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Web Host Setup And Testing

This document describes how Collect! can be set up in your office to work as a simple web server - communicating over the Internet with your operators or your clients anywhere in the world - while you maintain control over what they see and what they do. Web Host is an ideal solution for Internet accessibility and for modern intranet works.

Streamline data entry and retrieval with Web Host's ultimate flexibility. Create custom easy-to-understand data entry forms for your staff to use from their Internet browsers. Create elegant reports to display account information to your clients. Web Host functionality is supported by sophisticated, powerful backend processing through Collect!

Collect! Web Host works with browsers such as Internet Explorer and Netscape. It has been tested with Internet Explorer 5.5 and higher and with third party tools used for 256 bit encryption. Using other browsers may produce unexpected results.

tip.gif By default, Collect! Web Host has SSL functionality enabled to provide encryption services for secure mode. All that is required is that you start the Web Host with the /W1ss argument in the Web Host startup icon. Collect! will use Port 443 for HTTPS by default, or you can set a different port using the /y argument.

Comtech is not responsible for the security of your data. Internet security is complex and rapidly changing and requires a dedicated security specialist.

Setup Background Requirements

  • Basic concepts of HTML
  • Basic concepts of Networks
  • Firewall/Security for Internet

System Requirements

  • Reliable TCP/IP network with appropriate name resolution
  • Internet Explorer 5.5 or higher
  • A third party SSL product (e.g. sonicwall)

Operation

Two distinct entities are involved with the operation of the system:

  • The server side is a CV11.exe process.
  • The client side is a web browser.

Server:

Collect!'s HTTP server listens on the port number specified in the /Snn command line entry. The default is port 80 for HTTP servers, so, typically, you want to start with /S80. By using port 80, you make it possible to just type the server's network name into the browser's navigation pane and you end up on the server.

You also need the /W1ss /y443 command line argument to kick it into web server secure mode. (Tech Note - It operates in a packet routing mode if the /Snn is specified without the /W1ss argument.) Collect! will use Port 443 for HTTPS by default, or you can set a different port using the /y argument.

When operating as a web server, /S80 /W1ss /y443, you can now use your Internet browser to submit encrypted data to the Collect! server, using Collect!'s internal SSL handling.

tip.gif If you are using a third party SSL utility, use the arguments, /S80 /W1s for Web Host secure mode.

Client:

The Collect! server receives a POST command from an HTTP browser form submit. We parse the command and save it to a *.csv file in the UserID folder. Then we call the importmap specified in the posted data from the web page. This lets us interpret the fields in the *.csv file linearly in a customized import map. The hidden field named 'importmap' is skipped and then the rest of the fields are saved to the *.csv file.

Please review our examples. You can use these, modify them, or create your own.

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Web Host Shortcut Command Line Arguments

The Web Host command line should be using a UNC path to the CV11.exe file as well as the following three arguments /S80 /W1ss /y443.

The /Snn argument causes Collect! to listen on Port nn. So /S80 causes Collect! to listen on Port 80.

A /W1 argument makes Collect! start as an HTTP server. The /W1ss argument enables Web Host internal SSL functionality using SSL 2.3 with 256 bit encryption. To specify other option, please see the section below, "Secure Mode."

The /W1s argument enables Web Host secure mode when using a third party SSL utility.The default is SSL 2.3. To specify other option, please see the section below, "Secure Mode."

The /y443 argument specifies the secure port to use for HTTPs requests.

tip.gif By default, Collect! Web Host has SSL functionality enabled to provide encryption services for secure mode. The necessary Keys and Certs are created automatically when you first open Web Host.

Additional arguments cause the web server to automatically sign into Collect! Use the argument /i{ User ID} for the User ID. You must use a valid ID that is already set up in your Operators. For example, /iWEB. Use /p{ Password} for the User Password. This must be the valid password for the User ID that is set up in your Operators. For example, /pWEB.

