Getting a CCIS Username
If you do not already have a CCIS user account and username, you must apply for such an account for 2 reasons:
- You need a username to set up and later access the ASP.NET server that hosts the web sites and web software in this course.
- You need a username to access the MSDNAA site to download a free copy of the Visual Studio development environment.
Here are the steps for obtaining a CCIS user account and username.
- Obtain an account form outside 310 West Village H.
- Take the form to the lab 102 West Village H.
- Once in 102 WVH, fill out the form in ink and then do the online steps on a Linux or Sun Unix box.
- If the account program rejects your first username because it is already taken, try again with another username. The form should end up with the username that was accepted.
- Your password should be complicated to guess and should contain at least 3 of the categories: uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and punctuation. Be ready to define a stronger password if the account program determines that your password is too weak.
- Your password is private to you and should not be given to anyone. In particular, it should not be written on the form.
- After all steps in the lab are complete, return the form to 310 WVH.
- The form must be signed in ink.
The forms are processed by the Systems group between Monday and Friday. Allow 24 hours for processing. If your account does not work in 24 hours, let your instructor know by sending your full name, your student ID, and your proposed username. We will contact the Systems group.
Note that if you are not a student in CCIS and if you are also not yet registered for the course then the Systems group will reject your request for an account.
Getting Visual Studio from MSDNAA
MSDNAA means Microsoft Developer Network Academic Alliance. This is the source for software that Microsoft will give freely to students and faculty for academic purposes.
After you have a CCIS username, you must fill in an online form for the college so that your username is sent to the MSDNAA E-Academy site. This form is:
This sign-up page mentions that E-Academy will send you a confirmation that may take up to 2 days.
Once you have the E-Academy confirmation, go to the following site to download the Microsoft software you wish including Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate.
Click the login button in the upper left and you are on your way. I recommend using the drop down list to find the software. It is faster.
Getting Started with ASP.NET and the ASP.NET Server
The .NET web pages and web services that you will write must be served on the college ASP.NET server whose network address is:
Prior to using ASP.NET 4 and II 7, students in the course needed to go through a startup process to get an account and a directory on the web server.
Due to technical difficulties, Peter Douglass is setting up the accounts and directories for each student. Therefore, students will not need to do the startup process themselves.
Your ASP.NET Site and How Users Will Reach It
As of January 2011, we upgraded the ASP.NET server to IIS 7 and the
web technology to ASP.NET 4. Furthermore, we decided that the top
level directory of the web site will correspond to a subdirectory
v4.0 within your home directory on the ASP.NET web
This decision has an important advantage. It means that you may use
the home directory on your site to store information such as passwords.
This information may be accessed by your code but can never be served
directly over the web to client users precisely because web serving is
restricted to the
In particular, keep in mind the rule:
Put all new files to be served on the web in the
directory or in one of its subdirectories.
Users will reach your site using a URL that begins:
yourusername is your CCIS login username.
In particular, all students in the course must have a CCIS
Notice that the URL presented to users uses
and does not mention the decimal place
4.0. In fact,
from an external perspective, there is no indication that the
v4.0 exists. The mapping of file system
locations to web URLs is handled automatically by the ASP.NET web
Making an ASP.NET 4.0 Web Site
You may find directions for downloading essential files that form the backbone of your initial web site at:
The huge advantage of creating your initial site in this way is that Source Server, Statistics Server, and Search Server will be on your site from day one. These servers play the following roles:
- The servers support the open source philosophy of the course.
- The servers are critical when you ask the instructors to help you with debugging a problem on your site.
- The servers play an essential role in the final grading process.
How to upload your local site is the topic of the next two sections.
Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) and Secure Shell (SSH) Software
Secure file transfer protocol (SFTP) and secure shell (SSH) software is essential for the Web Development course.
- SFTP is needed to load files from your local machine onto the the college’s ASP.NET web server.
- SSH is needed to access the SQL server from your local machine. In particular, you will use SSH to create a 1433 tunnel from your local machine through the college Linux server to the SQL server. For more details, see: Accessing SQL
For a long time, students could download free SSH/SFTP software from the college web site. This software has shown incompatibilities with Windows Vista though it may work with the newer Windows 7.
Here is a link to a free SSH/SFTP software package that we found to work well for students in this course:
Professor Rasala uses Van Dyke SecureCRT and SecureFX but these products are licensed and not free.
Uploading Files To Your ASP.NET Web Site via SFTP
The first step to accessing your ASP.NET site is to create a profile with the information required for SFTP access. Depending on the product, you will either create the profile directly using the SFTP software or indirectly using the companion SSH software. You will need the following settings:
- Host Name:
- User Name:
- Port Number:
Give this profile a convenient name that you will remember.
Notice that the user name has the special form:
This form is required because SSH/SFTP is validating you through Windows authentication but is not smart enough to add the prefix automatically.
Once your profile is set up, you can use SFTP. For some products, you can access SFTP directly. In that case, do so. For other products, you must first login via SSH and then open an SFTP window. In that case, you will get the following message after SSH login:
Shell access has been disabled by the system administrator.
Do not be disturbed since this is normal. The CCIS systems staff will permit you to login but for security reasons will not permit you to execute any commands from the login shell you have just opened. You may only execute available commands from the SSH menus. You will use the SSH menus to initiate file tranfer and to disconnect at the end.
Once you have an open SFTP window, you should be able to drag files in one pane representing your local machine to directories on the ASP.NET server or vice versa.
You should see a directory
v4.0 in your home directory on
the ASP.NET server. As we have said above, all files that are to be
served from the web must be in the
directory. The home directory and other subdirectories may be used to
store files that may be accessed by code on your site but may not
be directly delivered over the web.
Accessing Your Site from a CCIS Lab PC
It is easy to access your home directory on the ASP.NET server if you are logged into a CCIS Lab PC. It is also problematic as we will explain below.
Step 1: Open the Windows Explorer program.
Step 2: Type in
as the directory location in the URL bar.
This is illustrated in the following (old) screen snapshot of Rasala’s directory on the ASP.NET server.
You may now drag-and-drop or manipulate files at will. However, here is the problem. Sometimes, when you drag files from your lab PC to the the ASP.NET server, Windows does not set the target file permissions right. Then, you have problems downstream. This is such an annoyance that we recommend using SFTP for file transfers even when on a CCIS lab PC.
Warning: You may even use Visual Studio to edit files on the server directly if you are on a CCIS lab PC but this is discouraged in the strongest possible terms. Editing files on the server live may lead to having mangled or incomplete files served to users. In the worst case, after a live edit, a site may fail to serve at all. A few years back, one student who insisted on live edit as a strategy took 5 weeks to get a site working. This was simply insane.
From a software engineering viewpoint, the only appropriate behavior is to write and thoroughly test all files locally and then to upload only when you believe the files will work. After upload, you must test to confirm or refute your belief that everything is fine.
Keep in mind the mantra of all software develoment: Backup! You should always have copies of your files in at least 2 places. If you are logged in on a lab machine in the college, then you should save your files on the Z: directory which is directly tied to your UNIX login directory and is therefore backed up by Systems. If you are using your own machine, make a backup strategy and live by it. In either case, if you are about to make dangerous changes to your local site, make a temporary copy of the local site somewhere so you can fall back if needed. You can always delete the temporary copy once you know that all is well.