Commerce Controller Types in Sitecore Commerce

In this article, we review the Commerce Controller types to identify the purpose behind each controller type and assist with solution design in order to implement Commerce Controllers correctly in your Commerce Engine Plugin projects.

Commerce Controller Types

Entity Controllers

Entity Controllers, e.g. CartsController, implement Get methods and should only retrieve data, returning specific entitieslists of entities, or managed lists of entities. They should not manipulate data in the commerce databases or trigger behaviour within the Commerce Engine.

The following code snippet shows the Get Carts endpoint in the CartsController from the Carts Plugin.

public async Task<IEnumerable<Cart>> Get()
{
	CommerceList<Cart> commerceList = await Command<FindEntitiesInListCommand>()?.Process<Cart>(CurrentContext, CommerceEntity.ListName<Cart>(), 0, int.MaxValue);

	return (commerceList?.Items.ToList()) ?? new List<Cart>();
}

Api and CommerceOps Controllers

Api and CommerceOps Controllers implement methods that return non-OData entities only. The methods/endpoints of these controllers are routed via the '/api' and '/commerceops' URL segments, where the api routing is intended for website consumption while the commerceops routing is intended for DevOps consumption.

The following code snippet shows the GetBulkPrices endpoint in the ApiController from the Catalog plugin.

public async Task<IActionResult> GetBulkPrices([FromBody] ODataActionParameters value)
{
	if (!ModelState.IsValid)
		return new BadRequestObjectResult(ModelState);
	if (!value.ContainsKey("itemIds") || !(value["itemIds"] is JArray))
		return new BadRequestObjectResult(value);

	var jarray = (JArray)value["itemIds"];
	IEnumerable<SellableItemPricing> bulkPrices = await Command<GetBulkPricesCommand>().Process(CurrentContext, jarray?.ToObject<IEnumerable<string>>());

	return new ObjectResult(bulkPrices);
}

Commands Controllers

Commands Controllers implement OData actions for manipulating data through Commands. They should only return Command OData entities, not commerce entities like carts. 

The command object contains information about the execution of the command, i.e. ResponseCodeStatusisCancelledisCompleted, etc.

Some APIs do not wait for the command to complete and will return the command with the Status property as WaitingForActivation. These long running commands can be followed up on using the CheckCommandStatus() API with taskId parameter. See the Check Long Running Command Status API in the Sitecore DevOps postman collection.

The following code snippet shows the AddFederatedPayment endpoint in the CommandsController from the Payments plugin.

public async Task<IActionResult> AddFederatedPayment([FromBody] ODataActionParameters value)
{
	if (!ModelState.IsValid || value == null)
		return new BadRequestObjectResult(ModelState);
	if (!value.ContainsKey("cartId") || (string.IsNullOrEmpty(value["cartId"]?.ToString()) || !value.ContainsKey("payment")) || string.IsNullOrEmpty(value["payment"]?.ToString()))
		return new BadRequestObjectResult(value);
	
	var cartId = value["cartId"].ToString();
	var paymentComponent = JsonConvert.DeserializeObject<FederatedPaymentComponent>(value["payment"].ToString());
	var command = Command<AddPaymentsCommand>();
	
	await command.Process(CurrentContext, cartId, new List<PaymentComponent>() { paymentComponent });
	
	return new ObjectResult(command);
}

FAQ

How do I update an existing controller endpoint from any of the Commerce platform plugins?

The short answer is, you can't modify or unregister a controller endpoint.

Whether you are looking to change the signature, the OData parameters from the request body, or any of the underlying code logic of an existing controller endpoint, you will need to create a new controller endpoint and ensure that you swap out any code that is calling the original endpoint for your custom endpoint.

Why can I call my endpoint via Postman, but it's not available in the Service Proxy?

There are two possible reasons for this.

The first reason may be that the Service Proxy has not been regenerated since implementing the endpoint.

The second possible reason is that the endpoint has not been registered via the ConfigureServiceApiBlock or ConfigureOpsServiceApiBlock, depending on whether the endpoint should be exposed to the api or commerceops segments respectively.

Summary

While there's nothing preventing developers from incorrectly using the Commerce Controllers, these coding standards are effectively the recommended practices that will contribute to the long term maintainability of your Sitecore Commerce solutions.

