My Breadcrumbs have "> Pages > default.aspx" in them

I’ve written about this before, but really it was just an addendum to another point I was trying to make. It might be worth bringing out as a post in itself.

ASP.NET navigation controls take data from a navigation provider, and render it into HTML. The breadcrumbs used in SharePoint use the one navigation control, but give it different navigation providers…

… the point relevant to whether or not the “> Pages > default.aspx” is displayed in the breadcrumbs is the SiteMapProvider. The CurrentNavSiteMapProviderNoEncode provider doesn’t seem to include the ‘Pages’ bit of the path – hence it is used by the page layouts. The Default.master’s SPContentMapProvider provides a breadcrumb that includes the ‘Pages’.

So, if your page is using a breadcrumb such as…

<asp:SiteMapPath id="ContentMap" SiteMapProvider="SPContentMapProvider" SkipLinkText="" NodeStyle-CssClass="ms-sitemapdirectional" runat="server"/>

… then your breadcrumb will include the “> Pages > default.aspx”. Note that this is the default content of the breadcrumb in default.master. Thus, if you’re creating a brand new page layout, you’ll probably want to override that content using an ASP.NET Content control something like this…

<asp:Content ContentPlaceHolderId="PlaceHolderTitleBreadcrumb" runat="server">

<asp:SiteMapPath ID="siteMapPath" SiteMapProvider="CurrentNavSiteMapProviderNoEncode" RenderCurrentNodeAsLink="false" SkipLinkText="" NodeStyle-CssClass="ms-sitemapdirectional" Runat="server"/>

</asp:Content>

This code defines a content control that overrides the default content for the Title Breadcrumb. It uses the CurrentNavSiteMapProviderNoEncode (nice name!) navigation provider, and so won’t show the “> Pages > default.aspx” bit in the breadcrumb.

So, in short, when you’re creating a new Page Layout, make sure you override the Title Breadcrumb with something that uses the CurrentNavSiteMapProviderNoEncode provider.

My Breadcrumbs have "> Pages > default.aspx" in them

Are SharePoint Breadcrumbs completely wrong?

I upgraded the version of WordPress I’m running recently and I enabled statistics on the blog. It’s been a bit of an eye-opener. My posts on ‘What the heck is going on with SharePoint Breadcrumbs‘ and ‘More SharePoint Breadcrumbs WTF‘ have together more hits that any of my other articles, and both are visited about evenly.

This is pretty interesting. Breadcrumbs should be pretty simple. I mean, we all use them on the web, probably every day, and often without noticing. So how come people are clearly looking up information about SharePoint breadcrumbs? Clearly something is wrong with them.

So this set me thinking – what’s wrong with them? And here’s what I could think of:

  • There are two breadcrumbs. You’ve got the Global breadcrumb, and then the PlaceholderTitle breadcrumb. Seriously, how many websites do you come across that have two?
    Image showing the Global and Title Breadcrumbs
  • ‘Site’ levels of the hierarchy can appear in one or the other breadcrumb. Depending on whether or not your navigation inherits it’s navigation from it’s parent site, the ‘Site’ links can appear in the global or title breadcrumbs. Thus, there’s no consistency as to where a site appears – if it appears at all! I can see why it’s been built this way – essentially it allows us to ‘skip’ levels in the site hierarchy as shown on the global breadcrumb, and it shortens the title breadcrumb. I wonder if this wouldn’t be better facilitated by a ‘show in Global breadcrumb’ site setting. Or just show all sites in the path to the site?
  • Why is what is shown in the breadcrumbs tied to what is shown in the site’s top navigation? That’s just confusing.
  • Having some breadcrumbs in the Page Layout (i.e. in the main content area) and others coming from the master page is just plain confusing.

I don’t quite know what the answer to this is; after all, we need a way to navigate back up the site hierarchy, though we might not always want to allow that. And breadcrumbs could get very long, so yes, maybe we want to skip levels. But I think I’d be tempted by showing all sites in the Global navigation. This would also divorce the breadcrumb from the top navigation settings, and I think would be easier.

And if the Global navigation gets too long? Well, that seems quite possible. In that case, how about a setting on each site to ‘Display in Menu in the Breadcrumb’ to give something like this:

Concept of single breadcrumb using drop down menus

This way you can still have your ‘Main’ sites in the hierarchy, but all levels are still available. Of course, you might want to make it that all the subsites of last ‘Main’ site are always visible irrespective of that setting. I think that would work, and would require less getting used to.

It’s a bit like the Vista breadcrumb in Windows Explorer – but a bit different, which might count against it…

The breadcrumb in Windows Explorer in Vista

That said, I’m open to thoughts from others! Comment if you’ve got an idea of how breadcrumbs should work!

Are SharePoint Breadcrumbs completely wrong?

Folder based Navigation in SharePoint

We have a customer who wants a fairly simple site – all it needs to be is a heirarchy of web pages.

