tyler butler

Corrections on Nav Samples in my ECM Blog Posts

Way back when I wrote part 1 of my series on building tylerbutler.com, I mentioned that I was using a custom sitemap provider to drive my “recent pages” section on my site. I was doing this with navigation because navigation controls inherently know where they are in a site’s structure, which meant I only needed one control in my master page to drive the links in the right hand section. I was using the DynamicChildLimit property to make sure I only got 15 links to show up in that section.

Unfortunately, I started having problems with the ordering of the links that were showing up, so I started talking with Chris Richard, the nav maestro. It turns out that the DynamicChildLimit isn’t meant to be used for that purpose. When you sort navigation, the sorting happens after the nodes are returned from the nav store. This means that if you have 50 navigation items sorted by last modified time, and you set a DynamicChildLimit="15", for example, you’ll get back 15 pseudo-random items, then those resulting 15 items will be sorted by last modified time. I say a pseudo-random set of items is returned because even though items returned aren’t really random – there is a deterministic way nodes get returned from the nav store – it’s complicated enough that you won’t be able to tell what 15 items will be returned at any given time.

Anyway, this means that DynamicChildLimit doesn’t really work the way I thought and it makes navigation unusable for my needs in this instance. However, a helpful guy named Bram Kleverlaan left a comment on my Part 6 post that he was able to use a SharePoint expression to make Content Query Web Parts know where they are in the site hierarchy. The trick is to set WebUrl="<% $SPUrl:~Site/ %>" in the web part’s properties. This expression will get expanded by SharePoint at runtime, and your CQWP will suddenly change based on the location of the page that’s loading it. I definitely had a “Why didn’t I think of that?” moment when I read Bram’s comment.

Anyway, I am using this now on my site, and I can verify that it works for web parts that live outside of web part zones. I have not yet tried it on a web part inside a zone, but I’ve heard reports that the property gets reset every time you change properties on the web part in the browser, which you can’t do for parts that live outside zones.

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