Archive for May, 2011

Using Fiddler to trace a SAML IDP Request from ADFS 2.0


Over the past couple of days I have been doing some diagnostics with a partner to setup SSO over a SAML HTTP POST using ADFS. The partner is using the SAML ComponentSpace component. An important part of the diagnostics has been collecting the HTTP POST trace and sending this to the partner for diagnostics. This post shows the steps I went through to trace the HTTP POST using Fiddler.

I saw one MSDN thread that mentioned a similar technique to mine but I wanted to document the steps here because it is not trivial or simple.


This walkthrough assumes you have already downloaded Fiddler and have setup at least one relying party.

  1. Configure IIS so that it can be used with Fiddler tracing and ADFS. See the following TechNet Wiki article for more information: I did not do this step but I am presenting this here in case you run into the problem presented on the link. When authenticating, I checked the box to remember my password.
  2. Configure Fiddler for processing HTTPS. Open the Fiddler options and check the boxes like shown below. Ignoring server certificate errors is optional:
  3. Open the browser and navigate to https://adfsFQDN/adfs/ls/IdpInitiatedSignOn.aspx. This page will look like:
  4. Choose to sign in. You will receive an authentication box, so authenticate with Windows credentials.
  5. Then you will see a windows similar to the one below:
  6. Before clicking Go, open Fiddler so that the trace will be collected.
  7. Then click Go in the browser. The trace as collected in Fiddler will be collected like in the screenshot below (sorry this screenshot is a pretty large file but it shows a lot of important details):
  8. You will want to find the last page that includes the “adfs/ls” in the list in the left window in Fiddler. Click on that one. Then on the right window choose to see it “Raw”.
  9. Next you want to select all of the encoded blob from the RAW window but not all of the HTTP POST. You can select this blob and copy it.
  10. Then click on the Encoder toolbar button, which gives you the ability to unencode the blob. The SAML POST will be Base64 encoded so you have to unencode it to get the unencoded trace. Choose the option “From Base64” to see the unencoded Samlp response as shown below:





New BizTalk 2010 Training Resources from Microsoft

The content from the BizTalk training course from Microsoft has now been publically released. You can download this video content and the VM for learning BizTalk 2010 here:



Symptoms of a failed ADFS farm install


This week I worked through what appears to be a situation where an ADFS farm install was not successful or finished incompletely. This event has not been typical in my experience with ADFS so I am simply putting these observations out there for others to be aware of.  After an ADFS farm install had occurred from the command-line, various things about working with it were not working as expected. I looked into the ADFS configuration using the ADFS 2 mmc and found these symptoms. I was not actually the person who did the initial scripted install so I am not aware of what went wrong.

  1. No certificates at all had been selected for the encrypting, token signing, and token decrypting certificates. I know with the UI assisted configuration of ADFS that you must choose a certificate for encrypting and the other 2 are generated ones. For the scripted farm install, I am wondering if there is validation or not or if this was simply a weird event.
  2. Some of the federation endpoint addresses were not showing as expected. For example, the federation metadata address showed as “/FederationMetadata/FederationMetadata.xml” rather than the normal “/FederationMetadata/2007-06/FederationMetadata.xml”.
  3. All of the enabled endpoints were giving me 503 service unavailable errors rather than the 400 bad request errors in the browser. The 400 bad request errors are actually the expected ones. This was very similar to the following old forums thread: The 503 error can occur when the ADFS site is running under the wrong app pool identity but changing this did not resolve the problem for me.
  4. When trying to access the federation metadata page from the address given in step 2, I also received a 503 error. I did not see any more informative error messages in the event logs when the 503 error was occuring.


To resolve these issues I simply redid a farm installation by script and this time I was handling the installation myself. I do not think this problem was solely user error but might possibly have been some optional parameters or issues with the fsconfig command-line. The documentation on using fsconfig is somewhat poor so I am guessing there could be some things that could go wrong.

If I encounter this problem again or am able to reproduce it I might try creating some scripts to identify the problem. I am wondering if there might also be other indicators of a failed ADFS install, if you know any please let me know.



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