Go configure! Tool uncomplicates Web config files

A new tool from Hunter Stone helps uncomplicate the confoundingly confusing and complex Web configuration files within Microsoft's ASP.NET. It's a tool that could ease the pains of both developers and admins.

IT administrators developing server applications using ASP.NET can make their developers' lives easier using a free tool that helps edit the complicated Web configuration files.

Hunter Stone, a Columbia, S.C.-based integrator, has released a development tool for programmers called Web Configuration Editor and Composite Viewer (WCE) 1.0.

WCE can be used instead of Microsoft's Digital Studio.NET programming tool, which is more difficult to work with because programmers must edit the XML directly and remember all of the proper XML syntax, said Todd Walker, chief technology officer at Hunter Stone.

"This gives you a nice GUI to hit those XML files with," Walker said.

Even though the tool is really for developers, Web server administrators will benefit too. WCE makes it easier to reach into the Web.config files to see what's causing a problem, particularly in cases where there is a security breach.

Within Microsoft's ASP.NET are Web.config files, which are XML files that store configuration settings relating to ASP.NET for a particular Web site. The XML files reside in the applications directories. "The files are very flexible and give [customers] a lot of power, but they are also very complicated," Walker explained.

A company may experience a security problem where someone is getting into part of a Web site, and something in the Web.config file may be part of the problem, Walker said.

WCE makes it easier to get into the Web.config files to see what's happening. Since those files are listed in a hierarchical fashion, the tool gives the developer or administrator a combined view, so they can see any level of the hierarchy.

There are drop down lists, tables and radio buttons and a file viewer that can combine several XML files into a single XML view. Without the tool they would have to view each file individually and try to remember what's overriding what, he said.

WCE can be downloaded at www.hunterstone.com.

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