Deploying code to Sitecore on PaaS

Now that we have our Sitecore environment on Azure PaaS, lets get some code on there!

I’m going to use Visual Studio to deploy my code, in the same way we can publish code locally to the website if we’re not working in the web root of the project. Of course, you can have your deployment process fully automated using things like FTP, PowerShell and more.

In the Azure portal, I can select the server I’d like to deploy to and select the ‘…More’ option to be able to download the PublishSettings file.

publishsettings

Little side note, if you wanted to upload your code through FTP you can get the username and password to use from the PublishSettings file as well – just open the file in your favourite text editor.

publishsettings2.png

All details required for the FTP connection are there. Also, if you were silly enough to put your username and password on the Internet, you can reset your publish settings by going going back to the Azure portal and in the server blade select the ‘Reset publish profile’ options.

Back to deploying our code through Visual Studio: We now can open (or create) our solution in Visual Studio and select ‘<New Custom Profile>’ in the Publish dropdown. Just give the profile a name, go back to the Profile button and select the ‘Import’ option. Here, you can select the PublishSettings file we downloaded earlier.

importprofile

At this point you’ll get an overview of the connection Visual Studio created for you, which we can then validate.

validateprofile

Now all that’s left is to click the Publish button, and we’ll have our Sitecore environment all up-to-date with the latest and greatest code!

Awesome. So now I have my code online – but oh no, an error. How can I debug this, when I just get a simple yellow screen? Well, first of all you could dive into the logfiles to get some more information. In addition I could turn off remote errors, but neither of those might actually tell me what’s happening within my code. What I’d really like to do is to start debugging. This first needs to be enabled in the Azure portal. You can find it in the Application Settings of your app service.

debug

Simply set Remote Debugging in the Debugging section to On, and set your Remote Visual Studio version to the version you use. Alternatively, Visual Studio also asks if it can enable remote debugging if you skip setting  it manually.

Then all that’s left is to publish your website with the Debug Configuration. In your Server Explorer in Visual Studio you can then right click on the Azure website and select Attach Debugger. The browser will then automatically open to the home page, so you might have to browse around a bit to find your error page :-).

Don’t forget to deploy your code using the Debug profile rather than the Release profile if you do want to debug.

PS. If any of your code has a dependency on the data folder, it has set it to the /App_Data folder by default.

Update

It has been pointed out to me that we don’t actually need to download the publish settings from the portal. Instead, when creating a new Publishing Profile, click the ‘Microsoft Web Apps’ publishing target. Sign in the pop up window, and there’s an option to select a web app (or create a new one)

publishprofile

Sitecore and FxCop

I’ve been looking to create some FxCop rules for Sitecore development to get easier overviews to check (and possible enforce) using best practices on Sitecore development. This is the first post in a series of  Sitecore specific rules, which eventually (when there’s a couple of useful rules) will be released through the Sitecore Marketplace as well.

Creating custom rules for FxCop isn’t that hard, especially with some great resources such as this post. Following that post, there’s a couple of simple steps which boil down to the following:

Create a new class library project. The project will of course require references to the FxCop assemblies, FxCopSdk.dll and Microsoft.Cci.dll.

After that, create a rule definition XML, a BaseRule and a custom Rule which inherits BaseRule. The custom Rule can now contain some code that will show if the code is abiding by the rules or breaking them.

Before I give an example of my custom rules, please note that it’s very important to set the Build Action for the XML file as Embedded Resource, otherwise the error ‘Analysis was not performed; at least one valid rules assembly and one valid target file must be specified’ will be thrown.

No valid rules assembly and no valid target file

Oops…

I would strongly advise having a read through the blog post to get a better understanding what’s going on.

Sitecore rules

I’ve created a baseclass called BaseRule, which is exactly the same as in the blog mentioned earlier so I won’t describe that one. As for the rule I’ll describe here, I want to make sure that the GetItem method is called using a GUID, not a path.

To do this, I’ve created a Rules.xml which looks like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
<Rules>
  <Rule TypeName="GetItemUsingID" Category="Sitecore.BestPractice" CheckId="SC0001">
    <Name>Enforce calling the GetItem method using ID</Name>
    <Description>
      Use GUIDs where possible instead of path / name. This will improve performance, as well as prevent any breakage if you move content to a new location in the content tree.
    </Description>
    <Url />
    <Resolution>GetItem is called passing in {0}. GetItem should be called passing in an ID.</Resolution>
    <Email />
    <MessageLevel Certainty="80">Error</MessageLevel>
    <FixCategories>NonBreaking</FixCategories>
    <Owner />
  </Rule>
</Rules>

A couple clarifications: I’ve put the certainty on 80 for now, since all I’m doing is checking if there’s a string parameter that does not have a GUID. I completely ignore things like queries, empty IDs and the like.

Also, the Resolution message could be a little clearer, pointing out where the GetItem method gets called for instance, but for the purpose of this example it’s clear enough.

namespace Sitecore.FxCop
{
  using System;
  using System.Collections.Generic;
  using System.Text.RegularExpressions;
  using Microsoft.FxCop.Sdk;

  internal sealed class GetItemUsingID : BaseRule
  {
    public GetItemUsingID() : base("GetItemUsingID")
    {
      public override ProblemCollection Check(Member member)
      {
        Method method = member as Method;
        if (method != null)
        {
          this.Visit(method.Body);
        }

        return this.Problems;
      }

      public override void VisitMethodCall(MethodCall call)
      {
        base.VisitMethodCall(call);

        Method targetMethod = (Method)((MemberBinding)call.Callee).BoundMember;
        if (targetMethod.DeclaringType.FullName.Equals("Sitecore.Data.Database", StringComparison.Ordinal) && targetMethod.Name.Name.Equals("GetItem", StringComparison.Ordinal))
        {
          Expression endResponse = call.Operands["0"];
          if (endResponse.NodeType = NodeType.Literal)
          {
            var value = ((Literal)endResponse).Value.ToString();
            var match = Regex.IsMatch(value, @"\b[A-F0-9]{8}(?:-[A-F0-9]{4}){3}-[A-F0-9]{12}\b", RegexOptions.IgnoreCase);
            if (!match)
            {
              this.Problems.Add(new Problem(this.GetResolution(value, call))
            }
          }
        }
      }
    }
  }
}

A couple of interesting things here:

  • On line 8: The name of the class needs to be exactly the same as what’s defined in the XML definition.
  • On line 30: we only check the first parameter (so the parameter at index 0). This is because the GetItem method, when a path or GUID is used, will always have that path or GUID as the 0th parameter.
  • On line 31: we are only interested in that parameter when it’s a string. Remember, the first parameter for GetItem is either string, DataUri or ID. We could check them all of course, but right now I just want to make sure the first parameter is a string, and contains a GUID
  • On line 37: I pass in the value of the string that gets passed to GetItem, which will replace the {0} token defined in the XML with that value

So now consider the following code:

  var database = Sitecore.Data.Database.GetDatabase("master");
  var item1 = database.GetItem("/sitecore/content/home");
  var item2 = database.GetItem("{4E7AB8D1-6A39-4C8C-BF5B-816F8105BFFD}");

When I then add my custom rule to be inspected by FxCop, I get the following:

FxCop showing custom rule

A grand start, although I would still only get one message about GetItem even if I would have multiple instances of calling GetItem with a path in the same method.

Which FxCop rules would you like to have regarding Sitecore best practices?