Go and Sitecore, Part 1

I've integrated Go heavily into tools to make development of Sitecore much more easier. Replacing Team Development for Sitecore has been hugely beneficial. This is part 1 of that thought process.

I will use this post to sell you on the merits of Go, since I am in love with it. :)  In our dev shop, a C# MVC.NET etc shop, we've been using Hedgehog's Team Development for Sitecore. While this product does what it says it does, it's a few things. Slow, expensive, difficult to learn, does way too much, requires a website to be running, "clunky" (official term), and a few other things that make it undesirable. Fidgetty, if that's a word. Sometimes unreliable. My boss has decided to try to head away from that direction and that product.

However. There are a few good things that it does provide. They are useful if the rest of the product has its flaws. (Of course there are other products out there as well, like Unicorn). Those features that I find most useful as a developer, and a developer on a team (hence the T in TDS), are

  1. Code generation from templates
  2. Serializing Sitecore content (templates, layouts, and other items) and committing those to git.
  3. Deserializing Sitecore content which others have committed to git  (or which you've serialized earlier and messed up)

Those features, if they could be separated out, are desirable to keep around.

Over the past month or two, I've had to do a lot of work dealing directly with the sitecore database. You have Items, VersionedFields, UnversionedFields, and SharedFields. That's your data. Unless you are worried about the Media Library, then you might need to deal with the Blobs table. I haven't researched that fully, so I'm not sure of which tables are required for media. So I felt comfortable getting in there and giving code generation a shot with my new-found knowledge of the Sitecore table. Now I know them even more intimately.

Go and Sitecore

Go and Sitecore are a natural fit. First thing you need is the sql server library from "github.com/denisenkom/go-mssqldb". That thing works great. You just have to change your "data source" parameter to "server" in your connection string. Very mild annoyance :) In building this thing, it's probably best to just select all items. Items table is a small set of data. The database I'm working on is 12,000+ items, which are all returned in milliseconds.

Select * from Items. In this case, though, I did a left joint to the SharedFields table two times, one to get the base templates (__Base templates) and one to get the field type (Type). If they are a Template, they'll have base templates sometimes, if they are a field, they'll have a field type. I just hard coded those field ids in there for now.

            cast(Items.ID as varchar(100)) ID, Name, replace(replace(Name, ' ', ''), '-', '') as NameNoSpaces, cast(TemplateID as varchar(100)) TemplateID, cast(ParentID as varchar(100)) ParentID, cast(MasterID as varchar(100)) as MasterID, Items.Created, Items.Updated, isnull(sf.Value, '') as Type, isnull(Replace(Replace(b.Value, '}',''), '{', ''), '') as BaseTemplates
                left join SharedFields sf
                    on Items.ID = sf.ItemId
                        and sf.FieldId = 'AB162CC0-DC80-4ABF-8871-998EE5D7BA32'
                left join SharedFields b
                    on Items.ID = b.ItemID
                        and b.FieldId = '12C33F3F-86C5-43A5-AEB4-5598CEC45116'

The next part is to use that item data to rebuild the sitecore tree in memory.

func buildTree(items []*data.Item) (root *data.Item, itemMap map[string]*data.Item, err error) {
	itemMap = make(map[string]*data.Item)
	for _, item := range items {
		itemMap[item.ID] = item

	root = nil
	for _, item := range itemMap {
		if p, ok := itemMap[item.ParentID]; ok {
			p.Children = append(p.Children, item)
			item.Parent = p
		} else if item.ParentID == "00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000" {
			root = item

	if root != nil {
		root.Path = "/" + root.Name
	return root, itemMap, nil

Since I select all Items, I know the "sitecore" item will be in there, with ParentID equal to all 0s. This is the root. After the tree is built, I assign paths based on the tree. And then assign all of the base templates. Base templates are of course crucial if you're generating code. You will want to provide implemented interfaces to each interface when you generate Glass Mapper interfaces, for instance.

assignPaths of course couldn't be any easier. For each item in the children, set the path equal to the root path + / + the item name. Then recursively set it for all of that item's children. That process takes no time in Go, even across 12000 items. Now your tree is built.

The path is important for determining a namespace for your interfaces. If your path is at /sitecore/templates/User Defined/MySite and there's a template under MySite with the relative path of "Components/CalendarData", you'd want the namespace to be some configured base namespace  (Site.Data) plus the relative path to that template, to get something like Site.Data.Components   and then your class or interface would be e.g. ICalendarData.

So after you determine all of that for every item, you just have to filter the itemMap by templates and their children (template section, template field), create a list of templates  ( Template struct is another type in my Go code, to better map templates, namespaces, fields, field types, etc), and run that list of templates against a "text/template" Template in Go. It's only a list of templates at this time, vs keeping the hierarchy, because you don't need hierarchy once you've determined the path. And Templates just have fields, once you break it down. They aren't template sections and then fields. They are just Template, Field, and Base Templates.

My text template is this:

{{ range $index, $template := .Templates }}
namespace {{ .Namespace }} {
    public class {{ $template.Item.CleanName }}Constants {
        public const string TemplateIdString = "{{ $template.Item.ID }}";
        public static readonly ID TemplateId = new ID(TemplateIdString);

    [SitecoreType(TemplateId={{ $template.Item.CleanName }}Constants.TemplateIdString)]
    public partial interface I{{ $template.Item.CleanName }} : ISitecoreItem{{ if (len $template.BaseTemplates) gt 0 }}{{ range $bindex, $baseTemplate := $template.BaseTemplates }}, global::{{ $baseTemplate.Namespace}}.I{{ $baseTemplate.Item.CleanName}}{{end}}{{end}} {
        {{ if (len $template.Fields) gt 0 }}
        {{ range $findex, $field := $template.Fields }}
            {{ $field.CodeType}} {{ $field.CleanName }}{{ $field.Suffix }} { get; set; }{{end}}{{end}}

A few other notes. In configuration, I provide a CodeType mapping. For each field type, you can specify what the type of that property should be. This is of course useful if you have a custom type for "Treelist" that you want to use, and also if you're generating code that's not in C#. I didn't want to hard code those values. Also useful if you provide custom field types in Sitecore.

Field suffix is for something like, if you have a Droptree, you can select one item, and that value would be a uniqueidentifier in the database. This is represented in C# as a "Guid" type. For these fields, I like to add an "ID" to the end of the property name to signify this. Then in the accompanying partial class that isn't overwritten every time you generate, provide a field for the actual item that it would reference, like  IReferencedItem ReferencedItem {get;set;}  where the generated code would yield a Guid ReferencedItemID {get;set;}  You get the picture ;)

For each field, template, and base template, you have a pointer to the Item from which it was created, so you have access to all of the item data. Like CleanName, ID, Created and Update times if you need them for some reason. The path. Everything.

The best part of this tool is that it does all of those things that I require. Code generation, serialization, and deserialization. And it does it in a neat way. Currently I'm not doing any concurrency so it might take 20 seconds to do all of it, but that's still way faster than TDS!

This is Part 1 of this small series. In the future I'll go over how I did, and improved, item serialization and deserialization, as well as some neat things I did to accomplish not running all of those processes each time you run the tool. So you can run it to just generate, or just deserialize, or generate and serialize. Not many permutations on that, but the important thing is you don't have to wait 8 seconds for it to also serialize if all you want to do is generate, which takes less than a second. 800 ms to be exact.

800 ms!!

Tune in for Part 2 soon! Serialization.


Part 1 - Generation
Part 2 - Serialization
Part 3 - Deserialization

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