Friday, July 28, 2017

Introducing the Sitecore Commerce Mentoring Guild

There are a lot of us learning Sitecore Commerce and we are all at various stages.  The core thing we share is we are all learning it.  To help us all get ramped up on it quickly and efficiently, Eric Stafford and I have established a Sitecore Commerce Mentoring Guild Page and a Sitecore Commerce Mentoring Guild Group.

The page will feature some notes, posts, and events where we can share public information.  The group allows us a place to ask each other questions, provide some info on what we are working on, where we are struggling and things we can use to help.

As more people join and we gain more momentum, I would love to have a github where we could share snippets, powershells, and more advanced stuff together on it.

Eric and I have created the initial spark.  We look forward to the community creating the fire that will push us with much force into the new era.

Also if you are on Sitecore Slack then please add the #ecommerce channel.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

How To Check If An Item Has Publishing Restrictions

If you have items that are appearing in master and in web but on the website you get a 404 then you may want to check publishing restrictions. Here is how you do it.



  1. Log into the Sitecore Admin
  2. Click on Content Editor
  3. At the top Click on View then ensure Standard Fields is checked

  4. Now on find the content item you are having issues with and click on it.
  5. On the right hand panel scroll down and you will see a publishing section. Expand it and make sure there are no values set on these fields. If there are dates it will only display within that range.

  6. Now the other thing to check is at the very bottom of this section. If this checkbox is published then it will not publish ever.

  7.  Now the other place to check is Workflow Section. If this item is in a workflow state it will not display either but in this case it should not be in the Web database either.

If the item exists in master and not in web then the other thing you can try is publish the parent node.  When publish finishes you can expand the details on the dialog and it will tell you if something was pushed or not.

If you are still experiencing this issue feel free to email me at chris.williams@readwatchcreate.com and I will assist as much as I can. 


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Exporting the username and custom properties from Sitecore using Powershell

I found a great article on exporting users from Sitecore and it did 90% of what I needed. It showed how to export the custom properties but what was missing was the username.  Read the article for more details on how the export works as it is a really good article.

I am simply going to give you the additional field in bold below as this will give you the username in the form {domain}\{user} eg. sitecore\admin:

$property = @(
"Name",
@{Name='Email';Expression={ $PSItem.Profile.GetCustomProperty('Email') }},
@{Name='FirstName';Expression={ $PSItem.Profile.GetCustomProperty('FirstName') }},
@{Name='LastName';Expression={ $PSItem.Profile.GetCustomProperty('LastName') }},
@{Name='Title';Expression={ $PSItem.Profile.GetCustomProperty('Title') }},
@{Name='Company';Expression={ $PSItem.Profile.GetCustomProperty('Company') }},
@{Name='Country';Expression={ $PSItem.Profile.GetCustomProperty('Country') }},
@{Name='ZipCode';Expression={ $PSItem.Profile.GetCustomProperty('ZipCode') }},
@{Name='Department';Expression={ $PSItem.Profile.GetCustomProperty('Department') }},
@{Name='Street';Expression={ $PSItem.Profile.GetCustomProperty('Street') }},
@{Name='City';Expression={ $PSItem.Profile.GetCustomProperty('City') }},
@{Name='Phone';Expression={ $PSItem.Profile.GetCustomProperty('Phone') }},
@{Name='Username';Expression={ $PSItem.Profile.GetCustomProperty('Username') }},
)

# Gets not disabled extranet users, next select all custome properties and save all properties to CSV file
Get-User -Filter 'extranet\*'  `
    | Where-Object { $_.Profile.State -ne 'Disabled' } `
        |  Select-Object -Property $property `
            | Export-CSV -Path "$apppath\extranet-enabled-uc.csv" -notype -encoding "unicode"
       
Download-File  "$apppath\extranet-enabled-uc.csv"


Hopefully you will find this helpful. Thanks Robert Senktas for the article it helped get me 90% there. If you have tips tricks or resources you would like to share please let me know and I will post them here.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Coveo free edition for Salesforce Is Now Here

Welcome Salesforce to the community.  In the Sitecore community we have known about Coveo and all its wonders for years. Now you can take advantage of it too.  Find out more in this article on Coveo Debuts free AI Powered Search for Salesforce.


We are so excited about this as you should too.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sitecore Commerce QuickStart

Today is the start of my Sitecore Commerce Journey.  As I go through the process I will document so as you start your journey it will help you get started quicker.

Before you even start to download, save yourself some time and check out the Sitecore Commerce compatibility table this will ensure you have the proper version of everything to start. Installing the wrong version of something can really mess up the environment and you may even have to start over so save yourself some time.

