This was not in my contract!
August 12, 2008 3:18 PM   Subscribe

FrontPage Filter: How do I find the SQL database the dropdown list is pulling from? Difficulty: Fixing a site I didn't design.

I've inherited the maintenance of an intranet site for our department and with my somewhat limited knowledge of web design I've hit a wall.

We have a couple of ASP webforms with drop-down lists (the drop-downs are not dynamically populated from the previous selection) that need to be updated. While I see the table name in the HTML, I cannot for the life of me find the the SQL database it's pulling from.

If it helps, the site was designed in Front Page, and is a hodgepodge of hand coding, Front Page generated elements and bits and pieces of code the original designer (who has long since left the company) found online.

Any advice is greatly appreciated!
posted by ApathyGirl to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It's been ages since I've had to use FrontPage, but there are a couple ways it could be implemented. Chances are, if you're not finding something helpful in the code like a loop iterating over a variable to display <option>s, it is the FrontPage dropdown widget. There should be an icon that denotes FrontPage elements you could double click and it (or maybe the drop down field itself) would give you greater insight what purpose it provides -- and potentially finding the right one. It should be located about where the drop down should appear.
posted by pedantic at 3:36 PM on August 12, 2008

Best answer: If it's ASP, I would search for the string "ADODB". Somewhere near that string should be some connection info; either a string like this: "Provider=sqloledb;Data Source=servername,1433;Network Library=DBMSSOCN;Initial Catalog=databasename;User ID=username;Password=password;", which will tell you what you need to know, or a DSN (Data Source Name), in which case you'll need to go find the guy/gal who administers those things.
posted by bricoleur at 3:57 PM on August 12, 2008

Run WireShark on the IIS server to see what network calls it is making when you pull up the page, or ask any IT support to do so. Note that you should always get permission in writing before installing anything like this or you can easily be fired under anti-sniffing rules.
posted by benzenedream at 4:02 PM on August 12, 2008

Best answer: If you encounter a DSN as bricoleur is mentioning there, and you're able to log in to Windows on the server itself, the connection info may be available under one of the tabs in Administrative Tools -> Data Sources (ODBC).
posted by XMLicious at 4:11 PM on August 12, 2008

(In the Windows Start menu, under Programs.)
posted by XMLicious at 4:12 PM on August 12, 2008

It could be an Access database file, look for any mdb files or related.

Also, try looking for a DSN name.
posted by wongcorgi at 4:53 PM on August 12, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the quick responses!

We have several databases scattered over three or four servers that this could theoretically be pulling from, unfortunately.

I searched the HTML for the page in FrontPage and the source for ADODB and found nothing. I did notice that the source code lists all the options on the dropdown but it only refers back to the name of the column in the table.

I got a little closer with the FP dropdown tool (noob mistake, I was only looking at the HTML view) but what I found is that the only "option" listed is the default option. The remaining 500+ items aren't listed here.

I checked the DSNs - conveniently there are three pointing to the three potential servers and databases I've already checked for the table in question. It is completely possible however, that I'm missing or overlooking something because I'm not entirely sure what I'm looking for.

I'm looking at Wireshark next. I may just have to give up on trying to update the list and add a text entry field underneath for "Other..." before it breaks my head completely.

I'll gladly send a screenshot or code excerpts if it'll help at all!
posted by ApathyGirl at 7:14 PM on August 12, 2008

Yeah, I'd say let us get a look at the code. Can you rename a copy of the file .txt and drop it on a server somewhere? Or post it, but that might get messy. Or feel free to MeMail it to me.
posted by XMLicious at 7:26 PM on August 12, 2008

I searched the HTML for the page in FrontPage and the source for ADODB and found nothing.

More than likely, it's not in the HTML file for the page in question, but in a server-side include file. Look at the top of the file--are there any #include file lines up there?
posted by bricoleur at 8:15 PM on August 12, 2008

Another (slim) possibility is that the connection string may be in an Application or Session variable that's getting initialized on ApplicationStart or SessionStart via the global.asa file. If a file with that name exists in the folder, check it as well.
posted by ElDiabloConQueso at 6:43 AM on August 13, 2008

She sent me part of the file and the HTML for the dropdown list is being dumped into the page as a variable called "OfficeIDList". So yeah, the DB code must be in an include file or the global.asa or global.asax or something.
posted by XMLicious at 2:23 PM on August 13, 2008

Response by poster: I haven't found the table yet but, through following all your advice and suggestions it's clear to me that I'm Way Out of My Element (/walter) on this.

I'm going to get one of our web developers to look at this, and in the interim I've replace the dropdown with a text entry field.

Thank you everyone, especially XMLicious for pointing me in the right direction!
posted by ApathyGirl at 6:02 PM on August 13, 2008

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