Shivering on the 49th Parallel
Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Today’s and yesterdays, that should be.

One of our in-house techies writes a monthly newsletter to all the in-house users of a particular software package with tips and tricks. Once he discovered SharePoint, he wanted to contribute to the SharePoint Sprawl (I should TM that phrase…) by converting his newsletter over to a blog. Makes sense, that’s a perfect example of workspace collaboration.

Setting up the blog was easy, and soon enough we had the Tech Tips blog up and running. I even showed him how to connect to it with Windows Live Writer so he could cut and paste his old newsletters into the blog and give them realistic dates so they were in proper chronological order.

The next request came to have the most recent post (headline) or three displayed on the front page of the Intranet, which is everyone’s IE home page within the company. seeing it there, and with the little green “New!” graphic on it might make people more inclined to click and read it rather than have it buried in a separate sub-site that they might forget about.

So began the first headache, and yesterday’s post: There is no RSS Viewer web part in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0. It’s in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and the other “big brother” applications, but not the free one. Seems pretty stupid, considering every library, list and blog within the SharePoint site has it’s own RSS feed.

Searching around the net, I found out that the XML Web Part is practically the same thing. After all, what’s an RSS feed other than an XML file? I added an XML web part, copied and pasted the RSS link from the blog, and then added in this XSL that I copied and pasted from Gunnar Peipman’s ASP.NET Blog post on the subject. I clicked OK and when the page rendered, it came up with “Cannot retrieve the URL specified in the XML Link property. For more assistance, contact your site administrator.” NOTHING pisses me off more than an obscure error message asking me to contact my Administrator. I AM THE BLASTED ADMINISTRATOR! TELL ME WHAT THE FUCKING ERROR IS!!!

So began the (today’s) descent into SharePoint Madness. The first page I came to from The Goog and read was Eric Kraus' SharePoint Blog where he talked about something similar, Using the XML Web Part in place of the Content Query Web Part. In the comments, people were having the same error as I was getting with the RSS feed. About halfway down the page, Eric responded to the comments with “This is a security issue” Aha! he went on to talk about Anonymous Access not being enabled, and showed how turning it off produced the error and turning it back on made the XML web part work again. Another commenter chimed in that the XML web part made an anonymous request and that’s just how it is. Sweet, now all I have to do is turn on anonymous access… now how do I do that…

Back to The Goog. I turned up a how-to on Microsoft’s own site (bow down before the mothership) entitled Enable Anonymous Access applies to Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Windows SharePoint Services 3.0. Perfect. Reading, reading, reading… Go to Site Settings, then Advanced Permissions, then click Settings and from the list select “Anonymous Access”. Except it wasn’t there. No mention of it not being there in the article, so back to The Goog again. This led me to Michael Van Cleave and his post Site Level Anonymous Access  w/MOSS 2007 and a little more info on what’s going on here. Ultimately it wasn’t what I was looking for, but he linked in the first paragraph to another blog run by Bill Simser. His post was also similarly titled Enabling anonymous access in SharePoint 2007 and he finally was the one who hit the nail right on the head. The key to his post was in the notes section at the bottom:

If you don’t see the “Anonymous Access” menu option in the “Settings” menu, it might not be turned on in Central Admin/IIS

I followed the steps outlined on his site (and he showed the different names that they have in MOSS2007 and WSS3.0, bless!) and sure enough, when I went back to the Settings menu there was “Anonymous Access” where there was none before!

I left the parent site’s anonymous access as NOTHING, and then on the subsite for the blog, I enabled anonymous access to “lists and libraries only” saved the changes and went back to the “Home” link.

The error message was gone!

Unfortunately, there was no data, but at least the error was gone. I went back to the anonymous settings and changed it to “entire site” and went back and with the sound of trumpets blaring in the background, there was the RSS feed displayed on in the XML web part on the front page!

After a day and a half of trying to figure out why it wasn’t working, I then turned my sights to our production intranet server. I pulled up SharePoint Central Admin and went through the Authentication Providers and sure enough, Enable Anonymous Access was not checked. I spoke to my co-worker who’s more of a programmer and helped set the site up before I got here. I asked him if there would be security issues (duh of course there are, but MANAGEABLE ones) to the site by turning it on. Because we have an older SharePoint site with lots of apps developed on it, he hesitated on saying “OK, do it” which to me was a no. There’s a reason we have anonymous access turned off.

In the end, I emailed the newsletter writer/blogger back and told him that while I did figure out how to make it work, we would not be making the changes to the security model of our production intranet web server at this time. We entered a “test against” task on the to-do list and maybe one day if we get time (ha ha ha ha, ok stop laughing now) we’ll try it out and see what, if anything, breaks. At that point we’ll be in a position to say “OK we’ll enable it now” or “No, absolutely not” but in the meantime, we won’t be having the RSS viewer web part on the main page of the Intranet.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008 4:01:04 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [1] | Links | Microsoft | SharePoint#
Wednesday, March 31, 2010 4:32:31 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
There's more to this than anonymous access. I've got anonymous access set up on a site, and I've run fiddler ( When I open the page with the web part, fiddler doesn't show an attempt to get to the news feed. I've got anonymous set at root, and at the site level. RSS Feeds are enabled in the administration, but still it's not even looking for the news.
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