How to Create a Commerce Engine Plugin – Part 1 – Creating a Dashboard Item in the Business Tools

In this series of articles, we will go through the process of creating a new Sitecore Commerce Engine plugin from scratch that will eventuate into a complete end-to-end solution. We will touch most of the areas of Sitecore Experience Commerce, demonstrating the flexibility and extensibility of the platform. Our plugin will be the Sitecore Commerce Stores Plugin.

Note: This is intended to be a walk-through guide rather than production-ready, deployable code.

Each article in this series will try to isolate implementation aspects to avoid information overload. We will cover:-

Creating a New Dashboard Item in the Business Tools

Creating the Navigation View

The Business Tools navigation is created from navigation blocks registered to the IBizFxNavigationPipeline. The naming convention used for navigation blocks is Get<Concept>NavigationViewBlock.

So first up, we create our GetStoresNavigationViewBlock. The structure of the Run method for these blocks is as follows:-

  1. Ensure mandatory parameters have been provided
  2. Create the navigation entity view to navigate to the concept dashboard
  3. Add the navigation view as a child view of the Business Tools Navigation view
  4. Return the updated Business Tools Navigation view
public override Task<EntityView> Run(EntityView entityView, CommercePipelineExecutionContext context)
{
	// 1. Ensure mandatory parameters have been provided
	Condition.Requires(entityView).IsNotNull($"{Name}: The argument cannot be null.");
	
	// 2. Create the navigation entity view to navigate to the concept dashboard
	var dashboardName = context.GetPolicy<KnownStoresViewsPolicy>().StoresDashboard;
	var storesDashboardView = new EntityView()
	{
		Name = dashboardName,
		ItemId = dashboardName,
		Icon = Views.Constants.Icons.MarketStand,
		DisplayRank = 6
	};

	// 3. Add the navigation view as a child view of the Business Tools Navigation view
	entityView.ChildViews.Add(storesDashboardView);

	// 4. Return the updated Business Tools Navigation view
	return Task.FromResult(entityView);
}

Referencing the code snippet above, the EntityView's Icon property can be set to any of the values for the icon font utilised. See my previous post, EntityView Icons in Sitecore Commerce Business Tools, for reviewing available icons.

The DisplayRank is also a self-explanatory property setting its position amongst the other ChildViews of the Business Tools navigation view.

Next, we register the navigation block in ConfigureSitecore.cs, in the BizFx Navigation Pipeline.

.ConfigurePipeline<IBizFxNavigationPipeline>(pipeline => pipeline
	.Add<Pipelines.Blocks.GetStoresNavigationViewBlock>().After<GetNavigationViewBlock>()
)

Commerce Dashboard

Navigation with Stores

Stores Dashboard

Stores Dashboard

Adding Commerce Terms

Now the Stores navigation item will actually read "StoresDashboard" at this point. We will need to add a commerce term to override the text.

In the Sitecore Content Editor, navigate to /sitecore/Commerce/Commerce Control Panel/Commerce Engine Settings/Commerce Terms/BusinessTools/ViewNames and create a new item StoresDashboard.

Commerce Terms - Stores Dashboard

In order to propagate this new data through to the Business Tools we need to run the Ensure/Sync default content paths request from Postman. This will sync the Sitecore content data into the Commerce Engine's Shared Environments ContentEntities table.

Summary

So we added a new empty dashboard into the Business Tools. There's nothing really to show but an icon and an empty dashboard view. Not to worry. Continue on to Part 2 - Creating EntityViews, Actions, and Entities (coming soon)

Source Code: Sitecore Commerce Stores Plugin release tag for this article

EntityView Icons in Sitecore Commerce Business Tools

There are 1311 icons available in the custom font used by the Business Tools.

Rather than listing out all of the icons here, I have created a simple plugin that creates a new dashboard item per item for reference purposes only.

When you are creating your entity view, you can simply assign the Icon property to any of the icons provided. For example:-

var myEntityView = new EntityView()
{
    Name = "MyEntityView",
    ItemId = "MyEntityView",
    Icon = "antenna",
    DisplayRank = 6
};

Source Code: The Business Tools plugin project repository

Valid Certificate Thumbprint not Matching in Sitecore Experience Commerce 9

The certificate thumbprint is configured in the website's configuration file, located at <Website Root>/App_Config/Y.Commerce.Engine/Sitecore.Commerce.Engine.Connect.config (or in a custom patch file created for your solution) and in the Commerce Engine environments under <Commerce Engine Root>/wwwroot/config.json.

