SharePoint 2013 - Followed Count Webpart Stopped Working In My Site

This post is related to a known issue which most SharePoint professionals might have experienced after patching your SharePoint 2013 farm with August 2015 CU. I hope everyone would agree that it was one of the most expected CUs during the time of its release, as this introduced the Hybrid Search functionality in SharePoint 2013 ( meaning: If you want to deploy Hybrid Search between SharePoint 2013 and Office 365, then your farm should be patched with August 2015 CU ). In addition to that, it also broke some other functionalities; I’ve also blogged about that (please check this link for that). Now, in this blog post, we will be discussing about a known issue which we recently happened to encounter in our SharePoint 2013 farm.

The issue which I’m talking about here is something which you might have experienced for yourself when you tried to access your SharePoint My site. May be your end users might have reported about this behavior to you. When you try to open the SharePoint My site, you would end up getting an error message, as shown in the screenshot below.


Now, in order to temporarily get rid of this, you can use SharePoint designer and close this WebPart, so that your end users won’t be seeing this annoying error message when they access their My site. As you already know the “followed count” webpart in your SharePoint My site displays all the sites you follow. From here, all the sites you follow in SharePoint are just a click away.

As the initial phase of troubleshooting this issue, we turned on verbose logging and grabbed the logs to understand what was causing this. We found these entries in the logs.

System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object.
at Microsoft.SharePoint.Portal.WebControls.FollowedCountsWebPart.GetHybridSpoUrl(UserProfile profile)
at Microsoft.SharePoint.Portal.WebControls.FollowedCountsWebPart.RenderWebPart(HtmlTextWriter writer)
at Microsoft.SharePoint.WebPartPages.WebPart.Render(HtmlTextWriter writer)
at System.Web.UI.Control.RenderControlInternal(HtmlTextWriter writer, ControlAdapter adapter)
at Microsoft.SharePoint.WebPartPages.SPChrome.RenderPartContents(HtmlTextWriter output, WebPart part

However, all the possible troubleshooting steps, we tried, were not getting us any closer to fix this issue. Of course, we Googled about this and found that this functionality was broken after the August 2015 CU for SharePoint 2013 is installed in your farm; but we didn’t expect it to remain the same even after patching our farm with Jan 2016 CU . As we were helpless, we decided to open a case with Microsoft premier support and that’s when things started getting interesting. Microsoft analyzed all the logs and informed us that the same behavior was identified for SharePoint online portals too and an internal fix was rolled out by Microsoft sometime around August 2015. Later, that was globally deployed, on September 2015. So, SharePoint online users will never see this issue. But, looks like this fix was not involved on any further CU‘s for SharePoint Server 2013. However, the same fix was also applied for SharePoint Server 2016 in May 2016 CU for SharePoint Server 2016 where the error was something like this ….

“FollowedCountsWebPart.GetHybridSpoUrl (UserProfile profile)”

So now, the only problem is with SharePoint server 2013 as the fix has not been developed for this yet. If you take a look at the “Improvement and fixes section” for Feb 2016 CU for SharePoint server 2013, you will notice a fix for a “follow” issue but that doesn’t look similar to our scenario here. That speaks about the “follow” functionality getting broken on a multi-farm environment. Check the screenshot below ….
Improvement and fix
But the support engineer said that the same fix should work for this scenario also. However, he is yet to check with the PG team on that. As per the latest update from the support engineer, our case is being taken over by the PG team for their review. I’ll write an update on my blog site once I hear back from Microsoft.