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Docs / Tutorials / How to create a custom SnAdmin step

How to create a custom SnAdmin step

sensenet has a powerful package installer infrastructure that can be used by portal builders, developers and operators to patch and upgrade the core product or custom solution installations. In this article developers can learn how to create custom install steps for the packaging infrastructure, if none of the built-in steps are sufficient for a particular goal.

The packaging infrastructure in sensenet allows developers to customize the package behavior by writing a custom Step class, built on the packaging API.

When you want to use a custom step class in a package, you need to provide the codebehind for the SnAdmin tool. You can do that by placing your custom library in one of the following places:

Custom step

We will create a custom step to execute a content query for discovering the count of a content set and terminate package execution or write to the log if it is out of a specified range.

Create a step class

Optional: override the ElementName property if the class name is not appropriate. You will need to provide this name in the package manifest XML when using your custom step.

public override string ElementName { get { return "ContentCountCondition"; } }

Implement the properties that you want to expose to the package builder.

public string Query { get; set; }
public int CountMin { get; set; }
public int CountMax { get; set; }
public bool Terminate { get; set; }

We would like to provide the content query as an XML element text in the manifest so mark the Query property with the DefaultPropertyattribute:

public string Query { get; set; }

Implement the operation

public override void Execute(ExecutionContext context)
    // Execute the provided query and get the count.
    var count = ContentQuery.Query(this.Query).Count;
    // Echo the query.
    Logger.LogMessage("Query: " + Query);
    // Terminate if the step specifies and the count is out of the expected range
    if (Terminate && (count < CountMin || count > CountMax))
        throw new PackagePreconditionException(String.Format("Count is {0} but the expected range: {1} - {2}", count, CountMin, CountMax));
    // Log the count and expectations.
    Logger.LogMessage(String.Format("Count is {0}, expected range: {1} - {2}.", count, CountMin, CountMax));

Terminate package execution

Take a look at the package termination: if you throw a common exception in a custom step, the package will be terminated and the full exception (inner exceptions and stack trace) will be written to the console and to the log. But if the exception is PackagePreconditionException, only the message will be printed. For example:

================================================== #2/2 ContentCountCondition
Query: TypeIs:ContentType
Count is 0 but the expected range: 100 - 200
SnAdmin stopped with error.

Start the Content Repository

Executing a content query needs a running repository, so you need to make sure that you place a StartRepository step before your custom step into the manifest.

It is possible to check if the repository is running: the AssertRepositoryStarted method of the execution context (see below) checks if the StartRepository step has already been executed. The current execution context is passed to every step so insert this at the start of the Execute method:

// Check the running state of the repository.

Check sensenet version

It is possible to check for the current version of any of the installed components (including the core Services layer, which is a component itself). Here is an example for that:

var version = RepositoryVersionInfo.Instance.Version;

You can use the values above (or a few other helper properties on the objects above) to determine if your custom step is able to execute in a certain environment.

Create and execute the package

Create a TestPackage1 directory under your web\Admin directory. Create the PackageCustomization directory under TestPackage1 and copy your assembly there. Create a text file under TestPackage1 with the name manifest.xml and the following content:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<Package type="Tool">
    <StartRepository />  
    <ContentCountCondition CountMin="100" CountMax="200" terminate="true">Type:ContentType .AUTOFILTERS:OFF .COUNTONLY</ContentCountCondition>

Start SnAdmin with this command from the web\Admin\bin folder:

SnAdmin TestPackage1

After a few seconds you will see the results:

