Awkward SharePoint Link field text

I had a gnarly support call today. One of our customers was using Announcement lists to display news on the homepage of their intranet, and they’ve a thumbnail image they’d set for each item. Then, on the home page, they’ve got a Content Query Web Part using some custom XSL to render those announcements.

However, the Content Query Web Part would only show some of the thumbnail images.Capture

TL;DR – Saving an image field on a ‘New’ form without a descripion saves a different format to after an ‘Edit’, which sets a default even if you don’t change the image field value.

Continue reading “Awkward SharePoint Link field text”

Awkward SharePoint Link field text

Disable Output Escaping in XSL

Really, just a reminder for myself, but if you work with SharePoint long enough you’re bound to end up using something like the Content Query Web Part or a Data View Web Part to aggregate and output a rich text source – but all your HTML gets escaped, so it appears content on the page.

The command you want is DisableOutputEscaping:

<xsl:value-of select="somevalue" disable-output-escaping="yes" />

This will cause the HTML to be output unescaped – i.e. as HTML.

Side note: Sometimes people want things like the CQWP to show the first part of the content as a ‘summary’. This trucating content to display in the CQWP or DVWP is difficult; either a) you risk having unfinished tags in the HTML you do emit, or b) you have to strip out all HTML, which can ruin your formatting. a) is a particular problem, as unfinished <table> tags can cause all sorts of weirdness on page.

My preferred option is to have a additional ‘summary text’ box that accepts plain text, and have the author generate the summary manually. That way we avoid outputting HTML like that entirely.

Disable Output Escaping in XSL

Newsticker Web Part for SharePoint

I’ve written a web part that provides a ‘newsticker’ for SharePoint, although it’ll actually query for news, documents, or anything else you can query for with the Content Query Web Part (CQWP). In fact, it’s just a configuration of the CQWP, which also uses jQuery for animation and stuff. Typically web sites use this for displaying news or announcements, but you can use it to query for any SharePoint content type(s), as you would with the Content Query Web Part.

The Content Query Ticker Web Part looks like this in operation…


  • Group 1 : Item A – Some Description
  • Group 1 : Item B – Some Other Description
  • Group 2 : Item C – Yet Another Description

It does require MOSS 2007, and you do need to enable the Publishing Infrastructure on your site collection.

For more details, see this page.

Newsticker Web Part for SharePoint

CQWP: Show the first item in each group

So, we have a customer who has a library of Newsletters.


These newsletters belong to different regions, and they have a date on which they should be ‘published’ – or at least, a date at which they’re the most recent item. So, we have two columns to capture that – News Region and Publish Date.

The customer wanted a web part on a page that would show the most recently ‘published’ item for each of those regions. Something like:


I did this with the Content Query Web Part (CQWP) – but how?

Well, first I set my CQWP to query the list of newsletters. They have a specific content type that I queried for. I filtered items with a Publish Date in the future out – although not a secure way of preventing users seeing these items, at least it doesn’t make the obvious.

Next, I set the CQWP to group by News Region, and Sort by descenting Publish Date. So far, so standard – but it would also return multiple items for each region, and display their title, not their region.

This called for a special Itemstyle, which I added using the technique mentioned before for putting ItemStyles into a different file. This made sense; we’re not going to use this style extensively, so it’s best to keep it separate.

Next, I modified my CommonViewFields to bring in the News Region column. I’ve mentioned this before.

Then I wrote my XSL:


Take a look at it – it’s cool.

Looking at the code, you can see I read the News Region that we’re looking at into a variable. I then count up the number of preceding nodes which also have the same value for their News Region.

The first node with a particular News Region value will always be the one with the latest Publish Date that isn’t in the future – therefore, the most recent one for that region. The count statement won’t count nodes for other regions, either. So, if it’s the first, we display it – using the News Region text, rather than the title. Simple!

(But a bugger of an XSL query to figure out)

CQWP: Show the first item in each group

Link the CQWP to another XSL File

I was going to remind myself of a technique that I’d seen Liam Cleary use on his blog about importing XSL files into ItemStyles.xsl, but then I noticed that he’d linked to a far better idea from Brendon Swartz – you can change the XSL file that the Content Query Web Part presents ItemStyles for. If you export the Content Query Web Part as an XML file and edit it, you’ll see a property ItemXslLink. Simply give it a url to the new ItemStyles.xsl file.

Personally, I think this is fantastic. Frequently I have been asked to do custom roll-up of content, with customised display. If you have to add to the standard ItemStyles.xsl, then before long your ‘Presentation’ setting for your standard CQWPs is full of highly specific item styles. This way, I can isolate – nearly hide – the existance of my much more specific item styles to general users.

And I’ll say more about what I was doing with it shortly.

Link the CQWP to another XSL File

Error: CQWP – RSS feed of non-documents doesn't work

This is a pretty weird error. I was doing content roll-up of Announcements lists, to give a unified news channel for our intranet. Naturally, I decided to do this using the Content Query Web Part. I added one, and selected that I wanted to query for the contents of Announcements lists. As I like RSS feeds, I enabled one, and I added it to my favorite feed-reader.

It worked – but the links to the announcements themselves didn’t work. The short summary is that is that it appears RSS feeds from Content Query Web Parts don’t work when you query for certain types of list. Continue reading “Error: CQWP – RSS feed of non-documents doesn't work”

Error: CQWP – RSS feed of non-documents doesn't work

CQWP: XSL to show you the fields on an item

A modification on the XSL I’d used previously – this gives a more readable presentation, and displays the values:

<xsl:template name="ShowFields" match="Row[@Style='ShowFields']" mode="itemstyle">
<div style="border:1px #aaa solid;background-color:#eee;margin:5px;padding:5px">
<xsl:for-each select="@*">
<xsl:value-of select="name()" /> = <xsl:value-of select="." /><br />

CQWP: XSL to show you the fields on an item

Content Roll-up options Part II – Content Query Web Part

The Content Query Web Part is the Out-of-Box content roll-up web part in MOSS, and consequently it’s one of the most widely used.

Here’s an example of one rollup up the ‘Project Documents’ type:Standard content query web part

It’s advantages are:

  • Can select from an entire Site Collection, a Site and it’s Sub-Sites, or from a List
  • Can select by List type
  • Can filter the results by Content Type, or Metadata field values
  • Can be configured to do Sorting and Grouping
  • Can display custom data – but this is a little complex

It’s disadvantages are:

  • Customising the view is possible, but tricky.The view has to be defined in XSL, and the Content Query Web part configured correctly to get the data you want to display.
  • No pagination of results – it’s just truncated.
  • The user can’t select the results order, or add his own filter.
  • You can’t query across Site collections.

All in all, I’d say that defining the styles for what you want to display puts this into more a ‘development’ task, which isn’t ideal if you’re trying to push administration out to your users a bit more.

Also, a major issue as far as I’m concerned is the lack of pagination. You can limit the number of items shown, but without an link to the next ‘page’ of items.

Here’s an example of a Content Query Web Part showing some custom data (highlighted in yellow):

Content Query Web Part showing custom column data.

In short: Cheap, and available, but has that ‘just a bit awkward’ feel to setting it up, and lacks some of the features you’re likely to want. Often will require someone a bit technical for customisation. Continue reading “Content Roll-up options Part II – Content Query Web Part”

Content Roll-up options Part II – Content Query Web Part