IIS 7.0 includes a very cool feature that is not so well known called Hostable WebCore (HWC). This feature basically allows you to host the entire IIS functionality within your own process. This gives you the power to implement scenarios where you can customize entirely the functionality that you want "your Web Server" to expose, as well as control the lifetime of it without impacting any other application running on the site. This provides a very nice model for automating tests that need to run inside IIS in a more controlled environment.
This feature is implemented in a DLL called hwebcore.dll, that exports two simple methods:
The real trick for this feature is to know exactly what you want to support and "craft" the IIS Server configuration needed for different workloads and scenarios, for example:
An interesting thing to mention is that the file passed to ApplicationHostConfigPath parameter is live, in the sense that if you change the configuration settings your "in-process-IIS" will pick up the changes and apply them as you would expect to. In fact even web.config's in the site content or folder directories will be live and you'll get the same behavior.
To show how easy this can be done I wrote a small simple class to be able to run it easily from managed code. To consume this, you just have to do something like:
This will start your very own "copy" of IIS running in your own process, this means that you can control which features are available as well as the site and applications inside it without messing with the local state of the machine.
A very interesting thing is that it will even run without administrator privileges, meaning any user in the machine can start this program and have a "web server" of their own, that they can recycle, start and stop at their own will. (Note that this non-administrative feature requires Vista SP1 or Windows Server 2008, and it only works if the binding will be a local binding, meaning no request from outside the machine).
You can download the entire sample which includes two configurations: 1) one that runs only an anonymous static file web server that can only download HTML and other static files, and 2) one that is able to run ASP.NET pages as well.
Download the entire sample source code (9 kb)
You might be asking why would I even care to have my own IIS in my executable and not just use the real one? Well there are several scenarios for this:
In future posts I intent to share more samples that showcase some of this cool stuff.
IIS 7.0 Hostable WebCore feature allows you to host a "copy" of IIS in your own process. This is not your average "HttpListener" kind of solution where you will need to implement all the functionality for File downloads, Basic/Windows/Anonymous Authentication, Caching, Cgi, ASP, ASP.NET, Web Services, or anything else you need; Hostable WebCore will allow you to configure and extend in almost any way the functionality of your own Web Server without having to build any code.
Today I was playing a bit with Visual Studio 2008 and was surprised to see that I was not getting IntelliSense in my web.config. As you might already know IntelliSense in Xml in Visual Studio is implemented by using a set of schemas that are stored in a folder inside the VS folder, something like: \Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\Xml\Schemas. After looking to the files it was easy to understand what was going on, turns out I was developing using .NET 2.0 settings and Visual Studio now ships different schemas for Web.config files depending on the settings that you are using: DotNetConfig.xsd, DotNetConfig20.xsd and DotNetConfig30.xsd.
As I imagine I looked into the DotNetConfig.xsd and it indeed has all the definitions for the system.webServer sections as well as the DotNetConfig30.xsd. However, DotNetConfig20.xsd does not include the section details, only its definition, so to fix your IntelliSense you can just open DotNetConfig.xsd, select the entire section from:
<xs:element name="system.webServer" vs:help="configuration/system.webServer">...</xs:element>
and just replace the entry in DotNetConfig20.xsd. You might also want to copy the system.applicationHost section and add it to the DotNetConfig20.xsd since it does not include it as well.
Last Monday I gave a presentation at the ASP.NET Connections event in Orlando, the title was IIS 7.0 for ASP.NET Developers. I just wish I had more time to stay at Orlando, weather was great, especially considering that Sunday I was watching Snow in Redmond and then Monday and Tuesday I was around 80 degrees in sunny Orlando.
Anyway, thanks for all the people who attended the session, you can download the
Here are some of the things that I demonstrated:
Then I ran out of time :)
Today I was asked how can someone would be able to add a new section definition using Microsoft.Web.Administration, so I thought I would post something quickly here just to show how this could be achieved.
The idea is that you can grab a Configuration object they usual way, it could be ApplicationHost.config or any web.config, and then you call the method RegisterSectionDefinition which will ensure the whole hierarchy is added (in the case of multiple nested Section Groups) and then it will return the newly added Section Definition that you can then use to change any of their properties.
A very similar functionality is exposed for scripts and native code in the AHADMIN COM library exposing the RootSectionGroup as well from any IAppHostConfigFile that you can manipulate in the same way.
Hope this helps,