Author Archives: Toby Gutierrez

About Toby Gutierrez

Solutions Architect | 2015 - 2017 Sitecore Technology MVP

No Forms To Display

“There are no forms to display” in Sitecore 9 Forms designer

In working with Sitecore 9 forms, you might occasionally get the “There are no forms to display” when you go to the Forms designer area as seen below:

No Forms To Display

No Forms To Display

This is pretty typical actually as the Forms are indexed in the “sitecore_master_index”, and I have seen this happen after doing custom form fields, validations, and submit actions. But  simply re-index and voila, you will see your forms. Our fellow MVP brethren, Jason Wilkerson, put up a post about this, which you can read in much more detail regarding re-indexing:

Sitecore 9 Forms: form doesn’t show up after creation

Now, with that being said, I have found that this is NOT the only time this can occur. At some point, my forms disappeared from the Form Designer completely, and no matter how many times I re-indexed they never came back to existence. After a couple weeks of not seeing my forms it was a MUST that I had to have the Forms Designer back not only me and my local development, but for the client as well. This bug had propagated it’s way from LOCAL to DEV & QA at this point. Before we are to go-live it MUST be fixed. So I really started getting after finding a solution!

My first stop was the always trusted and solid Sitecore community. I went to the Sitecore Stack Exchange at for help. I posted up this question and the community had nothing for me, but I quickly learned that I was NOT alone with this bug:

No forms are displaying in Sitecore 9 Forms area

Being that Sitecore 9 Forms are a tad bit new to the community we are all still learning these forms one day at a time so there wasn’t much to go off of for any of us in this situation, and most were busy, and didn’t have time to look into. So my next stop was Sitecore Support. I put in a ticket with Sitecore Support. About 24 hours later they came back asking me for my .configs and me to run a test through Fiddler to see what was going on. Once I got them what they needed, they got me what I needed, which was the answer. The Sitecore Support team saw from Fiddler that the requests for available forms returned an error, which is below:

4268 07:53:01 ERROR [Item Web API] Value cannot be null.
Parameter name: item
Exception: System.ArgumentNullException
Message: Value cannot be null.
Parameter name: item
Source: Sitecore.Kernel
   at Sitecore.Diagnostics.Assert.ArgumentNotNull(Object argument, String argumentName)
   at Sitecore.ContentSearch.SitecoreIndexableItem..ctor(Item item)
   at Sitecore.ItemWebApi.Pipelines.Request.Search.RunSearchPipeline(RequestArgs args, String searchText, String languageName, Boolean showHiddenItems)
   at Sitecore.ItemWebApi.Pipelines.Request.Search.Process(RequestArgs args)
   at (Object , Object[] )
   at Sitecore.Pipelines.CorePipeline.Run(PipelineArgs args)
   at Sitecore.Pipelines.DefaultCorePipelineManager.Run(String pipelineName, PipelineArgs args, String pipelineDomain)
   at Sitecore.ItemWebApi.Pipelines.HttpRequest.LaunchRequest.Process(HttpRequestArgs arguments)

They had me navigate to the {60F35FD9-88CB-4DF5-8E78-1E9BF5FE181C} item in the core database. That item is seen below:

Sitecore 9 Search Config Item

Sitecore 9 Search Config Item

As you can see from above the Root field is pointed at {B701850A-CB8A-4943-B2BC-DDDB1238C103}. When I put this ID in my search bar and searched the Master database content tree, there was NO results. I decided to get with one of my co-workers who had a working instance of Sitecore 9 Forms, and had them search for this item in the Master database content tree. BOOM! Once they ran the search, the Forms folder, which contains all the forms, came back as a result.

Wrong ID For Forms Folder

Wrong ID For Forms Folder

When I saw that I had the wrong Forms folder ID, I knew that somewhere along the check-in source control travels someone must have deleted the original Forms folder, and then created a new Forms folder with a different ID. Because of this one simple change by a developer the Forms Designer was now rendered useless and ineffective. This is something to be aware of!

The solution to this issue is this:

  1. Do NOT delete the Forms folder and create a new one if you don’t need to!
  2. If you do delete the Forms folder, get it from another instance of Sitecore 9.
  3. If for some reason you want to run with a Forms folder with a different ID then you must change to this ID for your new Forms folder in the Root field of these items below in the Core database:
    SearchConfig: {60F35FD9-88CB-4DF5-8E78-1E9BF5FE181C}
    AllFormsSearchConfig: {60F35FD9-88CB-4DF5-8E78-1E9BF5FE181C}

My recommendation is to NOT opt for #3 as this will get away from you, and your client down the road unless you document it, keep for future reference, and refer to for future upgrades. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Just opt to get on Slack and ask someone for the OOTB Forms folder item in a package, move all your forms into the correct OOTB Forms folder and you are all set. Happy coding!