The official Sitecore Commerce Quick Deployment guide will help you on your first set up of the development environment. This is what I am following for my environment however for a production deploy, you will need to plan out which types of servers you need and that will complicate things.

Not only do you need a CD/CM environment for production but depending on traffic you may need a multiple commerce servers with different roles (Author, Shops, Minions and DevOps)  I highly recommend you read through the Developers Guide at least once to get a good idea on all the moving parts.

While the installs are happening you may want to open these in your browser. They provides some really good information on how the various moving parts fit together.

  • Digesting Sitecore By Grant Killian - Tip: You may want to print out the Sitecore Commerce Diagram he provides as it gives you a Visual on the various parts and how they fit. I have a copy beside me and it helps a lot when reading the documentation.
  • Sitecore Commerce 8.2.1 Technical Architecture First Look By Andrew Crowder - Tip: You may want to print out his diagram beneath the text "Designed for a modern cloud-based micro-services world" as well.  Having these 2 diagrams beside me has really helped with my understanding of Sitecore Commerce at a high level and I am sure they will help as I did deeper too.

Step 1: Install .NET Related Prerequisites

The first step is installing the proper .NET related items:
.NET Framework 4.6.1 SDK
ASP.NET MVC 4 or later
ASP.NET Core 1.0.3

In my case, I installed Visual Studio 2017 so it installed all this stuff for me.

Step 2: Install Sitecore 8.2 Update-3 

The second step is installing Sitecore 8.2 Update-3 which is a simple process if you have done it before. If not then let me know and I can direct you to plenty of good articles on installing.

Step 3: Create the Local Admin Account for Commerce Server

During this step you create the local service account.  The default is CSFndRuntimeUser.

VERY IMPORTANT:You need to ensure it has SysAdmin access to SQL Server and is admin on the app pool for your sitecore instance.

If you are on Windows 10 or one of the other operating systems that insist on an email address, you have to use a more hidden method to Create your local admin account

Step 4: Install Commerce Server

Before installing Commerce Server be sure to double check that the windows identity feature is installed. If you run the install and it is not, you will get prompted.


This can be done by clicking the start menu and then searching for "Server Manager". If you are running Windows 10 that does not return anything so search for "Turn Windows Features On or Off".
You should then be able to check the feature so it is enabled and click OK


Now run the Commerce Server Install. Make sure to choose Run As Administrator.  When prompted for the SQL Server instance name it will default to the server name so if you are running SQL Express you probably have a different instance name.  Make sure you test the connection before clicking next.

Step 4: All The Manual Configuration Goodness


TIP: For those good with Powershell, this may be a great opportunity to generate a script for these tasks so you don't have to manually do this every time. Especially when tearing down and recreating demo environments.


  • Create a folder named C:\inetpub\CSServices\
  • In IIS, add a new website named CSServices, with the physical path pointing to the folder that you previously created.
  • Make sure this IIS site listens on port 1004, which will be used in a later stage.
  • Create a new app pool "CSServices", and set its identity to .\CSFndRuntimeUser
  • Depending on your IIS hostname binding, you may need to disable the loop back check. Please refer to http://support.microsoft.com/kb/896861 for more details.

Step 5: Install Sitecore Packages


Tip: These packages are large so you can save time by copying them into your /data/packages folder under your sitecore instance that way you can just choose a package rather than uploading it.

Step 6: Install Sitecore Update Packages


Tip: Still say this is something that a powershell script could automate. If anyone creates them let me know and I will link to them from here.

http://<your site>/sitecore/admin/UpdateInstallationWizard.aspx

There is a specific order to be followed when installing so make sure you do so or you will run into quirky issues.

WARNING: The QuickStart tells you to install the update packages but do NOT install the last package until after completing Step 7 or it will throw the exception below

[CommerceException: -2146232832, Commerce Server Configuration, 5, Commerce Server Configuration, Invalid Site Name: CFSolutionStorefrontSite
SiteConfigReadOnly:Initialize]
   System.Runtime.Remoting.Proxies.RealProxy.HandleReturnMessage(IMessage reqMsg, IMessage retMsg) +14493634
   System.Runtime.Remoting.Proxies.RealProxy.PrivateInvoke(MessageData& msgData, Int32 type) +388
   CommerceServer.Core.Configuration.ISiteConfigReadOnly.Initialize(String bstrSiteName) +0
   CommerceServer.Core.Runtime.Configuration.CommerceResourceCollection..ctor(String siteName) +190

