Tuesday, June 17, 2008

WSS Search and Breadcrumb Links Fail over SSL

A site originally extended for extranet access needed to be now served over SSL, so I extended a new web application to enable this, and modified the external Alternate Access Mapping entry to be https rather than http.

The site was then successfully accessible on the internet, though I did notice that the full path had to be entered in the browser address bar, including the page name itself - for example, https://[siteurl]/default.aspx rather than just https://[siteurl].

Further testing revealed that the links in the breadcrumbs all led to a "Page cannot be diaplayed" IE error, and submitting a search on the site gave an error message on the results page that stated:
"If the URL should be serving existing content, the system administrator may need to add a new request url mapping to the intended application"

The cause was all in the AAM entry - I had a port number (80) in the extranet URLs from some early trials, and had not removed this port number when setting https. By setting the Extranet zone AAM internal URL and public URL to be simply https://[ssiteurl], these problems were solved.

Interesting that the pages were still accessible with an incorrect Access Mapping!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Double-check your hosting company's infrastructure

Story from the trenches today - a few weeks ago I customised a hosted WSS site, including UI changes and a small amount of functionality.

Somehow in one of the admin pages, the hosting company had exposed the capability to delete the complete site. So when my client did accidentally make use of that "feature", he called the hosting company to request a restore of the site.

Unfortunately, the hosting company discovered that they only actually have disaster recovery backup for an entire server farm. No application-level backup in place. It would take them 5 man days to retrieve the site.

Luckily, the site had not been used yet, so no data was lost. Just means that I have to rebuild from scratch... I had presumed that a hosted site would be safe, and so made no form of local backup.

So, in the words of Carl Franklin in Mondays (listen if you dare!), Things I have Learnt This Week:
  • Check the recovery options offered by a hosting company
  • Make your own backups of any customisations on hosted sites
  • Write reminders for yourself of any tricky little changes to make a site work as required
  • Take lots of screenshots

The latter point is worth reviewing. In this project I had taken a few screen shots of various pages within the site as development progressed, primarily to send to the client to show current state of play. Now I am using these screen shots to help recreate the site.

On the subject of screen shots. I use either Cropper or Faststone Capture for this task. Cropper is a free .net util, whereas Capture offers some nice easy image annotation options (plus ragged edges to images if required). Thoroughly recommend them both!