Sitecore 9 Experience Editor

Glass.Mapper Experience Editor Issue with Sitecore 9

My team and I were doing some development over the past couple of weeks with Sitecore 9 and Ignition, which uses Glass.Mapper. We updated Ignition in the project to use Glass.Mapper Version All was working fine for rendering out the fields to the page, but when it came to rendering out the text fields to the Experience Editor and having them be Experience Editor friendly, “Houston, we had a problem”!

We were using the HTML helper below:

@Html.Glass().Editable(Model, x => x.Title)

When we got to the Experience Editor, the page looked liked this due to all the text fields we had using the HTML helper:

Experience Editor Issue

Experience Editor Issue

My assumption, was that Sitecore 9 was not playing well with the older Glass.Mapper versions, but I could not be for certain. Luckily, thanks to this awesome Sitecore community, I got on the “Glass” channel of Slack and asked what might be the issue, and Mike Edwards got back to me right away stating, that I should use the “ (Pre-Release Version)” as that is the first one to have all the changes for Sitecore 9. I was right on track to fix the issue, but after looking in NuGet I could not find it! Turns out I needed to check the “Include prerelease” checkbox pointed out below (image thanks to Mike Edwards). Good lookin’ out Mike!

NuGet Pre-Release Version

NuGet Pre-Release Version

Once I updated my solution to the (Pre-Release Version), the strings were then Editable in the Experience Editor making me, the development team, and the QA people happy campers now that they can test functionality of our components. Happy coding!

Sitecore Ignition Logo

Accelerating your Sitecore solutions with Helix and Sitecore Ignition Development Accelerator

Over the past month or so, I have had the opportunity to work with some fine talent here at Perficient who are showing me the ropes on the Sitecore Ignition Development Accelerator as well as how this framework adheres to the Helix patterns, principles, and conventions. Helix is a growing passion of mine, along with our development team, and the more I develop using these patterns, principles, and conventions along with the Sitecore Ignition development accelerator, I am quickly seeing the benefits of Helix & Sitecore Ignition as a great development practice.

Helix gives me the ability to maintain enterprise level Sitecore solutions a lot more easily with the Project, Feature, Foundation approach as well as SOLID patterns, principles, and conventions behind the reason why you should develop in this manner. If you have not started development with Helix, truly consider a shift toward this as it is now considered a best practice, and recommended by Sitecore at this point.

The Ignition framework allows me to hit the quick-start button when starting a new project for a new client, but in addition it allows me to work with Helix patterns, principles, and conventions to accelerate development time. There is more than meets the eyes with the Sitecore Ignition framework, and I felt it best to share my findings now that I have some hands-on experience in both areas.

I started out speaking with Jon Upchurch, major contributor to the Ignition team, who gave me a handful of links to “Ignite the Helix”, those of which are below:

GitHub repo for Ignition:

Sitecore Ignition Documentation:

Getting Started with Sitecore Ignition (Initial Items & Project Template for VS):

Getting Started with Sitecore Ignition (10 Minute Video):

Getting Started with Sitecore Ignition 2.0 (50 Minute Video):

Webinar on Sitecore Ignition:

Sitecore Ignition 101 Blog Post by George Chang:

Facebook Page:

Twitter Ignition Team: @ignition_sc

The links above will help you to learn more about the Sitecore Ignition accelerator as well as stay informed via your social media favorites Facebook & Twitter.

Initial setup of Sitecore Ignition is not very hard at all if you are following the directions in documentation and videos, and rather than go through the setup in this post, my focus is really on the benefits of why you should consider using the Sitecore Ignition development accelerator for your Helix based Sitecore projects. Below, are a few benefits in relation to Helix that will speed up your Helix initiatives:

