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From Jerry Malcolm <techst...@malcolms.com>
Subject Re: Session Persistence Problems -- Epilog
Date Thu, 11 Apr 2019 23:34:08 GMT

On 4/11/2019 5:05 PM, Jerry Malcolm wrote:
> On 4/11/2019 4:22 PM, Christopher Schultz wrote:
>> -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
>> Hash: SHA256
>>
>> Jerry,
>>
>> On 4/11/19 15:29, Jerry Malcolm wrote:
>>> Alternatively, if I had a better understanding of how sessions are
>>> managed by both TC and the browser, it might help me figure out
>>> what is going wrong.  I know a session key is generated by TC and
>>> sent back in a response.  And I'm assuming that the browser must
>>> return that session key on subsequent calls.  But if there are
>>> several webapps on domain, how does the browser differentiate which
>>> session key to send back on a subsequent response?  Is it just
>>> understood that the first 'folder' level under the domain (i.e.
>>> context name) is always a different session key?
>>> (myDomain.com/order vs. myDomain/account)?   Or does the browser
>>> send all session keys back per domain and let TC figure out which
>>> one, if any, to use?   Again, just looking for a little education
>>> here....
>> Do you know if HTTP cookies or URL-parameters are being used for
>> session-management? If you aren't sure, try logging-in to your
>> application and look at the URLs and cookies.
>>
>> Typically, a web application will use cookies with the name
>> JSESSIONID. If the session identifier is tracked in the URL, then
>> you'll see ";jsessionid=[id]" in your URLs after the path but before
>> the query string.
>>
>> It's very easy to "lose" a URL-tracked session id because every single
>> URL generated by your application must include that parameter. A sinle
>> miss can cause the session to be lost by the client. If you are using
>> SSO (always with a cookie), it can mask the dropping of the session in
>> this way.
>>
>> It's harder to "lose" a session cookie since the browser typically
>> manages that. Cookies are tracked per web-application using each
>> application's path. The browser should only return a single cookie for
>> a given path. If you have applications that share a URL space (e.g.
>> /master and /master/sub and /master/sub2) then things can get very
>> confusing for the browser and the server. It's best not to overlap
>> URL-spaces in this way.
>>
>> Are you using clustering or anything else like that which might also
>> cause session-ids to change?
>>
>> - -chris
>
> Thank you so much for the info... I think we're getting somewhere.... 
> I am definitely using cookies and not url parms for the session id. 
> (no clustering).  I went into the firefox debugger and located the 
> cookie storage for the site.  I found a cookie for each webapp context 
> that I am using.  That makes sense.   I think I know what is 
> happening.  Correct my assumptions here:
>
> I have a webapp with context /order.  There is a JSESSIONID cookie for 
> /order as expected. I assume that every time I send a URL from the 
> browser with the /order context, the browser will correctly send the 
> /order session cookie.  So far, so good...
>
> But.... I have a rewrite rule "/storefront" that maps to one of the 
> /order urls.  I assume the browser knows nothing about rewrites, so 
> the browser is going to assume that "/storefront" is simply a 
> different webapp context that it doesn't have a session id cookie for, 
> and therefore doesn't send anything.  Therefore, when the rewritten 
> url becomes another /order url, TC gets an /order request but with no 
> session id, and therefore creates a new session and sends it back for 
> the browser to store (replace) as the /order session id.
>
> So assuming I have analyzed this correctly, that can explain precisely 
> what I'm seeing.   Understanding the problem is a big step... But now 
> I have to figure out how to get around it and make it do what I want.  
> At this point, I see three options:
>
> 1) remove all rewrites from httpd.  That is going to be massive, very 
> difficult, and non-trivial.  And I'll also have to come up with way to 
> handle multi-client variations, etc. that I have been mapping by 
> simply using different rewrites on each site.  This one is not even 
> close to my first choice....
>
> 2) Could I perhaps send my own additional JSESSIONID cookies with the 
> current "/order" session id for the rewrite 'fake contexts' such as 
> "/storefront" so that the browser will basically send a copy of the 
> /order session id with the /storefront url?
>
> 3) I really don't care to have separate sessions for each webapp 
> context anyway.  In fact, I'd prefer it if there was one session / 
> sessionId for the enter application (all 10 contexts).  Is there any 
> way to send the session id cookie keyed as simply "/" instead of 
> "/<context>"?  All URLs to the domain whether rewrite aliases or 
> actually urls would match this one JSESSIONID cookie and therefore 
> would always send the JSESSIONID.  If that would work, that would 
> solve everything and all rewrites would still work as they do now.
>
> Recommendation for which way to go?  #3 is my favorite (but I like to 
> dream...).  But if #2 will work, I'll go with it.  Just desperately 
> trying to prevent having to do #1....
>
> Thanks again for all the help.
>
> Jerry

I found the 'perfect' answer to my problem (I thought) in some comment 
on the web.  It said simply add:

         <cookie-config>
            <path>/</path>
         </cookie-config>

to web.xml.  That did just what I suggested in option 3, and stored only 
one JSESSIONID cookie using path "/".  But (keep reading....).... what 
it didn't tell you is that even though you store only one session id, it 
makes it worse since the same session id is sent to all contexts, both 
the one that created it and all other contexts that did not create it... 
BUT one context can't see the session created by another context.  So 
you are basically sending a different context's sessionid to this 
session, which it doesn't recognize.  So it creates a new one and sends 
it back as the 'one and only' session.  Bottom line.... the problem just 
got worse, with just about every request creating a new session.  I 
really would like to know what possible benefit it would be to use the 
above code in a multi-context application. But that is a question for 
another day.... Certainly NOT a solution I can use.

On to option 2.... success.  I have a header file for each webapp that 
is included at the top of all JSPs.  I simply went into that header for 
each context, and added JSESSIONID cookies with the value of the current 
sessionId and the path for each of the 'alias rewrites' that map to that 
webapp.  So there is now a JSESSIONID cookie for /storeFront that is the 
same value as /order, and hence when I call /storeFront from the browser 
it will send the correct sessionId for /order which will make the /order 
context webapp happy.

I will need to maintain the rewrite-cookie list in my jsp header files 
to make sure there is an entry to match all rewrite aliases defined in 
httpd that map to that context.  But.... it works.

On to the next problem.

Thanks for the help and allowing me to talk this through and get an 
acceptable solution.

Jerry


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