In my January 2000 article, "FrontPage Server Extensions Make IIS Administration Easier," I talked about installing the Microsoft FrontPage 2000 Server Extensions. The FrontPage 2000 Server Extensions offer a new administrative interface and some useful functions in the Microsoft Management Console (MMC). However, you can't access some server extensions variables from the IIS snap-in.

The FrontPage 2000 Server Extensions administrative interface shows up as new menu options and tabs in the MMC's IIS snap-in rather than as a separate tool. This updated IIS snap-in, which replaces the fpservwin.exe utility, gives you an interface through which you can set most of the server extensions' major functions and their respective properties. When you click the fpservwin.exe shortcut (Start, Programs, Windows NT 4.0 Option Pack, Internet Information Server, FrontPage Server Admin), you receive a message that a newer version of the server extensions exists on the machine and that you should use the Upgrade Server Extensions option from the Task menu to upgrade the server extensions. The installation leaves fpservwin.exe—and the shortcuts that point to it—in place, but they're defunct. (See my January 2000 article for more information about the upgrade process.)

The IIS snap-in is only one of the administrative tools for the FrontPage 2000 Server Extensions. (On a machine running NT, you'll probably administer your server extensions from the MMC's new FrontPage Server Extensions snap-in.) Installation of the server extensions also gives you the command-line versions of the FrontPage administrative tools (fpsrvadm.exe and fpremadm.exe); for remote administration, an HTML version of the snap-in exists. Download information about the use of these utilities and about FrontPage Server Extensions administration for UNIX from the Microsoft FrontPage 2000 Server Extensions Resource Kit at http://msdn.microsoft.com/workshop/languages/fp.

The new IIS snap-in gives you quick and easy access to the server extensions' administrative features. You can create subwebs, convert subdirectories (folders) into subwebs and vice versa, upgrade existing server extensions, and recalculate hyperlinks in a FrontPage web. In addition, the FrontPage Server Extensions snap-in adds new commands for performance-tuning and caching options, email options, and security settings to the Web-site Properties dialog boxes.

Microsoft has folded the FrontPage features that overlap existing IIS features into the IIS snap-in. A Web site appears in the MMC's IIS snap-in whether or not you've installed the server extensions on that site.

The server extensions have grown substantially. The Microsoft FrontPage 98 Server Extensions Resource Kit lists 26 configuration parameters; FrontPage 2000 has 48, many of which you can access from the IIS snap-in. You set FrontPage 98 configuration variables in the frontpg.ini file; you must set FrontPage 2000 variables in the Registry. Variables that you don't specifically control from the IIS snap-in include fine-tuning elements, such as additional mail options, Web-site indexing, source control, access permissions and security, and server performance. You can apply all the FrontPage Server Extensions variables globally on the server machine, individually for each virtual server, and individually for each subweb.

For example, FrontPage sets up the definitions for configuration variables such as AccessControl and RestrictIISUsersAndGroups on multiple levels: global for the whole machine and virtual server for a root Web site and sub-Web site. According to the FrontPage 2000 resource kit, if you define a configuration variable on more than one level, the FrontPage Server Extensions resolve the conflict in a specific order. FrontPage first processes the sub-Web site permissions (if they exist), then the virtual-server-level permissions, and finally the global-level permissions. You'll see how these definitions work as we go through the FrontPage 2000 Server Extensions IIS snap-in options.

Where to Find the New Commands
The new FrontPage server commands in the IIS snap-in appear in three main places—the New menu, the Task menu, and the Server Extensions tab in the Properties dialog boxes. The version number of the currently installed server extensions appears at the bottom of the Server Extensions tab in the Properties dialog box. When you've upgraded the server extensions on a virtual server (i.e., by choosing Task, Upgrade Server Extensions), you can see the new FrontPage administrative options both under the New and Task menus as well as on the Server Extensions tab in the Properties sheet.

