(CodePlex) MOSS Faceted Search - HTML encode/decode problem fixed!

MOSS Faceted Search is a great SharePoint search extension project on CodePlex. It provides following features (copy from its CodePlex site)

  • Grouping search results by facet
  • Displaying a total number of hits per facet value
  • Refining search results by facet value
  • Update of the facet menu based on refined search criteria
  • Displaying of the search criteria in a Bread Crumbs
  • Ability to exclude the chosen facet from the search criteria
  • Flexibility of the Faceted search configuration and its consistency with MOSS administration

However, there are still some known issues exist due to this project does not update and release regularly.

HTML Encoding

An issue I experienced was HTML string encoding/decoding problem. After I added faceted search web part to search result page and searched for something, it returns result like following.


James Tsai .Net VSTO SharePoint Blog MOSS Faceted Search problem 


As you can see first facet value in both "Refine by Title" and "Refine by role" sections are empty. Only number of hits displayed. And it is because Faceted web part does not perform HTML encode/decode properly. It can be easily spotted by closer inspection of page's HTML source.

<!-- rendered html of facet web part -->

<td nowrap="nowrap" width="100%" style="vertical-align:middle"><a class="ms-navitem" href="javascript:__doPostBack(...)" style="vertical-align:middle;"><No Title></a><span> (2)</span></td>

<td nowrap="nowrap" width="100%" style="vertical-align:middle"><a title="&amp;lt;enter position title>" class="ms-navitem" href="javascript:__doPostBack(...)",style="vertical-align:middle;"><No Position defi...&lt;/a><span> (1)</span></td>

First empty facet value is causing by "<No Title>" rendered as html tag, which is not recognized by browser. And the second empty facet value is with half-open "<No Position defi..." also treated as malformed html tag.

To fix this problem, you have to modify Common\Templates.cs source code file. perform HttpUtility.HtmlEncode  for facet.DisplayName before assign it as link.Text


//Templates.cs source code

void link_DataBinding(object sender, EventArgs e)
            /******irrelevant code omitted*******/     

            if (facet.DisplayName.Length > _cropMax)
                link.ToolTip = facet.Name;

                //HtmlEncode facet display name
                link.Text = HttpUtility.HtmlEncode(facet.DisplayName.Remove(_cropMax)) + "...";
            else link.Text = HttpUtility.HtmlEncode(facet.DisplayName);  //HtmlEncode here too

            /******irrelevant code omitted*******/   

After you re-deploy fixed version of the feature and web part, the search result should now look like


James Tsai .Net VSTO SharePoint Blog MOSS Faceted Search fix encoding problem


Everything look fine now? If you now click on the link you just fixed as followed above steps. You will see this in returned refine search result page.


James Tsai .Net VSTO SharePoint Blog MOSS Faceted Search decoding problem


HTML Decoding


Yes, the problem is obvious. Whatever we encoded, we must decode it. Otherwise Faceted search web part will pass encoded query value to do refine search. And it will not return correct result (or no result at all, since encoded string will not look pretty).

To fix this problem you will need to modify Common\Utility.cs source code file. Do HttpUtility.HtmlDecode for query.Properties[property] before add it to keywords ArrayList.


public static string BuildQueryString(SearchQuery query)
             /******irrelevant code omitted*******/  

            foreach (string property in query.Properties)
                // consider empty facets and don't add them to qs
                if (query.Properties[property] == Common.Constants.UNNAMED_FACET_VALUE) continue;
                ka.Add(string.Format("{0}:\"{1}\"",property, HttpUtility.HtmlDecode(query.Properties[property])));

             /******irrelevant code omitted*******/  

            return qs;


If you followed all above steps you should now see correct refined search keyword and results.


James Tsai .Net VSTO SharePoint Blog MOSS Faceted Search decoding problem fix


SPFile.CustomizedPageStatus & SPFile.RevertContentStream - The way to check SPFile Ghost/Un-Ghost status and Revert to site definition via code

In my previous post I've discussed how to modify page layout properties through code (in feature activated event). One thing to note is that in the last part of code sample, it requires you to perform following steps to get page layout properties updated.

1. Check out page layout
2. Call page layout .Update()
3. Check in page layout

What I didn't talk about in the post is that after you Check-out the page layout file and check it back in, the actual file gets un-ghost from server.

(If you don't know what ghost / un-ghost are, there are many great articles you can find and read about it over Internet)

Now let's examine closer to see what happens to the layout files after code execution.

Before check-out

James Tsai .Net  SharePoint VSTO ASP.Net blog - MasterPageGallery page layouts

Above displays all page layouts available to team site by default.

Here we check each page layout Ghost status without any modification made to the file:

using (SPSite site = new SPSite(siteUrl))
    using (SPWeb web = site.OpenWeb())
        PublishingSite publishingSite = new PublishingSite(site);
        PageLayoutCollection pageCollection = publishingSite.PageLayouts;
        foreach (PageLayout layout in pageCollection)
            SPFile currentFile = web.GetFile(layout.ServerRelativeUrl);

            Console.WriteLine("{0} --before checkout-- {1}",layout.Name, currentFile.CustomizedPageStatus);


James Tsai .Net  SharePoint VSTO ASP.Net blog - ghosted page layouts

You can see that CustomizedPageStatus  is "Uncustomized" means that the file is in Ghost status.

