Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Visual Studio Themes Gallery

Tired of the default color theme you are using in Visual Studio? the ordinary white background, black text, blue keywords, and the green comments..

For me, I wished I could find a nice neat theme that would change everything up, and make the Visual Studio look so much different (kind of fooling myself Open-mouthed).

Anyway, have a look at these images bellow.. and think again Wink

Visit this page for a good downloadable collection..Press here

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Creating a Custom SharePoint MasterPage using a Feature

Creating a custom MasterPage is a very common requirement especially for those who want to migrate from ASP.NET 2.0 to SharePoint, without altering the look and feel they already had previously.

I have searched a lot about how to accomplish this, and found many articles and blog posts but they are all incomplete, they are missing the complete guide. I will try to be as direct as possible, and include screen shots that I hope they would help.

Anyway, lets start and get our hands dirty...

  1. Navigate to the following folder: C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\TEMPLATE\FEATURES\
    Copy the PageLayouts folder and paste it in the same directory but Change the folder name to another one. To easily follow up with me through this post, lets call it CustomMasterPages.


    Add the masterpage you want in the masterpage folder, the CSS file into the styles folder, and all images you need into the images folder.
  2. Open the CustomMasterPages folder. Now we have to Edit the Feature.xml that has the main Registry info about the new feature you want to create (in our case, the custom MasterPage). So open the feature.xml file using your favorite text editor.
    Delete what the file has, and paste the following:

    <!-- _lcid="1033" _version="12.0.4518" _dal="1" -->
    <!-- _LocalBinding -->
    <Feature  Id="77596cae-c12d-4451-9d65-53b66b2fd5aa"
              Title="CS Masterpage"
              Description="My own Custom MasterPage"
            <ElementManifest Location="ProvisionedFiles.xml"/>

    You have to change only the following fields, but I advice you to leave everything as it is for this Demo, just as a good kick off :)
    ID: A GUID to identify the feature. you can go to to generate a new GUID (you will find it in the upper banner) and paste it right there.
    Title: the Feature name (Custom MasterPage name).
    Description: Feature's description.
    The Element Manifest is considered as the backbone of the feature; you have to specify its location, which is by default named as ProvisionedFiles.xml located at the same level with the feature.xml. Save the file and close it.

  3. Now open the ProvisionedFiles.xml file and let's see what we have got there.
    You simply link EVERYTHING you have in the CustomMasterPages folder, and create an entry for it in the ProvisionedFiles.xml

    <!-- _lcid="1033" _version="12.0.4407" _dal="1" -->
    <!-- _LocalBinding -->
    <Elements xmlns=""> <Module Name="OSGMasterPages" Url="_catalogs/masterpage" Path="MasterPages" RootWebOnly="TRUE">
    <!--the MasterPage file that you have to put in the CustomMasterPage/MasterPages folder -->
        <File Url="MasterPage.master" Type="GhostableInLibrary">
        <Property Name="ContentType" Value="My Sample Master Page" />
    <!-- a preview image for the MasterPage file. Put the image in the CustomMasterPage/en-us folder -->
    <Property Name="PublishingPreviewImage" Value="~SiteCollection/_catalogs/masterpage/$Resources:core,Culture;/Preview Images/BlackVertical.png, ~SiteCollection/_catalogs/masterpage/$Resources:core,Culture;/Preview Images/BlackVertical.png" />
    <!-- MasterPage Description -->
    <Property Name="MasterPageDescription" Value="This is my sample master page for use with collaboration or publishing sites." />
    </Module> <!-- a preview image for the MasterPage file. Put the image in the CustomMasterPage/en-us folder -->
    <Module Name="PublishingLayoutsPreviewImages" Url="_catalogs/masterpage" IncludeFolders="??-??" Path="" RootWebOnly="TRUE">
        <File Url="BlackVertical.png" Name="Preview Images/BlackVertical.png" Type="GhostableInLibrary">
    <!-- The place where we can add the registry info of the images used in the MasterPage-->
    <Module Name="Images" Url="Style Library/Images" Path="Images" RootWebOnly="TRUE">
    <!-- All images that you added previously in the CustomMasterPage\images folder, each will have its own entry as shown below, with the same syntax except the Url, and name. Please take care that they are case sensitive-->
    <File Url="1_Duane.jpg" Name="1_Duane.jpg" Type="GhostableInLibrary"/>
    </Module> <!-- Styles, the name of the css file located in the CustomMasterPage\styles folder-->
    <Module Name="OSGStyles" Url="Style Library" Path="Styles" RootWebOnly="TRUE">
            <File Url="CS MasterPage.css" Type="GhostableInLibrary" />
    </Module> </Elements>

