This is a repost from our german written Sitecore Vibes blog. It covers the topic to load referenced items without checking for a valid language version for a specific field. This was initially one of my questions on Stack Overflow where Mike Edwards, developer of Glass Mapper, answers my question and helped me also with continuous problems, thanks again!

Our projects often have some configuration values which we configure with Sitecore items. For all these configurations (which are shared, so the same in every language), we have a Specification template with only one field for the configuration value:

specification item

Our content item then gets a reference to one of these configuration items via a Droplink (i.e. to configure the container type). Our Glass Mapper class for this field would look like this

[SitecoreField(FieldName = "Container Type")]
public virtual Specification ContainerType { get; set; }

Now by default, this only works if the Specification item has a language version in the current Context.Language. While this is ok for our content item, we don’t want to check this for the container type reference. We need to add several parts to make this possible.

Custom attribute

We need the attribute to say Glass Mapper that we want to do some special things with the property. The attribute should only identify the property’s mapping action and create an own configuration for the property (more on this later):

public class SitecoreSharedFieldAttribute : SitecoreFieldAttribute
    public override AbstractPropertyConfiguration Configure(PropertyInfo propertyInfo)
        var config = new SitecoreSharedFieldConfiguration();
        this.Configure(propertyInfo, config);
        return config;

Attribute configuration

As we saw before, the attribute returns a custom configuration. We also need to implement this class. It’s important that Glass Mapper can identify the attribute with it’s own configuration, hence we need to override the Copy() method:

public class SitecoreSharedFieldConfiguration : SitecoreFieldConfiguration
    public override SitecoreFieldConfiguration Copy()
        return new SitecoreSharedFieldConfiguration
            CodeFirst = this.CodeFirst,
            FieldId = this.FieldId,
            FieldName = this.FieldName,
            FieldSource = this.FieldSource,
            FieldTitle = this.FieldTitle,
            FieldType = this.FieldType,
            IsShared = this.IsShared,
            IsUnversioned = this.IsUnversioned,
            PropertyInfo = this.PropertyInfo,
            ReadOnly = this.ReadOnly,
            SectionName = this.SectionName,
            Setting = this.Setting

Custom data handler to implement the functionality

We already told Glass Mapper to do some magic with our custom attribute. But what is the magic? The magic happens in the data handler, which maps the data from the Sitecore item to the code. While initializing, Glass Mapper assigns a data handler to each property. The CanHandle() method checks if the configuration of the property maps with the current data handler. The GetFieldValue() simply returns the value from the default field type mapper, with disabled language version check:

public class SitecoreSharedFieldTypeMapper : SitecoreFieldTypeMapper
    public override object GetFieldValue(string fieldValue, SitecoreFieldConfiguration config, SitecoreDataMappingContext context)
        using (new VersionCountDisabler())
            return base.GetFieldValue(fieldValue, config, context);

    public override bool CanHandle(AbstractPropertyConfiguration configuration, Context context)
        return configuration is SitecoreSharedFieldConfiguration && !configuration.PropertyInfo.PropertyType.IsGenericType;

More informations about custom data handlers can be found in this tutorial.

Configure the data handler

The custom data handler must be registered while initializing Glass Mapper. With the default installation (and the usage of Castle Windsor), this can be done in the GlassMapperScCustom class in the App_Start folder:

public static void CastleConfig(IWindsorContainer container)
    var config = new Config();
    container.Install(new SitecoreInstaller(config));

At the end we just need to change the attribute from our property to the SitecoreSharedFieldAttribute:

[SitecoreSharedField(FieldName = "Container Type")]
public virtual Specification ContainerType { get; set; }

The same behavior also works for list types (i.e. a Multilist). You only need to configure our new attribute on your list:

[SitecoreSharedField(FieldName = "Available Languages")]
public virtual IEnumerable<Specification> AvailableLanguages { get; set; }