After Modify and Check-in

Now, let's try update each page layout's description text and check it back in, then we check its ghost status again.

foreach (PageLayout layout in pageCollection)
    layout.Description = "James.Tsai.Net -"+layout.Description;
    SPFile currentFile = web.GetFile(layout.ServerRelativeUrl);

    Console.WriteLine("{0} --after update-- {1}",layout.Name, currentFile.CustomizedPageStatus);


All descriptions are updated

James Tsai .Net  SharePoint VSTO ASP.Net blog - MasterPageGallery page layouts description

But if you check all layouts Ghost status again, you see they are now in un-ghost status (Customized)

James Tsai .Net  SharePoint VSTO ASP.Net blog - unghosting page layouts

Make it ghost file again

To set them back to ghost status, we can use "Reset to site definition" option in site setting page. If you don't want to do it from UI, SPFile also provided a method for you to do it from code.


foreach (PageLayout layout in pageCollection)
    SPFile currentFile = web.GetFile(layout.ServerRelativeUrl);

    Console.WriteLine("{0} --after revert-- {1}", layout.Name, currentFile.CustomizedPageStatus);

James Tsai .Net  SharePoint VSTO ASP.Net blog - reset to page layouts definition

For all the templates file & page layouts, they should always in ghost status for both performance and consistency across sites. If you know somewhere in your code breaks ghosting, don't forget to revert it back to its ghost status. You can always check its status by calling SPFile.CustomizedPageStatus().


How to update properties of an already provisioned and in use page layout

Let's say you have a custom page layout and you want to give this page layout an unique Publishing Preview Image. To allow users to easily choose the right page layout among many different layouts.

This can be done easily if it is a NEW page layout. All you need to do is to define the PublishingPreviewImage element when you provisioning it.

<!-- PageLayout.xml -->

<Elements xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/sharepoint/">

  <Module Name="PageLayouts" Url="_catalogs/masterpage" Path="PageLayouts" RootWebOnly="TRUE">

<File Url="CustomPageLayout.aspx" Type="GhostableInLibrary" IgnoreIfAlreadyExists="TRUE"  >

      <Property Name="Title" Value="My Custom Page Layout" />

      <!-- new added description -->

      <Property Name="MasterPageDescription" Value="This page layout is used for new sites." />

      <!-- new added preview image -->

      <Property Name="PublishingPreviewImage" Value="~SiteCollection/_layouts/images/pagelayouts/custompagelayout.gif" />

      <Property Name="ContentType" Value="Custom Content Type" />

      <Property Name="PublishingAssociatedContentType"

                Value=";#Custom Content Type;#0x010100C568D1D2D3D0A14D9B2FDCC96666E9F2007123456EC3DB064584E219954237AF123456;#"/>




Problem -

What if you want to do this for the page layout which already in use and provisioned?  The challenging part is that when page layout has already been provisioned and used across webs. Any metadata changes made in page layout provision feature will NOT update its metadata in SharePoint site.

That means even if you changed PublishingPreviewImage element value. The preview images for the already in use page layouts in CreatePage.aspx will still use default image (DefaultPageLayout.png)


This screen shot shows the page layout is still using default preview image

James Tsai .Net SharePoint Blog - Page Layout Preview Image Default 


Solution -

Create a SPFeatureReceiver class and register it with same feature that provisions page layout(s) . In the FeatureActivated, update each page layout metadata base on the page layout manifest file.

Every time you want to update custom page layout property, just update manifest file, deactivate and re-activate this page layout provisioning feature.

This screen shot shows after reactivated the feature page layout is now using new preview image and new description.

James Tsai .Net SharePoint Blog - Page Layout Preview Image Default

Note: Although you can update each individual layout manually , you would expect the update should be done automatically every time you change layouts manifest and provision them again. That is the main reason to warp the logic inside feature receiver class to mimic the automation.


Please see below for code samples

<!-- Page layout provision feature schema -->



          Title="Custom page layouts provisioning feature"

          Description="Provisions custom page layouts."



          Hidden="FALSE" DefaultResourceFile="core"           


          ReceiverAssembly="James.Tsai.Net.SharePoint, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=12345bf123eec123"




    <ElementManifest Location="PageLayouts.xml"/>



The feature receiver class will look like following code sample.

//Feature receiver class

class PageLayoutProvisioningFeature : SPFeatureReceiver
    public override void FeatureActivated(SPFeatureReceiverProperties properties)
        using (SPSite site = (SPSite)properties.Feature.Parent)
            //Load manifest file as XmlDocument.
            XmlDocument manifestXml = LoadPageLayoutsManifestAsXml(properties);

            //Load all page layouts for the site into dictionary
            Dictionary<string, PageLayout> allLayouts = LoadSitePageLayouts(site);

            //Now we have an entire page layouts manifest as XmlDocument.
            //We also have a collection of all page layouts
            //We can now step through each page layout defined in manifest and check every propertie
            //against layouts in allLayouts Dictionary.

