IIS 6.0 WebDAV and Compound Document Format Files Revisited with Workarounds

A few years ago I wrote the following blog, wherein I described how the WebDAV functionality in IIS 6.0 worked with files that are Compound Document format:

IIS 6.0 WebDAV and Compound Document Format Files

As I explained in that blog post, WebDAV needs somewhere to store "properties" for files that are uploaded to the server, and WebDAV uses the compound document format to accomplish this according to the following implementation logic:

  • If the file is already in the compound document file format, IIS simply adds the WebDAV properties to the existing file. This data will not be used by the application that created the file - it will only be used by WebDAV. However, the file size will increase because WebDAV properties are added to the compound document.
  • For other files, WebDAV stores a compound document in an NTFS alternate data stream that is attached to the file. You will never see this additional data from any directory listing, and the file size doesn't change because it's in an alternate data stream.

I recently had a customer contact me in order to ask if there was a way to disable this functionality since he didn't want his files modified in order to store the WebDAV properties. Unfortunately there is no built-in option for IIS that will disable this functionality, but there are a few workarounds.

Workaround #1 - Change the File Type

First and foremost - you can change your file type to something other than the compound document format. For example, if you are uploading files that were created in Microsoft Office, if you can upload your files in the newer Office Open XML formats, then you will not run into this problem. By way of explanation, older Microsoft Office files are in compound document format, whereas files that are that are created with Microsoft Office 2010 and later are in a zipped, XML-based file format. These files will have extensions like *.DOCX for Microsoft Word documents, *.XLSX for Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, and *.PPTX for Microsoft PowerPoint presentations.

Workaround #2 - Wrap Compound Document Files in a Separate File Type

If you are using a file that must be in compound document format, like a setup package in Microsoft Installer (*.MSI) format, you can upload the file in a *.ZIP file, or you can wrap the setup package inside a self-extracting executable by using a technology like Microsoft's IExpress Wizard (which ships as a built-in utility with most versions of Windows).

Workaround #3 - Block WebDAV Properties

If you absolutely cannot change your document from compound document format, I have a completely unsupported workaround that I can suggest. Since the problem arises when properties are added to a file, you can find a way to intercept the WebDAV commands that try to set properties. The actual HTTP verb that is used is PROPPATCH, so if you can find a way to keep this command from being used, then you can prevent files from being modified. Unfortunately you cannot simply suppress PROPPATCH commands by using a security tool like Microsoft's UrlScan to block the command, because this will cause many WebDAV clients to fail.

Instead, what I did as a workaround was to write an example ISAPI filter for IIS 6.0 that intercepts incoming PROPPATCH commands and always sends a successful (e.g. "200 OK") response to the WebDAV client, but in reality the filter does nothing with the properties and ends the request processing. This tricks a WebDAV client into thinking that it succeeded, and it prevents your files in compound document format from being modified. However, this also means that no WebDAV properties will ever be stored with your files; but if that's acceptable to you, (and it usually should be), then you can use this workaround.

With that in mind, here's the C++ code for my example ISAPI filter, and please remember that this is a completely unsupported workaround that is intended for use only when you cannot repackage your files to use something other than the compound document format.

#define _WIN32_WINNT 0x0400

#include <windows.h>
#include <httpfilt.h>

#include <strsafe.h>

#define BUFFER_SIZE 2048

const char xmlpart1[] = "<?xml version=\"1.0\"?>"
  "<a:multistatus xmlns:a=\"DAV:\">"

const char xmlpart2[] = "</a:href>"
  "<a:status>HTTP/1.1 200 OK</a:status>"

  HRESULT hr = S_OK;
  // Set the filter's version.
  pVer->dwFilterVersion = HTTP_FILTER_REVISION;
  // Set the filter's description.
  hr = StringCchCopyEx(
  if (FAILED(hr)) return FALSE;
  // Set the filter's flags.
  return TRUE;

DWORD WINAPI HttpFilterProc(
  DWORD NotificationType,
  LPVOID pvNotification )
  // Verify the correct notification.
  if ( NotificationType == SF_NOTIFY_PREPROC_HEADERS)
    HRESULT hr = S_OK;
    bool fSecure = false;

    char szServerName[BUFFER_SIZE] = "";
    char szSecure[2] = "";
    char szResponseXML[BUFFER_SIZE] = "";
    char szResponseURL[BUFFER_SIZE] = "";
    char szRequestURL[BUFFER_SIZE] = "";
    char szMethod[BUFFER_SIZE] = "";

    DWORD dwBuffSize = 0;

    pHeaders = (PHTTP_FILTER_PREPROC_HEADERS) pvNotification;

    // Get the method of the request
    dwBuffSize = BUFFER_SIZE-1;
    // Exit with an error status if a failure occured.
    if (!pfc->GetServerVariable(
      pfc, "HTTP_METHOD", szMethod, &dwBuffSize))
      return SF_STATUS_REQ_ERROR;

    if (strcmp(szMethod, "PROPPATCH") == 0)
      // Send the HTTP status to the client.
      if (!pfc->ServerSupportFunction(
        pfc, SF_REQ_SEND_RESPONSE_HEADER,"207 Multi-Status", 0, 0))
        return SF_STATUS_REQ_ERROR;

      // Get the URL of the request.
      dwBuffSize = BUFFER_SIZE-1;
      if (!pfc->GetServerVariable(
        pfc, "URL", szRequestURL, &dwBuffSize))
        return SF_STATUS_REQ_ERROR;
      // Determine if request was sent over secure port.
      dwBuffSize = 2;
      if (!pfc->GetServerVariable(
        pfc, "SERVER_PORT_SECURE", szSecure, &dwBuffSize))
        return SF_STATUS_REQ_ERROR;
      fSecure = (szSecure[0] == '1');
      // Get the server name.
      dwBuffSize = BUFFER_SIZE-1;
      if (!pfc->GetServerVariable(
        pfc, "SERVER_NAME", szServerName, &dwBuffSize))
        return SF_STATUS_REQ_ERROR;
      // Set the response URL.
      hr = StringCchPrintf(
        szResponseURL,BUFFER_SIZE-1, "http%s://%s/%s",
        (fSecure ? "s" : ""), szServerName, &szRequestURL[1]);
      // Exit with an error status if a failure occurs.
      if (FAILED(hr)) return SF_STATUS_REQ_ERROR;

      // Set the response body.
      hr = StringCchPrintf(
        szResponseXML,BUFFER_SIZE-1, "%s%s%s",
        xmlpart1, szResponseURL, xmlpart2);
      // Exit with an error status if a failure occurs.
      if (FAILED(hr)) return SF_STATUS_REQ_ERROR;

      // Write the response body to the client.
      dwBuffSize = strlen(szResponseXML);
      if (!pfc->WriteClient(
        pfc, szResponseXML, &dwBuffSize, 0))
        return SF_STATUS_REQ_ERROR;

      // Flag the request as completed.

I hope this helps. ;-]

Note: This blog was originally posted at http://blogs.msdn.com/robert_mcmurray/

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