Examples:

1. Secure mode with the use of the /W1ss /y443 arguments:


Collect! Web Host with Collect!'s internal SSL handling enabled

2. Secure mode with the use of the /W1s argument:


Collect! Web Host - Secure Mode - when using a third party SSL utility

3. Web host mode, not secure:


Collect! Web Host - Not Secure - Not recommended

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SSL Encryption Levels

Collect! supports all common encryption methods. You can use any one of the following.

To enable a specific encryption method, you can simply add one of the following arguments to the Web Host shortcut.

/w1s ARG/w1ss ARGENCRYPTION METHOD
/w1s/w1ssSSL2.3
/w1s0/w1ss0SSL3.0
/w1s1/w1ss1SSL2.0
/w1s2/w1ss2SSL2.3
/w1s3 /w1ss3TLS1.0
/w1s4/w1ss4DTLS1.0

Example:

C:\CV11\bin\CV11.exe /W1ss2 /S80 /y443 /m

tip.gif When you open the Web Host, the read-only "Security" field displays the encryption method Web Host is currently using.


Collect! Web Host using SSL2.3 Encryption

If no encryption method is used, this field will display the word "none."

tip.gif It is recommended that your internet browser encryption method setting matches the encryption level you are using for Web Host.

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Web Host Test Mode

When Collect! is started in Web Host mode, menus are disabled. They can be re-enabled by signing in as User Level 99. As a command line argument, the letter 't' is also available if you want to start the Web Host in "test mode" based on the current user level rights. For example, /wt1s or /wt1ss will start up Web Host in test mode with all menus enabled.

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W3 Mode

Real time updates to the system are possible through Web Host using the /W3 startup option. This enables predictive dialer users to return results of call campaigns to Collect! using XML. Normal system password authentication is bypassed and data is imported directly into the system. This may be used with Trusted Hosts available through the System menu, Network and Environment option.

Example:

/S80 /W3 /y443

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Web Host Packet Logging

This argument, /whl, is used for troubleshooting transmission of Web Host data. The /whl command will also prevent the deletion of the temporary CSV files that Collect! uses for XML Data Pump.

Example:
C:\CV11\CV11.exe /S80 /W3 /y443 /whl
Web Host Packet Logging Enabled

This will generate a text file in your CV11\bin folder, i.e. "webhostpacketlog.txt." This is for advanced developer troubleshooting. This file can be used to reproduce HTTP headers and payload content, for instance in XML Data Pump troubleshooting.

tip.gif This will also allow you to log SSL encrypted sessions too, since Collect! writes to these files after the decryption phase.

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Timed Shut Down

If you wish to log out of the Web Host automatically at a given time, you can use the command line argument /T in the CV11 shortcut you use to start the Web Host.

Example:
C:\CV11\CV11.exe /S80 /W1ss /y443 /T1:30
Shut down Collect! Web Host at 1:30 AM (Uses 24 hour clock)

The Web Host ignores any settings set in Database Preferences for Auto Log Out After and will not shut down automatically unless you use /T in your shortcut as shown above.

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Setting Up Collect! Web Host Users

To set up an operator to have access to the Web Host via the browser, each web operator must have 'Allow Browser Signon' switched ON. Click "System\Rights\Operators" then click on the Operator you wish to set up for Web Host OR click the New button to create a fresh login. In the Security Tab of the Operator screen, the "Allow browser signon" software switch is located in the middle of window, to the left of Group ID.

tip.gif If you are creating or testing anything that could affect your live production environment, we recommend experimenting in your demodb first, before taking your new process or scenario live to your masterdb.

Collect! currently demonstrates 7 user security levels set up to access the Web Host. These are Client, Owner, Data Entry, Accountant, and Collector (CL1, OWN, DEN, ACT, SMG, SAL and JC.) Each of these levels has its own distinct viewable pages. The CL1 operator is a Guest level mainly in place for clients to view your Web Host before they come on board. Other user levels may be used as well, including a Client Group operator.

Please refer to How To Add A User To Web Host for additional information.

