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Configuration Settings for an ASP.Net Application

Posted by Shrikant S Articles | ASP.NET Programming April 04, 2011
In ASP.Net, all that needs to be done to configure an application is to create a Configuration file called ‘Web.config’ and place it in the root directory of the application.
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Introduction:

One of the advantages of grouping individual pages together into an application is that values can be set for all these pages at once by setting the properties of the application. The settings of values for the properties of an application that will control the application at runtime is known as configuring the ASP.Net application.

In ASP.Net, all that needs to be done to configure an application is to create a Configuration file called 'Web.config' and place it in the root directory of the application. The settings that are provided in this file are applied throughout the application, including its sub-directories. This 'Web.config' is an XML based file.

Different Configuration Settings:

The different configuration settings for an ASP.Net application that can be defined in the 'Web.config' file are:

A. <appSettings>

The Application settings section is enclosed between the <appSettings> and </appSettings> tags. These settings allow the user to set the application configuration details. Application settings enable the user to store and retrieve information as key-value pairs. It simply populates a Hash Table, which can be easily accessed through ASP.Net pages. It is also possible to store SQL queries, as show in below Code Snippet 1:

Code Snippet 1:

<configuration>
<
appSettings>
<
add key="MySQLQuery" value="select * from MySQLTable"/>
</appSettings>
</
configuration>

The key value pair, as can be seen from Code Snippet 1, is enclosed within the <appSettings> tag. The configuration settings stored in the config files can be read back in an ASP.Net page using the command show in Code Snippet 2.

Code Snippet 2:

. . .
String GetQuery = ConfigurationSettings.AppSettings["MySQLQuery"];
. . .

B. <Pages>

The <pages> configuration setting allows the developer to control some of the default behaviors for all the ASP.Net Pages in the application or machine. These behaviors include options such as whether the output should be buffered before sending, and whether Session state is enabled for pages within the application.

The properties that can be set at the page level are listed in below table with their description:

Property

Description

Default Values

Buffer

Sets whether the response to a client is sent directly or is first buffered on the server and then sent.

True

enableViewState

Sets whether ViewState is to be enabled or disabled.

True

Code Snippet 3 shows how the pages configuration settings can be implemented in a 'Web.config' file.

Code Snippet 3:

<configuration>
<
system.web>
<
pages buffer="true" enableViewState="false"/>
</system.web>
</
configuration>

C. <SessionState>

SessionState, like many other ASP.Net services, can be configured through the 'Web.config' file. The below table lists the various attributes of sessionState along with their descriptions.

Property

Description

Default Value

mode

Specifies whether to store the session state. The various options for this attributes are :

Off - this indicated that session is not enabled

InProc - this indicates that session state is stored locally

StateServer - this indicated that session state is stored on a remote server

SqlServer - this indicates that session state is stored on a SQL Server

inProc

cookieless

Specifies whether session without cookies should be used to identify client sessions.

false

timeout

Specifies the time in minutes for which a session can be idle before it is abandoned.

20 minutes

stateConnectionString

Specifies the server name and port where the session is stored remotely.

 

sqlConnectionString

Specifies the connection string for the SQL Server.

 

Code Snippet 4 shows the SessionState settings in a 'Web.config' file

Code Snippet 4:

<configuration>
<
System.web>
<
SessionState mode="inproc" cookieless="false" timeout="20"/>
</System.web>
</
configuration>

We have seen 3 configuration settings which are <appSettings>, <Pages> & <SessionState> for an ASP.Net application in PART 1.

D. <customErrors>

ASP.Net provides the flexibility to write custom error pages and redirect the browser (client) to these error pages when any specific error occurs. For example, if a resource (file, image, audio file) is not found on the server, instead of displaying to the user a "404 Not Found" error message, the error can be trapped and the browser can be re-directed to a pre-designed page. The error pages to be displayed can be designed to give a more polite and user - friendly explanation of the error and if cause. The syntax for this configuration setting is shown in Code Snippet 5.
Code Snippet 5:

<customErrors defaultRedirect="url" mode="On|Off|RemoteOnly>
<error statusCode="statuscode" redirect="url"/>
</customErrors>

Where,

defaultRedirect attribute specifies the default page where the client will be redirect if an unhandled error occurs.
Mode specifies whether the customErrors option is turned on. Mode will be set to RemoteOnly if the custom error pages are to be displayed only to the remote clients, and not to people working from the local machine.

customErrors tag allows a sub-tag <error> to be defined, which takes two attributes, namely statusCode & redirect.

The statusCode attribute is used to trap the error code and the redirect attribute specifies to which page the response should be redirected on the occurrence of the specified error.

Code snippet 6 shows a sample for the customError Settings.

Code Snippet 6:

<configuration>
<
system.web>
<
customErrors defaultRedirect="http://localhost/Appdir/AllErrors.aspx" mode="RemoteOnly">
<error statusCode="404" redirect="http://localhost/Appdir/ErrorNo404.aspx"/>
</customErrors>
</
system.web>
</
configuration>

In above code snippet, the Web.config file redirects the page request to a page called 'ErrorNo404.aspx', in case the 404 error occurs. In case of any other error, the request is redirected to the 'AllErrors.aspx' page.

E. <Authentication>

Some web sties changes for their services. For example, consider email sites. Though many are available for free, for some premium value addition services, most of the sites charges a fee. Entry into the paid section is granted to the user only if the user has a valid user name and password. The process of validating the username and password is known as Authentication. In the days prior to ASP.NET, huge amounts of code needed to be written for the authentication routines. However, with the advent of ASP.Net, it has been reduced to a few lines of code. The settings can be specified in the 'web.config' file itself. The syntax for doing the same is illustrated in below code snippet 7.

Code Snippet 7:

<configuration>
<
system.web>
<
authentication mode="Windows|Forms|Passport|None">
<forms name="name" loginUrl="url" Protection="All|None|Encryption" timeout="xx" path="/">

<credentials passwordFormat="Clear|SHA1|MD5">
<user name="username" password="password"/>
</credentials>

</forms>
<
passport redirectUrl="internal"/>
</authentication>
</
system.web>
</
configuration>

In Code Snippet 7, the mode specifies the type of authentication that is to be performed. The options could be one of the four as described in below table.
 

Authentication Type

Description

Windows

Specifies windows authentication as the default authentication mode. This mode will be used in case of any form internet information service (IIS) authentication.

Forms

Specifies ASP.NET forms based authentication as the default authentication mode.

Passport

Specifies Microsoft Passport authentication as the default authentication mode.

None

Specifies no authentication, Only anonymous users are expected or application can handle events to provide their own authenticatio


 

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