[CommerceException: There was a problem reading the site resources from the Commerce Server administration database for the site 'CFSolutionStorefrontSite'.  Please check that resources exist for the site and that the process has permission to access the database.  The InnerException contains more details.]
   CommerceServer.Core.Runtime.Configuration.CommerceResourceCollection..ctor(String siteName) +876
   CommerceServer.Core.Runtime.CommerceApplicationModule.InitializeApplication() +482
   CommerceServer.Core.Runtime.CommerceApplicationModule.Init(HttpApplication appInstance) +139
   Sitecore.Commerce.Connect.CommerceServer.Pipelines.CommerceBaseModuleProcessor`1.Init(PipelineArgs args) +150

If you end up installing the package, then you can simply disable the \App_Config\CommerceServer.Core.Config by renaming it with .disabled on the end. Once you complete step 7 then you can go back and install the last update package.

Thanks Hao Liu for explaining the issue and one way to get around it.

After installing all the update packages, if you get this error:

-2147467259, Commerce Server Configuration, Cannot open database "MSCS_Admin" requested by the login. The login failed.
SiteConfigReadOnly:Initialize

Then it means you need to check back to Step 3 where you were ask give the app_pool user (default CSFndRuntimeUser) SysAdmin on SQL Server.

Commerce Server stores the connection strings for the Administration database and other Commerce databases in the registry by default.  You can store this info in your web.config or app_config files.

Here is the orignial link to Connecting to the Administration database

<connectionStrings>
    <add name="ADMINDBPS" connectionString="<your MSCS_Admin connection string" />
</connectionStrings>

Step 7: Set up a Commerce Server site




Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Raspberry PI QuickStarts

I got my Raspberry PI last week and already I have started doing lots of things on it. I have started a blog to help others starting out.  It contains a series of QuickStarts to help you get started on a task fast and correctly.  

If you just got a Raspberry PI or are struggling through a task check out my Rasbperry PI Guild Blog and if I have not blogged about your task or issue email me. I would love to assist.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Getting Started With Sitecore Data Exchange 1.3

I played with Sitecore Data Exchange version 1.3 this weekend and it is pretty awesome.  The best way to get started is to read Fenil Jacob's RSS Feed Provider for Sitecore Data Exchange article.

This article will walk you through installing Sitecore Data Exchange as well as provide you with a fully working and very useful Sitecore Data Exchange Provider.

1.4 Is On The Way

If you are looking at using Sitecore Data Exchange for production and are writing custom providers, you should watch this Sneak Preview on Sitecore Data Exchange 1.4 to ensure you are ready to take advantage of the new stuff in 1.4.

Checking Status and Debugging

When you run the pipeline batch note that there is a field on it called messages. This will show you any log messages associated with the run. This is a good way to see if it is running properly or throwing errors. For this RSS Feed Provider the messages would be on this item:

/sitecore/system/Data Exchange/RSS Feed Provider Tenant/Pipeline Batches/Synch RSS Feeds to Sitecore Items Pipeline Batch

You can debug using Visual Studio simply by attaching to the IIS Process much like you would with your Sitecore Website.

Adding Your Own Feeds

If you are going to be working with your own RSS Feeds in the example, you need to add your own feeds under /sitecore/system/Data Exchange/RSS Feed Provider Tenant/Endpoints/Providers/RSS Feed and delete or reuse their existing one.  

Make sure you add the steps for your feed(s) under here for any new feeds you added under the endpoints.

/sitecore/system/Data Exchange/RSS Feed Provider Tenant/Pipelines/Read RSS Feed Info from RSS Feed Pipeline

If you fail to add the feed you will get this error message:

ERROR Pipeline step processing will abort because mapping set failed.

RSS Feed Provider vs Official Implementing A Provider Documentation

From reviewing the code and attempting to create my own provider I noticed a few differences in the RSS Provider compared to the Official documentation on implementation. I have documented those here. I am not sure if this was intentional or not. I will check with the author of the provider and add notes here.


  1. The endpoint for the RSS Feed Provider has a base of template whereas the documentation says to use /sitecore/templates/Data Exchange/Framework/Endpoints/Endpoint
  2. In section 5.1 of the official documentation it says to create a template based on the template Templates > Data Exchange > Framework > Pipeline Steps > Pipeline Step however the actual template is Templates > Data Exchange > Framework > Pipeline Steps > Base Pipeline Step 
  3. In section 5.1 of the official documentation it says to add Short Description. I didn't see that field.



Have fun with the Sitecore Data Exchange. If you are doing cool things with Sitecore Data Exchange let me know and I will check it out. Also if you run into issues with Sitecore Data Exchange let me know too and I will help as much as I can.