Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Internet Explorer Is A Very Naughty Boy

It has been three months since I last felt the urge to post anything on my blog. There isn't any real particular reason why there should've been a hiatus with the possible exception that the sun was shining (sometimes) and I was out and about rather than being tied to my desk.

But the days are shorter than the nights now. There is definitely a nip in the air. Being "out and about" isn't quite as enjoyable as it was just a few weeks ago.

And so here I am... ready and willing to commit some more of my findings to this blog.

So what shall I tell you? Well, what about the fact that Internet Explorer is a very naughty boy! Hardly a startling revelation. Those of us working in the web world already understand how often we come across situations whereby Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera can all render a page correctly, but Internet Explorer seems to fail to do so! It gets rather tedious after while, right?

This week, I had the joys of diagnosing why a page protected by WebSEAL wouldn't render in Internet Explorer. Capturing the HTTP Headers whizzing back and forth in Internet Explorer and Firefox provided the answer quite quickly: Internet Explorer would sometimes not bother to send the session cookie back to WebSEAL.

Why would it "sometimes" just not bother to do this? Well, there is some well documented evidence that Internet Explorer (up to version 8) treats cookies in a rather unexpected fashion. Internet Explorer can start dropping in-memory cookies as it has a finite limit on the number of in-memory cookies it can handle!

Those clever people in the development labs of IBM, however, have come across this before and the problem can be alleviated by setting the resend-webseal-cookies parameter to yes in the WebSEAL configuration file. This ensures that the cookie gets set with every request!

For many of you, you will have come across this quirk before. Many times, potentially. For those just getting started out with your WebSEAL deployment, though, make sure you have the ability to take a grab of the HTTP Headers from within your browser. It's amazing what you can see inside them!

Useful Header Inspection Tools

I promise to blog more... now that that winter is almost upon us!
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