Sometimes the Error Message Says It All...

Sometime ago I was working on a Web Application Project in Visual Studio 2008. The web site I was working on couldn't run against the built-in web development server, so I ran the application against IIS 7 on my Windows Vista machine (IMO, that's probably the best reason to upgrade to Windows Vista if you are a web developer: multiple web sites in IIS 7).

Life was good until I started debugging...

As soon as I hit F5, I got the following error message:

Error message saying: The local IIS URL http://myproject.local.spaanjaars.com specified for Web project MyProject has not been configured. To keep these settings you need to configure the virtual directory. Would you like to create the virtual directory now?

I was a bit surprised as I wasn't using a VD, but a root-based web site. I had debugged IIS web sites under Vista many times before and never ran into this problem.

Naturally, pressing Yes didn't solve the problem, and neither did pressing No. In 90% of the cases (and especially so on Vista) these type of errors are related to security, so I went ahead and checked the following:

  • Integrated Security was turned on for the web site.
  • The NTFS settings for the underlying folder were fine.
  • I was running Visual Studio 2008 as an Administrator as that is a requirement for debugging IIS with UAC turned on.
  • On the project's properties debugging was turned on, the URL was OK, the project was in Debug and not Release mode and so on.
  • Many many things more....

I spent way too long trying to figure out what was wrong before it finally hit me: maybe the error message had it right after all? Maybe there was no http://myproject.local.spaanjaars.com? I opened up the IIS Manager, found my site and looked at the host headers:

IIS Showing a different host header.

Although the site was named myproject.local.spaanjaars.com, the actual host header was set to test.local.spaanjaars.com. IIS couldn't find the right site, and instead gave me a correct error message.

So, next time you run into a debug error, make sure you are really debugging the site that you think you are debugging... ;-)


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