Use the SharePoint JavaScript APIs to work with SharePoint data

This is the tenth in a series of articles about the basics of developing SharePoint-hosted SharePoint Add-ins. You should first be familiar with SharePoint Add-ins and the previous articles in this series, which you can find at Get started creating SharePoint-hosted SharePoint Add-ins.


If you have been working through this series about SharePoint-hosted add-ins, you have a Visual Studio solution that you can use to continue with this topic. You can also download the repository at SharePoint_SP-hosted_Add-Ins_Tutorials and open the BeforeJSOM.sln file.

Even though SharePoint-hosted SharePoint Add-ins can't have server-side code, you can still have business logic and runtime interaction with SharePoint components in a SharePoint-hosted SharePoint Add-in by using JavaScript and the SharePoint JavaScript client object model library. We'll call it JSOM. Note the "M" on the end. Don't confuse this with JSON (JavaScript Object Notation). In this article, you use the JavaScript object model to find and remove old items from the New Employees in Seattle list.

Create the JavaScript and a button to invoke it

  1. Verify that the following step from the first tutorial in this series was completed:

    Open the file /Pages/Default.aspx from the root of the project. Among other things, this generated file loads one or both of two scripts that are hosted on SharePoint: sp.runtime.js and sp.js. The markup for loading these files is in the Content control near the top of the file that has the ID PlaceHolderAdditionalPageHead. The markup varies depending on the version of Microsoft Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio that you're using.

    This series of tutorials requires that both files be loaded and that they be loaded with ordinary HTML <script> tags, not <SharePoint:ScriptLink> tags. Ensure that the following lines are in the PlaceHolderAdditionalPageHead control, just above the line <meta name="WebPartPageExpansion" content="full" />:

    <script type="text/javascript" src="/_layouts/15/sp.runtime.js"></script>
    <script type="text/javascript" src="/_layouts/15/sp.js"></script>

    Then search the file for any other markup that also loads one or the other of these files and remove the redundant markup. Save and close the file.

  2. In the Scripts node in Solution Explorer, there may already be an Add-in.js file. If there'sn't, but there's an App.js file, right-click App.js and rename it Add-in.js. If there'sn't an Add-in.js or App.js, create one with these steps:

    1. Right-click the Scripts node and select Add > New Item > Web.

    2. Select JavaScript File and name it Add-in.js.

    3. Update the code in your aspx page to reference the correct JS file: change it from:

      <script type="text/javascript" src="../Scripts/App.js"></script>


      <script type="text/javascript" src="../Scripts/Add-in.js"></script>
  3. Open Add-in.js and delete its content, if there's any.

  4. Add the following lines to the file.

    'use strict';
      var clientContext = SP.ClientContext.get_current();
      var employeeList = clientContext.get_web().get_lists().getByTitle('New Employees In Seattle');
      var completedItems;

    Note the following about this code:

    • The 'use strict'; line ensures that the JavaScript runtime in the browser will throw an exception if you inadvertently use certain bad practices in the JavaScript.
    • The clientContext variable holds an SP.ClientContext object that references the SharePoint website. All JSOM code begins by creating, or getting a reference to, an object of this type.
    • The employeeList variable holds a reference to the list instance New Employees in Seattle.
    • The completedItems variable holds the items from the list that the script will delete: the items whose OrientationStage field is set to Completed.
  5. To minimize messages between the client browser and the SharePoint server, the JSOM uses a batching system. Only one function, SP.ClientContext.executeQueryAsync, actually sends messages to the server (and receives replies).

    Calls to the JSOM APIs that come in between calls of executeQueryAsync are bundled up and sent to the server in a batch the next time executeQueryAsync is called. However, it isn't possible to call a method of a JSOM object unless the object has been brought down to the client in a previous call of executeQueryAsync.

    Your script is going to call the SP.ListItem.deleteObject method of each completed item on the list, so it has to make two calls of executeQueryAsync; one to get a collection of the completed list items, and then a second to batch the calls of deleteObject and send them to the server for execution.

    Begin by creating a method to get the list items from the server. Add the following code to the file.

    function purgeCompletedItems() {
      var camlQuery = new SP.CamlQuery();
        '<View><Query><Where><Eq>' +
          '<FieldRef Name=\'OrientationStage\'/><Value Type=\'Choice\'>Completed</Value>' +
      completedItems = employeeList.getItems(camlQuery);
  6. When these lines are sent to the server and executed there, they create a collection of list items, but the script must bring that collection down to the client. This is done with a call to the SP.ClientContext.load function, so add the following line to the end of the method.

  7. Add a call of executeQueryAsync. This method has two parameters, both of which are callback functions. The first runs if the server successfully executes all the commands in the batch. The second runs if the server fails for any reason. You create these two functions in later steps. Add the following line to the end of the method.

    clientContext.executeQueryAsync(deleteCompletedItems, onGetCompletedItemsFail);
  8. Finally, add the following line to the end of the method.

    return false;

    By returning false to the ASP.NET button that will call the function, we cancel the default behavior of ASP.NET buttons, which is to reload the page. A reload of the page would cause a reload of the Add-in.js file. That, in turn, would reinitialize the clientContext object.

    If this reload completed between the time the executeQueryAsync sends its request and the time the SharePoint server sends back the response, the original clientContext object is no longer in existence to process the response. The function would halt without the success or the failure callbacks executed. (Exact behavior might vary depending on the browser.)

