Sitecore Module: Profile Key Scaffolder

In the Sitecore Sunday Pt2: Programmatic Profile Association post I talked about Sitecore profiles that map 1 to 1 with existing site taxonomies and how to associate these profiles to your site visitors without having to re-tag all of your content.

As part of this process setting up profile, profile key, profile card and pattern card items is still required and this can be quite a time consuming task because for each profile key you have to:

  1. Create the profile key item
  2. Set its max value to 10 (or a scale of your choosing)
  3. Create a profile card item with the same name
  4. Set its radar graph to the maximum value for the profile key
  5. Repeat steps 3 & 4 for the pattern card

You can see with a lot of profile keys how this could become tedious.

Profile scaffolding to the rescue!

Download the Profile Scaffolder, which is a small and unobtrusive module (Helix stylee) that reduces the task outlined above to a single step:

  1. Create a profile key and give it a name. Done.

Happy profiling!

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Sitecore Heartbeat Page & Web Forms for Marketers on Remote Servers

When you are running Sitecore with multiple load balanced content delivery servers, typically you would use Sitecore’s heartbeat page to monitor the health of each content delivery instance:

http://host/sitecore/service/heartbeat.aspx

This service does more than just return a http 200 status letting you know that the site is running, it also iterates over each connection string defined in ConnectionStrings.config and executes a simple SQL query against sys.tables to check for un-responsive databases.

This is all fine and dandy until you throw Web Forms for Marketers into the mix. On a remote installation of Web Forms for Marketers a connection string is added to ConnectionStrings.config that communicates with a content management instance and looks something like this:

Unfortunately the heart beat page will try to process this connection string but it doesn’t know what to do with it so the page subsequently returns a 500 server error every time.

Fortunately Sitecore provides a way around this. If you look at the standard web.config you will not find a setting called:

Sitecore.Services.Heartbeat.ExcludeConnection

But, the heart beat page is coded to check for it (expecting a pipe separated list) and by default excludes the connection string called “LocalSqlServer”.

As we know the best practice when adding custom settings to a Sitecore solution is to use include files. So, to fix this problem all we need to do is add (or update an existing) include file that contains the following:

<configuration xmlns:patch="http://www.sitecore.net/xmlconfig/">
    <sitecore>
        <settings>
            
            <!-- stops the heartbeat page from returning an error 500 on delivery servers -->
            <setting name="Sitecore.Services.Heartbeat.ExcludeConnection" value="LocalSqlServer|remoteWfmService"/>

        </settings>
    </sitecore>
</configuration>

And that’s it! We have a working heart beat page on a content delivery instance that also has Web Forms for Marketers installed.