Unable to edit document properties using the Edit form.

Problem

For some documents users are unable to edit document properties with the Edit form.

Case

A document library in SharePoint 2010 contains Word documents. Users open the Edit form by clicking ‘Edit Properties’ in ECB menu and change the values of the fields. When clicking Save button the form is submitted successfully without any error but the changes are not saved.

The problem is present for most of the fields but not all the fields. Name and Title can be changed for all the documents.
This happens only for some docx documents.

Investigation

First I tried to edit the properties of the problematic document so I can check for any errors. No error is thrown and the edit form is submitted but the changed field values are not saved. Not errors registered in Event Viewer or ULS logs.

I saved a copy of one of the problematic document and uploaded it to another new library. The document’s properties still can’t be edited. So this is not related with the document library.

I created a new document and I could edit the document’s properties without any problem. I opened the problematic document, copied its content and pasted it in the new document that was working fine. After this the new document is having the same problem and no custom fields could be edited with the list’s edit form. So it is clear that the content of the document is the problem. I started to remove the document content piece by piece and test the result. It turned out that hyperlinks to network shares in the document are causing the problem. As soon as I remove the hyperlinks to network paths from the document content the problem is gone and I can edit the document’s properties.

Tested by adding a hyperlink to a network share in a new document and the problem is not present. So the hyperlinks are not always the problem but only in the old problematic documents.

I discovered that the problematic documents have been originally created with Word 2003 as .doc files. The .doc files have been converted to .docx documents and uploaded to the library. I converted one of the affected documents back to .doc and re uploaded it. The problem was not present and I could edit the properties of the file. As soon as I converted it to .docx again the problem was back.

It’s clear that it has something to do with how hyperlinks to network paths added in a doc file are converted when converting a doc file to docx file. One way to fix it is to open the docx file and remove and re-add the hyperlink with Word 2007 or newer version.

There were thousands of documents in the library and probably many of them converted from doc to docx before they have been uploaded to the document library. There were just few document discovered that had this properties editing problem. Fixing those few problematic documents by opening them and remove then re-add the hyperlinks in the content was acceptable but there was a possibility that more documents will be discovered in the future and fixing manually every one of them would not be a very good solution.

I copied one of the problematic documents and tested it in 9 different farms with different SharePoint build version (from 14.0.4762 to 14.0.7116.5000). In three of the farms the problem was present. In 6 of the farms the document was not having the problem and I could edit its properties. All of the three farms with the problem were with different SharePoint build version but all of them had installed Cumulative Update of April 2012 before. The other farms without the problem had older build versions or much newer build version (SP2 and up). To discover which Cumulative update introduced this issue and which CU fixed the issue I performed the test with one VM with SharePoint build version prior CU April 2012. Here are the results:

  • Initial build version: 14.0.6117.5002 (February 2012) Test result: -issue not present
  • Installed CU April 2012, version 14.0.6120.5006 Test result: –issue present (introduced with this CU)
  • Installed CU June 2012, version 14.0.6123.5000 Test result: -issue still present
  • Installed CU August 2012, version 14.0.6126.5000 Test result: -issue still present
  • Installed CU October 2012, version 14.0.6129.5003 Test result: -issue still present
  • Installed CU December 2012, version 14.0.6131.5003 Test result: -issue still present
  • Installed CU February 2013, version 14.0.6134.5000 Test result: -issue still present
  • Installed CU April 2013, version 14.0.6137.5000 Test result: –issue not present (solved with this CU)

Conclusion

This issue is introduced with SharePoint CU April 2012 and resolved with SharePoint CU April 2013.

The problem is present only with documents originally created as doc files that contain hyperlinks to network shared folders and are converted to docx before uploading to a SharePoint document library.

Solution

Here are three different ways to fix this problem:

  1. Install the latest SharePoint cumulative updates or at least CU of April 2013. This is the best way to solve this problem for good.
  2. If for some reason you don’t want to update the farm and you have only few documents with this problem you can open the problematic documents with Word 2007 or newer, remove the hyperlinks to network shares and re-add them back (of course not with copy-paste but manually choosing on the Ribbon Insert->Hyperlink).
  3. Convert the problematic docx files back to doc files if that’s acceptable for you. With doc file you will loose all the functionality that docx files offer so you should better consider option 1 and 2 first.
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