Friday, June 15, 2007

Not-So-Global Navigation In SharePoint

This is another fabulous adventure in nerdville. I'm posting this mostly for my own edification, so the three people who read this blog and are not finding themselves here via the General Lee, feel free to move along.

I am still getting my head wrapped around the paradigm that is SharePoint. From one perspective, it's a great platform to starts or build your intranet on if you have a lot of money (I call it "intranet-in-a-box") and not a tremendous amount of know-how. You can start creating portals and sites in no time at all, create rudimentary data models to hold information, set permissions on everything, and then start pumping information into it.

From the other perspective (that would be mine, or if I may be so presumptuous to call my perspective "the developer at large") it can be a complete PITA. I'm finding that even the slightest modification to the system which can not be handled via the web-based tools or even the new SharePoint Designer software requires time, patience, and a deep swear jar.

The latest incident involves trying to use the same global navigation bar in the "MySite" portal as the parent portal. I would think this would be a fairly trivial task, but not really. Actually, it kind of is after googling the entire Internet and finally finding a solution (it's located in the comments).

Of course, the solution didn't quite work as-is, so I'll regurgitate.

In the masterpage of the offending MySite portal there is a "SharePoint:AspMenu" tag, which is where all the action is at. There are at least a couple, so find the one specifically with the "TopNavigationMenu" ID. Mine looks something like this:
blah blah blah />
Note the DataSourceID. This tells the control where to get the info it needs (namely the titles on the menu and the links they go to).

This object containing the DataSourceID is located a little further down the page:
OK, now we're getting somewhere. According to the aforementioned post and comment, this little bit of code provides a contextual data source for the menu at run-time. The way to force it to use a data source of my choosing (there are a handful of them defined in the web.config for the application) is to wipe that piece of code out altogether and replace it with something resembling the following:

And for this tag to be recognized on the page there must be an accompanying registration for it at the top:
<%@ Register Tagprefix="PublishingNavigation"
Assembly="Microsoft.SharePoint.Publishing, Version=,
Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=94de0004b6e3fcc5" %>
So far, so good, except after doing this I received the following error message on the page:
Could not load file or assembly 'Microsoft.SharePoint.Publishing, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=94de0004b6e3fcc5' or one of its dependencies. The system cannot find the file specified

Turns out the problem here is simple -- the "PublicKeyToken" didn't seem to match correctly for me as quoted in the post. Along side that registration I put in were other registrations which had matching PublicKeyToken values. I simply copied that value over and voila, it worked.

So far the only menu I can get it to display is the custom one you create through the process of customizing the site navigation for the specific MySite portal. I can't figure out how to set the site navigation to the same one as the parent portal, but as long as I have some control over it for the time being I'm fine with having to set the navigation in two different areas.

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