Dealing with links embedded in Excel

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Dealing with links embedded in Excel

McDermott, Michael
Dear Shib Users,
A crafty user has created a report that generates an excel file which will display a list of errors for their problem domain and a link to the specific record in the web application that manages that domain.  The application is protected by shibboleth.  All of the individual links work, they just do not work in when clicking them in Excel in Windows.

It seems that this problem is documented:


After some debugging, this is clearly an Excel problem, the root of which seems to be that Excel makes the initial http call and does not invoke the browser until it gets an http 200 response code (and in a normal interaction there would be a few redirects before you get to the login page).  The effect is that the user's browser arrives at the Shibboleth IdP login screen, not knowing which SP this request is for and so the process fails after login.  I have tried to work through this with both SP and IdP initiated AuthN and since they both use redirects, the error is the same.

On the surface it seems like there is a problem with Shibboleth, particularly since a diligent, non technical user will paste the link into their browser to confirm it works at all before calling.

As in the preceding posts, I do not have a work around in Excel (e.g. a way to make Excel open the browser and then pass in the link), so if someone does, please let me know.

At the very least this might server as a warning to others that this issue exists and your IdP works fine.

--
Michael J. McDermott
Lead Developer, Identity and Access Management
Brown University



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RE: Dealing with links embedded in Excel

Wessel, Keith William

Hi,Michael,

 

Yes, this is a Microsoft issue, not a Shib issue. We’ve even seen it in our legacy SSO (non-Shib) setup. Microsoft tries to pass the blame to the SSO in this KB article:

 

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/899927

 

But at least they consider it to be a known issue.

 

There is a registry hack that will tell Ofice apps to open the link in the browser and not Office. It’s not ideal, though, since it does meana registry modification.

 

Good luck, and if anyone’s found another way around this, I’d love to hear about it, too.

 

Keith

 

 

 

From: [hidden email] [mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of McDermott, Michael
Sent: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 12:13 PM
To: Shib Users
Subject: Dealing with links embedded in Excel

 

Dear Shib Users,

A crafty user has created a report that generates an excel file which will display a list of errors for their problem domain and a link to the specific record in the web application that manages that domain.  The application is protected by shibboleth.  All of the individual links work, they just do not work in when clicking them in Excel in Windows.

 

It seems that this problem is documented:

 

<a href="https://groups.google.com/group/shibboleth-users/browse_thread/thread/f5947a2e99fff37e/11b670f90f9cd550?lnk=gst&amp;q=word&#43;link&#43;problem&amp;pli=1#11b670f90f9cd550" target="_blank">https://groups.google.com/group/shibboleth-users/browse_thread/thread/f5947a2e99fff37e/11b670f90f9cd550?lnk=gst&q=word+link+problem&pli=1#11b670f90f9cd550

 

After some debugging, this is clearly an Excel problem, the root of which seems to be that Excel makes the initial http call and does not invoke the browser until it gets an http 200 response code (and in a normal interaction there would be a few redirects before you get to the login page).  The effect is that the user's browser arrives at the Shibboleth IdP login screen, not knowing which SP this request is for and so the process fails after login.  I have tried to work through this with both SP and IdP initiated AuthN and since they both use redirects, the error is the same.

 

On the surface it seems like there is a problem with Shibboleth, particularly since a diligent, non technical user will paste the link into their browser to confirm it works at all before calling.

 

As in the preceding posts, I do not have a work around in Excel (e.g. a way to make Excel open the browser and then pass in the link), so if someone does, please let me know.

 

At the very least this might server as a warning to others that this issue exists and your IdP works fine.

 

--
Michael J. McDermott
Lead Developer, Identity and Access Management
Brown University


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Re: Dealing with links embedded in Excel

Peter Schober
In reply to this post by McDermott, Michael
* McDermott, Michael <[hidden email]> [2011-09-28 19:13]:
> It seems that this problem is documented:
> http://shibboleth.1660669.n2.nabble.com/links-in-Microsoft-office-break-shibboleth-login-td5186632.html
>
>
>https://groups.google.com/group/shibboleth-users/browse_thread/thread/f5947a2e99fff37e/11b670f90f9cd550?lnk=gst&q=word+link+problem&pli=1#11b670f90f9cd550

[...]

> As in the preceding posts, I do not have a work around in Excel
> (e.g. a way to make Excel open the browser and then pass in the
> link), so if someone does, please let me know.

