This article will serve as documentation of a fully functional codeplex project that I just created. This project will give you a WebPart that will give you security trimmed navigation across site collections.
The first question is, why create such a project?
In every single SharePoint project you will do, one question you will always be faced with is, what should the boundaries of sites be, and what should the boundaries of site collections be? There is no good or bad answer to this, because it really really depends on your needs. There are some factors in play here.
- Site Collections will allow you to scale, as a Site collection is the smallest entity you can put inside a content database
- Site collections will allow you to offer different levels of SLAs, because you put a site collection on a separate content database, and put that database on a separate server.
- Site collections are a security boundary – and they can be moved around at will without affecting other site collections.
- Site collections are also a branding boundary.
- They are also a feature deployment boundary, so you can have two site collections on the same web application with completely different nature of services.
- But site collections break navigation, i.e. a site collection at “/”, and a site collection at “/sites/mySiteCollection”, are completely independent of each other. If you have access to both, the navigation of / won’t show you a link to /sites/mySiteCollection. Some people refer to this as a huge issue in SharePoint.
Luckily, some workarounds exist. A long time ago, I had blogged about “Implementing Consistent Navigation across Site Collections”. That approach was a no-code solution, it worked – it gave you a consistent navigation across site collections. But, it didn’t work in a security trimmed fashion! i.e., if I don’t have access to Site Collection ‘X’, it would still show me a link to ‘X’.
Well this project gets around that issue. Simply deploy this project, and it’ll give you a WebPart. You can use that WebPart as either a webpart or as a server control dropped via SharePoint designer, and it will give you Security Trimmed Cross Site Collection Navigation.
The code has been written for SP2010, but it will work in SP2007 with the help of http://spwcfsupport.codeplex.com .
What do I need to do to make it work?
I’m glad you asked! Simple! Deploy the .wsp (which you can download here). This will give you a site collection feature called “Winsmarts Cross Site Collection Navigation” as shown below.
Go ahead and activate it, and this will give you a WebPart called “Winsmarts Navigation Web Part” as shown below:
Just drop this WebPart on your page, and it will show you all site collections that the currently logged in user has access to. Really it’s that easy! This is shown as below -
In the above example, I have two site collections that I created at /sites/SiteCollection1 and /sites/SiteCollection2. The navigation shows the titles. You see some extraneous crap as well, you might want to clean that – I’ll talk about that in a minute.
What? You’re running into problems? If the problem you’re running into is that you are prompted to login three times, and then it shows a blank webpart that says “Loading your applications ..” and then craps out!, then most probably you’re using a different authentication scheme. Behind the scenes I use a custom WCF service to perform this job. OOTB, I’ve set it to work with NTLM, but if you need to make it work alternate authentications such as forms based auth, or client side certs, you will need to edit the %14%\ISAPI\Winsmarts.CrossSCNav\web.config file, specifically, this section -
3: <binding name="customWebHttpBinding">
4: <security mode="TransportCredentialOnly">
5: <transport clientCredentialType="Ntlm"/>
- For Kerberos, change the “clientCredentialType” to “Windows”
- For Forms auth, remove that transport line
- For client certs – well that’s a bit more involved, but it’s just web.config changes – hit a good book on WCF or hire me for a billion trillion $. But fair warning, I might be too busy to help immediately. If you’re running into a different problem, please leave a comment below, but the code is pretty rock solid, so .. hmm .. check what you’re doing! BTW, I don’t make any guarantee/warranty on this – if this code makes you sterile, unpopular, bad hairstyle, anything else, that is your problem!
But, there are some known issues -
- I wrote this as a concept – you can easily extend it to be more flexible. Example, hierarchical nav, or, horizontal nav, jazzy effects with jquery or silverlight– all those are possible very very easily.
- This webpart is not smart enough to co-exist with another instance of itself on the same page. I can easily extend it to do so, which I will do in my spare(!?) time!
Okay good! But that’s not all! As you can see, just dropping the WebPart may show you many extraneous site collections, or maybe you want to restrict which site collections are shown, or exclude a certain site collection to be shown from the navigation. To support that, I created a property on the WebPart called “UrlMatchPattern”, which is a regex expression you specify to trim the results :). So, just edit the WebPart, and specify a string property of “http://sp2010/sites/” as shown below. Note that you can put in whatever regex expression you want! So go crazy, I don’t care! And this gives you a cleaner look.