Microsoft Bob

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Feedback Request for Curated Content Views

Publishing technical documentation is an interesting business, and a lot of discussion & deliberation goes into the creation process for articles and videos that we produce at Microsoft. For example, when I am writing an article for IIS, should I publish that on www.iis.net, or technet.microsoft.com, or msdn.microsoft.com? Or should I just write a blog about it? And after I have published an article, how will my intended audience find it? As we continue to publish hundreds of technical articles to the websites that I just mentioned, the navigation hierarchy becomes increasingly complex, and content discoverability suffers.

Some time ago a few of our writers began to experiment with a new way to consolidate lists of related content into something that we called a "Content Map." The following pages will show you an example of what the Content Map concept looks like:

Each of these articles received a great deal of positive feedback from customers, but our team wanted to see if there was a way that customers could help us to improve on this design. We know that there is a great deal of third-party content on the Internet, and we wanted a way to recognize that. We also asked several customers about what kinds of content they need to be successful, and we added their suggestions to our deliberation process.

As a result of our collective discussions, we came up with an idea for what we are internally calling "Curated Content Views." These "views" are lists of related content topics that are organized to answer a particular question or customer need. A view is assembled by someone at Microsoft based on input from anyone who thinks that an article, blog, video, or code sample might be beneficial as part of the view.

With that in mind, here are three conceptual content views that a few of the writers on our content team have assembled:

Our team is requesting feedback from members of the community regarding these conceptual views with regard to the level of detail that is included in each view, the conceptual layouts that were used, and any thoughts about how this content compares with existing table of contents topics or content maps. You can reply to our content team via email, or you can post a response to this blog.

While we are interested in any feedback you may have, our team has put together the following list of specific questions to think about:

  1. Each curated view/content map includes a list of suggested content links. Below is a list of additional information that could be provided with each link. Which of these are most important?
    • Date that the content was posted.
    • Type of content (video, article, code sample, etc.).
    • Author name.
    • Short description.
    • Level of difficulty of the content.
    • Version of software/framework or SDK the content refers to.
    • Website the content appears on.
    • Number of likes or positive reviews.
    • Rating assigned to the content by the community.
  2. If you opened a page similar to one of these curated views/content maps from Google or Bing search results, would you be likely to try the links on this page or just return to search results?
  3. If Microsoft and community experts published a large set of content views similar to these on a website, would you visit that site first when you had technical questions, or would you do an Internet search on Google/Bing first?
  4. Do the questions addressed by each curated view seem too narrow or too broad in scope to be helpful? If so, which ones?
  5. Do any of the curated views/content maps provide too much or too little detail for each link in the list? If so, which ones?
  6. Do you find it helpful to see the profile of the person who created the curated view/content map?
  7. If we provided an easy way for you to publish your own curated views (with attribution) to a common site together with the Microsoft-created curated views, would you be interested in doing so? Why or why not?
  8. If we provided an easy way for you to suggest new content items to add to content views/content maps that have already been published, would you be interested in doing so? Why or why not?
  9. What would make these content views/content maps more helpful?

Thanks!

Note: This blog was originally posted at http://blogs.msdn.com/robert_mcmurray/
Posted: Apr 30 2013, 09:51 by Bob | Comments (0)
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Filed under: IIS | Content
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IIS 6.0 WebDAV and Compound Document Format Files Revisited with Workarounds

A few years ago I wrote the following blog, wherein I described how the WebDAV functionality in IIS 6.0 worked with files that are Compound Document format:

IIS 6.0 WebDAV and Compound Document Format Files

As I explained in that blog post, WebDAV needs somewhere to store "properties" for files that are uploaded to the server, and WebDAV uses the compound document format to accomplish this according to the following implementation logic:

  • If the file is already in the compound document file format, IIS simply adds the WebDAV properties to the existing file. This data will not be used by the application that created the file - it will only be used by WebDAV. However, the file size will increase because WebDAV properties are added to the compound document.
  • For other files, WebDAV stores a compound document in an NTFS alternate data stream that is attached to the file. You will never see this additional data from any directory listing, and the file size doesn't change because it's in an alternate data stream.

I recently had a customer contact me in order to ask if there was a way to disable this functionality since he didn't want his files modified in order to store the WebDAV properties. Unfortunately there is no built-in option for IIS that will disable this functionality, but there are a few workarounds.

Workaround #1 - Change the File Type

First and foremost - you can change your file type to something other than the compound document format. For example, if you are uploading files that were created in Microsoft Office, if you can upload your files in the newer Office Open XML formats, then you will not run into this problem. By way of explanation, older Microsoft Office files are in compound document format, whereas files that are that are created with Microsoft Office 2010 and later are in a zipped, XML-based file format. These files will have extensions like *.DOCX for Microsoft Word documents, *.XLSX for Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, and *.PPTX for Microsoft PowerPoint presentations.

Workaround #2 - Wrap Compound Document Files in a Separate File Type

If you are using a file that must be in compound document format, like a setup package in Microsoft Installer (*.MSI) format, you can upload the file in a *.ZIP file, or you can wrap the setup package inside a self-extracting executable by using a technology like Microsoft's IExpress Wizard (which ships as a built-in utility with most versions of Windows).

Workaround #3 - Block WebDAV Properties

If you absolutely cannot change your document from compound document format, I have a completely unsupported workaround that I can suggest. Since the problem arises when properties are added to a file, you can find a way to intercept the WebDAV commands that try to set properties. The actual HTTP verb that is used is PROPPATCH, so if you can find a way to keep this command from being used, then you can prevent files from being modified. Unfortunately you cannot simply suppress PROPPATCH commands by using a security tool like Microsoft's UrlScan to block the command, because this will cause many WebDAV clients to fail.