  • Ease of setup to initially get started to add into your Helix based Sitecore solution
  • A Visual Studio Sitecore Ignition project template
    • When you add a new “Feature” project, which could be many, then this ability alone to have a template will speed things up dramatically in your daily development.
    • Sitecore Ignition project template comes pre-loaded with a Controllers, ViewModels, and Views folder for you to start creating your modules and get to work quickly.
    • Pre-configured Unicorn predicates for the project setup in the App_Config/Include folder.
    • When using symbolic links with Link Shell Extensions, then you won’t even have to set up the serialization folder for the project because Unicorn will place the serialized items in the right spots in your feature to be included for check-in to your repo. Brilliant!
  • Ignition.Foundation.Core includes SimpleInjector for IoC, and Glass.Mapper as the ORM. So when you create the new project, all you need to do is reference Sitecore.Kernel.dll & Sitecore.Mvc.dll from the official NuGet feed for Sitecore. This will make Glass.Mapper happy during Ignition.Foundation.Core package installation. Once the Sitecore Ignition.Foundation.Core NuGet package is installed, your project is ready to go!

Below are some benefits I have run into in a short period of time using the Sitecore Ignition framework:

  • No Global.asax or RouteConfig.cs you need to worry about in the solution. Which is just less files/folders you need to worry about and more clean in my opinion, which is always good. When doing AJAX work you simply need to setup on your JSON returning methods for them to use [PublicRoute] along with [HttpPost] and that’s it. The rest is done behind the scenes for routing. Pretty slick!
  • Experience Editor friendly just met developer friendly when the Sitecore Ignition team created a way for you to simply name a .cshtml file with a certain naming convention i.e. “_EE”, and now that view is automatically Experience Editor friendly. Big win for teams with juniors!
  • Dynamic placeholders are OOTB with this accelerator so there is no need to roll your own, download one off the Sitecore Marketplace, or pull one in from NuGet.

Overall, I am very excited about working with Helix patterns, principles, and conventions now in my every day Sitecore development role as well as the ability to accelerate that development with the use of Sitecore Ignition. Thanks for the hard work Sitecore Ignition team!

I have a good feeling that I will be working with the contribution team when I can to help make this accelerator even better than it already is for the Sitecore community. Looking forward to when that time  comes. Now go and “Ignite the Helix”!


Parameter Templates for Pointing to Content Items

Dynamic Parameter Templates for Pointing to Content Items

Have you ever been in a predicament, in code, where you need to point to an item in the Sitecore content tree?

For instance, you are building a Search Component, and when the user clicks search, you are going to send over the keyword/s in a query string to the Search Results Page for use in processing and displaying the results. In code, I will need that URL in my Search Component in order for me to send over the results. Let’s analyze what our options are on this scenario:

For sake of simplicity, I will leave the null checking and exception handling to you. These are simply options to get ultimately to my point:

Option 1 (Rookie Option):

var searchResultsPage = Sitecore.Context.Database.GetItem("/sitecore/content/Home/Search Results");
var searchPageUrl = LinkManager.GetItemUrl(searchResultsPage);

We can get the item using the path, then get the item URL at that point. However, we NEVER want to do this with content items! If that path changes then now you have a broken Search Component. Just because we can use paths to get items in Sitecore, doesn’t mean it’s a good practice. As a matter of fact, I would consider it bad practice all around, so steer clear of this method.

Option 2 (Better Option):

var searchResultsPage = Sitecore.Context.Database.GetItem(ID.Parse("F6778EA3-1B76-4BBF-AD21-63E9EA847FDE"));
var searchPageUrl = LinkManager.GetItemUrl(searchResultsPage);

A better method to pointing to items is with the ID using the item GUID. Why? Performance reasons. Sitecore will pick that item up faster using the ID. More importantly the ID is tied to that item ONLY and anywhere the Content Editor moves the item, Sitecore will still be able to fetch it, and nothing will break on the Search Component.

Option 3 (Even Better Option):

Typically, in most solutions that I have come across for Sitecore, there is Constants file that has ID’s in the Constants file something like this:

public class ItemIDs
     public const string NewsCategoriesFolder = ID.Parse("{B866EC76-54ED-447D-9AB2-5E05A0699586}");
     public const string SearchResultsPage= ID.Parse("{F6778EA3-1B76-4BBF-AD21-63E9EA847FDE}");

As you can see from above there is an item for the News Categories Folder and the Search Results Page. Both of which need to be referenced in code, and the reason why they are in the Constants file. Using the method of putting those ID’s in the Constants file makes it easier to manage those ID’s in one place. When doing so, you can then get your item more clean and like so, in this case the Search Results page:

var searchResultsPage = Sitecore.Context.Database.GetItem(Constants.ItemIDs.SearchResultsPage);
var searchPageUrl = LinkManager.GetItemUrl(searchResultsPage);

If you make a change to the Item ID, then it will make that change across your solution versus having that ID out there in 5 other components you will need to change manually.