    Now we are done with the 2 most important pages.

  4. One important thing you must take care of, is that the masterpage design is not the same as what you used to do in ASP.NET 2.0. Its not an HTML page with some ContentPlaceHolders with random IDs and placed anywhere like before. SharePoint's MasterPages are way different; there are a number of predefined ContentPlaceHolders with specific ids (you can't change them, or they wont be recognized, and the MOSS will hit you with a silly frustrating error page!). These ContentPlaceHolders are recognized by the MOSS according to their IDs. Have a look at the complete list below:

    yet, you dont have to place ALL of these ContentPlaceHolders into your new customized MasterPage. there are some of these which are essential, and others not. The following is a minimal MasterPage that you cant remove anything from it, or it wont work at all. You can always use it as a start for designing your masterpages.. i.e NEVER START THE MASTERPAGE DESIGN FROM SCRATCH! or you will end up banging your head against the wall!

    <%-- Identifies this page as a .master page written in Microsoft Visual C# and registers tag prefixes, namespaces, assemblies, and controls. --%>
    <%@ Master language="C#" %>
    <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN" "">
    <%@ Import Namespace="Microsoft.SharePoint" %>
    <%@ Register Tagprefix="SPSWC" Namespace="Microsoft.SharePoint.Portal.WebControls" Assembly="Microsoft.SharePoint.Portal, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=71e9bce111e9429c" %>
    <%@ Register Tagprefix="SharePoint" Namespace="Microsoft.SharePoint.WebControls" Assembly="Microsoft.SharePoint, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=71e9bce111e9429c" %>
    <%@ Register Tagprefix="WebPartPages" Namespace="Microsoft.SharePoint.WebPartPages" Assembly="Microsoft.SharePoint, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=71e9bce111e9429c" %>
    <%@ Register Tagprefix="PublishingWebControls" Namespace="Microsoft.SharePoint.Publishing.WebControls" Assembly="Microsoft.SharePoint.Publishing, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=71e9bce111e9429c" %>
    <%@ Register Tagprefix="PublishingNavigation" Namespace="Microsoft.SharePoint.Publishing.Navigation" Assembly="Microsoft.SharePoint.Publishing, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=71e9bce111e9429c" %>
    <%@ Register TagPrefix="wssuc" TagName="Welcome" src="~/_controltemplates/Welcome.ascx" %>
    <%@ Register TagPrefix="wssuc" TagName="DesignModeConsole" src="~/_controltemplates/DesignModeConsole.ascx" %>
    <%@ Register TagPrefix="PublishingVariations" TagName="VariationsLabelMenu" src="~/_controltemplates/VariationsLabelMenu.ascx" %>
    <%@ Register Tagprefix="PublishingConsole" TagName="Console" src="~/_controltemplates/PublishingConsole.ascx" %>
    <%@ Register TagPrefix="PublishingSiteAction" TagName="SiteActionMenu" src="~/_controltemplates/PublishingActionMenu.ascx" %>
    <%-- Uses the Microsoft Office namespace and schema. --%>
      <WebPartPages:SPWebPartManager runat="server"/>
      <SharePoint:RobotsMetaTag runat="server"/>   <%-- The head section includes a content placeholder for the page title and links to CSS and ECMAScript (JScript, JavaScript) files that run on the server. --%>
      <head runat="server">
        <asp:ContentPlaceHolder runat="server" id="head">
            <asp:ContentPlaceHolder id="PlaceHolderPageTitle" runat="server" />