Instead, what I did as a workaround was to write an example ISAPI filter for IIS 6.0 that intercepts incoming PROPPATCH commands and always sends a successful (e.g. "200 OK") response to the WebDAV client, but in reality the filter does nothing with the properties and ends the request processing. This tricks a WebDAV client into thinking that it succeeded, and it prevents your files in compound document format from being modified. However, this also means that no WebDAV properties will ever be stored with your files; but if that's acceptable to you, (and it usually should be), then you can use this workaround.

With that in mind, here's the C++ code for my example ISAPI filter, and please remember that this is a completely unsupported workaround that is intended for use only when you cannot repackage your files to use something other than the compound document format.

#define _WIN32_WINNT 0x0400

#include <windows.h>
#include <httpfilt.h>

#define STRSAFE_LIB
#include <strsafe.h>

#define BUFFER_SIZE 2048

const char xmlpart1[] = "<?xml version=\"1.0\"?>"
  "<a:multistatus xmlns:a=\"DAV:\">"
  "<a:response>"
  "<a:href>";

const char xmlpart2[] = "</a:href>"
  "<a:propstat>"
  "<a:status>HTTP/1.1 200 OK</a:status>"
  "</a:propstat>"
  "</a:response>"
  "</a:multistatus>";

BOOL WINAPI GetFilterVersion(PHTTP_FILTER_VERSION pVer)
{
  HRESULT hr = S_OK;
  // Set the filter's version.
  pVer->dwFilterVersion = HTTP_FILTER_REVISION;
  // Set the filter's description.
  hr = StringCchCopyEx(
    pVer->lpszFilterDesc,256,"PROPPATCH",
    NULL,NULL,STRSAFE_IGNORE_NULLS);
  if (FAILED(hr)) return FALSE;
  // Set the filter's flags.
  pVer->dwFlags = SF_NOTIFY_ORDER_HIGH | SF_NOTIFY_PREPROC_HEADERS;
  return TRUE;
}

DWORD WINAPI HttpFilterProc(
  PHTTP_FILTER_CONTEXT pfc,
  DWORD NotificationType,
  LPVOID pvNotification )
{
  // Verify the correct notification.
  if ( NotificationType == SF_NOTIFY_PREPROC_HEADERS)
  {
    PHTTP_FILTER_PREPROC_HEADERS pHeaders;
    HRESULT hr = S_OK;
  
    bool fSecure = false;

    char szServerName[BUFFER_SIZE] = "";
    char szSecure[2] = "";
    char szResponseXML[BUFFER_SIZE] = "";
    char szResponseURL[BUFFER_SIZE] = "";
    char szRequestURL[BUFFER_SIZE] = "";
    char szMethod[BUFFER_SIZE] = "";

    DWORD dwBuffSize = 0;

    pHeaders = (PHTTP_FILTER_PREPROC_HEADERS) pvNotification;

    // Get the method of the request
    dwBuffSize = BUFFER_SIZE-1;
    // Exit with an error status if a failure occured.
    if (!pfc->GetServerVariable(
      pfc, "HTTP_METHOD", szMethod, &dwBuffSize))
      return SF_STATUS_REQ_ERROR;

    if (strcmp(szMethod, "PROPPATCH") == 0)
    {
      // Send the HTTP status to the client.
      if (!pfc->ServerSupportFunction(
        pfc, SF_REQ_SEND_RESPONSE_HEADER,"207 Multi-Status", 0, 0))
        return SF_STATUS_REQ_ERROR;

      // Get the URL of the request.
      dwBuffSize = BUFFER_SIZE-1;
      if (!pfc->GetServerVariable(
        pfc, "URL", szRequestURL, &dwBuffSize))
        return SF_STATUS_REQ_ERROR;
        
      // Determine if request was sent over secure port.
      dwBuffSize = 2;
      if (!pfc->GetServerVariable(
        pfc, "SERVER_PORT_SECURE", szSecure, &dwBuffSize))
        return SF_STATUS_REQ_ERROR;
      fSecure = (szSecure[0] == '1');
        
      // Get the server name.
      dwBuffSize = BUFFER_SIZE-1;
      if (!pfc->GetServerVariable(
        pfc, "SERVER_NAME", szServerName, &dwBuffSize))
        return SF_STATUS_REQ_ERROR;
        
      // Set the response URL.
      hr = StringCchPrintf(
        szResponseURL,BUFFER_SIZE-1, "http%s://%s/%s",
        (fSecure ? "s" : ""), szServerName, &szRequestURL[1]);
      // Exit with an error status if a failure occurs.
      if (FAILED(hr)) return SF_STATUS_REQ_ERROR;

      // Set the response body.
      hr = StringCchPrintf(
        szResponseXML,BUFFER_SIZE-1, "%s%s%s",
        xmlpart1, szResponseURL, xmlpart2);
      // Exit with an error status if a failure occurs.
      if (FAILED(hr)) return SF_STATUS_REQ_ERROR;

      // Write the response body to the client.
      dwBuffSize = strlen(szResponseXML);
      if (!pfc->WriteClient(
        pfc, szResponseXML, &dwBuffSize, 0))
        return SF_STATUS_REQ_ERROR;

      // Flag the request as completed.
      return SF_STATUS_REQ_FINISHED;
    }
  }
    
  return SF_STATUS_REQ_NEXT_NOTIFICATION;
}

I hope this helps. ;-]

Note: This blog was originally posted at http://blogs.msdn.com/robert_mcmurray/

Posted: Apr 24 2013, 11:47 by Bob | Comments (0)
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Filed under: IIS | WebDAV | IIS 6
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