Here is an interesting debate – whether to use GUIDs or Paths to reference Items in Sitecore.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both routes:

By GUID: If you reference an Item by GUID it will mean that you can move it around the Sitecore tree and even rename it without your code breaking. The caveat with this method is that a GUID is not as representative as a path in giving an indication of what the Item is.

To find its path, place the GUID in the Sitecore search, then mouse over to find the path.

Find GUID

By Path: If you reference an Item by path it means you can read the Item’s location easily, however, if you move it around in the tree or rename it, the code will break.

 

My suggestions for referencing an Item are in the following order:

  1. Try to add the Item you want to reference as a link from a field in another important, stationary Item in Sitecore. For example, say you wanted to link to a Meta Data folder in your tree, you could create a field in your Site root called “Meta Data” which was a link field to your Meta Data folder.If this doesn’t apply…
     
  2. Use a GUID to reference your item, and some sort of comment in the code to give an idea as to what the GUID relates to.Next best…
     
  3.  Use a path to reference your item. It would be beneficial to accompany the code with some sort of NUnit Integration Test which would alert you if the path is not there.

I did come up with an alternative which offers slight benefit to the second and third options above and decided to throw it up onto my blog incase any one else found it interesting. It works in a way similar to ConfigurationManager.AppSettings dictionary, in that you can pass it a key name and it will return you a value. However in this case, using Sitecore Templates, we create a GUID Mapping template that will model a name value pair mapping. Where the mapping is a link to a Sitecore Item. So effectively we would say to GUIDManager that we wanted the GUID for the “Meta Data” item and if we had mapped this in Sitecore, it would return us the Meta Data GUID. (We could even make this return an object if we really wanted).

Ultimately what we get from this class is the flexibility of the GUID in that the underlying link can move round the tree and be renamed and not break our code, as well as having an easy to read, meaningful name.

I’ll post up some Sitecore configuration pictures next week, to explain the GUID Mapping template.

    public static class GUIDManager
    {
        /// <summary>
        /// This method will get the GUID for the given name
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="name">The name to get</param>
        /// <returns>The associated GUID</returns>
        public static string GetGUID(string name)
        {
            if(string.IsNullOrEmpty(name))
            {
                return null;
            }

            try
            {
                string guidStorageLocation = ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["GUIDStorageLocation"];

                // Check to see whether the storage location has been set
                if(!string.IsNullOrEmpty(guidStorageLocation))
                {
                    // Check to see whether the storage item exists
                    Database database = Sitecore.Data.Database.GetDatabase("master");

                    Item guidStorageItem = database.GetItem(new ID(guidStorageLocation));
                    
                    if(guidStorageItem != null)
                    {
                        Item guidMapping = guidStorageItem.Children[name];

                        // Check to see whether the specified mapping exists
                        if(guidMapping != null)
                        {
                            // Return the GUID from the mapping
                            return guidMapping["GUID"];
                        }
                    }
                }

                return null;
            }
            catch (Exception)
            {
                return null;
            }
        }
    }

Screenshot of an example GUID Mapping

Screenshot of Sitecore

Screenshot of a GUID Mapping template

Screenshot of Sitecore

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