The New Menu
At the server-machine or global level, the New menu has the same options as before you installed the FrontPage 2000 Server Extensions. However, if you right-click a virtual server, the New menu has two new options in addition to the Site and Virtual Directory options—Server Extensions Web and Server Extensions Administrator. The Server Extensions Administrator option lets you add a new FrontPage administrator to the current virtual server or subweb. The Server Extensions Web option launches the New Subweb Wizard, which walks you through the process of creating a new subweb under the current virtual server.

The New Subweb Wizard asks for a directory name and title for the new subweb. Note that the wizard doesn't let you browse to the directory on your file system; instead, you must type in the directory name. If the directory already exists, you receive a message that the directory exists and that the wizard won't preserve the content of the directory. However, the wizard will re-parent the directory you just named under the current virtual root to make it a subweb. If no directory exists with the name you specified, the wizard creates it under the current virtual root web. Next, the wizard asks whether you want to use the same permissions as those for the root web. Depending on your server and which options you choose, the wizard either helps you assign an existing Windows account or creates new groups for browsing, authoring, and administering the new subweb. After you make your selections, you'll see a summary screen for the new subweb.

The Task Menu
At the virtual server level, the Task menu has four options—Check Server Extensions, Open With FrontPage, Recalculate Web, and Remove Server Extensions, as Screen 1 shows. At the subweb level, the Task menu has Check Server Extensions, Open With FrontPage, Recalculate Web, Remove Server Extensions Web (which isn't the same as the Remove Server Extensions option at the virtual server level), and one additional option—Convert Server Extensions Web to Directory.

If you've installed FrontPage on a server, Open With FrontPage does what you would expect. Recalculate Web checks the hyperlinks on the Web site, then rebuilds the site inventory based on what is in the Web site's directories, which is useful if you use a regular File, Copy operation to move content into a Web site (without using the FrontPage client). The FrontPage client won't see this content until you perform a Recalculate Web operation. (This same option is available in the FrontPage client under the Tools menu, but there it's called Recalculate Hyperlinks.) If you change any settings in the Microsoft Index Server machine or in the configuration of your search operations, Recalculate Web (or Recalculate Hyperlinks) makes sure that all the search-engine reference files update as well.

The Remove Server Extensions option effectively turns a virtual root back into a regular Web site. The option doesn't touch the Web site's content, but it removes FrontPage components such as search forms, form handlers, email responders, navigation bars, themes, hit counters, and to-do lists.

Check Server Extensions is a powerful fix-up utility that can not only find problems on a FrontPage Web site but also fix them on the fly. I was impressed with the diagnostics and error-correcting capabilities of the FrontPage 2000 version of the Check Server Extensions feature. To test the feature, I published a subweb with a nested subweb (MarniesDomain and newweb) from my workstation, which runs the FrontPage wide-area Internet search (WAIS) engine, into a subweb under the WebDev virtual root, which uses Index Server. When you perform Check Server Extensions, the Check Web diagnostics window opens. This window displays a running log of the diagnostic's operations. Screen 2 shows the Check Web log from my test, which I ran from the root web WebDev. Notice that Check Web checked the root and all the subwebs and fixed problems it found. It also set up the new directory Index Server required on the new virtual root and changed file permissions in MarniesDomain and in the subweb called newweb to keep my executable files viable. Most important, when Check Web finished, the newweb directory was really a FrontPage subweb with fully functional extensions, navigation bars, themes, and search capabilities.

Check Server Extensions and Recalculate Web help significantly if you use Windows Explorer rather than FrontPage to copy files in order to create or update a web. A File, Copy operation doesn't preserve all the permissions a FrontPage Web site requires, nor can it adjust for a different index server on a new virtual server. Previously, this behavior could cause serious problems because sometimes you can't use FrontPage to publish content—for example, when you're restoring a drive after a crash. Sometimes you need to copy content directly into a Web site. The Check Server Extensions and Recalculate Web utilities help restore a FrontPage Web site. Use Recalculate Web to make FrontPage aware of the new files; use Check Server Extensions to fix permissions and replace missing files.

At the subweb level, Convert Server Extensions Web to Directory effectively turns a subweb into a virtual directory. The virtual directory inherits all its FrontPage-extended features from its parent (e.g., its browse and author permissions, to-do list, and navigation bars). Remove Server Extensions Web deletes the entire subweb—content and all. In the FrontPage 98 client, this feature was available under the File menu.

