario that I had in which I wanted to connect a document library and a custom list using both a lookup column and a Related Items column. This post discussed how to make the column visible so it can be added to a list or library. In this post I will discuss a strategy to use a SharePoint 2013 Workflow created by SharePoint designer to interact with the Related items column.

To solve my scenario of showing what documents are connected to the deliverable list, I added the Related Items column to the custom Deliverables list. My hope was that I could perform these steps when documents are uploaded to the deliverable documents library:

  1. A document is uploaded to the deliverable documents library and a selection of the matching lookup from the deliverable list is chosen.
  2. The related items field on the corresponding deliverable list is updated with the document that is uploaded.
  3. As more items are added for the same deliverable list item the related items are appended on top of each other.

I found the format for updating the Related Items column from this blog post by Pieter Veenstra. This is the format for a single record in Related Items:

[{“ItemId”:13,”WebId”:”b95aa3f5-5fc2-4df7-b690-7381971e8ab7″,”ListId”:”7fb76569-48d5-45a6-9224-116ee234c304″}]

This is the format for multiple Related Items:

[{“ItemId”:13,”WebId”:”b95aa3f5-5fc2-4df7-b690-7381971e8ab7″,”ListId”:”7fb76569-48d5-45a6-9224-116ee234c304″},{“ItemId”:14,”WebId”:”b95aa3f5-5fc2-4df7-b690-7381971e8ab7″,”ListId”:”7fb76569-48d5-45a6-9224-116ee234c304″}]

I just needed to find a way to use variables to input this data. I created a list workflow that happened on change and creation that was able to successfully perform these steps using variables! Here is the overall workflow and I will break down the sections below.

2014-09-24-21_44_22-https___my.jci.c[2]

Setting Initial Variables

2014-09-24-22_13_16-https___my.jci.c[1]

This section first pauses for a duration to allow the document to be fully checked in and then sets 2 variables.  The first variable, v_relate_deliverable_intID, gets the ID of the current item lookup value. The second variable, v_temp_related, gets the current status of the Related Items column in the Deliverable list that corresponds with the current item lookup value.

2014-09-24-22_02_04-Lookup-for-Strin[1]

This information is needed to ensure that we don’t overwrite any data that already exists in the Related Items column. This variable is then used in the IF statement. This statement checks to see if there are already Related Items or not.

If we need to add to already existing Related Items

The primary steps of this section build the variables that are needed to take the existing Related Items string value and add on the new document’s string value.

2014-09-24-22_15_42-https___my.jci.c[1]

The first 2 Find statements get the index number at the beginning and the end of the existing Related Item string where the outside brackets exist. For example, a broken down version of an item with 3 Related Items where we want to add a 4th would look like this: [{Item1},{Item2},{Item3}]. The brackets are existing at Index 0 and 24. These values are stored in the variables v_index_1 and v_index_2. Our end goal is to get [{Item4},{Item1},{Item2},{Item3}].

The next 2 Calculate statements add 1 and subtract 1 from the index to be able to perform the substring actions. Continuing my example this sets the 2 new calc and calc2 variables to 1 and 23.

The next statement which starts with Copy from… is actually the action named “Extract Substring of String from Index with Length.” This takes the indexes that we calculated with calc variables and outputs it to the variable output. Continuing my example this variable would now equal {Item1},{Item2},{Item3}.

The next 3 statements are used to build the new Related Item string for the item that we are adding. The format should look like this {“ItemId”:”[%Current Item:ID%]“:WebID”:GUID”,”ListID”:”GUID”}. 3 statements are needed because of a restriction in SharePoint Designer workflows. When trying to put that into a Set workflow variable action you receive the error:

“Using the special characters ‘[%%]’ or ‘[%xxx%]’ in any string, or using the special character ‘{‘ in a string that also contains a workflow lookup, may corrupt the string and cause an unexpected result when the workflow runs.”

2014-10-20 22_07_23-https___my.jci.com_sites_enterpriseIT_unity_pmo

To get around this error, the strings can be built separately and then combined. v_temp_start = {“ItemId”: and v_temp_end = “WebId”:GUID”,”ListID”:”GUID”}. The next command sets the variable output2 to [v_temp_start][Current Item ID][v_temp_end].  This gives us the full Related Item string into a variable. Continuing on the example above we now have {Item4}

The final statement in this section combines the already existing Related Items with the brackets removed with the new Related Item and wraps them in brackets. It sets the variable v_related_items to [[output2],[output]] as seen in the screenshot below.

