Category Archives: Uncategorized

A new Sitecore version has shipped, save your ass(emblies)

With the release of Sitecore 9.0 at the Sitecore Symposium, a lot has changed. We saw very interesting improvements on Marketing automation, new products like xConnect and Cortex and the new installation framework. With the new release, new assemblies and versions will be shipped, while others are removed. It’s important to update your references to these new versions in your projects, so you won’t overwite the shipped assemblies with other versions. I made a quick overview on what has changed:

  • Which assemblies have been removed?
  • Which assemblies have been added?
  • Which assemblies had a version change?
  • What are the most important observations?

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Sitecore Profiling and tracing without an administrator or developer role

When working on Sitecore projects, there will popup some situations where you want to indicate performance issues. The out of the box capabilities are great, but the require a development role or and administrator account. While this might work in a lot of situations, there are situations where this just isn’t possible. For example, when having one ore more (virtual) extranet users which don’t have the Sitecore developer role and whose identities are needed to make backend calls. Performance issues might appear in those backend calls, but it may be hard to indicate where those performance sinks are located. That’s why I created a solution where the out of the box profiling and tracing options can be used, for any user.

The solution is available on github

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Revealing Robbie at the Sitecore SUGCON 2017 – Windows IoT, Raspberry PI, Cognitive Services

Today, Rob Habraken, andI have launched our newly and secretly built project at SUGCON Europ 2017. Something that never has been done before: a real robot that moves, interacts, communicates and executes tasks, fully driven by Sitecore XP, using additional techniques like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Face Recognition and Emotion Detection.

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Use the Sitecore Azure toolkit to deploy your on premises environment

Let’s face it: a lot of customers won’t deploy to Azure immediately, but will have a migration to Azure on their roadmap for the next year. It’s wise prepare as much as possible to make the transition smooth. This blogpost shows off how what the differences between the current Azure and classic on-premises are and how to create custom web deploy packages for your on premise environments, to be in line with a possible future upgrade to Azure. It will make your local deployments repeatable while making use of Microsoft standards. Additional advantage: Your (initial) deployments may happen faster!

See the video below where I explained what I did

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Sitecore Security #1: How to replace the password hashing algorithm

Let’s face it: It’s a business nowadays to hack sites, retrieve personal information and sell them on the black markets, think of usernames, passwords, credit card details and-so-on. Often, this data is stolen using SQL injection attacks, which may be possible to your Sitecore site as well, thus, it’s better to be safe than sorry. As Sitecore ships with an old hashing algorithm to handle Sitecore users login, it’s time to replace the hashing algorithm as well. When having a fresh installation, this isn’t much of an issue, but for existing installations, you will face the challenge on upgrading your existing users, because the password hashing algorithm will be changed. This blogpost will show how to upgrade the hashing algorithm, describe those challenges, and tell you how to increase your Sitecore security.

Find the sources on for use on your own Sitecore environment!

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Third party libraries used by Sitecore

At Achmea, we made the strategic decision to use Sitecore as platform for all of our websites, we’ve got hundreds of them. To do this at enterprise level, on such a scale, it’s important that we have guidance on infrastructure, development, deployment, security, content, DMS, just to be sure that the stable environment that we deliver, will stay stable. We all know that it’s important to work with the right Sitecore assemblies (correct version) and not to overwrite them. But Sitecore doesn’t only deliver Sitecore assemblies, but 3rd party assemblies as well, for example: Microsoft assemblies, TweetSharp, Facebook API, Google API’s, et cetera. This blogpost tells us what 3rd party components Sitecore ships with, what license is tied to it and what version is delivered. It currently only includes Sitecore 8.0 update 5 and Sitecore 8.1 update 1.

And please try to guess the answer to now: “What is the year of the eldest component that ships with Sitecore?”. You will be surprised 😉

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Setup your development environment for High trust Saml Claims based SharePoint provider hosted applications using OWIN and an easy to use STS – part 3

Since SharePoint 2013, web applications are created with claims based authentication by default. This works with together with High trust provider hosted apps, based on windows authentication as well. Whenever ADFS with its SAML claims pops in, it gets complicated: SharePoint needs to be configured, High trust provider apps need to configured and the app needs to communicate with SharePoint – using saml claims. Mix in a development environment, where, very likely, no ADFS is available and it gets complicated. Until now ;).

This blogpost describes how to setup an identity provider STS for development environments, how to configure SharePoint to use this STS and how to develop a web application that uses SAML claims and can communicate with SharePoint. All using OWIN, as it easens up development. More information on the STS and the OWIN configuration can be found in my previous blogpost in this series:

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Configure claims based web applications using OWIN WsFederation middleware

In my previous blogpost about setting up a simple STS for web application development I wrote on how to setup this web application using the classic web.config modifications. But this can be a lot easier, by using the OWIN middleware WsFederation module. This blogpost describes how to setup a secured web application using the OWIN WsFederation modules; This is the second blogpost in a blogpost series of three, where we work towards a simple (local development) solution to build High trust claims based SharePoint provider hosted apps .

  1. How to setup a simple STS for web application development
  2. How to configure WsFederation for webapplications using OWIN (this blogpost)
  3. How to mix in SharePoint 2013 and hight trust claims based provider hosted apps using OWIN and the thinktecture Embedded STS

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How to setup a simple STS for web application development – Part 1 of 3

When developing claims based web applications which need to connect to ADFS, Azure or any other STS, it’s not always possible to connect to an existing environment, for example, due to security, the absence of a test environment or an unwilling admin ;). To solve this, a lot of people try to setup a local AD, ADFS, which can cause a lot of trouble, especially in an Enterprise environment. This setup is not very convenient, especially when you just want to create a claims based application. Whenever SharePoint and Claims based hight trust provider hosted apps are thrown into the game, the inconvenient setup turns into a very complex situation.

Luckily, there is a very easy solution for this! In the next two blogposts I will show to solve this:

  1. How to setup a simple STS for web application development (this blogpost) – how to create a simple STS using Thinktecture embedded STS and configure the web application using the classic web.config
  2. How to setup claims based authentication via OWIN
  3. How to mix in SharePoint 2013 and hight trust claims based provider hosted apps using OWIN and the thinktecture Embedded STS

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Claims based authentication – The signature verification failed

I was working on a small addition to the Thinktecture EmbeddedSTS, to ease up local development for our development teams, who are building a lot of MVC applications and SharePoint provider hosted apps. We don’t want to bother them with setting up a separate AD and ADFS, so we decided to use a simple, small STS: the Thinktecture Embedded STS. One of the actions was to add a FederationMetdata endpoint. This is a small improvement, as it’s now possible to setup claims based identities via OWIN, which is way easier to setup than via the typical web.config configuration. But there was one nifty error that was, in my case, very hard to find, but easy to fix. It turned out that the signature node may not contain any formatting, this means that spaces, line feeds and carriage returns should not be included in this Federationmetadata file

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