Saying "As in the preceding posts, I do not have a work around" seems
rather odd, because clearly in the second posts there are detailed
instructions for exactly such a workaround (thanks to Niels forwarding
them) from someone of the "SharePoint Ranger team".

So are you're trying to say that the workaround does not exist or did
not actually work on your specific release of Microsoft software?
Well, either way, the instructions clearly state that this is an issue
with Microsoft'S "Office client", so you know whom to ask.
-peter
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RE: Dealing with links embedded in Excel

Kevin P. Foote
In reply to this post by Wessel, Keith William
Thanks Keith / Michael -

Wow! ..shib users list is reading my mind.. / todo list :-)

This is great info!

I've received reports of errors on this same issue.. stating that
in previous semesters links embedded in M$Office products worked.. but
now they don't.

I was getting ready to back rev my dev IdP to do more investigation
whether or not the move from 2.2.1 to 2.3.3 was the culprit.

Seems the OS / Office combo is the place to look .. now I'll point back
to the Windows 7 desktop upgrade :-)

Thanks again guys..

------
thanks
  kevin.foote

On Wed, 28 Sep 2011, Wessel, Keith William wrote:

-> Hi,Michael,
->
-> Yes, this is a Microsoft issue, not a Shib issue. We've even seen it in our legacy SSO (non-Shib) setup. Microsoft tries to pass the blame to the SSO in this KB article:
->
->
-> http://support.microsoft.com/kb/899927
->
-> But at least they consider it to be a known issue.
->
-> There is a registry hack that will tell Ofice apps to open the link in the browser and not Office. It's not ideal, though, since it does meana registry modification.
->
-> Good luck, and if anyone's found another way around this, I'd love to hear about it, too.
->
-> Keith
->
->
->
-> From: [hidden email] [mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of McDermott, Michael
-> Sent: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 12:13 PM
-> To: Shib Users
-> Subject: Dealing with links embedded in Excel
->
-> Dear Shib Users,
-> A crafty user has created a report that generates an excel file which will display a list of errors for their problem domain and a link to the specific record in the web application that manages that domain.  The application is protected by shibboleth.  All of the individual links work, they just do not work in when clicking them in Excel in Windows.
->
-> It seems that this problem is documented:
-> http://shibboleth.1660669.n2.nabble.com/links-in-Microsoft-office-break-shibboleth-login-td5186632.html
->
-> https://groups.google.com/group/shibboleth-users/browse_thread/thread/f5947a2e99fff37e/11b670f90f9cd550?lnk=gst&q=word+link+problem&pli=1#11b670f90f9cd550
->
-> After some debugging, this is clearly an Excel problem, the root of which seems to be that Excel makes the initial http call and does not invoke the browser until it gets an http 200 response code (and in a normal interaction there would be a few redirects before you get to the login page).  The effect is that the user's browser arrives at the Shibboleth IdP login screen, not knowing which SP this request is for and so the process fails after login.  I have tried to work through this with both SP and IdP initiated AuthN and since they both use redirects, the error is the same.
->
-> On the surface it seems like there is a problem with Shibboleth, particularly since a diligent, non technical user will paste the link into their browser to confirm it works at all before calling.
->
-> As in the preceding posts, I do not have a work around in Excel (e.g. a way to make Excel open the browser and then pass in the link), so if someone does, please let me know.
->
-> At the very least this might server as a warning to others that this issue exists and your IdP works fine.
->
-> --
-> Michael J. McDermott
-> Lead Developer, Identity and Access Management
-> Brown University
->
->
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Re: Dealing with links embedded in Excel

McDermott, Michael
Kevin and Keith,
Thanks for the response.  If I hear anything that isn't posted to the list, I'll let you know.

Peter,
It 'seems rather odd' that you missed the part of the earlier thread where Nils stated, "I have not tested it yet, and even if this works, there is currently only a fix for 0ffice 2007 on XP :( "  Perhaps there was a follow up that was not part of the same thread, but it didn't surface in the threads I found; no doubt if there was you coud point me to it.

I am grateful to Nils for pointing out the registry hack, but no where in the post is there a confirmation that it a) works, or b) works outside of the specific configurations referenced, which as of today, are not current for either the operating system or the office suite, and lets not forget the laggards on earlier versions of office.  Of course there are the overwhelming concerns with a 'registry hack as solution' approach that many people either cannot access their registry, could really mess it up if they could, and may have no idea what a registry might be in the first place.  