            //Update layout property in allLayouts Dictionary with value defined in manifest file

            //Check out page layout
            //Call pagelayoutsDic[pagelayoutName].Update()
            //Check in page layout

    //LoadPageLayoutsManifestAsXml(){} ... see next section

    //LoadSitePageLayouts(){} .... see next section

LoadPageLayoutsManifestAsXml method

private XmlDocument LoadPageLayoutsManifestAsXml(SPFeatureReceiverProperties properties)
        //Get feature definition as xml node
        XmlNode def = properties.Definition.GetXmlDefinition(System.Globalization.CultureInfo.CurrentCulture);
        //Create xml namespace manager
        string wss = "wss:";
        string xpath = wss + "ElementManifests/" + wss + "ElementManifest";
        XmlNameTable nameTable = new NameTable();
        XmlNamespaceManager manager = new XmlNamespaceManager(nameTable);
        manager.AddNamespace("wss", "http://schemas.microsoft.com/sharepoint/");
        //Create an enumerator and get ElementManifest node
        IEnumerator enumerator = def.SelectNodes(xpath, manager).GetEnumerator();
        XmlNode current = (XmlNode)enumerator.Current;

        //Get manifest file name PageLayouts.xml from ElementManifest node
        string PageLayoutsManifestFileName = current.Attributes["Location"].Value;

        //Load manifest file to XmlDocument object
        XmlDocument doc = new XmlDocument();
        doc.Load(feature.Definition.RootDirectory + "/" + PageLayoutsManifestFileName);

        return doc;


LoadSitePageLayouts method

private Dictionary<string, PageLayout> LoadSitePageLayouts(SPSite site)
        PublishingSite publishingSite = new PublishingSite(site);               
        PageLayoutCollection pageCollection = publishingSite.PageLayouts;
        Dictionary<string, PageLayout> pagelayoutsDic = new Dictionary<string, PageLayout>();
        foreach (PageLayout layout in pageCollection)
            pagelayoutsDic.Add(layout.Name, layout);


        return pagelayoutsDic;


Microsoft.SharePoint.WebControls.SoapDataSource - An easy way to create web service data source in SharePoint

SoapDataSource from Microsoft.SharePoint assembly is a concreted class of BaseXmlDataSource and also implemented with IDataSource interface.

It can be used for making web service call and served as data source to your SharePoint custom controls / web parts.

For example, We have created a web service which returns stock quote and it has been depolyed as SharePoint web serivce in ~SiteUrl/_layouts/.

This web service has following properties

- Web service name : EnhancedSharePriceWebService.asmx

- Web service namespace URI: http://jamestsai.net

- Web serivce action name : GetMultiQuotes

- Input parameter: symbols (stock symobls in comma-saparator format. e.g. MSFT;AAPL;GOOG)

SOAP 1.1 request


SOAP 1.1 response


SoapDataSource contains some properties that you must set values to it. They are:

SoapDataSource.SelectServiceName - Web service name

SoapDataSource.SelectUrl - Web service full URL

SoapDataSource.WsdlPath - Web service WSDL path

SoapDataSource.SelectPort - Web service SOAP portocal

SoapDataSource.SelectAction - Web service action name

SoapDataSource.SelectCommand - SOAP request command

SoapDataSource.SelectParameters - Parameters


Following code sample shows how to set up SoapDataSource with parameter to retrive data from our share price quote web service.

private SoapDataSource CreateDataSource(SPSite site)
     string serverUrl = site.Url; //Get SharePoint root site URL
     SoapDataSource datasource = new SoapDataSource(); //Initiate new SoapDataSource obj
     string symbols = "MSFT;AAPL;GOOG";
     datasource.SelectServiceName = "EnhancedSharePriceWebService";
     datasource.SelectUrl = serverUrl + "/_layouts/EnhancedSharePriceWebService.asmx";
     datasource.WsdlPath = serverUrl + "/_layouts/EnhancedSharePriceWebService.asmx?WSDL";
     datasource.SelectAction = http://jamestsai.net/GetMultiQuotes; //SOAP Action name
     datasource.SelectPort = "EnhancedSharePriceWebServiceSoap"; //SOAP Protocal name
     datasource.SelectParameters.Add("symbols", symbols);
     datasource.SelectCommand = "<soap:Envelope xmlns:soap=\"http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/\"> <soap:Body><GetMultiQuotes xmlns=\"http://jamestsai.net/\"> <symbols>{symbols}</symbols></GetMultiQuotes></soap:Body></soap:Envelope>";


//Create SoapDataSource by calling CreateDataSource method above
SoapDataSource bindedDS = CreateDataSource(SPContext.Current.Site);
//Get return data as XmlDocument
XmlDocument xdoc = bindedDS.GetXmlDocument();

If you have setup everything correctly, You should be able to see the web serivce result in XmlDocument xdoc. You can also bind SoapDataSource to your data-bound controls.