  9. Add the following function, deleteCompletedItems, to the file. This is the function that runs if the purgeCompletedItems function is successful. Note the following about this code:

    • The SP.ListItem.get_id method returns the ID of the list item. Each item in the array is an SP.ListItem object.
    • The SP.List.getItemById method returns the SP.ListItem object with the specified ID.
    • The SP.ListItem.deleteObject method marks the list item to be deleted on the server when the call of executeQueryAsync is made. The list items have to be copied from the collection that is sent down from the server to an array before they can be deleted. If the script called the deleteObject method for each item directly in the while loop, the JavaScript would throw an error complaining that the length of the collection is being changed while the enumeration is underway.

    The error message isn't literally true, because the item isn't deleted from anything until the deleteObject calls are bundled and sent to the server, but the JSOM is designed to mimic the exception throws that would occur on the server (where code shouldn't change a collection size while the collection is being enumerated). However, arrays have a fixed size, so calling deleteObject on an item in an array deletes the item from the list, but does not change the size of the array.

    function deleteCompletedItems() {
      var itemArray = new Array();
      var listItemEnumerator = completedItems.getEnumerator();
      while (listItemEnumerator.moveNext()) {
        var item = listItemEnumerator.get_current();
      var i;
      for (i = 0; i < itemArray.length; i++) {
      clientContext.executeQueryAsync(onDeleteCompletedItemsSuccess, onDeleteCompletedItemsFail);
  10. Add the following function, onDeleteCompletedItemsSuccess, to the file. This is the function that runs if the completed items are successfully deleted (or there aren't any completed items on the list).

    The line location.reload(true); causes the page to reload from the server. This is a convenience because the list view web part on the page still shows the completed items until the page is refreshed. The Add-in.js file is reloaded too, but that doesn't cause a problem because it won't do so in a way that interrupts an ongoing JavaScript function.

    function onDeleteCompletedItemsSuccess() {
      alert('Completed orientations have been deleted.');
  11. Add the following two callback-on-failure functions to the file.

    // Failure callbacks
    function onGetCompletedItemsFail(sender, args) {
      alert('Unable to get completed items. Error:' + args.get_message() + '\n' + args.get_stackTrace());
    function onDeleteCompletedItemsFail(sender, args) {
      alert('Unable to delete completed items. Error:' + args.get_message() + '\n' + args.get_stackTrace());
  12. Open the default.aspx file and find the asp:Content element with the ID PlaceHolderMain.

  13. Add the following markup between the WebPartPages:WebPartZone element and the first of the two asp:Hyperlink elements. The value of the OnClientClick handler is return purgeCompletedItems() instead of just purgeCompletedItems(). The false that is returned from the function tells ASP.NET not to reload the page.

    <p><asp:Button runat="server" OnClientClick="return purgeCompletedItems()" ID="purgecompleteditemsbutton" Text="Purge Completed Items" /></p>
  14. Rebuild the project in Visual Studio.

  15. To minimize the need to manually set the Orientation Stage of list items to Completed while testing the add-in, open the elements.xml file for the list instance NewEmployeesInSeattle (not the elements.xml for the list template NewEmployeeOrientation) and add the markup <Field Name="OrientationStage">Completed</Field> as the last child to one or more of the Row elements.

    The following is an example of how the Rows element should look.

        <Field Name="Title">Tom Higginbotham</Field>
        <Field Name="Division">Manufacturing</Field>
        <Field Name="OrientationStage">Completed</Field>
        <Field Name="Title">Satomi Hayakawa</Field>
        <Field Name="OrientationStage">Completed</Field>
        <Field Name="Title">Cassi Hicks</Field>
        <Field Name="Title">Lertchai Treetawatchaiwong</Field>

Run and test the add-in

  1. Enable pop-up windows on the browser that Visual Studio uses when you debug.

  2. Use the F5 key to deploy and run your add-in. Visual Studio makes a temporary installation of the add-in on your test SharePoint site and immediately runs the add-in.

  3. The home page of the add-in opens, and there are one or more items on the list with Orientation Stage at Completed.

    Figure 1. List before purge of completed items

    The "New Employees in Seattle" list with the "Orientation Stage" column for two items set to Completed. there's a button labeled "Purge Completed Items" below the list.

  4. When the start page of the add-in has loaded, select the Purge Completed Items button. If the operation succeeds (you don't get any failure message), all the Completed items are deleted and you'll see a pop-up window that says Completed orientations have been deleted.

  5. Close the pop-up window. The page reloads, and the Completed items are no longer in the list view web part.

    Figure 2. List after purge of completed items

    The "New Employees in Seattle" list with two fewer items than before and none of them have "Orientation Stage" set to Completed.

  6. To end the debugging session, close the browser window or stop debugging in Visual Studio. Each time that you select F5, Visual Studio retracts the previous version of the add-in and installs the latest one.

  7. You'll work with this add-in and Visual Studio solution in other articles, and it's a good practice to retract the add-in one last time when you're done working with it for a while. Right-click the project in Solution Explorer and select Retract.

Next steps

In the next article in this series, you'll add JavaScript to a page on the add-in web that works with SharePoint data on the host web: Work with host web data from JavaScript in the add-in web.