        <Sharepoint:CssLink runat="server"/>
        <asp:ContentPlaceHolder id="PlaceHolderAdditionalPageHead" runat="server" />
      <%-- When loading the body of the .master page, SharePoint Server 2007 also loads the SpBodyOnLoadWrapper class. This class handles .js calls for the master page. --%>
      <body onload="javascript:_spBodyOnLoadWrapper();">
        <%-- The SPWebPartManager manages all of the Web part controls, functionality, and events that occur on a Web page. --%>
        <form runat="server" onsubmit="return _spFormOnSubmitWrapper();">
          <wssuc:Welcome id="explitLogout" runat="server"/>
          <PublishingSiteAction:SiteActionMenu runat="server"/> 
          <PublishingWebControls:AuthoringContainer id="authoringcontrols" runat="server">
            <PublishingConsole:Console runat="server" />
          <%-- The PlaceHolderMain content placeholder defines where to place the page content for all the content from the page layout. The page layout can overwrite any content placeholder from the master page. Example: The PlaceHolderLeftNavBar can overwrite the left navigation bar. --%>
          <asp:ContentPlaceHolder id="PlaceHolderMain" runat="server" />
            <asp:Panel visible="false" runat="server">
            <%-- These ContentPlaceHolders ensure all default SharePoint Server pages render with this master page. If the system master page is set to any default master page, the only content placeholders required are those that are overridden by your page layouts. --%>
                <asp:ContentPlaceHolder id="PlaceHolderSearchArea" runat="server"/>
                <asp:ContentPlaceHolder id="PlaceHolderTitleBreadcrumb" runat="server"/>
                <asp:ContentPlaceHolder id="PlaceHolderPageTitleInTitleArea"  runat="server"/>
                <asp:ContentPlaceHolder id="PlaceHolderLeftNavBar" runat="server"/>
                <asp:ContentPlaceHolder ID="PlaceHolderPageImage" runat="server"/>
                <asp:ContentPlaceHolder ID="PlaceHolderBodyLeftBorder" runat="server"/>
                <asp:ContentPlaceHolder ID="PlaceHolderNavSpacer" runat="server"/>
                <asp:ContentPlaceHolder ID="PlaceHolderTitleLeftBorder" runat="server"/>
                <asp:ContentPlaceHolder ID="PlaceHolderTitleAreaSeparator" runat="server"/>
                <asp:ContentPlaceHolder ID="PlaceHolderMiniConsole" runat="server"/>
                <asp:ContentPlaceHolder id="PlaceHolderCalendarNavigator" runat ="server" />
                <asp:ContentPlaceHolder id="PlaceHolderLeftActions" runat ="server"/>
                <asp:ContentPlaceHolder id="PlaceHolderPageDescription" runat ="server"/>
                <asp:ContentPlaceHolder id="PlaceHolderBodyAreaClass" runat ="server"/>
                <asp:ContentPlaceHolder id="PlaceHolderTitleAreaClass" runat ="server"/>
                <asp:ContentPlaceHolder id="PlaceHolderBodyRightMargin" runat="server" />

    So to start, you can get whatever HTML you have in the old MasterPage and paste it in here, just below the </asp:Panel>. Then arrange the ContentPlaceHolders wherever you want into your HTML code.
    Another point you must take care of; the images and background's source urls. of course, we added the images previously into the CustomMasterPages\images folder, so we will replace the old source urls you had in the html code into something like:
    and for sure, that would be the same case in the CSS file.

