Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Set Sharepoint meta-data from VBA using updatelist web service

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I've been working on a problem trying to integrate a legacy Microsoft Office 2003 VBA application with Sharepoint 2007. In theory, I should be able to use the SOAP toolkit provided my Microsoft to talk to the Sharepoint (WSS) web services, but in practice there was very little documentation of how to do this, and I could find no resources on the internet aside from the MSDN definitions of the web services, and only a little attached to the SOAP toolkit (available here: Microsoft Office 2003 Web Services Toolkit ).

The basic problem I was trying to solve was: how do I set meta-data held on a document in Sharepoint from Office 2003 using VBA?

After much head scratching I finally solved this by making some assumptions based on the MSDN reference documentation, then using the Fiddler tool until I had worked out what I was doing wrong.  Fiddler allows you to inspect the HTTP calls and responses that you are issuing/receiving.  This is very helpful when debugging web services, and well worth looking into if you are doing anything in this area.

Anyway, through Fiddler I could see the response from the web service, including the error message.  This meant that my initial best guess on how to structure the XML was at least nearly correct, because the web service was giving me a proper error message.  Eventually I had a properly structured call and everything worked!

Remember to install the SOAP toolkit before you try this.  You will then be able to add this to your VBA project and add a web reference to your project to the WSS Lists.asmx service as you would if your using .Net.  This is all explained in the MSDN link above but drop a comment if you would like me to go into more detail.

The actual VBA code used structure the call to the web service looks like this:

'Define a new list service web service class
Dim listws As New clsws_Lists

' Set up the batch command used to set the meta data. 
' Note that FileRef is set to URL of the file you want to change
'ListVersion is from my test site, you may not need that
' First set up DOM document containing fields
Dim xmlDoc As New MSXML2.DOMDocument30
xmlDoc.async = False
Dim xmlText As String
xmlText = "<root>" + _
  "<Batch OnError='Continue' ListVersion='59' PreCalc='TRUE' xmlns=''>" + _
      "<Method ID='1' Cmd='Update'>" + _
        "<Field Name='ID' />" + _
        "<Field Name='FileRef'>http://myservername:1080/sites/mysite/shared documents/TestWebService.doc</Field>" + _
        "<Field Name='Title'>Uploaded from VBA</Field>" + _
        "<Field Name='Surname'>" + sLastName + "</Field>" + _
        "<Field Name='Forename'>" + sFirstName + "</Field>" + _
        "<Field Name='Date_x0020_of_x0020_Birth'>" + sDOB + "</Field>" + _
      "</Method>" + _
    "</Batch>" + _
xmlDoc.LoadXml (xmlText)

' This is a bit of debug that checks the XML is well formed and show you it if it is. 
If xmlDoc.parseError.ErrorCode <> 0 Then
    Dim myErr
    Set myErr = xmlDoc.parseError
    MsgBox (myErr.reason)
    MsgBox xmlDoc.XML
End If

' Set up IXMLDOMNodeList object
Dim myXMLNodeList As MSXML2.IXMLDOMNodeList
Dim root As MSXML2.IXMLDOMElement
' Now the the XML node list to the batch command we have just constructed above
Set root = xmlDoc.documentElement
Set myXMLNodeList = root.ChildNodes

' Now run the web service to update the meta-data.
' Note that the first parameter is the GUID of the list that holds the data you want to change.  I can't get this to take a list name - it only seems to wrok with a GUID.
Dim updateReturn As IXMLDOMNodeList
Set updateReturn = listws.wsm_UpdateListItems("{B768B024-8B98-4918-990A-ECE34691DBBC}", myXMLNodeList)

If you need to find out the GUID or ListVersion values for your list, use the "GetListCollection" web service and iterate through the XML it returns:

Dim listCollection As IXMLDOMNode
Set listCollection = listws.wsm_GetListCollection
' You can iterate this to find the GUID of our list
I can post further examples if anybody wants any.

*Edit* - I have written another blog post on how to find the GUID of lists in VBA here:
This simple function will return the version number and the GUID of the Sharepoint list from its name.  

You may also be interested in teh following post: :  VBA code to check in a document to Sharepoint and set meta data.