Unfortunately, SharePoint Publishing features don’t really do this very well. Yes, in a document library it does breadcrumbs as you navigate through folders – but you can’t really do that with Pages. For a start, you can’t put folders in pages libraries!

So, instead, they’ve got this deep structure of sites – just to get the navigation. The site permissions and features are the same at all levels. This is a real administrative pain – especially if want to change the definition of the content types used in the pages libraries throughout the site.

What would be better would be to have navigation providers which show Folders in the navigation – so that they’re exposed in the left navigation (and maybe the top – I’m not sure). You could then enable folders in your page library. Users would then be able to navigate down through folders and pages. I guess there is a question as to which page should be the ‘default’ for a folder (obviously the folder itself isn’t a page that can be shown) – but perhaps something like just having a convention that the page ‘default’ is shown would be enough. Or maybe make it part of the metadata for a ‘Publishing Folder’ content type.
This would mean that the whole deep heirarchy and dozens of sites my customer is using could be dealt with in one single site. I can’t quite believe that nobody had this idea when they were planning the WCM features for MOSS. I don’t even think it’d be that hard – I just hope that I get a chance to implement this sometime…

Folder based Navigation in SharePoint

Page Layouts, Breadcrumbs, and the space above the main content area of a page.

Previously, I’ve blogged about some of my investigations into how breadcrumbs work in SharePoint – and how sometimes they’re shown in the ‘Page Title Area’, and sometimes they’re put into the ‘Main Content Area’.

One of our customers was building a page layout, and wanted the breadcrumbs inside the Main content area. They put the following content controls into the page layout file:

<%-- This content tag blanks the 'title' placeholder, which is above the white 'main content area' of a page --%>
<asp:Content ContentPlaceHolderID="PlaceHolderPageTitleInTitleArea" runat="server" />

<%-- This content tag blanks the 'title breadcrumbs' placeholder, which is above the white 'main content area' of a page --%>
<asp:Content ContentPlaceHolderId="PlaceHolderTitleBreadcrumb" runat="server"/>

<%-- This is the main content for a page. This content tag is an example only.
Usually there is more formatting and web part zones, other controls, etc.--%>

<asp:Content ContentPlaceHolderID="PlaceHolderMain" runat="server">

<!-- This tag defines the breadcrumb to display. On a normal page (such as defaultlayout.aspx) it is a contained within a table -->
<asp:SiteMapPath ID="ContentMap" Runat="server" SiteMapProvider="CurrentNavSiteMapProviderNoEncode" RenderCurrentNodeAsLink="false" SkipLinkText="" NodeStyle-CssClass="ms-sitemapdirectional"/>

<!-- This tag displays the text of the page's 'Title' that is given when it is created. -->
<SharePoint:FieldValue id="PageTitle" FieldName="Title" runat="server"/>

</asp:Content>

Unfortunately, this resulted in a gap between the top of the page content area, and the bottom of the top navigation:

Page Layout Gap

So, what was missing?

Well, it turns out that another couple of content controls are relevant:

<asp:Content ContentPlaceHolderId="PlaceHolderPageImage" runat="server"><IMG src="/_layouts/images/blank.gif" width=1 height=1 alt=""></asp:Content>

<asp:Content ContentPlaceHolderId="PlaceHolderAdditionalPageHead" runat="server">
<style>
TD.ms-titleareaframe, .ms-pagetitleareaframe {
height: 10px;
}
Div.ms-titleareaframe {
height: 100%;
}
.ms-pagetitleareaframe table {
background: none;
height: 10px;
}
</style>
</asp:Content>

The first content tag blanks the ‘page icon’ placeholder, which is above and to the left the white ‘main content area’ of a page. It is set to show a 1 pixel transparent image, and it appears that this is to maintain page structure, where setting the content to nothing might allow the table cell to collapse. And I thought that 1 pixel transparent gifs were so 1992.

The second content tag reduces the space available for the ‘page title area’ through CSS. It overrides some of the styles to do this. Of course, this relies on your master page using those styles, or having that structure – so if you’re planning on creating a custom master page, you’d better think of all custom page layouts too. I’m not really convinced about that as design – it seems to me that this makes creating a new, radically different master page even harder, as the page layouts must be rebuilt too.

Page Layouts, Breadcrumbs, and the space above the main content area of a page.

More SharePoint Breadcrumb WTF

Previously I’d posted about SharePoint Breadcrumbs and how they were confusing as hell. I’d discussed how SharePoint publishing pages override the ‘PlaceHolderTitleBreadcrumb’ content control, filling it with blankness, and then supplying their own breadcrumb as part of the page content. That seemed pretty dumb to me… …much more sensible would be to override the ‘PlaceHolderTitleBreadcrumb’ with the breadcrumb we want.

Well, it transpires that I was wrong. What I’ve described is true for some page layouts… and not for others. The Default Master page defines its PlaceHolderTitleBreadcrumb ContentPlaceHolder control as:

<asp:ContentPlaceHolder id="PlaceHolderTitleBreadcrumb" runat="server">
<asp:SiteMapPath SiteMapProvider="SPContentMapProvider" id="ContentMap" SkipLinkText="" NodeStyle-CssClass="ms-sitemapdirectional" runat="server"/>
</asp:ContentPlaceHolder>

This is defining the default breadcrumb on the master page.