  5. Now we are ready to install the feature!
    open the command prompt (Start> Run), then type:
    cd C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\BIN
    Now type the following
    stsadm -o installfeature -filename CustomMasterPages\feature.xml
    We are installing the feature that we are providing its feature.xml file (the xml file's path from the C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\TEMPLATE\FEATURES folder).
  6. Activate the feature for your site.
    open the Internet Browser, and type in the webapplication's URL.. something like http://ahmed-ig:35193 and concatenate /_layouts/settings.aspx to the previous part.
    i.e: http://ahmed-ig:35193/_layouts/settings.aspx

    under the "Site Collection Administration" column, click on "Site collection features"


    locate the Feature you have just made. (you will find its name as you named it in the feature.xml file)


    Now Press on the Activate Button to activate the Feature.

  7. Apply the MasterPage into your site
    Now get back to the url you opened in Step #7
    and under the "Look and Feel" column, click on "Master page".
    Choose the Site Master Page as the customized MasterPage you have created.
    and leave the System Master Page as it is.
    Now you have to upload the CSS file you are using in your customized MasterPage file.


And Hopefully, that's it! Hope it works smoothly without any problems :)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Simple GUI Tool for SQL 2005 Reports deployment without using BI Development Studio


SQL 2005 Reports deployment is done either by choosing the deploy option in the BI Development studio, then specifying the target Server URL and the target Report Folder, which is the standard way, or deploying the reports manually by opening the Report Server URL, and creating the DataSource, the parent Folder where you will add the datasource and report in, and the attaching the Reports manually, which is still not that realistic as you don't have to do all that each time you want to deploy a report. Yet the first option is not always possible, as you may wish to deploy a report while you don't have the BI development Studio installed in your machine. In this article, I expect that you know both techniques before reading, as I won't be explaining in details everything.

I made a simple GUI tool that helps in deploying the SQL Reports by consuming the web service named reportservice.asmx that the SQL Reporting Server produces and hosted by the IIS of the Report server. Usually the Report Server has the URL as:
http://<server name>/ReportServer
and sometimes as http://<server name>/ReportServer$SQLExpress, or http://<server name>/ReportServer$SQL2005. This is according to what you named the SQL server Instance installed. Anyway, let's get back to the main point. The webservice within the ReportsServer web application hosted in the IIS of the server machine actually does everything you need to deploy the Reports you want; I guess it is better to have a look at the ReportingService2005 Methods.

Anyway... Let's start having a look at the application and the code. First I will be investigating the application, and what does everything means, then we will have a quick review on the main parts of the code.

How to use the Tool ?

Once you run the application, a window will appear asking you to enter the Report Manager URL, as to connect to its web service. I.e. it's the same URL you type in the target server URL property when using the BI Development Studio for deployment. The URL you entered is saved then so that you don't have to type it in each and every time you run the application. I use this URL, so as to modify the WebService I am consuming, to connect to the URL you will choose. To know what I mean, just have a look at this article by Christopher G. Lasater, that describes what I did actually (Dynamic Web Service).

After the previous step is done, the Web Service now is made ready to do the rest.

Next, to get started, you have to define the following:

  1. The connection string as the data source.
  2. The Data source name.
  3. The Report source (Physical Path in your machine).
  4. The Report Name (The name that you will give to the Report you just browsed for).
  5. Finally, the folder (a logical folder in the Report Server not a physical folder in your machine) which you will save in it the Reports and the data sources you want.

Finally, after running the Tool successfully, then tried to open the SQL Server Reporting Services Web application, you will find a new Folder as you named in the tool, and has the DataSources and Reports you made as below.

Code Overview

If you had a look at the ReportingService2005 Methods, you will find the two main functions that you will be using mainly. They are the CreateDataSource function, and the CreateReport function.

A brief description of how to use the article or code. The class names, the methods and properties, any tricks or tips.

