Configuring IIS 7 default document from web.config

IIS 7 has a lot of changes regarding the configuration model. Using the Integrated Configuration System in IIS 7 you can set configuration of your server on different levels, compared to IIS 6, where the ASP.NET developer were more restricted. Configuring IIS 7 from an ASP.NET Web Application’s web.config file works from both ASP.NET 2.0 and ASP.NET 3.5. Note that the server can be restricted to lock certain configuration settings from above the application level, you might encounter this if your website runs in a shared hosting environment.

Setting up the website

To have a test website, I will setup a new website on my Vista machine running IIS 7. I don’t want the website to run under the Default Web Site, so first thing, I’ll add a hostname to my hosts file. This is located in the drivers\etc folder of your windows directory’s system32 folder. Add the following line:

127.0.0.1         iis7test

Open up Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager, and create a new Application Pool. Name it iis7test, and leave the settings as default:

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Add a new website with the following settings:

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This should get us started. Open up Visual Studio 2008 (2005 will also work). Open the website you just created inside IIS.

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The only item in the website is a web.config. Add a new Web Form called Test.aspx.

Right-click the Test.aspx file and click View in browser. You could get an HTTP Error 500.00, like this:

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To get rid of it, set impersonate to false in the web.config file by adding this line to the system.web section:

Now your site should work fine. Edit the Test.aspx file, so it has some content. Just write Test IIS 7 or something in the HTML mark-up.

If you right-click the website icon in the Solution Explorer, and click View in browser, you will get an error like the one bellow:

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That is because our website does not have any pages that match the name of the default documents on IIS. If you don’t want to be limited by the few default documents that comes with IIS out-of-the-box, you can add your own from web.config by adding these lines:








Maybe the system.webServer section already existed in your web.config file. If so, just add the defaultDocument section. Here you can specify all the filenames that should act as a default document in IIS 7. The line is optional. If you want to keep the default settings, and only add your own – just delete that line.

Now when we save the new web.config file, and refresh the browser we se our Test.aspx file:

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This setting is just one of many that you can specify in your application’s web.config file. In the near future I’ll be blogging more about specific settings you can use to configure IIS 7 from ASP.NET.

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### The Integrated Programming model in IIS 7

IIS 7 comes with a bunch of improvements for developers. You can do a whole lot of exciting things even from web.config, but also from code.

To take advantage of the powerful integrated programming model, you need to set your application pool to use the Integrated pipeline mode. There’s no limit to what you can do.

I found a lot of great stuff in the book called Professional IIS 7 and ASP.NET Integrated Programming and learned a lot of useful stuff.

IIS 7 (or 7.5) is still the preferred way to develop, test and deploy ASP.NET applications, and as a developer you must stay up-to-date on what your tools and framework has to offer!

Martin H. Normark

Product and UX Hacker. Web and iOS developer.

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