Server Extensions Tab—Global Level
The Server Extensions tab, which Screen 3, page 14, shows, appears on all virtual server Properties sheets, but different options appear depending on which level you're looking at. At the IIS server machine (or global) level, you can see performance, scripting, email, and permissions options. Information at the global level becomes the default for all virtual servers in the machine.

Performance options. Performance-tuning options range from general tuning (e.g., tune for fewer than 100 pages) to specific custom tuning options for in-memory cache, test index search size, and maximum document size in the cache. Establish these custom settings in the Performance dialog box, which Screen 4 shows. (Access this dialog box by clicking Settings in the General section of the Server Extensions tab.) Table 1 illustrates the levels at which you can override Performance options.

Client Scripting options and Mail options. The Client Scripting options are JavaScript and VBScript. You can establish mail settings much more easily in FrontPage 2000 than you can in FrontPage 98. In FrontPage 98, you need to establish the settings by assigning the FrontPage configuration parameter SMTPHost equal to the mail server name in the frontpg.ini file (e.g., SMTPHost=mail.example.com, SMTPHost = 127.0.0.1). In FrontPage 2000, you access the Email Settings dialog box by clicking Settings in the Options section of the Server Extensions tab. The Email Settings option in the IIS snap-in, which Screen 5 shows, gives you an easy way to set up not only the mail host but also the virtual server's email address, contact address, the type of mail encoding, and the character set. Table 1 illustrates at what levels you can override Client Scripting and Mail options. Information at the global level becomes the default for all virtual servers in the machine.

Permissions options. Setting the Permissions options at the global level lets you set security defaults for all the virtual servers in the machine. Four Permissions options exist:

  • Log authoring actions creates a log of all authoring activities and stores the log in the root web's _vti_log/author.log file. This type of log is a great source of information both about your authors and about intruders. Repeated failed logon attempts are a good indication that someone is trying to break in to a site.
  • Manage permissions manually lets you set up the FrontPage Server Extensions at the global level; it also lets you prevent someone using the FrontPage administrative tools from changing the settings.
  • Require SSL for authoring permits authoring only over Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).
  • Allow authors to upload executables controls the influx of executables into the global environment. You can override this setting at the virtual server level and let authors upload executables only into selected Web sites.
Table 1 illustrates at what levels you can override Permissions options.

Server Extensions Tab—Virtual Server Level
At the virtual server level, you have several options in addition to those at the global level: Enable authoring, Version control, and Don't Inherit Security Settings. Each virtual server can have individual settings for all the options Screen 6 shows. As an administrator, you can turn on authoring and version control for each server without changing any of the default permissions for a virtual server or any of its subwebs. The Enable authoring option lets the FrontPage administrator freeze the content in a virtual server and all its subwebs. Each virtual server can have separate performance tuning, which lets you adjust performance based on the characteristics of that virtual server.

If you installed the Microsoft Office 2000 Server Extensions, you have access to the collaboration-configuration and administrative features from the Server Extensions Properties dialog box. (In Screen 6, these options are unavailable because I haven't installed the Office server extensions on this particular server.)

By selecting the Don't Inherit Security Settings check box, you can override any of the global Permissions settings for a specific virtual server. For example, one virtual server in a server machine might require SSL for authoring, whereas another virtual server might not let authors upload executables.

Server Extensions Tab—Subweb Level
At the subweb level, the only options available are Version control, Performance, and Client scripting, as Screen 7 shows. Any values you set at this level supersede any values you set at the virtual server or global levels. Thus, each subweb can have separate version control, performance tuning, and default scripting language.

FrontPage Server Extensions and the Registry
You control most of the new FrontPage 2000 Server Extensions from the IIS snap-in. However, you must set several extensions manually in the Registry, such as indexing options and some of the more subtle FrontPage configuration variables (e.g., DisableAutoImgSizeExts). Most FrontPage and IIS administrators don't need to access these variables, but if you need more information about them, check out http://officeupdate.microsoft.com/frontpage/wpp/serk/apndx03.htm.