This is the part which Creates the DataSource

public void CreateReportDataSource(string name, string extension, string connectionString)
listView1.Items.Add("Creating Data Source [" + txt_DataSource.Text + "]");
ReportService.DataSourceDefinition definition = new ReportServerInstaller.ReportService.DataSourceDefinition();
definition.CredentialRetrieval = ReportService.CredentialRetrievalEnum.Integrated;
definition.ConnectString = connectionString;
definition.Enabled = true;
definition.Extension = extension;

rs.CreateDataSource(name, FolderName, chk_DataSourceOverwrite.Checked, definition, null);
listView1.Items.Add("Data source: [" + name + "] created successfully.");
catch (Exception ex)
listView1.Items.Add("ERROR creating data source: " + name);
throw ex;

And here is the part which Publishes the report

private void PublishReport(string reportName)
listView1.Items.Add("Publishing Report [" + reportName + "]");
FileStream stream = File.OpenRead(ReportSource);
definition = new byte[stream.Length];
stream.Read(definition, 0, int.Parse(stream.Length.ToString()));

rs.CreateReport(txt_ReportName.Text, FolderName, chk_ReportOverwrite.Checked, definition, null);
listView1.Items.Add("Report: [" + reportName + "] created successfully.");
catch (Exception ex)
listView1.Items.Add("ERROR creating Report: " + reportName);
throw ex;


I have attached an installer for easy use of the tool. You don't have to configure anything before use. Just insure that you have the correct SQL Manager URL typed in the first form, as this does everything. Happy Deployment! ;)

Download Source Code Download Demo

Thursday, April 3, 2008

How To: Create Custom Pages with Custom Content Type

Hi again :)

Those are a simple steps to create your Custom Content Type, then create Pages based on that Content Type.

Create Content Type


Site Actions > Site Settings > Modify All Site Settings

� Under 'Galleries' > 'Site content types'.

� In 'Site Content Type Gallery' page; Click 'Create'.

� Enter 'NewsContentType' in the 'Name' field.

� Select 'Page Layout Content Type' for the 'Parent Content Type'.

� In the 'Put this site content type into' section; select 'New group' -that's for better organization- and enter a name 'MY Content Types' for that group.


Create Columns for your Content Type


� In 'Site Content Type: NewsContentType' page; under 'Columns' section; click 'Add from new site column'.

� For each of the following fields enter 'Column name', select the 'The type of information in this column', and specify the group of that column.

� The fields are: Title 'Single line of text', Date 'Date and Time', Source 'Single line of text', Brief 'Multiple lines of text', Description 'Multiple lines of text', and Image 'Image with formatting and constraints for publishing'.


Create Page Layout


Open your site by SharePoint Designer

� File > New > 'SharePoint Content' tab > 'SharePoint Publishing' Section'

� Select 'Page Layout' from the list

� Under 'Options'; Select your Content Group, select your Content Type, Specify URL name, and Title.

� Now in your page layout, you can add fields from your existing Content Type:

        o Toolbox > SharePoint Contents > 'Your Content Type'.

� You will find your Page Layout saved under:

        o Catalogues > Master Page > 'Your Page Layout'

� Before using your Page Layout; you've to:

        o 'Save' and 'Check In' the page

        o Approve the Page Layout from 'Master Page Gallery'


Add Content Type to your Site


Site Actions > Site Settings > Modify Pages Library Settings

� Under 'Content Types' > 'Add from existing site content types'

� In 'Add Content Types: Pages' page; Select 'MY Content Types' group; then select 'NewsContentType' content type from the list.


Create Page based on Content Type


Site Actions > Create Page

� Enter 'Page Title and Description' information.

� Select 'Page Layout' that you just created

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

How to: Get Site Template Name

Hi all,

This is a simple topic, but it's very important to know how to get the SiteTemplate Name.


  • Open "C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\TEMPLATE\1033\XML" directory (assuming you installed MOSS to this path).
  • In that directory, there are a number of xml files; Open the one called "webtempsps.xml"
  • In that file you will see an entry for a