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Friday, 13 January 2012

Case sensitive Azure storage

Azure storage URLs are case sensitive as you may have noticed. If you have not noticed then: OMG AZURE STORAGE URL ARE CASE SENSITIVE!!1! This is most likely because URL specification states that URLs should be case sensitive so as to ensure different casings should represent different locations. Admittedly, this is rather odd when compared with IIS and subsequently web sites running in Azure.

I am a developer and architect by trade so I am more than aware of the importance in maintaining consistent URLs throughout a web site. Search engines index sites in a case sensitive way and so it is important not to accidentally display duplicate web content on differently cased URLs. To handle this in the past I have always insisted that my teams adopt a lower case policy where by every URL written in code, links, references etc are always written in lower case. This avoids such an SEO disaster. I also create a redirect rule using IIS Rewrite Module to 301 redirect any URLs containing uppercase characters to its lowercase version.

With this policy in mind it should not be difficult to now use Azure storage by simply maintaining these standards. It is wise to create a repository class that will handle all interaction with Blob, Tables and Queue storage that can abstract common rules away from the developer each time they wish to use them. One of these rules would be to ensure that when saving to these repositories the filenames and containers are lower cased using .ToLower() (in C#). Also when getting an object from storage you could also ensure that the file name requested is also lower cased in the same way.

This does not however prevent users accessing the URL using uppercase but really according to the URL specs they should not and using smart code you can most likely avoid this from happening. For example, if links are only ever displayed in lowercase someone if very unlikely to ever access it using uppercase.

Azure case sensitivity conclusion

So in summary, although it is an odd inconsistency between IIS and storage it is only a trivial programming exercise to enforce and a minor coding standard to communicate to your team. This will ensure that storage is always used as intended allowing you to reap the great benefits of using Windows Azure Storage.

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