If you have configured a valid thumbprint that contains lowercase letters, for example 2700da6ab17c56a01f6d0762b76b3ca77933a68a, this will trigger the following errors in the Commerce Engine logs.

[20:13:57 ERR] ClientCertificateValidationMiddleware: Certificate with thumbprint 2700DA6AB17C56A01F6D0762B76B3CA77933A68A does not have a matching Thumbprint.
[20:13:57 INF] ClientCertificateValidationMiddleware: Certificate with thumbprint 2700DA6AB17C56A01F6D0762B76B3CA77933A68A is not valid.

This is caused by the logic used to compare the thumbprint values. The thumbprint in the Sitecore configuration file is transformed to uppercase while the thumbprint from the Commerce Engine configuration is not, so when the case-sensitive comparison is performed the result is a mismatch.

As the thumbprint is not case-sensitive, you can safely update the thumbprint values to be uppercase to resolve these errors.

Managing Commerce Configuration to Align with Helix Principles

In this article, we will review a sample configuration of the layers.config file to better manage your solution's configuration files when working with Sitecore Experience Commerce 9 (XC9).

Deprecated Article: See Sitecore: Using a Dedicated Custom Include Folder for Actual Custom Configuration Files for a more streamline approach to this problem.

If you take a look at an XC9 website's /App_Config/Include folder, you would have noticed that there's still some chaos happening with folder and file prefixes of 'Y' and 'Z' to assign priority order to the patch configuration files. On top of this, you may have even previous worked on projects where there have been crazy levels of prefixing 'z', 'zz', 'zzzzz', etc. to folders and files (I know I have seen some crazy levels of this), leading to developers pulling their hair out trying to locate the file's origin. As chaotic as this is, we will look at how we can bring back order for our solution.

Configuring layers.config

Our intention is to ensure that our solution's patch config files are always in a position to override the platform's patch files, while adhering to the Helix layers principle.

With the following approach, the only additional consideration introduced is to review the platform's custom config folders and files during any future upgrades to update the layers.config file to ensure the intended load order remains in tact.

Note: The following way is just one of many that can be implemented to achieve the same outcome. There is no one right way, so if you manage your solution's configuration files differently there is no need to align to this.

  1. Backup the layers.config. Always important when you plan on modifying any files that are not part of your project solution (as infrequent as this should be).
  2. Copy the layers.config file out of the App_Config folder into a core project in the same location. This is because the layers.config file itself cannot be patched and we would want this file version controlled so that the file can be deployed to all environments, and modified (if required) by our colleagues.
  3. The layers.config file is then updated to specify the load order for all current folders. While this step is a bit of a pain, as any omissions will mean that any folder/files unspecified will be applied after the loadOrder , it allows us to ensure that all of our solution configuration files will be applied last, having the highest level of priority.
    <layer name="Custom" includeFolder="/App_Config/Include/">
      <loadOrder>
        <add path="Cognifide.PowerShell.config" type="File" />
        <add path="Sitecore.Commerce.Carts.config" type="File" />
        <add path="Sitecore.Commerce.Catalogs.config" type="File" />
        <add path="Sitecore.Commerce.config" type="File" />
        <add path="Sitecore.Commerce.Customers.config" type="File" />
        <add path="Sitecore.Commerce.GiftCards.config" type="File" />
        <add path="Sitecore.Commerce.Globalization.config" type="File" />
        <add path="Sitecore.Commerce.Inventory.config" type="File" />
        <add path="Sitecore.Commerce.LoyaltyPrograms.config" type="File" />
        <add path="Sitecore.Commerce.Orders.config" type="File" />
        <add path="Sitecore.Commerce.Payments.config" type="File" />
        <add path="Sitecore.Commerce.Prices.config" type="File" />
        <add path="Sitecore.Commerce.Shipping.config" type="File" />
        <add path="Sitecore.Commerce.WishLists.config" type="File" />
        <add path="z.Cognifide.PowerShell.config" type="File" />
        <add path="ContentTesting" type="Folder" />
        <add path="Examples" type="Folder" />
        <add path="Feature" type="Folder" />
        <add path="Foundation" type="Folder" />
        <add path="Foundation.Overrides" type="Folder" />
        <add path="Project" type="Folder" />
        <add path="Y.Commerce.Engine" type="Folder" />
        <add path="Z.Commerce.Engine" type="Folder" />
        <add path="z.Feature.Overrides" type="Folder" />
        <add path="Z.Foundation" type="Folder" />
        <add path="Z.Foundation.Overrides" type="Folder" />
        <add path="Z.LayoutService" type="Folder" />
      </loadOrder>
    </layer>
  4. We then create three folders, following the Helix principles for our project solution. I just chose to use 'Helix' as a prefix to drill the point in.
    1. Helix.Feature
    2. Helix.Foundation
    3. Helix.Project
  5. Add the new folders to the <loadOrder>.
    <layer name="Custom" includeFolder="/App_Config/Include/">
      <loadOrder>
        ...
        <add path="Z.LayoutService" type="Folder" />
        <add path="Helix.Foundation" type="Folder" />
        <add path="Helix.Feature" type="Folder" />
        <add path="Helix.Project" type="Folder" />
      </loadOrder>
    </layer>
  6. As you are developing your solution you may find that you need to set the load order for the individual configuration files within a certain layer. In this case, you can list out the file order required. In the sample below, we have Feature A, Feature B, and Feature C. Feature A has a configuration conflict with Feature B and needs higher priority. Feature C has no conflicts. We only need to specify the config for Feature A after the folder to ensure the correct patch order.
  7. <layer name="Custom" includeFolder="/App_Config/Include/">
      <loadOrder>
        ...
        <add path="Helix.Feature" type="Folder" />
        <add path="Helix.Feature/Feature.A.config" type="File" />
        <add path="Helix.Project" type="Folder" />
      </loadOrder>
    </layer>
  8. Deploy your solution.