It also 'seems rather odd' that you may not have thought that the most recent previous posts are almost a year out of date and perhaps new information has come up.  That was my first thought.  Also new people join the community all the time that might know something about the issue.  That was my second thought.

It also 'seems rather odd' that you replied to my post which clearly states  "After some debugging, this is clearly an Excel problem" with a seeming admonishment "Well, either way, the instructions clearly state that this is an issue with Microsoft'S "Office client", so you know whom to ask.  

It also 'seems rather odd' that you feel the need to post a response to a volunteer and largely positive and helpful community that boils down to, "I don't know the answer or how to help you and I cannot provide any new information, but this thread resembles another thread and it is a Microsoft problem so go away" particularly after not actually reading either the current thread or the referenced earlier threads in detail.  

This is a list for users looking for help with problems related to Shibboleth, and since anyone encountering the problem will "blame" shibboleth given that basic empirical testing will indicate the link they see and click on in excel works fine when they paste it in the url bar of their browser, and every other link that they've clicked on in Excel works fine.  While the fault may not be with the Shibboleth software, it is certainly something that minders of SPs and IdPs would be brought into help debug and fix if possible.  In that regard, checking in to see if a solution has emerged to a common problem is a perfectly fine topic for this list.

Oddities abound it seems.

-mike



On Wed, Sep 28, 2011 at 1:44 PM, Kevin P. Foote <[hidden email]> wrote:
Thanks Keith / Michael -

Wow! ..shib users list is reading my mind.. / todo list :-)

This is great info!

I've received reports of errors on this same issue.. stating that
in previous semesters links embedded in M$Office products worked.. but
now they don't.

I was getting ready to back rev my dev IdP to do more investigation
whether or not the move from 2.2.1 to 2.3.3 was the culprit.

Seems the OS / Office combo is the place to look .. now I'll point back
to the Windows 7 desktop upgrade :-)

Thanks again guys..

------
thanks
 kevin.foote

On Wed, 28 Sep 2011, Wessel, Keith William wrote:

-> Hi,Michael,
->
-> Yes, this is a Microsoft issue, not a Shib issue. We've even seen it in our legacy SSO (non-Shib) setup. Microsoft tries to pass the blame to the SSO in this KB article:
->
->
-> http://support.microsoft.com/kb/899927
->
-> But at least they consider it to be a known issue.
->
-> There is a registry hack that will tell Ofice apps to open the link in the browser and not Office. It's not ideal, though, since it does meana registry modification.
->
-> Good luck, and if anyone's found another way around this, I'd love to hear about it, too.
->
-> Keith
->
->
->
-> From: [hidden email] [mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of McDermott, Michael
-> Sent: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 12:13 PM
-> To: Shib Users
-> Subject: Dealing with links embedded in Excel
->
-> Dear Shib Users,
-> A crafty user has created a report that generates an excel file which will display a list of errors for their problem domain and a link to the specific record in the web application that manages that domain.  The application is protected by shibboleth.  All of the individual links work, they just do not work in when clicking them in Excel in Windows.
->
-> It seems that this problem is documented:
-> http://shibboleth.1660669.n2.nabble.com/links-in-Microsoft-office-break-shibboleth-login-td5186632.html
->
-> https://groups.google.com/group/shibboleth-users/browse_thread/thread/f5947a2e99fff37e/11b670f90f9cd550?lnk=gst&q=word+link+problem&pli=1#11b670f90f9cd550
->
-> After some debugging, this is clearly an Excel problem, the root of which seems to be that Excel makes the initial http call and does not invoke the browser until it gets an http 200 response code (and in a normal interaction there would be a few redirects before you get to the login page).  The effect is that the user's browser arrives at the Shibboleth IdP login screen, not knowing which SP this request is for and so the process fails after login.  I have tried to work through this with both SP and IdP initiated AuthN and since they both use redirects, the error is the same.
->
-> On the surface it seems like there is a problem with Shibboleth, particularly since a diligent, non technical user will paste the link into their browser to confirm it works at all before calling.
->
-> As in the preceding posts, I do not have a work around in Excel (e.g. a way to make Excel open the browser and then pass in the link), so if someone does, please let me know.
->
-> At the very least this might server as a warning to others that this issue exists and your IdP works fine.
->
-> --
-> Michael J. McDermott
-> Lead Developer, Identity and Access Management
-> Brown University
->
->
--
To unsubscribe from this list send an email to [hidden email]



--
Michael J. McDermott
Lead Developer, Identity and Access Management
Brown University



--
To unsubscribe from this list send an email to [hidden email]