A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about IIS Extensions – new functionality for IIS that comes directly from the development team on a continuous basis. Well this week we have two more pre-release Extensions available, and each is a “Go Live” release candidate, meaning that they have reached the last milestone on the step to RTM, and are both therefore of sufficient quality to be used on production machines.

First up, we have now released a Go Live version of URL Rewriter, a rules-based engine that does exactly what it says on the tin – it allows you to rewrite your Web application URLs to be more user-friendly and search engine-friendly. Not only does this mean easier content handling, but you can also use the rewriting rules as a way to obfuscate your Web application information so as not to leave any hints for potential site hackers. Of course, security by obscurity should never be your only defense, but there’s no point in leaving a trail of breadcrumbs to your door if you don’t need to.

This is a pretty powerful module for IIS, and one that delivers oft-requested functionality similar to Apache’s mod_rewrite feature, plus much more besides. It has full regular expression pattern-matching and wildcard matching, global and local rules that can be applied server-wide or against a specific application directory, rewrite rules that can perform other actions such as sending an HTTP redirect or other status code, full access to server variables and HTTP headers, and it is completely integrated with other IIS features, meaning that you can use it with both kernel mode and user mode caching, troubleshoot rewriting errors through Failed Request Tracing, and configure the whole thing through a rich graphical user interface that is exposed through IIS Manager. Oh, and did I mention that you can import existing mod_rewrite rules directly to work with the IIS URL Rewriter?

Our second Extension update this week is a Release Candidate (a.k.a. “Go Live”) of Web Playlists, which allows media publishers and site managers to more directly control how media files are delivered to an end user, including limiting the ability to skip past or through specific playlist entries. Again, this module is integrated with IIS Manager, and the engine itself is implemented as a request handler for the IIS 7.0 integrated pipeline while the playlists themselves are stored in XML-based .isx files. In fact, with this release candidate, we have updated the XML format used to embrace the Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL) open standard.

The other main updates in this release are the ability to use client-side caching (previously disabled), and also to customize the output format by applying an XSLT stylesheet to the playlist. Once again, this release is ready for prime-time and is encouraged for use in production deployments. Are you already using an earlier release of URL Rewriter or Web Playlists, or will you be using these new release candidates? Let us know – we’d love to hear from you!

David Lowe.