All posts in Troubleshooting

JavaScript files not Updating in Site Assets or other SharePoint Libraries

So ran into a very weird issue.  I had just finished patching our Dev and Test servers to the November 2017 CU.  And after this occurred, any updates to solutions using JavaScript injection was not working.  I’ll describe the problem in more detail here right away, but I want to make sure I give a call out to Trevor Seward.  Trevor blogs from The SharePoint Farm and kudos goes to him for pointing me at the Blob Cache (but I am getting ahead of myself).

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SharePoint Patch Process Fails: System.Data.SqlClient.SqlException – Invalid object name ‘Webs’

I have been working with SharePoint for a long time.  An error was encountered not long ago that I have never seen when patching a SharePoint server (and unfortunately I have seen a lot of errors over the years).  While running the configuration manager I received the following error:

“An exception of type System.Data.SqlClient.SqlException was thrown. Additional exception information: Invalid object name ‘Webs’.”

The error of course was really nice and pointed me to the log file to get more information.  Opening up the log file and searching for ERR (put space at the end to have a better chance of finding an error entry instead of other words containing those letters) I was expecting loads of information to be made available to me so I could easily fix this problem.  I really should have known better as I received the following:

Invalid object name 'Webs' - Log Error Message

At no point in the logs did it tell me where this problem was occurring.  So where do we go from here?

Well let’s dig into it shall we?

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Another Cause of a SharePoint Workflow Stuck at Starting or Started

There are already a ton of posts out there where a SharePoint 2013 workflow becomes stuck at started or starting.  Well I have another one.  This problem actually originated in a SharePoint 2013 farm.  If you are using SharePoint Online, the cause is actually pretty easy to determine.  So for those of you not lucky enough to be working with SharePoint Online, I will go through the symptoms you could come across and a possible resolution.

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SharePoint People Picker Error – Item cannot be more than 256 characters.

Had a colleague ask me the other day if there was a limit on the People Picker control in SharePoint.  Reason being is that she had a Person field setup to accept multiple users and had a group that was constantly getting the error “Item cannot be more than 256 characters” when trying to enter the users.  After a bit more digging, found out they were using a list of about 20 people or so and then just pasting them into the people picker box.  They had everything correct with semicolon separators and everything, but kept getting that error.

SharePoint People Picker Error - Item cannot be more than 256 characters.

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SharePoint Custom Solution Crashes IIS Worker Process (w3wp.exe) – Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, I discussed an issue we were having in one of our SharePoint 2013 farms and how I determined the issue was occurring because of a set of event receivers acting on the library.  In this post, I will discuss the code being used and what the final result was determined to be.  Stick around, it’s not what you think.

To be terribly honest nothing jumped out at me while looking over the code.  The initial review of the code indicated the issue could be around where the event receiver was trying to determine if the user adding the file was a member of the site owner group.  The original code was:

This seems pretty straight forward, but when “CheckIfUserInSPGroup” is called things aren’t quite as kosher.

Again, normally not a huge issue, except that best practices state that you shouldn’t instantiate SPSite, SPWeb or SPList objects within an Event Receiver.  The reason for this is it causes extra database calls (more information here: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office/ee724407(v=office.14).aspx).  I thought this could be the culprit, but wasn’t convinced.  If this was the issue, why does it work fine for years and then suddenly stop working?  The reason the code is instantiating the SPSite and SPWeb object is it is used elsewhere in the solution and could be called by users who do not have the required access.  The same goes for the event receiver.  If I do not have access to control security groups in the site, I get an UnauthorizedAccessException.

So I thought, why not just use that.  We can safely assume that if the UnauthorizedAccessException error is thrown, the user is not in the Owners group.  So I updated the code with a try\catch (why one wasn’t already being used I don’t know) and added some logic into the catch.  Not generally the best method, but when used for targeted exceptions I believe acceptable IMHO.

I also created a new method for the event receiver to call.  I couldn’t modify the existing one, as it contained valid logic to handle users without access and was being used elsewhere.

So I moved the code into Pre-Prod and tried it out.  No change.  Still hanging, throwing errors and crashing the app pool.

Next step was to install Visual Studio into Pre-Prod and attach to the IIS Worker process.  I followed the code until it got into the newly created CheckIfUserInSPGroupEvntRcvr method.  There it stayed.  It kept looping through the AD users and groups within the SharePoint group.  As it was looping I watched the worker process memory usage grow and grow until it finally crashed again.  This didn’t make any sense as there are NOT that many users in these groups.

The Cause of it All

I took a look at the ownership group for the site I was testing with.  Like most (not all) of our project sites, it contained an AD group that contains our project team.  Let’s call that group All-Project.  All-Project had about a dozen users within it, however, there was an anomaly.  It also contained the Owners group from another project site.  This was an oddity.  I took a look at the Owner group and it also contained the same All-Project group. There was the culprit.

As you can see in the code above, it is designed for nested groups, so if the code hits a group it digs down to see if the nested group contains the user.  Because this Owner group was added (in error I found out while trying to figure out why it was there) to the All-Projects group, the code would dig into All-Projects then to the Owners group, from there back into the All-Projects group and then back into the Owners group… see where I am going with this?  By adding that single group to the All-Projects group in error an infinite recursion loop was created in the code.

The Final Fix

So the final fix was not an environmental change or a code modification.  It was simply to remove the Owners group from the All-Projects group.  Once that was done, the original code functioned as designed.  If this becomes a regular occurrence I will have to update the code to handle such an event, but in this case, I didn’t.  The farm is in containment (no further development short of break\fix) and the issue has not occurred for two years before this.  I hope the steps I documented in this blog series helps others out.

 

Thanks for reading!