Include/IncludeOn/Exclude/ExcludeOn: a simple explanation

When I come across this question I was rather confused by the properties of AvailableContentTypesAttribute (admittedly I don’t use them that often!). Looking at the code that defined them, or the XML documentation does not really help. I only come to an understanding when I look into how they are used, and I guess many other developers, especially beginners, might have same confusion, so here’s a simple explanation.

Include : defines content types that can be created as children of a content of this type (being decorated by the attribute)

IncludeOn: defines content types that can be parent of a content of this type

Exclude: defines content types that can not be created as children of a content of this type

ExcludeOn: defines content types that can not be parent of a content of this type.

If there is a conflict between those properties, for example content type A has Include with content type B, and content type B has ExcludeOn with content type A, then Exclude and ExcludeOn take priority (i.e. they will override Include and IncludeOn. In the example above then content type B will not be able to be children of content type A)

While AvailableContentTypesAttribute is extremely helpful, the property naming is not the best – they are short and symmetric, but they are not easy to understand and remember. An “improved” example might be





Yes they are more verbose, but they are unambiguous and you will not have to check the document (or this blog post) when you use them.

This is not the first time we have something that rather confusing in our API. One notable example is the old (now removed) ILinksRepository with the Source and Target properties in Relation . For quite some time I always had to check the code to know what to use, and then had the documentation updated, and eventually, changed to Parent and Child. No API is created perfect, but we can improve over time.

IContentLoader.Get(contentLink) is considered harmful for catalog content.

A while ago I wrote about how you should be aware of IContentLoader.GetChildren<T>(contentLink) here. However, that is only half of story.

IContentLoader.Get<T>(contentLink) is also considered harmful. Not in terms of it causes damage to your site (we would never, ever let that happen), nor it is slow (not unless you abuse it), but because it can behave very unexpectedly.

As you might already know, catalog content fully supports language versions, which means a catalog might have multiple languages enabled, and each and every catalog item in that catalog (node/category, and entry) will be available in those languages. However, those languages are not equal, (only) one is master language. What’s the difference then?

One of very important characteristics of that is how it affects the properties. Properties with [CultureSpecific] attribute decorated will be different in each language, and therefore, can be edited in each language. Properties without [CultureSpecific] attribute decorated will be the same in all languages, and can only be edited in master language. In Catalog UI, if you switch to non master languages, those properties will be grayed out, indicating they can’t be edited.

Now, why IContentLoader.Get<T>(contentLink) is considered harmful? Because you don’t supply a CultureInfo to let it know which version you want, it relies on the current preferred language to load the content. And if you have a catalog which has master language that is different from the current preferred language, you are loading a non-master language version. And then if you try to edit a non [CultureSpecific] property, then save it, the changes will not be saved, without error or warning.

It then will be very confusing because it sometimes works (someone changes the current preferred language that matches the catalog master language, and sometimes it doesn’t.

Which can cost you hours, if not days, to figure out what is wrong with your code.

Same thing applies to IContentLoader.TryGet<T>(contentLink)

Solution? Always use the overload that takes a CultureInfo or a LoaderOptions parameter, even if you just want to read the content. That creates a “good” habit and you can quickly spot code that might be problematic.

Use this to load master language version, if you wish to update some non CultureSpecific property.

 new LoaderOptions() { LanguageLoaderOption.MasterLanguage() }

Later versions of Commerce will log a warning if you are trying to save a non master language version with one or more changed non [CultureSpecific]properties.