I don't get much of a chance to talk about content development; after all, this newsletter deals with IIS administration. But let's talk content for a minute as it relates to IIS administration. People who are responsible for content spend a lot of time perfecting Web pages and creating consistent Web products, but they often overlook something that happens often: error pages—those plain text pages that appear when you hit a bad link, the server is too busy, or you enter a bad username or password.

You can configure Microsoft IIS 4.0 and 5.0 to display custom error pages when users send HTML requests that result in server errors. Users can encounter several dozen possible errors; you can set up custom error pages in your own content style for errors such as page not found (error 404), logon failed ( error 401.1), or internal server error (error 500). You can customize these pages to fit your Web site's style.

You have two options when you create custom error pages. You can map requests to a file on the local Web server or, in many instances, to a URL. You can also assign error pages at the Web site, virtual-directory, directory, or file level, so that each of your Web sites has its own custom error page.

You can further customize error pages by using an Active Server Pages (ASP) page to handle specific issues. For instance, special ASP code could let users provide feedback about internal server errors and could include the URL of the page that generated the error.

To implement custom error pages, simply right-click the Web site, virtual directory, directory, or file for which you want to set up a custom error page, and select Properties. Select the Custom errors tab, and select the error code you want to change; then from the 'Message Type drop-down' box, select File, if you have a custom error page, or URL, to point to an existing error page. Browse to the correct file name or type in the URL. Click OK to save the changes.

You can use this information to create interesting error pages that enliven your Web site.

Until next time,