Using custom OWA URLs in SharePoint to display your inbox as well as calendar and other items

This one has been sitting in my drafts folder for a while but last year I was experimenting with our SharePoint environment and thought it would be a cool idea to have a view of our web mail and calendar come up into our SharePoint homepage as web parts. Now if you are running SharePoint 2010/2013 you can simply use the Outlook OWA web parts to display what you want to a degree but by using a web page viewer web part and specifying the URL we can have a better degree of control on the output of the page.

So start by adding a web page viewer web part to your page and point the web part to your exchange server hosting Outlook Web Access. The following is an example of a URL that you can use:

Exchange 2010


Exchange 2013


For more information on how to format the links and available flags please follow this link I hope that has helped some people in bringing better looking mail access to their share point environments.

How to convert Hex Colour Codes into RGB Colour Codes using PHP

I was recently working on a web based piece of software that had some colour settings stored in a database table which were stored as hexadecimal colour code values. I needed a quick way to convert them into RGB (Red, Green, Blue) values so that I could use them in creating an image using PHPs builtin GD so after a quick search on Google found nothing that I was really after I decided to write my own. The difficulty was that colours were inputted by both other developers and a jQuery colour picker which meant that there was a mix of both shorthand and standard hexadecimal colour codes. I get past this little hiccup by simply counting the length of the hex string and running either a bitwise operation or a hexadecimal conversion. Anyway onto the function.

Firstly, we need to define the function.  We will have two variables, one being the actual hexadecimal colour code and the other whether we wish to return as a String or Array.

function hex2RGB($hexStr, $returnAsString = false) {
    $hexStr = preg_replace("/[^0-9A-Fa-f]/", '', $hexStr);
    $rgbArray = array();

After this we simply grab the variable of the function which should be our Hex colour code and check the length.  If the length is 6 then we are able to use PHPs bitwise operators to quickly convert the colour codes into the RGB values we are after. Using bitwise operators results in lower overhead and therefore leads to a faster output.

    if (strlen($hexStr) == 6) { // Proper Hex convert using bitwise operation
        $colorVal = hexdec($hexStr);
        $rgbArray['red'] = 0xFF & ($colorVal >> 0x10);
        $rgbArray['green'] = 0xFF & ($colorVal >> 0x8);
        $rgbArray['blue'] = 0xFF & $colorVal;

Or if it is a shorthand hex colour code (ie: #FFF) then we can perform manipulation on the string to first extend it and then perform a conversion.

elseif (strlen($hexStr) == 3) { // If shorthand perform string manipulations
        $rgbArray['red'] = hexdec(str_repeat(substr($hexStr, 0, 1), 2));
        $rgbArray['green'] = hexdec(str_repeat(substr($hexStr, 1, 1), 2));
        $rgbArray['blue'] = hexdec(str_repeat(substr($hexStr, 2, 1), 2));

or else if our string matches neither of the above then return nothing (false).

else {
        return false; // Invalid hex color code

Now that we have our converted code, we need to return it back to what called for the code with the following in either an array or as a string.

    // Returns the rgb string or the associative array as specified
    return $returnAsString ? implode(",", $rgbArray) : $rgbArray;

We can call the above function in two ways

hex2RGB(“#FF0”) would output array( red =>255, green => 255, blue => 0)
hex2RGB(“#FF0”, true) would output 255,255,0

So there we have a completed function to convert hex colour values into RGB.

Fixing HTTP Error 500.21 – Internal Server Error Handler “WebServiceHandlerFactory-Integrated” has a bad module “ManagedPipelineHandler” in its module list on IIS.

I was recently developing some .net web applications at work and finally took the plunge of setting up a server to host them after I was happy that we had reached the point where they were usable applications.  So after setting up Server 2008 R2, I went ahead and enabled IIS with configuration enabled along with a host of other modules enabled to support what we were after. Gave the server a reboot and everything was up and ready to go.

Moved over to my development machine and instructed Visual Studio to publish an application to this newly setup web server, everything up until this point had worked perfectly, the web app published without any errors. So I opened up Internet explorer and low and behold error, page cannot be displayed. So I’m like maybe it’s a permissions thing, remoted into the web server and viewed it as a localhost and got Error 500.21 – Internal Server Error  Handler “WebServiceHandlerFactory-Integrated” has a bad module “ManagedPipelineHandler”.  I had gone ahead and configured an application pool for the web apps we were going to use, and everything seemed OK.  I then remembered something, in the good old IIS 6 days you had to run a .net registration program to notify IIS you had it installed and register the handlers for .net, but thinking to myself this is now 2008 R2, come on, it couldn’t be that.

I opened up an elevated command prompt window and navigated to C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v4.0.30319 and ran aspnet_regiis.exe -i causing to register itself with IIS and enable the handlers required to run .net pages.

After running this command I rebooted IIS and bang the web application started working.  An easy fix but a pity that it couldn’t have run automatically when I insist on installing under the IIS configuration.


Server Side E-Mail Validation with PHP

Validation is one of the most important things which can be done on a public-facing website. It prevents users from entering required information incorrectly or even worse attempting to damage your site via some form of script or SQL Injection attack.

Recently I was developing a website for a Real Estate firm, as a legal requirement they need to have valid e-mail addresses to link up to views of listings. Client Side e-mail validation is fairly simple, but what if the user is malicious and removes the JavaScript or just has JavaScript disabled. So I added both client and server side e-mail validation.

One important thing to remember is to always sanitise your inputs whenever something is going into a database, but that’s for another article. There are several ways to tackle e-mail validation, I let the Client Side handle the format and let the server do some heavier work. Firstly, it required making the function. I’ve called it checkEmail, we also need to pass it an e-mail address via $email.

function checkEmail($email)

We then move on to setting things up, creating our error variable and getting our e-mail argument and ensuring it is safe.

    $email_error = false;
    $Email = htmlspecialchars(stripslashes(strip_tags(trim($email))));

After getting the address from our function call, perform a simple test to see if there is anything and if there is begin validating. If not pass our error and tell the user.

	if ($Email == '') { $email_error = true; }
	elseif (!preg_match('^([a-zA-Z0-9._-])+@([a-zA-Z0-9._-])+\.([a-zA-Z0-9._-])([a-zA-Z0-9._-])^', $Email)) { $email_error = true; }

There is a piece of nifty REGEX which simply validates if we have a valid e-mail address in a specific format of an e-mail address of [email protected] with only alphanumeric and – . _ being accepted. If our REGEX passes we then begin to do some checking, which is where the server side validation comes in. We explode our e-mail address to extract the domain and using PHP’s inbuilt checkdnsrr function we can perform an MX Lookup of the supplied domain.

	else {
	list($Email, $domain) = explode('@', $Email, 2);
		if (! checkdnsrr($domain, 'MX')) { $email_error = true; }
		else {
		$array = array($Email, $domain);
		$Email = implode('@', $array);
	if ($email_error) { return false; } else{return true;}

If the checks all pass then we return FALSE and allow the form to submit with code embedded on the calling page. If we do get an error then we return TRUE with code again embedded on the calling page to notify the user.

And there you have it,  server side e-mail validation. Of course you could improve on what I’ve done by actually checking for an alias on the particular domain or by sending out an e-mail validation to the address before the user can continue, but that is all beyond the scope of this function and article. If you do end up using this function, I’d love to hear where you are using it, so feel free to let me know.