07 April 2016 blogs 8 min read
Static URLs: A new gateway to Live Maps
In our latest release of Live Maps, we included many new features that help take away the complexities of SCOM. Among these features that are adding great functionality to Live Maps, we have: Service Notes, many new out-of-box services, BMC Remedy integration, and Read-only Dashboards, which you can create via the static URL generator. Below, we will run through how you can create these read-only dashboards and easily share them with other users within the organization.
The static URL generator is one of the most interesting new features introduced in Live Maps v8. By way of a few simple options, static URLs can provide quick and/or restricted access to Live Maps by embedding authentication parameters and navigation restrictions into a simple link.
This is a great way to integrate content from Live Maps into an existing portal or SharePoint. The static URLs can also be shared with management or users who do not have permission or time to enter credentials in System Center Operations Manager (SCOM).
You can open the static URL generator from any page in Live Maps by clicking on the link icon in the top right corner of the screen. The generator will create a URL that targets the current page.
To create a static URL to a page in Live Maps, click on the link icon in the top right corner of the screen.
Static URL Options
The first thing to notice about the static URL Generator is that a valid set of credentials are required. Your current user will be entered by default, although you can edit this field if you would prefer to embed a different set of credentials into the resulting URL. The password field is not filled in automatically, unless your browser is configured to auto-fill forms for you. The management server cannot be changed. This is to prevent you from creating links to unknown or non-existent pages.
The static URL generator provides a few options to suit your specific link preferences.
If you create a link without checking either “Hide Header and Disable Navigation” or “Disable Drill Down”, link users will have the ability to navigate to any other page of Live Maps. The experience will be the same as if the user had authenticated normally with the given credentials, except there will be no access to the settings page, custom dashboard editing, or the static URL generator. The link recipient will be able to view any page that the provided account has permission to view.
Creating such a link can provide a fast way to access Live Maps. By saving a static URL as a favourite or bookmark, you can authenticate and be directed to your preferred page automatically. Note that the static URL resolves to the normal Live Maps URL after it is entered into a browser. In order for the automatic authentication to occur, the bookmark must use the original static URL created by the generator. Most browsers will copy the resolved URL from the address bar to create a bookmark, so you will need to manually edit the value to reuse your static URL. See the bottom of this blog for instructions on how to do this in your browser.
On the other hand, if you want to restrict the access of the link recipient, the two options at the top of the static URL generator are your friends. You can select “Hide Header and Disable Navigation” to restrict the user from visiting other pages of Live Maps. With this option selected, the entire header bar will not be rendered, so they will not have access to the navigation menu or the home button; however, they will have the ability to open links on the page. This option can be the most practical way to share a component of Live Maps because it provides all the monitoring utility of a single page while restricting access to other unrelated pages. For example, a link to the Service Overview page with the “Hide Headers and Disable Navigation” option will allow the recipient to see the Service Overview page, drill-down into service maps, and into the perspectives of those service maps and their contained objects, while preventing access to pages such as the system dashboards.
As you may realize, the drill-down capacity of Live Maps grants link recipients access to a large number of pages. The users may drill-down into Live Maps service perspective maps, related services, and any of their components. As a result, users who are granted drill-down capacity have access to view any Managed Entity page, Live Maps view page, or Service Map page that the provided credentials grant access to and to which they obtain the address. Due to this, it may be desirable to embed credentials for accounts that only have the minimum necessary scope in SCOM when drill-down is enabled.
Header Bar Options
Another benefit of the “Hide Headers and Disable Navigation” option is the increased screen real estate. If you don’t have a lot of space, or don’t need that reminder that you are on the Service Overview page, this option is for you. A static link to the Live Maps Home with the header hidden allows you to use Live Map in full screen.
By now it should be pretty clear what the “Disable Drill Down” option is for. If both “Disable Drill Down” and “Hide Headers and Disable Navigation” are selected, then the page will render with no header and no links to drill-down into. This allows the recipient to see the specified page, and nothing else.
It may be less clear what would happen if you select “Disable Drill Down”, but not “Hide Headers and Disable Navigation”. This option keeps the header bar, without a navigation menu or link to the homepage, so you can include a simple title bar without exposing any other pages of Live Maps.
Note that the header bar does not contain a navigation menu. The logo in the top left is disabled.
A note on using multiple links
If either navigation restriction option is selected, the recipient of the link will be restricted to some subset of the pages of Live Maps. If the recipient attempts to manipulate the URL manually (for example, targeting the home page by removing the parts of the URL after “/LiveMapsUnityPortal/”), they will be redirected back to the page targeted by the link.
Each static URL has its own set of credentials and creates its own session with the web server, in the same way a normal connection to Live Maps is made through the login page. A single browser cannot maintain more than one session with a single web server, so only one static URL can be in effect in a browser at one time. The settings of the most recently used static URL will dictate the browser’s connection. For example, if you use one static URL in a browser, and then use another static URL in the same browser, the options and credentials of the second static URL will become associated with that session.
As a result, if the first static URL’s target page is not accessible via the specifications of the second static URL, the first page will no longer be accessible. That means that if a hard refresh occurs (manually or via auto-refresh on the custom and system dashboards), the request will be redirected to the target of the second static URL. Problems may also arise if the latest static URL does not permit drill-down. In that case, attempts to drill-down into other pages will be redirected to the target of the most recently entered static URL.
The moral of the story is that settings specified in a static URL affect all connections between that browser and the web server. This relationship is updated when a new link is used, but if more than one link is opened and their settings are not compatible, the most recently used static URL dictates which rules are in effect.
How to manually edit bookmarks
In Chrome, right-click on your bookmark and select “Edit” and enter the static URL in the URL field.
In FireFox, select “Properties” from the context menu and enter the static URL into the “Location” field.
In Internet Explorer, select “Properties” in the context menu and enter the static URL into the URL field.
We hope that you will be able to make good use of our Read-only dashboards feature and share information with other users within the organization. They are a great way to share dashboards with other stakeholders even if they do not have access to SCOM, allowing them to access the critical data they need and ensuring that credentials are not abused while controlling exactly the level of information they want to expose from SCOM.
If you haven’t tried Live Maps yet, you can try it in your own environment and check out how all the new features we have added in our latest release can help you to get much more out of SCOM.