Monday, January 16, 2006

WebDev.WebServer.exe PathInfo Limitation

I've been interested lately in hosting the ASP.NET runtime. I'll have more to say about it later, but I've got a bunch of experiments I need to run first. One of them I just ran now, and the results were rather disappointing.


The easiest way to host the ASP.NET runtime is to use the Visual Studio 2005 web host executable, webdev.webserver.exe. This is the EXE that launches when you hit F5 on a web project in VS2005. You can also run it by hand by doing something like this:


webdev.webserver /port:8080 /path:C:\temp\mywebapp /vpath:/mywebapp


For the most part, it works well, and I've used it successfully on one production project already. One thing it doesn't do, though, is to deal correctly with the "extra" bits after the end of extended URLs. For example, in FlexWiki, we have URLs like this:



The reason the URLs look like this is a long and complicated story. But the deal here is that the page that gets executed is default.aspx, and anything that comes after that indicates the particular wiki topic that should be rendered. You can retrieve this extra part via ASP.NET's Request.PathInfo. Unfortunately, webdev.webserver.exe does not deal correctly with paths of this form. It appears to want there to be a file at "C:\whatever\base\directory\default.aspx\FlexWiki\HomePage.html" that actually exists on disk. D'oh!


Fortunately, I think I can fix this. But first I need to run some more experiments. :)