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Trusted Hosts

Web Host access may be limited only to IP addresses you list in Trusted Hosts. When this feature is enabled, no other IP addresses will be allowed to access Web Host screens. Please see the Help topic, Trusted Hosts, for more information.

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Web Host Preferences

Additional Web Host related settings may be set at the global level in the Database Preferences window.

Maximum Web Host Users sets the number of active users that Web Host will allow during any given session.

Web Host Session Mem KB sets the maximum size of data packets Web Host will send and receive.

Please refer to Database Preferences for details about these settings.

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Windows Security Alert

The first time you start the Web Host, you may see a security alert if you are running Windows XP or a third party firewall. Please refer to Windows XP Firewall for details for set your security to allow the Web Host to accept connections from the internet.

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Logging In Via The Browser

With your Web Host running, open your browser. You would type into the Address bar, the IP address or UNC path of the computer that has the Collect! Web Host running.

tip.gif If this is on the same machine that you are currently using, you can use 'localhost' for the path. Login with each UserID to view the different interfaces. When a User logs in for the first time, Collect! Web Host creates a folder for that UserID. For example, CV11\data\html\users\98\CL1)

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Technical Description

How the Browser Interacts with Collect! Web Host

Collect! Web Host is intended to be a simple means whereby you can

  • Give your customers access to live reports and data
  • Allow data entry by personnel using a browser

tip.gif All users who wish to access Collect!'s Web Host must use a browser that supports HTTP 1.1 protocol. All samples have been designed and tested for Internet Explorer 5.5 and higher with 'Use HTTP 1.1' switched ON in Internet Options - Advanced Settings.

Collect! Web Host uses two processes: Import and Report

The imports and reports in the Collect! Web Host are totally separate from Collect! They are stored in the html\db folder of the database. Collect! Web Host responds to HTML FORM submissions of the GET and POST requests. Collect! looks at the Action property of the FORM and will either call an Import or call a Report. The type of import or report that is called is determined by a hidden input tag. This tag has a NAME property of either 'importmap' or 'reportmap'. The VALUE property of this input tag would be the exact name of the import map or report that you want to call. When an 'importmap' is called, the hidden 'importmap' is skipped and the rest of the fields are saved to a *.csv file in that UserID's folder. Collect! Web Host then imports that file. All of these requests are displayed on the HTTP Request Log form in the Web Host.

Please review our examples in the Collect! Web Host. You can use these, modify them, or create your own.

Background Requirements for Editing/Creating Imports:

- Knowledge of Database Imports with CSV files.

Please refer to How To Create A Single Record Import Map.

Background Requirements for Editing/ Creating Reports:

- Knowledge of HTML code.
- Knowledge of writing reports in Collect!

Please refer to Report Topics Index.

Changing Colors for the Collect! Web Host interfaces

- Knowledge of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)

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Testing Your Web Host Security

tip.gif SSL encryption is built into Collect!. Use the command line argument /W1ss /y443 to start Collect! Web Host in secure mode.

To test the Web Host, start your browser on the Server and type https://localhost into the Address field. Your browser should display the default Collect! Web Host sign on page.


Collect! Web Host Home Page

Collect! Web Host Sign On Screen

tip.gif When using the Web Host in secure mode, there should be a symbol of a lock in the Internet Explorer status bar (in the LOWER RIGHT corner of your screen) as shown below.


Security Lock Indicator In Status Bar of Your Browser

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Ports Used For Web Host Secure Mode

By default, security software listens on port 443, manages the security, and passes unencrypted data to the Web Host, which listens, by default, on port 80. Similarly, data from Collect! Web Host is encrypted and sent back to the requesting client. You would configure your third party security software to set the port values and a number of other details.

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HTML Folder Hierarchy

Html folders are organized under the database folder in subfolders, one per user level, {database}\html\users\level\userid. The user level subfolder contains personal folders for each web user.

Requests for html pages by authorized users are processed as follows:

Collect! Web Host checks the user's personal folder.

