The Mysterious Case of a Saved Favorite URL and UAG

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Recently I was asked by one of my customers to assist in a project to replace TMG with UAG, specifically for their Remote Desktop RemoteApp publishing portal. I’m not an expert with UAG, but I can usually get it to do what I need it to do, and I have the secret weapon: I work for Microsoft, and I knew I COULD collaborate with the experts when and if I needed to!

The UAG portal gives them a quick, easy way to manage and handle user credentials, including password expiration, alongside the familiar RDWeb view of the published applications. Add to that the ability to extend the portal to Federated Applications, and it piqued my interest.

Unfortunately, there was one caveat, we had to be able to handle the existing documented and saved favorite URL for https://RemoteApp.Contoso.com/RDWeb. At first glance, I thought of a few different ways to do this, but it turned out that it wasn’t quite as straightforward as I had envisioned. After some research via http://www.bing.com I read several posts that said this can’t be done with various reasons why. It happens to early in the ISAPI handling from the UAG application was the one that stuck in my mind. This seemed like something that would have been thought about with UAG, and I felt that there must be a way to accomplish something as rudimentary as redirecting an inbound request to the main portal page.

I made a few calls, and white boarded a few ideas, even spent time testing and configuring different options in my lab. My range of failures included exposing another website through UAG that hosted a simple RDWeb / Default.htm that redirected back to the main UAG portal. Needless to say, I was having a much harder time getting this to work than I envisioned.

Finally, after stumbling for a little while, I came across a way to do this using the Manual URL Replacement on the UAG Trunk configuration. Now, this was also one of my first theories to make this work, but I just couldn’t seem to get the syntax right. Through trial and error, I finally discovered the proper configuration, and it was much simpler than anything I had been trying to make it.

As you can see, my configuration was pretty simple. I started with a basic UAG portal and then added the RemoteApp and Remote Desktop applications through the Add Application wizard.

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Just to be clear, I’m sure there are other, and potentially better, ways to accomplish this URL redirection.

I did state that I’m not a UAG expert, right? In fact, I work with Active Directory as my specialty. This isn’t intended to be the official “THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT” post. I just know the effort that it took for me to find this workaround, and wanted to get it out there in hopes of making someone else’s job a little easier.

I configured the Manual URL replacement policy a few different ways at first and received various error messages when testing from the client portal. The errors ranged from “The URL you have requested is not associated with any application” to “You are not authorized to use this application”. The latter was because I placed “LocalHost” somewhere it wasn’t supposed to be in a redirection rule.

Now for the process I used to actually make the saved Favorites URL redirect back to the main portal page.

The first step was to edit the properties of the Portal application. I needed two things here. The first was to add my public hostname to the list of Web Servers. The second was to copy the Path listed for the portal so I could use it in the manual URL replacement rule later.

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Next, I selected Configure on the Trunk.

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And in the Manual URL Replacement rules, I added a new rule:

I placed /rdweb/* in the URL: box, I used /rdweb/* because I wanted to make sure that I covered any request coming in with /RDWeb/ in the URL. Then I pasted the Portal Path I copied from the Portal configuration in the To URL:. In my case this is /SecureOutsideAppsPortalHomePage/.

Next I select the Type of action I want to perform, I chose Rerouting for this because I wanted the request rerouted to the main portal page.

Finally in the Server Name box, I used the Public Hostname that I placed in the Web Servers section of the Portal and selected the checkbox for Use SSL.

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Now, when my client clicks their saved RDWeb favorite link, it is redirected to the main UAG Portal page without any errors!

Jim Kelly