Second Life of a Hungarian SharePoint Geek

October 19, 2015

Displaying Notifications and Status Messages from a SharePoint-based AngularJS Application Including a FormController

Assume the following requirements: We should create a Single Page Application (SPA) (no SharePoint App!) that reads data from SharePoint using the JavaScript client object model, allows the user to edit the values, displays if a field value was changed (if it is “dirty” vs. “pristine”), performs data validations (if it is “valid” vs. “invalid”) and lets the user to save the changes. AngularJS was selected as the presentation framework for the SPA. On data save, we should give the users feedback on the progress (like “Saving changes…”, “Save completed” or “Error during the save operation”) via standard SharePoint notifications and status messages.

Challenge 1:  The FormController of the AngularJS framework is based on the form HTML element. That means, if we would like to use the features of the FormController, like dirty / pristine, validation, etc., we should include a form element in our HTML application. However, our SharePoint page is an ASP.NET page, that already contains a form element, and it does not like to include multiple ones.

Solution 1: Although there are tricks to bypass this limitation (like this or this one), I chose another way to go. I’ve included a Page Viewer Web Part that displays a “pure” HTML page that is stored in a document library in SharePoint, as well as any other non-standard artifacts of the application (.js and .css files, etc.). This HTML page – displayed in an IFRAME by the Page Viewer Web Part – contains the form element, that does not interfere with the form element on the ASP.NET page.

You can display a notification by calling the SP.UI.Notify.addNotification method, similarly a status message is displayed via the SP.UI.Status.addStatus method. Both of these Notify and Status classes are defined in the SP.UI namespace in the sp.js (and its debug version in sp.debug.js). This JavaScript file is typically referenced in the standard SharePoint pages, however you should add a reference to it in your custom pages, like in the case of our HTML page. If you forget to add the reference, you will get an error like this one:

TypeError: Unable to get property ‘addNotification’ of undefined or null reference

Challenge 2:  There is no notification / status message displayed, even if you add the reference to the sp.js. The reason of the problem is, that the HTML elements required by these methods are defined in the master page of the standard SharePoint sites. Obviously, these elements are not found in our custom page in the IFRAME, so the messages are not displayed.

Solution 2: I’ve found two similar blog posts (this one and this one) describing a similar issue with IFRAME and notification messages in the case of Client App Parts. The first of this two posts states that the problem is the IFRAME itself, that prohibits the communication between the parent page and the IFRAME. Of course, that is wrong. The real reason is the different domain names in the URL of the app part (IFRAME) and the host page, as correctly stated in the second post. If we have the same domain name (and we do have in this case), we do not need the rather complex approach described by the posts(that is still valid for the Client App Parts).  Displaying a notification / status message from the script included in the HTML page in the IFRAME in our case is so simple as to prepend the text ‘parent.’ before the method invocation, for example:

var notifyId = parent.SP.UI.Notify.addNotification("Saving…", true);

Of course, in this case you are using the JavaScript and HTML objects on the parent page, so you don’t need to reference the sp.js in your HTML page.

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