For the DefaultLayout.aspx layout page, it defines the content for the page to have:

<asp:Content ContentPlaceHolderId="PlaceHolderTitleBreadcrumb" runat="server"/>

That will empty the placeholder on the master page, so no breadcrumb will appear in the usual location – in fact, nothing will. (Note: you will probably want to reduce the blank space that the breadcrumb occupied – otherwise you’ll have a bit gap above your main content area). It then goes on to define (in the PlaceHolderMain Content control):

<td class="ms-pagebreadcrumb" colspan="2">
<asp:SiteMapPath ID="ContentMap" Runat="server" SiteMapProvider="CurrentNavSiteMapProviderNoEncode" RenderCurrentNodeAsLink="false" SkipLinkText="" NodeStyle-CssClass="ms-sitemapdirectional"/></td>
</tr>

There we can see the breadcrumb that appears in the page content.

However, if we look at a different page layout, such as BlankWebPartPage.aspx, we see:

<asp:Content ContentPlaceHolderId="PlaceHolderTitleBreadcrumb" runat="server">

<div class="breadcrumb">
<asp:SiteMapPath ID="siteMapPath" Runat="server" SiteMapProvider="CurrentNavSiteMapProviderNoEncode" RenderCurrentNodeAsLink="false" SkipLinkText="" CurrentNodeStyle-CssClass="breadcrumbCurrent" NodeStyle-CssClass="ms-sitemapdirectional"/>

</div>

</asp:Content>

Okay, interesting. So, what’s different about the breadcrumbs? Well, a few things, but the point relevant to whether or not the “> Pages > default.aspx” is displayed in the breadcrumbs – the SiteMapProvider. The CurrentNavSiteMapProviderNoEncode provider doesn’t seem to include the ‘Pages’ bit of the path – hence it is used by the page layouts. The Default.master’s SPContentMapProvider provides a breadcrumb that includes the ‘Pages’.

It is a bit mystifying why some page layouts blank the PlaceHolderTitleBreadcrumb while other override it – it would have been really nice if they worked consistently. And, as a side note, if you create a page layout and find that your breadcrumbs include the “> Pages > default.aspx” bit, then 1) make sure you’re providing content to override the PlaceHolderTitleBreadcrumb, and 2) make sure that it uses the CurrentNavSiteMapProviderNoEncode navigation provider.

More SharePoint Breadcrumb WTF

What the heck is going on with SharePoint Breadcrumbs?

Like many web applications, SharePoint uses ‘Breadcrumbs’ for navigation. This is a set of links that both tell you where in a hierarchy you are, and were you can go to. SharePoint, though, uses two:

WSS-Breadcrumbs-OwnNav

You can see them here at the top left, and then above the word ‘Documents’. But wait, the master page shows us two breadcrumbs? You’re only in one hierarchy, so how does that work? The Planning & Architecture documentation on Technet says:

The default.master master page, which displays form and view pages, includes two breadcrumb controls, a global breadcrumb which contains sites only, and a content breadcrumb, which contains sites and the current page. Some collaboration site templates, such as the Team Site template, also include two breadcrumbs on all Web pages

However, this isn’t quite the complete story. Continue reading “What the heck is going on with SharePoint Breadcrumbs?”

What the heck is going on with SharePoint Breadcrumbs?

The stupidity of Search boxes when branding SharePoint

Okay, so I just made an interesting discovery. In the master pages on SharePoint there is a content placeholder called PlaceHolderTitleBreadcrumb. A slightly odd name – I’m not sure it should have ‘title’ in it, as that seems to make assumptions about how you’re going to use it – but in fairness, it is a placeholder for breadcrumbs. Great!

Except if you go the search page. Then, the search box is shown in the breadcrumb placeholder. WTF! Who the hell designed that? I mean, what idiot decided to put a large control, with LOTS of padding (discussed wonderfully by Heather Solomon).

Speaking of padding – that padding is hard coded into the control. It is fucking CSS, but they put it into the control. Nobody would ever want to get rid of that 50px padding above this control, right? Nobody would have designed space for the nice little breadcrumbs only to be caught out when the stonking search control sticks it’s flabby ass there, right?

Wrong. I’ve been caught, and I’m not the only one. As Tom says, the solution isn’t complicated – but I shouldn’t have to solve it. He’s right when he discusses the ‘contract’ of the master page. This design bug is just wrong.

And I don’t believe that I should have to write my own delegate controls all the time ‘cos someone was too lazy to write theirs in a generic way. I mean, this is supposed to be the office platform. Don’t hardcode styles into your delegate controls, don’t assume your control will be in a table row, and, in fact, could we stop using tables so we might make an accessible system? It’s kind of important in many countries…

The stupidity of Search boxes when branding SharePoint