SharePoint Designer – Server Returned a Non-Specific Error

Nothing is more frustrating that trying to create a new Data Source that talks to the SharePoint XML Web Services and receiving this error:

Server returned a non-specific error when trying to get data from the data source

KB article 923173 deals specifically with this error, but none of the suggestions were the fix for me. I was not using a Proxy nor was I behind a firewall. In fact, my environment was totally virtualized and I was working on a stand alone installation of MOSS. SharePoint Designer happened to be installed on the same virtual environment. This was particularly frustrating because I was trying to give a Web Services demo for a class I was teaching on SharePoint Designer and kept running into this roadblock.

With the help of a fellow SharePoint guru, Bruce Redfern, we were able to track down the issue to the following two things:

  1. Using the machine name or http://localhost as the Service description location for the web service was not working for us. We could connect to the web service and we could properly browse through the list of Operations, but after creating the data source and trying to Show Data, we would get that error above. In order to get around this, we had to specify the actual IP of the machine. So an example would be: http://10.0.1.15/_vti_bin/usergroup.asmx?WSDL
  2. So if you got as far as the above, you’ll find that the web service will still not work. The final thing you have to remember is within the Data Source Properties window, click on the Login tab. You’ll want to select Save this username and password in the data connection. Enter in your moss/wss service account credentials and give it a go again.
Let me know if you still get stuck, this was a really tricky issue to resolve.

3 Responses to “SharePoint Designer – Server Returned a Non-Specific Error”

  1. brisyb August 25, 2009 at 4:16 pm #

    I have the same error message but only on one data source which is a custom list in Sharepoint.

    When I click on Show Data I get the error, All other lists are fine and the list works fine in Sharepoint itself.

    Also, if I go to the Data Source properties for this list there is no Login tab for me to work with, just the General tab.

    The list has several Lookup field from other lists and several calculated fields so not sure if this is the problem.

    Can you help?

  2. shereen August 27, 2009 at 3:18 pm #

    Hi brisyb,

    I’ve not actually encountered a problem with custom lists, only the web services themselves. have you checked the sharepoint operations logs for any clues?

    It should work fine with custom lists, i do that quite often and most of the time my custom lists contain lookup values and calculated fields.

  3. 20rap3da.com June 12, 2017 at 2:59 pm #

    When I create the SOAP data source I am able to connect fine, but when I try to use the SOAP or REST data source as a data source in the data view I get the following message, “The server returned a non-specific error”.

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