If the file exists there, it is returned.

If the file is not found in the user's personal folder, Collect! Web Host checks the user level's template folder and returns the file if found there.

If the file is not in the user level template folder, then the master template folder is checked and the file is returned from there.

While this may seem to be an unusual way of dealing with web page requests, this scheme allows you to fully customize each user's web experience, yet easily maintain a set of general web pages that apply to groups of users.

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User Authentication

When a valid user signs into Web Host, Web Host holds on to their login information. When the user logs out of Web Host, the information is cleared. If instead, the user simply closes the web browser, when they log back in they will be prompted for username and password twice, even though they were entered correctly. This is because Web Host is verifying the stored login information with the new login request.

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Server/Client Arrangements

These diagrams provide suggested client/server arrangements that you can employ with Web Host.

The first arrangement is a simple network setup. A separate instance of Web Host provides access to promotional pages for guest users.


Web Host Setup 1

The second model demonstrates running multiple instances of Web Host and a separate instance for guest users.


Web Host Setup 2

In the next model unauthorized users can only access an external server. This provides general access to your promotional pages. For authorization, users are referred to the secure port on the Firewall/Router.


Web Host Setup 3

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Firewalls/Routers

Notice the use of firewall/routers in the above diagrams. Comtech can suggest solutions that we have tried but you will need a competent technician to help you design your own solution.

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Scalability

The Collect! Web Host is an HTTP server that responds to the GET and POST requests. The Web Host is a single application that responds to individual requests as they come in. Response time depends on the hardware the Web Host is running on. Scalability for very large numbers of simultaneous Web Host users is accomplished through a central database server, multiple web hosts running on one or more web server machines communicating with clients through a load balancing router.

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Custom Reports And Imports

Custom routines can be designed by Comtech to satisfy your unique business needs for data entry and retrieval. All operations can be performed through Collect! using the flexibility of Web Host, and the reporting and importing functionality inherent in Collect! There is no need for third party utilities or programs.

tip.gif Do not have Collect!'s text editor window open when Collect! is acting as a web server. This will cause any reports that need to run in the background due to remote user requests to fail. If no one is accessing Web Host via browser while you are editing the Web Host reports, there is no problem.

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Mime Type Support

Mime types relate to the files we send to client browsers and how we send those files. Each mime type can have several different extensions, and may want to be transferred in ASCII or binary modes.

The mimetypes.txt in the HTML folder lists the mime types Web Host supports. This file is read by the Web Host and used to resolve file types.

Click link to view: Mime Types Supported by Web Host

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Bandwidth

When bandwidth is limited, the Collect! Web Host is a better alternative to other means of Remote Data Entry. While the Web Host does not provide the full functions and administrative capabilities of the complete Collect! application to the client machines, it can be readily tailored to offer remote collectors and managers access to their accounts, the ability to record notes, schedule future contacts and possibly post payments, and to print reports. It can be tailored to offer web access not only to your collectors in your remote offices, but also to your clients, to access account information and reports directly from the web, if you want them to.

If bandwidth is a concern and you want central control of your database and accounts, perhaps web host functionality is worth looking into. You have the added benefits of controlling how your accounts are routed and processed. Remote offices cannot run database maintenance or other System administration tasks, so you have full administrative control.

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Summary

A fully functional Web Host is installed when you install Collect! With a few simple command line arguments, Collect! starts in server mode and Web Host is ready to accept requests from the Internet. If you need custom data entry and retrieval forms, this requires modifications to web reports and import maps. Web reports are easily modified by someone experienced in HTML. Web import maps can be modified by anyone familiar with the import/export module in Collect! From your most basic to your most complex Internet data access needs, Web Host is the best and simplest solution available on the market today.

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See Also

- Web Host Quick Setup - getting Web Host up and running quickly.

- Web Host Topics
- Command Line Startup Options
- How To Setup Operators
- Database Preferences

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Please click this link to send us your comments: helpinfo@collect.org

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