Aye Aye iFrame: Quest for the Origin of a Mystery Response Header

For the past year I’ve been working on an enterprise search solution for a Canadian federal government client employing SharePoint Server 2013 / 2016 and integrating with line-of-business data via Business Data Connectivity Services (BCS, formerly BDC) with a BDC .NET Connector. The elements of this solution, notably SharePoint Search and Business Data Connectivity Services, encompass a complex set of technologies which would easily occupy a blogger for months if not years. On this occasion we’ll delve into one small but important part, creating BDC Profile Pages in a host header / host named site collection context.

Some time ago one of my colleagues reported an issue in our development and testing environments; when we attempt to generate a profile page for an external content type in the BDC service application:

0 View External Content Types.crop

We get this warning:

1a Create--Upgrade Profile Page - Dialog - This content cannot be displayed in a frame

Close up:

1b Create--Upgrade Profile Page - Dialog - This content cannot be displayed in a frame.crop

With the text:

This content cannot be displayed in a frame
To help protect the security of information you enter into this website, the publisher of this content does not allow it to be displayed in a frame.
What you can try:
Open this content in a new window

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Sorry, something went wrong, and Don’t forget the F12 developer tools

Traditionally as a SharePoint developer or designer your skills and toolkit were quite different from those of a standard web developer. While that used to be essential to your success, in today’s web-centric world as you transition your skills it might mean you overlook the obvious when troubleshooting. Recently I was helping a developer colleague resolve one of those eponymous “Sorry, something went wrong” messages that SharePoint 2013/2016 is so famous for, when it drove home this point: Always start with the web-dev basics!

1 - Sorry, something went wrong

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Ping, Ping, Ping, Are You There?

As a SharePoint Technology Architect you have to know a little bit of everything in the platform stack from Windows Server to Active Directory to DNS to networking, and much more, a veritable jack-of-all-platform-trades. On a recent project I was working with an IT Pro to prepare a new server virtual machine for a proof-of-technology for SharePoint 2016 when I was reminded of this.

This project teanm is hard up for infrastructure so we are scrounging for virtual machines and have to make do with a refurbished hand-me-down VM. The server team re-imaged the VM with Windows Server 2012 R2 as is required for SharePoint 2016. The initial sanity check of the refurbished VM is good, we can RDP to it and Server Manager Dashboard shows a healthy server, all services running normally.


Next  step is we have to request a DNS entry for the Central Admin site for SharePoint 2016, hence we need the IP address(es) of the new VM. As a quick step I ping the VM rather than RDP’ing to inspect its network adaptor configuration:

0 ping

Whoa, ping does not respond! How can that be? I just RDP’ed to the server and it was fine.

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Disabled Central Admin

I love working with SharePoint Server because there is never a dull moment on the job; the product is so rich and varied, and requires considerable knowledge of other systems and services, such as Active Directory, DNS, networking, SSL, SQL Server, etc. Working with SharePoint Server is a guarantee of learning something new nearly every day. On this day I discover a truly unique SharePoint error message.

I am performing routine maintenance on a SharePoint 2016 farm, cleaning up deprecated service accounts, to bring the farm into alignment with our project’s platform architecture security model. Using Central Admin (running on port 2016 of course!) at one point I need to refresh a page like so many times in a day but this time it comes with a little surprise, the page returns completely blank, with the bare minimum possible HTML. Whoa, what is going on?!CA home - no content

Well, I think, maybe it is just transient, so I hit the F5 refresh to get a clearer sense of the status of my SharePoint farm. Ooo ee, HTTP 404 Not Found. Eek, Central Admin is DEAD!

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