Summary

While you could continue down the path of having project with 'z', 'zz', 'zzzzz', etc. prefixes, by taking the initial steps to isolate and manage your solution's patch files under managed folder and file load order, we bring the chaos back to order with meaningfully named patch files that can be found exactly where you expect them to be located.

An Introduction to Sharding and Custom Sharding in Sitecore Experience Commerce 9

In this article, we will look at list and entity sharding that has been introduced in Sitecore Experience Commerce 9 (XC9), when we would create a custom shard, and how we can implement our own custom shard.

Sharding - What is it?

Let's take a quick step back and review the Shared Environment database from Sitecore Commerce 8.2.1. All commerce entities and lists were found under tables named CommerceEntities and CommerceLists respectively. These tables consisted of data pertaining to carts, orders, pricing and promotions.

With the introduction of XC9, additional entities and lists have been added to cater for the catalog and customer data, as part of the final phase out process of the Commerce Server.

Now it's a known fact that with any database that continues to accumulate data that inevitably there will be increasing performance degradation. This isn't the end of the world as databases can be tuned for performance, but there is a simple and logical way of managing data for optimal performance. This is where sharding comes into play.

Sharding, in XC9, is the logical partitioning of entities and lists into separate tables, to isolate and manage data growth for improved performance and data maintenance.

Sharding is managed via the ListShardingPolicy and EntityShardingPolicy policies in the Plugin.SQL.Sharding.PolicySet-x.y.z.json.
Each policy specifies the properties, RegularExpression and (database) TableName, which the Commerce Engine utilises to identify where the entity/list should be read from and stored to. When a list/entity is not matched to one of these policies regular expressions, it defaults to the CommerceEntities/CommerceLists tables.

When is Sharding  Required?

Just because a new entity is introduced in your project, this doesn't automatically mean that a new shard has to be implemented. Instead consider how this new entity will be utilised over time. If there is an expectation that over time this data will grow considerably where it should be housed separately, then sharding would be a good idea. However, if the data stored for this new entity is expected to be kept to a low volume, leaving the data in the default tables would be fine.

What is the Purpose of Sharding in the Commerce Global Database?

Simple answer. There is no purpose at this time. The script to create the databases was reusable and created the same structure. Only the CommerceEntities and CommerceLists tables are utilised for the Global database and I suspect this may be cleaned up in a future release.

How to Implement Custom Sharding

Creating Policies in the Commerce Engine

The following code snippet is a sample of a shard I am creating for a side-project for fulfillments.

