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When Smart Quotes Aren’t Smart – CertReq Error with the New Step-by-Step for Windows Server 2008 CA

When Smart Quotes Aren’t Smart – CertReq Error with the New Step-by-Step for Windows Server 2008 CA

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Although our documentation is XML-based, we use Microsoft Word as our editor, and Word likes “smart quotes” – which has resulted in a problem for the Copy Code section in our new step-by-step topic for Windows Server 2008 CA.  Smart quotation marks are also known as curly (and typographer's or book) quotes, with an example being in the preceding sentence.  The text used for the inf file should have used "straight quotation marks", which I’m learning are also known as standard quotes, dumb quotes, typewriter quotes, and even ambidextrous quotes.  Amazing how such a small mark can have so many names, and cause so many problems …

So what is the problem exactly?  Where we have Subject = “CN=The site code of this site server is <site-code>”  - it should be Subject = "CN=The site code of this site server is <site-code>".  And similarly, the following example should be Subject = "CN=The site code of this site server is A01".

When you use smart quotes in the inf file instead of straight quotes, this subtle but important difference results in CertReq displaying a Certificate Request Processor error The string contains an Invalid X500 name attribute key, oid, value or delimiter, 0x80092023 (-2146995597).  That error message isn’t terribly helpful in identifying the problem, but if you then open the file again with a text editor such as Notepad (not Word!), you will see that the quotation marks are replaced with strange characters.  Simply delete the strange characters and replace them with quotation marks in your text editor, and they will then save as "straight quotes".

 

We’re working to update the topic on the Web for this correction – and we’ll know better for next time!

Update October 1st 2008:  Thanks to the special powers of our publishing friends, Marjean Bafus and Amy Ash, we've been able to straighten the curly quotes so that this problem is now corrected in the online version.  Because their straightening powers do not extend to the help file that has already shipped with R2 (SMSv4.chm), you will have to use your own quote straightening techniques (described in this post) if you are using the help that shipped with the product.

If you want a better definition and examples of the two types of quotation marks, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_quotes.  And if this isn't making sense because the HTML rendering is having a problem displaying the quotation marks in this post, or you are having any other issues with the instructions in this particular topic, send me an e-mail at SMSDocs@Microsoft.com.

 

- Carol

 

 

This posting is provided AS IS with no warranties and confers no rights.

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