Monday, 9 September 2013

Developers: Beware 401 response codes on IIS!

This problem was causing me to use very naughty words: A PHP Yii app using the built-in CHttpException class and every time I tried to return a 401 (unauthorised) exception, the request for the page would lock up. Change it to pretty much any other code and it was fine.

Lots of other weirdness ensued, at one point, just echoing "hello" to the output was enough to make it work but remove this line and it locks up again.

What was happening (looking in Fiddler) was that the response headers came through OK but the body never did. Looking at the content-length, it was correct as per the information I was sending back to the user.

Long story short, it appears that IIS is deciding, on your behalf to remove the body on any 401 responses. I say IIS not because I know but I can't see it being anything else! This means when you write to the response, the content-length is set correctly so the client is waiting for it - but it never comes!

Anyway, needless to say, I had to remove the error messages I was sending back with the 401 and just include the correct challenge header instead.
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