I need to create a site column programmatically during feature activation (requirements - supose I can't change that).

My code is fairly straight forward:

string internalName = web.Fields.AddLookup("foo", someList.ID, false);
// *field name*, *ID of the list to point* and *required*, respectively.

SPFieldLookup foo = (SPFieldLookup)web.Fields.GetField("foo");
foo.Group = "bar";

The field is created, alright - but when I navigate to the site where it was created, it does not show up in the "site columns" page, in the site administration.

I can't add it again because it's already in the site. I can't associate it to any content type because it doesn't show up in any page at all. I can't delete it programatically, either:

  • With C# it tells me there is some list or content type using the field (which is not true at all)
  • and with Powershell I either get no errors, or get a "wrong parameters" error when running Delete in any form below. But even after the commands run without errors the column is not truly deleted (I can still fetch it via C# and Powershell):


$site = Get-SPSite(siteUrl)
$web = $site.rootweb
$foo = $web.Fields["foo"]

(The only web in the site colletion is the root one.)

I have tried the brute force solution, that is, deleting the site collection and recreating it again (I'm just fiddling with a dev environment for now), thinking my site might have gone corrupt. It just doesn't solve the problem. When I create it again in a whole new site, the column stays there, and I can neither use it nor delete it.


2 Answers 2


Your code looks like it will only create a Field Link, linking an existing Field to for example a list.

You should use this method instead: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms472869.aspx

Like web.Fields.Add("foo", SPFieldType.Text, false) before creating a field link.

This will create a new SiteColumn of type Text. Here you can find the available field types.

  • Problem is, I need the field to be a lookup. If you try to add a lookup with SPFieldCollection.Add, it throws an excetion telling you to use SPFieldCollection.AddLookup instead (and the documentation says it does create a field). I have confirmed that the field is created and can be accessed with a SField reference, so I believe it is not a field link.
    – Geeky Guy
    Jul 4, 2013 at 13:52
  • While the solution wasn't exactly what you suggested, this discussion did make me read all the documentation of the Add and AddLookup methods again, and that's where I found the solution for my problem. So, +1 for you.
    – Geeky Guy
    Jul 4, 2013 at 14:08

I found out what the problem was. I totally forgot to set the LookupField property of my new field.


While it was somewhat stupid of me to expect a lookup to work without pointing to a field in the target list... I think one would expect an inconsistent field like that to not work at all. Sorry for the rant, but if it was me designing Sharepoint, I would make sure you can't save a lookup until all the things it needs to work are set. I would sure force the target field to be informed in the AddLookup method, for example.

So there. I set that property and my site column is no longer haunting my site collection.

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