Option 4 (Best Option using TDS & Glass.Mapper with Code Generation):

Option 3 is definitely considered a best practice, but what if we can make this even easier to manage dynamically using TDS & Glass.Mapper, and keep ID’s out of the Constants file altogether except for rare circumstances?

Now that you have seen a few ways to point to the item in the Content Tree, let’s discuss Parameter Templates. Parameter templates are a way for you to add fields to your rendering that can help out the Content Editor in their daily Content Editing experience. Below are links to helpful information regarding Parameter Templates:

Now, that you have a good idea of what Parameter Templates are and how to set them up, let’s talk about why we would want to use them as a best practice in components for item pointing.

Parameter templates help to manage the solution while providing a better experience for your Content Editors. We simply create a Parameter Template to be used with the Search Component that has this criteria:

  • Name: Search Results Page
  • Field Type: DropTree
  • Data Source: /sitecore/content/Home/

We create a Standard_Values for the Parameter Template and set it to the Search Results Page by default.

When added to the Search Component, it is by default set to the Search Results page, but if the Content Editor ever wanted to point to an alternative Search Results page (for whatever reason), they now have that option. But more importantly, you bypass having to now add this to the Constants file, if your Parameter Template is strongly typed as one of your Models. Using TDS with Glass.Mapper “Code Generation”, this will allow you to create your Parameter Template for the Search Component, then have it auto-generate the Model in your solution for use where you can then call on the Parameter Template like so using Glass.Mapper (notice Search_Results_Parameter):

var renderingParameters = GetRenderingParameters<Search_Results_Parameter>();
var item = Context.Database.GetItem(ID.Parse(renderingParameters.Search_Results_Page));
var pathInfo = LinkManager.GetItemUrl(item, UrlOptions.DefaultOptions);

The Search Results Parameter is now dynamically generated anytime there is a change in the item in Sitecore. Hence, you never had a need to create the model OR add the item ID/path to the Constants file.

Keep in mind you can still do this without TDS/Glass.Mapper “Code Generation” feature, but then you will need to create a model manually for your Parameter Template. The benefit is that you have given the Content Editor the ability the point to the Search Results page versus having this functionality in code that needs to be changed by a developer, and that is the benefit to the client. To my knowledge, you can also do this same type of “code generation” functionality with Unicorn/Synthesis as well.

I have found going this route equates to maximum productivity for the development team once the concept is understood, and helps in manageability of your solution overall. Happy coding!

Sitecore Sandbox Reviews

Sitecore Sandbox Video Reviews Introduction

In an effort to help out all the developers in the Sitecore Community, I have created a channel on YouTube that is dedicated to essentially putting Sitecore things and stuff in the Sitecore Sandbox for review and then sharing with the community! This way we all can benefit from the review.

What is it that will be reviewed?

Anything that is related to Sitecore that will make our daily development a more productive enjoyable experience. Typically, we will review modules in the Sitecore Marketplace, Accelerators, or even just features in Sitecore Launchpad. In either case, I am sure we will unlock some more tools that can be added to your toolbox, and help us all reach our true Sitecore potential.

The videos will ONLY be targeted at being 3-5 minutes in length so they will be something you can watch very quickly. In addition, they will be broken down into series. For instance, if we are reviewing the Sitecore Instance Manager features, we will break it down to one feature per video.

Make sure you subscribe and pass on to your fellow developers, and you will be alerted when new videos are out:



Rebuilding Reporting Database for Experience Profile Data

Are you familiar with the Experience Profile in Sitecore?

This is a phenomenal tool for Marketers that have audacious goals for their organization. The Sitecore marketing team talks about the Experience Profile as such, “Data-driven marketers who want a 360-degree view of their customer’s interaction with all digital channels over time and in real-time will find just that in the Sitecore Experience Profile”. If you have never taken a good look at what is possible with the Experience Profile, check it out!

Now, what does this have to do with rebuilding the reporting database? Good question! Experience Profile is completely dependent upon the Sitecore_Analytics_Index. If there is no data in the Sitecore_Analytics_Index then there will be no data in the Experience Profile. So, how does data get into the Sitecore_Analytics_Index? Let’s a take a look:

In this example using a typical model of a 1 CM (Content Management Server) with 2 CD (Content Delivery Server) environment, the CD server/s will be delivering customer experience data to MongoDB during the customer session/s. When the session/s ends, typically after 20 minutes (unless set to end earlier) then the data gets flushed using the xDB Processing Server/s. If you have not setup the xDB Processing Server/s on a standalone server then the processing will happen on Content Management server. The processing will take this data and migrate it to your Reporting database, where it will reside, and then be indexed, for performance reasons, by the Sitecore_Analytics_Index for use in the Experience Profile.