2014-10-20 22_21_06-String Builder

If there are no existing Related Items

The steps of this section use the same logic as above to get the string value needed for the new Related Items text. We just need to get the string [{Item1}] without manipulating any already existing Related Item text.

2014-10-20 22_24_12-https___my.jci.com_sites_enterpriseIT_unity_pmo

These steps are identical to what is used and are broken into 3 statements to avoid the “Special characters..” error.

Updating the Deliverable List

The last statement before the transition to the end of the workflow is an “Update list item” action that is used to take the newly created Related Items string and update the corresponding item in the Deliverable list.

2014-10-20 22_29_34-https___my.jci.com_sites_enterpriseIT_unity_pmo

We are able to perform this step because we have the Related Deliverable column on our document library which we have put in the variable v_related_deliverable_intID. That means our update action can state in words with a screenshot below:

Update the Related Items column to the variable v_related_items for the item in the Deliverable list in which the Current Item ID matches v_related_deliverable_intID.

2014-10-20 22_32_38-Update List Item

Wrapping it up

Part 1 of this blog series discussed the scenario of connecting a list and a library using both a lookup column and the new Related Items column. This would allow visibility to the the connected content from both the list and the document library. First we needed to make the Related Items column visible and able to add to a list. Part 2 discussed how to update that column using a SharePoint designer workflow.

Below is a final screenshot of a list item with Related Item links that were automatically added to it when a document was uploaded to a corresponding library.

2014-10-20 22_37_12-Deliverable Tracker - Incomplete - Internet Explorer

I also added some JSLink on the web part to display the actual related items instead of just a count. But that is for another blog post! (maybe part 3?)

Utilizing the new Related Items column via workflow – Part 1

This is part 1 of a 2 part serious about using the Related Items column in SharePoint 2013.

I ran into an interesting request recently that ended up with an interesting solution. The request that I had was based around connecting a list and a document library. I built a custom list that was used to track deliverables for a project and all of the information about them. At first all actual document deliverables were “attached” to the list item when it was completed. This was not a good approach as attachments are not crawled and indexed. To fix that first issue, I created a separate document library that would hold the deliverables and added a lookup column back the deliverable list. Here are screenshots of the list and library with the lookup column.

Deliverable List

2014-09-12 21_49_56-Deliverable Tracker - BR 1.1 - Program Benefits Definition - Internet Explorer

Deliverable Documents

2014-09-12 21_47_04-Deliverable Documents - BR1.1 - GPP Deliverable Signoff.pdf - Internet Explorer

This was a good approach to tie the list item and a document together. But then the next question was asked…

If I am on the deliverable list, why can’t I see what documents are connected?

While pondering an answer I recalled that there was a new column in SharePoint 2013 called Related Items. I had used that column in the OOTB (out of the box) way with such things as tasks and videos but I had never tried to manipulate it myself. So I first went to try to add that column to my list to test it out but it was not listed as an available column to add…

Getting the Related Items column

This column is part of the hidden group (_Hidden) by default which does not display in the site columns list. This column can be found via the Task content type and updated to a new group. These are the steps to unhide the column:

  1. Navigate to Site Settings and click Site content types in the Web Designer Galleries section.
    2014-10-05 20_44_11-Site Settings - Internet Explorer
  2. Under the List Content Types section click on Task.
    2014-10-05 20_48_54-Site Content Types - Internet Explorer
  3. Click on the Related Items task link.
    2014-10-05 20_49_40-Content Type - Internet Explorer
  4. Click Edit site column.
    2014-10-05 20_50_25-Change Content Type Column - Internet Explorer
  5. Change the Group settings from _Hidden to an Existing group (such as Custom Columns).
    2014-09-24 21_18_23-Change Column - Internet Explorer

The Related Items column can now be added to a list or library! So I went ahead and added the column to my deliverable custom list and was ready to start figuring out how to use this column effectively.

In the next part I will discuss how to work with the Related Items column via a SharePoint 2013 workflow created in SharePoint Designer.

Link to part 2

Utilizing the new Related Items column via workflow – Part 2

Interact with list fields based on SharePoint Group

A very common question that is asked around the SharePoint community is about the ability to interact with item forms. These forms are how users view and edit items in a list. Changes to these forms can accomplished in a few different ways.