{
    "$type": "Sitecore.Commerce.Plugin.SQL.ListShardingPolicy, Sitecore.Commerce.Plugin.SQL",
    "RegularExpression": "^List-Fulfillment.*?$",
    "TableName": "FulfillmentsLists"
},
{
    "$type": "Sitecore.Commerce.Plugin.SQL.ListShardingPolicy, Sitecore.Commerce.Plugin.SQL",
    "RegularExpression": "^List-DeletedFulfillmentsIndex-.*?$",
    "TableName": "FulfillmentsLists"
},
{
    "$type": "Sitecore.Commerce.Plugin.SQL.EntityShardingPolicy, Sitecore.Commerce.Plugin.SQL",
    "RegularExpression": "Entity-Fulfillment.*?$",
    "TableName": "FulfillmentsEntities"
},
{
    "$type": "Sitecore.Commerce.Plugin.SQL.EntityShardingPolicy, Sitecore.Commerce.Plugin.SQL",
    "RegularExpression": "Fulfillment-.*?$",
    "TableName": "FulfillmentsEntities"
}

Important note: Where sharding will be altered for a project, it is best to identify and implement it prior to development to avoid having to migrate data from its existing database table.

Creating a Database Table Shard

Database tables are based on either the entity table, or the list table definition. To create a new table shard, follow the process below for both table types.

In SQL Server Management Studio:-

  1. Right-clicking an existing table
  2. Selecting Script Table as > CREATE To > New Query Editor Window
  3. Updating the table name as appropriate, e.g.  [dbo].[<MyEntityType>Entities]
  4. For entity tables, update the constraint name as well, e.g. [PK_<MyEntityType>Entities]
  5. Execute the script

 

Decoupling the Sample Plugins from the Sitecore Commerce 9 SDK

The Sitecore Commerce SDK comes with a number of sample plugins which serve varying purposes, including upgrading/migrating data from Sitecore Commerce 8.2.1, providing Habitat and AdventureWorks sample data for testing and getting familiar with the Commerce Engine's services, and a working Braintree payment integration.

Customer.Sample.Solution

In this article, we will look at the steps required to decouple the sample projects from the solution and resolve the dependencies that the Commerce Engine project has on them, to provide a clean starting point for customising and extending your project's instance of the Commerce Engine.

Note: We will leave the Braintree plugin in the solution so we can still checkout in the storefront. We will also leave the habitat environment configuration files, which can be updated to the custom environment names for your solution.

We will go into detail below, but let's take a quick look at what's required at a high level:-

  1. Add dependency references to the Commerce Engine
  2. Add necessary pipeline configurations to the Commerce Engine
  3. Remove policies for sample projects from the environment configuration files and policy sets
  4. Remove sample environment configurations and policies from the Commerce Engine
  5. Remove sample projects from the solution
  6. Test the Commerce Engine

Add Dependency References to the Commerce Engine

The following dependencies will need to be added to the Commerce Engine for the project to build once the sample projects have been removed:-

  • Sitecore.Commerce.Plugin.Coupons
  • Sitecore.Commerce.Plugin.Journaling
  • Sitecore.Commerce.Plugin.SQL
  • Sitecore.Commerce.Plugin.Tax

Note: For versioning, confirm with the other plugin references.

Add Necessary Pipeline Configurations to the Commerce Engine

The Commerce Engine is missing a few pipeline configurations that hook up some of the cart functionality. To resolve this, perform the following steps:

  1. Copy the ServiceCollectionExtensions class from the Plugin.Sample.AdventureWorks project into the Commerce Engine project at Pipelines > Blocks.
  2. Rename the namespace to Sitecore.Commerce.Engine.
  3. Copy the ConfigureSitecore class from the Plugin.Sample.AdventureWorks project into the Commerce Engine project.
  4. Rename the namespace to Sitecore.Commerce.Engine.
  5. Replace the ConfigureServices method with the following:
    public void ConfigureServices(IServiceCollection services)
    {
        var assembly = Assembly.GetExecutingAssembly();
        services.RegisterAllPipelineBlocks(assembly);
        services.ConfigureCartPipelines();
    }
  6. Resolve ConfigureCartPipelines by adding in the following to the class:
    using Sitecore.Commerce.Engine.Pipelines.Blocks;

Remove Sample Environment Configurations and Policies from the Commerce Engine

Highlighted in red are the properties, policies, and environment configuration files to be removed from the solution.

