Clear | Remove Query Strings From Post Backs (ASP.Net, SharePoint)

As part of an unorthodox request I was asked to make a TabStrip component SEO friendly. My first thought was to completely rewrite the control to make use of GET requests rather than continuing to POST the data back to the server.

Immediately I ran into a problem with this approach as the developers of this site have implemented the majority of these TabStrip controls inside the ASP.Net UpdatePanel (don't get me started with these) which does not recognize GET requests as Async events.

The architect of this site (actually a SharePoint site) failed to recognize that the SharePoint indexing service would not be able to index information on any tab other than the default one (as subsequent requests for tab data are done using Asynchronous Events). When project management asked him to modify the tabs for accessibility he told them it was impossible without a complete redesign.

As a solution to this problem I modified the TabStrip control such that it renders an anchor tag rather than a link button and added some fancy JavaScript to cancel the Anchor tag click event and trigger the appropriate __doPostBack option. I now have a crawl able anchor tag, which works like a link button, and triggers the appropriate update.

Moreover, when the TabStrip is initialized (OnInit) it looks for a specific query string variable indicating the ID of the selected tab. This is when the real problem starts:
  1. Indexing service crawls the anchor and builds a GET string reference to the selected tab id.
  2. Page is loaded into browser.
  3. User selects different tab.
  4. TabStrip is initialized finding the previous (last selected tab) tab id.
  5. TabStrip raises MenuItem Click event ignoring the actual new selected tab id.
The problem then becomes: How do I Clear The Query String From Subsequent Post Back Operations?

My quest turned to the Google.

First I found this approach which actually removes the query string VIA triggering a post back and is therefore too wasteful to be my solution.

I then found the following approach which unfortunately fails to load as it uses the ugly document.all JavaScript method which isn't available until after page load (therefore causes a client side exception - even when registered properly as a StartupScript).

I put together a slightly different JavaScript routine that looks like this:

if(window.onload != null) {
var wol = window.onload;
window.onload = function(e) {
document.forms[0].action = "Index.aspx";
} else {
window.onload = function() {
document.forms[0].action = "Index.aspx";

This JavaScript Method then rolls nicely into an ASP.Net Server Control like so:
/// Attempt to remove the tab id from the query string

private void AddRemoveTabIdQueryString()
const string key = "REMOVETABIDQUERYSTRING";
if (!Page.ClientScript.IsStartupScriptRegistered(GetType(), key))
Page.ClientScript.RegisterStartupScript(this.GetType(), key,
string.Format("if(window.onload != null) {{var wol = window.onload;window.onload = function(e) {{wol(e);{0};}}}} else {{window.onload = function() {{document.forms[0].action = \"{0}\";;}}}}", GetRequestPageName()), true);

// Get the page Name of the request
private string GetRequestPageName()
string rawUrl = Page.Request.RawUrl;
int pos = rawUrl.LastIndexOf("/");
int qpos = rawUrl.LastIndexOf("?");
return qpos > -1 ? rawUrl.Substring(pos + 1, qpos - pos - 1) :
rawUrl.Substring(pos + 1, rawUrl.Length - pos - 1);

I hope this is helpful to others.

Over and Out


SPJobDefinition Quirks For Developers

I wanted to write a quick heads up on a couple quirks relating to the SPJobDefinition and wiring up Timer Jobs (may be relevant for deployments where the Timer Jobs are modified). We are building our solutions on Windows 2003 Server with MOSS 2007.

To debug SPJobDefinitions attach VS debugger to OWSTIMER.exe process after following install instructions below.

OWSTIMER is caching the SPJobDefinition somewhere and is tricking Visual Studio into thinking we are actually debugging the most recent compiled version when we are debugging the last loaded version.

To fix this, kill the OWSTIMER process in process explorer (or restart the Windows Sharepoint Services Timer by typing the following at the command prompt: net stop sptimerv3 & net start sptimerv3) and then refresh the portal you are performing development on (this will force a restart of OWSTIMER.EXE and clear the cache).

Between tests ensure you completely remove the SharePoint feature (deactivate + uninstall) from Sharepoint (see below). Then kill the OWSTIMER process, iisreset, rebuild the solution and reinstall / activate the solution again (see below).

Here are a couple batch files convenient for removing / installing the jobs (where ProvisioningVX is the name of the feature you are trying to install):

Uninstall Batch File


set SPAdminTool=%CommonProgramFiles%\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\BIN\stsadm.exe
set TargetUrl=http://servername/sites/name

echo "Deactivating Feature"
"%SPAdminTool%" -o deactivatefeature -name ProvisioningVX -url %TargetUrl% -force

echo "Uninstalling Feature"
"%SPAdminTool%" -o uninstallfeature -name ProvisioningVX -force



Installing and activating the feature


set SPAdminTool=%CommonProgramFiles%\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\BIN\stsadm.exe
set TargetUrl=http://servername/sites/name

echo "installing feature"
"%SPAdminTool%" -o installfeature -name ProvisioningVX -force

echo "activating feature"
"%SPAdminTool%" -o activatefeature -name ProvisioningVX -url %TargetUrl% -force




How To: Debug SPJobDefinition in Visual Studio

The solution is remarkably simple.

Click Debug -> Attach To Process

Note: At this point, ensure the checkbox "Select processes from all users" is selected.

Select OWSTIMER.EXE from the list.

Setup a breakpoint on the Execute override method.

Be patient and wait for the timed job to execute.


My First Zune Badge: A Lesson in mediocrity

I finally got my first Zune badge today and with it, a lesson in mediocrity. Microsoft may want to rethink their strategy as to how these badges are issued as I now feel that I listen to a bunch of kindof sortof artists..

The Bronze Artist Power Listener award! Wooo Hooo. Are you kidding me? Thanks for this bronze mediocre accomplishment. What if it was a Platinum Artist Power Listener award? Does that mean I've listened to the most commercial music possible - that I am a power listener of platinum artists? What about, Gold. What about Silver.

Either way, I'm still happy that Microsoft has finally allowed me to create a Zune account. Thanks for the good work.

Over and Out