Resisting Temptation

The problem domain for my next pet project is not tiny, but it is fairly small – I could probably fit an object model / database design diagram on a single sheet of A4 without cramming it. However, there’s scope for lots of additional features, or expanding it in new, different directions.


Setting up Umbraco 4.0 on SoftSysHosting reseller accounts

Here are some instructions for installing Umbraco 4.0 on’s reseller account.  It looks like there’s a lot to do, but in fact its fairly easy.


  1. A reseller account at
  2. The welcome email they sent you with your sql server, ftp and web details in it
  3. The Umbraco install files
  4. An FTP Program
  5. SQL Server Management Studio

Open up the Control Panel: Your welcome letter  has the IP address and your login credentials. If you’re new to DotNetPanel (the admin UI used by SoftSysHosting), its worth taking a few minutes to explore it. You’ll be spending time inside the User Spaces section which is where your reseller account lives. Within that you’ll be using the Domains, Web Sites, Databases and File Manager sections, so be sure to take a quick look at each of these before you begin.

Create a Domain: In the control panel, Create a Domain for your web site. This will create two domains – the one you just specified, and a preview one with a name like You will be using this preview URL a lot until you set up the dns pointers for your site.

Add a web site: Add a web site that is going to live in the domain. You can see the ASP.NET properties under the Extensions tab. You don’t want the ASP.NET 2 Integrated Pipeline option with Umbraco 4.0. Later versions of Umbraco may support this though.

Request Full Trust from tech support. Umbraco requires Full Permissions to run, so create a support ticket requesting full permissions for the web site you just created. I’ve found tech support at SoftSys to be very quick at dealing with this so far. Remember to put your web site name at the bottom of the new ticket page. While you are waiting, you can do the other steps, below.

Delete default.aspx: When your site was created, the standard IIS7 Wilkommen/Welcome/Bienvue defau;t.aspx page was created in the wwwroot folder. Use FileManager to delete it.

Upload Umbraco! Use your favourite ftp app to upload the Umbraco files from build to the wwwroot folder within the web site you’ve created. The ftp details are in your welcome letter. You may be tempted to look at your web site at this point – you’ll get a 4o4 unless you’ve already pointed your dns at the web site.

Set folder permissions. The account needs write permission on several folders, listed below


Normally I’d use my ftp program to set these, but the CHMOD command is not available so you have to do it manually through the File Manager screen – find each folder and click the grey padlock symbol next to the folder name. Give read/write permission to both the web site and to the NETWORK SERVICE accounts. Make sure the “Replace permissions on all child objects” check box is checked as well.

Create a database. Give it a name that you”ll remember. You won’t be able to use Umbraco since there is likely to be an existing database with that name on the server.

Create a database user. Once you’ve created your database, create a user to go with it. Be sure you set the default database for this user, and give it access to the database you created above.

For one site, I had a problem creating the database. I cannot remember the exact symptom that maqde me think to check but I think there was an error message during step 2 of the Umbraco Install Wizard. I had to manually add the db_owner schema to my new user using SQL Server Management Studio. If you need to do this, open the database using SQL Server Management Studio, click Security, find you user and click the db_owner schema i the list of Schemas owned by this user.

Set up a web site domain pointer. Until you set up your dns pointers to point to your new web site, you’ll need to use a domain pointer – the preview URL created automatically for you when you created the domain. Go into Web Sites and click your new web site.  You’ll see that there are no web site pointers. Click Add and choose the preview one created when you created your domain.

Wait for the tech support folks to mail you telling you they’ve given your website Full Trust.

Run the Umbraco installer. Go to the preview site (this guy, remember?

Install the Umbraco database At step 2 of the install wizard, provide your database credentials. The server IP and port is in your welcome letter.

Plain sailing! Hopefully the Umbraco install wizard will confirm that the folder permissions you set are good. Give Follow the wizard through, giving they admin account a decent name. If you add Runway, you’ll see a homepage when you browse your site.

Notes on using GMail to send mail

A couple of observations about using GMail to send mail messages automatically.

Background: I’m updating the automatic licensing system that supports our InfoPatterns products for Groove. When a user gets a license from the commerce system, they need to get an activation code that ties that license to that user. They fill in a form in the application and that talks to a web service. The web service sends them an email with an activation code in it. We use Google Mail for the Infopatterns email accounts and have the domain as the primary domain with as a domain alias.

1: When debugging, make sure you use a live email address to send to. I was sending mail to ‘’ when that user didn’t exist. You’ll get problems if you do this, obviously, but you won’t be able to tell if they are problems connecting, or problems sending.

2: If you’ve got more than one domain configured like we do, make sure your sender email address is for the primary domain. You won’t be able to log into the server otherwise.