  1. Use SharePoint Designer to create an editable New, Edit, or Display form
  2. Edit the default New, Edit, or Display form pages using web parts.  (The edit page link for these forms can be found in the site settings via the gear menu.)
  3. Using a customized Infopath form (for now…)

Using any of these options it is possible to edit the forms in both a basic and advanced way. If you are creating new forms with SP Designer you can edit the HTML of the form directly and have control over nearly everything that is displayed.  You can do some easy customizations that can be very helpful for the end user experience. One example involves the hiding of a column (such as status) on the default edit form. These are the steps to do this in SP designer:

1.  Create a new Edit Form using SP Designer on the corresponding list

Edit1 - 2014-09-08 11_16_41-

2.  Locate the row that contains the column you want to hide and use HTML comment tags (<!– & –>) to comment out the row.

Edit2 - 2014-09-08 11_19_16-.aspx

One big disadvantage of this approach is that as columns are added, removed, or renamed the form will not reflect these changes. You will need to manually go update the field changes on each custom form that you created. Also this scenario hides the field for everyone that goes to the list. 

What if we wanted to only hide the status column for users of a certain SharePoint group?

This can be accomplished using jQuery and one of the best libraries available, the jQuery SPServices library. The files that you need and the instructions to get started using this library can be found on codeplex. Some great examples of using these services can be found on the blog of the creator of this wonderful tool, Marc Anderson.

Continuing on the example above of hiding a status column, let’s work towards the requirement of hiding that column unless you are in the SharePoint group “Approvers”. 

Here is the script that you can put into a Script Editor web part on the default Edit Form:


<script language="javascript" src="https://sitecollection/SiteAssets/jquery-1.11.1.min.js">
    </script>

<script language="javascript" src="https://sitecollection/SiteAssets/jquery.SPServices-0.7.2.min.js">
</script>

<script>
$(document).ready(function () {

if(checkrole('Approvers')){
$("[id^=Status]").closest('tr').show();
}
else {
$("[id^=Status]").closest('tr').hide();
}

function checkrole(groupname) {
    var IsvalidRet = false;
    $().SPServices({
        operation: "GetGroupCollectionFromUser",
        userLoginName: $().SPServices.SPGetCurrentUser(),
        async: false,
        completefunc: function (xData, Status) {

            if ($(xData.responseXML).find("Group[Name='"+groupname+"']").length == 1) {
                IsvalidRet = true;
            }
        }
    });
    return IsvalidRet;
}

});
</script>


Script Breakdown

The first 3 javascript calls load the appropriate libraries on the page. These calls can also be placed at a higher level (such as the master page) so they do not need be called on every page. The download files for jQuery can be found here and the SPservices can be found in the link earlier in this post.

The next script section starts with the document.ready() which detects the state of readiness of the page for you. Code included inside of this will only run once the page Document Object Model (DOM) is ready for JavaScript code to execute.


if(checkrole('Approvers')){
$("[id^=Status]").closest('tr').show();
}
else {
$("[id^=Status]").closest('tr').hide();
}


The if statements calls the checkrole function and passes along the group name that you want to check to see if a user is a part of. If the statement returns true it shows the status column and if it returns false it hides the status column. The lookup checks the page for ID’s that contain the word Status. You can use a browser development tool to inspect elements on a page to get their generated IDs. You should not take the section of the ID that is the GUID.

Edit3 - 2014-09-08 20_33_57-Tasks - ..

The last section of the script is the checkrole function. This uses the SPServices library and the SPGetCurrentUser function to return the users data. It then scans through the responseXML to find the group name and sets the variable to true.


function checkrole(groupname) {
    var IsvalidRet = false;
    $().SPServices({
        operation: "GetGroupCollectionFromUser",
        userLoginName: $().SPServices.SPGetCurrentUser(),
        async: false,
        completefunc: function (xData, Status) {

            if ($(xData.responseXML).find("Group[Name='"+groupname+"']").length == 1) {
                IsvalidRet = true;
            }
        }
    });
    return IsvalidRet;
}


The big disadvantage of this option is that hiding a column does not actually secure the column from the user, it just hides it on the form. If this user has access to this column in quick edit or datasheet view directly in the list they would be able to change it.

These are some options to get started with interacting with list forms after the announcement of the death of InfoPath and a great tool in SPServices that can take the SharePoint user experience to a new level.