                              SnAdmin v1.0
Start at 2014-04-29 08:21:58
Target:  C:\Dev10\SenseNet\Development\Budapest\Source\SenseNet\WebSite
Package: C:\Dev10\SenseNet\Development\Budapest\Source\SenseNet\WebSite\Admin\TestPackage1
Loading package customizations:
Name:    TestTool
Type:    Tool
Current version: 6.3.1
                              Executing phase 1/1
Executing steps
================================================== #1/2 StartRepository
Starting ... Ok.
  References: 29.
  Loaded before start: 54.
  Plugins: 0.
Index: C:\Dev10\SenseNet\Development\Budapest\Source\SenseNet\WebSite\App_Data\LuceneIndex\20140428102242.
Index was read only: false
Time: 00:00:05.3780843
================================================== #2/2 ContentCountCondition
Count is 157, expected range: 100 - 200.
Time: 00:00:00.0532635
All steps are executed.
Aggregated time: 00:00:05.4361648
Errors: 0
Stopping repository ... Ok.
SnAdmin has been successfully finished.
See log file: C:\Dev10\SenseNet\Development\Budapest\Source\SenseNet\WebSite\Admin\log\TestPackage1_20140429-082158.log

Packaging API

There are two elements to aid you when writing custom steps:

Step base

/// <summary>Represents one activity in the package execution sequence</summary>
public abstract class Step
    /*=========================================================== Instance part ===========================================================*/
    /// <summary>Returns the XML name of the step element in the manifest. Default: simple or fully qualified name of the class.</summary>
    public virtual string ElementName { get { return this.GetType().Name; } }
    /// <summary>Order number in the phase.</summary>
    public int StepId { get; private set; }
    /// <summary>The method that executes the activity. Called by packaging framework.</summary>
    public abstract void Execute(ExecutionContext context);
    /*=========================================================== Common tools ===========================================================*/
    /// <summary>Returns with a full path under the package if the path is relative.</summary>
    protected static string ResolvePackagePath(string path, ExecutionContext context);
    /// <summary>Returns with a full path under the target directory on the local server if the path is relative.</summary>
    protected static string ResolveTargetPath(string path, ExecutionContext context);
    /// <summary>Returns with a full paths under the target directories on the network servers if the path is relative.</summary>
    protected static string[] ResolveNetworkTargets(string path, ExecutionContext context);
    /// <summary>Returns with a full paths under the target directories on all servers if the path is relative.</summary>
    protected static string[] ResolveAllTargets(string path, ExecutionContext context);

Execution context

Every step runs in an execution context. It is an object that is passed to every step’s Execute method. This object contains all information of the manifest and the current executing phase.

/// <summary>Contains package information for executing a step.</summary>
public class ExecutionContext
    /// <summary>Returns a named value that was memorized in the current phase.</summary>
    public object GetVariable(string name);
    /// <summary>Memorize a named value at the end of the current phase.</summary>
    public void SetVariable(string name, object value);
    /// <summary>Resolves a variable name (e.g. @path) to its actual value stored in the context.</summary>
    public object ResolveVariable(string text);
    /// <summary>Fully qualified path of the executing extracted package.</summary>
    public string PackagePath { get; }
    /// <summary>Fully qualified path of the executing extracted package.</summary>
    public string TargetPath { get; }
    /// <summary>UNC paths of the related network server web directories.</summary>
    public string[] NetworkTargets { get;}
    /// <summary>Parsed manifest.</summary>
    public Manifest Manifest { get; 
    /// <summary>Zero based index of the executing phase.</summary>
    public int CurrentPhase { get; }
    /// <summary>Phase count of the currently executed package.</summary>
    public int CountOfPhases { get; }
    /// <summary>Console out of the executing SnAdmin. Write here any information that you do not want to log.</summary>
    public TextWriter Console { get; }
    /// <summary>True if the StartRepository step has already executed.</summary>
    public bool RepositoryStarted { get; }

Variable support

It is possible to use variables to pass information from one step to another. In the Execute method you can store and recall any object associated with a name:

// setting
context.SetVariable("MeaningOfLife", 42);
// getting (in another step)
var ml = (int)context.GetVariable("MeaningOfLife");

The execution context stores these variables for the lifetime of the whole phase so these are available in all steps after the one you set them in. Starting a new phase resets variables.

Is something missing? See something that needs fixing? Propose a change here.