Now, why might be ever want to rebuild the reporting database and how do we even do that? Good question! If you don’t see any data in the Experience Profile, and you have a license for the functionality, then, “Houston…we have a problem”. Below are some steps to troubleshoot:

  1. Check the logs using Sitecore Log Analyzer on the Sitecore Marketplace, and see if you have any Mongo connection errors. Connectivity may either have been disrupted or never configured properly. If you are using SOLR look for SOLR errors relating to the Sitecore_Analytics_Index as well.
  2. Ensure you have MongoDB connectivity by using RoboMongo to ensure that data is truly being collected in the collections.
  3. Check the Reporting database tables to see if there is any data being collected. If not, then the xDB processing may not be working for some reason OR you have a connection string missing or incorrect to the Reporting database.
  4. Ensure if you are using SOLR that your cores are setup correctly along with configsets particularly for Sitecore_Analytics_Index.
  5. Check the Sitecore_Analytics_Index for any indexed records. More than likely you will see no records.

If you went through 1-4 and the data is all there, but still don’t have any records in your Sitecore_Analytics_Index then you are now looking at rebuilding your reporting database.

But wait, why don’t we just rebuild the index for the SItecore_Analytics_Index? Good question! Adam Conn explains this in his blog post, but we cannot manually do this, as it is done behind the scenes in Sitecore. There is a workaround to get the Sitecore_Analyics_Index to show up with the rest in the Select Search Index dialog box, but it can be problematic as Adam shows in his post.

Now is when the Rebuild Reporting Database tool comes to the rescue. When you rebuild the reporting database you also then set the Sitecore_Analytics_Index to be re-indexed through this process.

To rebuild your reporting database you will actually need to create a second reporting database to use with the Rebuild Reporting Database administration tool. Instructions on how to do that can be found here. Now, once you have a second reporting database in place you can then use this tool in the Administration Tools area of Sitecore:

Rebuild Reporting Database

Rebuild Reporting Database

When you run this tool you will rebuild the reporting database thereby re-indexing the Sitecore_Analytics_Index. At this point, you should start seeing data flow into the Experience Profile. Happy coding!

Find Text In Sitecore Files

Using Notepad++ To Find All Text In Sitecore Files In A Folder

Have you ever wanted to search for text in all files of a folder? Windows search will allow you to search through a folder, but will return the keyword in the filename by default. That’s great if you want to find a file in the folder, but what if you want to go deeper and search through all files in those folders for a certain keyword? I ran across this scenario recently, and I wanted to share with the community of Sitecore developers because it can be a very useful tool when performing some Development Operations type of tasks to help you troubleshoot when in certain situations as you will see. If you have seen this trick before then, “Amen”, but if not then make this a part of your toolbox!

Let’s just say you are troubleshooting a CD server in a typical 1 CM | 2 CD distributed environment that is having issues still referencing the “master” database. You simply want to find out where all the “master” references are in the App_Config folder and sub-folders without having to open each file manually and check. Can you imagine having to do that? As Kamruz Jaman would say, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Notepad++ to the rescue!

All you have to do is the following:

  1. Download Notepad++
  2. Open up Notepad++
  3. Either do a “Ctrl-Shift-F” OR click on “Search” tab then click on “Find in Files…”

    Find In Files Search Option

    Find In Files Search Option

  4. Once you click on that option you will get this “Find in Files” dialog box where you can set your settings for your search. For this example, we will set to “master” in the “Find what” text box and set the “Directory” to “D:\App_Config”. Lastly, we will just ensure the “In all sub-folders” is checked as well as seen below. Please note that you can also do a “Replace in Files” as well and even search in hidden folders:

    Find in Files Dialog Box

    Find in Files Dialog Box

  5. Click “Find All” and watch the all the goodness that returns to you!

As you will see below you now have that keyword brought to you in all the files in that sub-folder as well as the filename and path.  Not only that but when you double-click on the line item it will appear above in the text editor so you can view and modify.

Find in Files Search Results

Find in Files Search Results

With this knowledge, now you are armed like a boss to find keywords in files throughout your Sitecore development daily grind that will make you a more productive member of the team. Happy coding!