  • Global.json
    • EnvironmentList
      • "AdventureWorksShops"
      • "AdventureWorksAuthoring"
    • Plugin.Sample.Upgrade.MigrationPolicy
    • Plugin.Sample.Upgrade.MigrationSqlPolicy
  • PlugIn.AdventureWorks.CommerceAuthoring-1.0.0.json
  • PlugIn.AdventureWorks.CommerceMinions-1.0.0.json
  • PlugIn.AdventureWorks.CommerceShops-1.0.0.json
  • PlugIn.Habitat.CommerceAuthoring-1.0.0.json
    • Sitecore.Commerce.Core.EnvironmentInitializationPolicy
      • "Environment.Habitat.DefaultRelationships-1.0"
      • "Environment.Habitat.SellableItems-1.0"
      • "Environment.Habitat.Pricing-1.0"
      • "Environment.Habitat.Promotions-1.0"
      • "Environment.Habitat.Catalog-1.0"
    • Plugin.Sample.Customers.CsMigration.ProfilesSqlPolicy
    • Plugin.Sample.Customers.CsMigration.ProfilePropertiesMappingPolicy

Remove Sample Projects from the Solution

We can now remove the following projects from the solution:-

  • Plugin.Sample.AdventureWorks
  • Plugin.Sample.Customers.CsMigration
  • Plugin.Sample.Habitat
  • Plugin.Sample.Upgrade

The solution should now resemble the image below.

Test the Commerce Engine

To verify the solution:-

  1. Run the Commerce Engine project locally.
  2. Run the Bootstrap request, either via postman or browser.
  3. Run the CleanEnvironment request.
  4. Run the InitializeEnvironment request.

Safely Removing the Commerce Engine Default Storefront

In this article, we will go through the few configuration updates required to remove the Commerce Engine Default Storefront completely. Without these updates the website and Business Tools will throw errors, such as "InvalidShop" - "Shop 'CommerceEngineDefaultStorefront' does not exist."

Once we have created our replacement storefront, e.g. Storefront (above), we take the Item Name and update the configurations in the following places:-

  1. <Website Root>\App_Config\Include\Y.Commerce.Engine\Sitecore.Commerce.Engine.Connect.config at configuration > sitecore > commerceEngineConfiguration > defaultShopName
    In following development best practices, we don't want to modify this configuration file directly. Instead, we create a patch file in our project.
  2. <Sitecore BixFx Root>\assets\config.json under ShopName
  3. In Postman's environment configuration under ShopName

Once the above configurations have been updated to the desired storefront, the Commerce Engine Default Storefront storefront can be deleted.

Troubleshooting Changes to BixFx config.json in Chrome

In making changes to the BizFx configuration, if the Business Tools gets hung with loader displaying, check the Networking tab of the Developer Tools for the config.json to see if the request is coming from disk cache.

To resolve this:-

  1. Go to Application > Clear Storage
  2. Only the Cache > Application cache needs to be checked
  3. Clear site data
  4. Reload the page

We can now see the response for config.json has our updated ShopName.

Setting Currency Set for Catalog Product List Prices

In this article we go through the process of configuring the Currency Set that will be utilised when adding and editing the List Pricing properties of Sellable Items in the Merchandising Manager.

  1. In the Sitecore Content Editor, Go to /sitecore/Commerce/Commerce Control Panel/Shared Settings/Currency Settings/Currency Sets/.
  2. Copy the Item ID of the desired currency set. In the example below, I have created My Currency Set, which I will be using for this example.

  3. In the Commerce Authoring Environment configuration file (e.g. Habitat.CommerceAuthoring.json), locate the GlobalCurrencyPolicy and update the DefaultCurrencySet to the currency set's Item ID.
    {
        "$type": "Sitecore.Commerce.Core.GlobalCurrencyPolicy, Sitecore.Commerce.Core",
        "DefaultCurrencySet": "AC47503D-731A-4343-A156-3DBC7A5F1C8C"
    }
  4. Run the Bootstrap() command of the Commerce Engine.
  5. Confirm against any Sellable Item in the Merchandising Manager by clicking on the Add or Edit List Price actions.