Dealing with links embedded in Excel

McDermott, Michael michael_mcdermott at
Thu Sep 29 13:20:09 BST 2011

Kevin and Keith,
Thanks for the response.  If I hear anything that isn't posted to the list,
I'll let you know.

It 'seems rather odd' that you missed the part of the earlier thread where
Nils stated, "I have not tested it yet, and even if this works, there is
currently only a fix for 0ffice 2007 on XP :( "  Perhaps there was a follow
up that was not part of the same thread, but it didn't surface in the
threads I found; no doubt if there was you coud point me to it.

I am grateful to Nils for pointing out the registry hack, but no where in
the post is there a confirmation that it a) works, or b) works outside of
the specific configurations referenced, which as of today, are not current
for either the operating system or the office suite, and lets not forget the
laggards on earlier versions of office.  Of course there are the
overwhelming concerns with a 'registry hack as solution' approach that many
people either cannot access their registry, could really mess it up if they
could, and may have no idea what a registry might be in the first place.

It also 'seems rather odd' that you may not have thought that the most
recent previous posts are almost a year out of date and perhaps new
information has come up.  That was my first thought.  Also new people join
the community all the time that might know something about the issue.  That
was my second thought.

It also 'seems rather odd' that you replied to my post which clearly states
 "After some debugging, this is clearly an Excel problem" with a
seeming admonishment "Well, either way, the instructions clearly state that
this is an issue with Microsoft'S "Office client", so you know whom to ask.

It also 'seems rather odd' that you feel the need to post a response to a
volunteer and largely positive and helpful community that boils down to, "I
don't know the answer or how to help you and I cannot provide any new
information, but this thread resembles another thread and it is a
Microsoft problem so go away" particularly after not actually reading either
the current thread or the referenced earlier threads in detail.

This is a list for users looking for help with problems related to
Shibboleth, and since anyone encountering the problem will "blame"
shibboleth given that basic empirical testing will indicate the link they
see and click on in excel works fine when they paste it in the url bar of
their browser, and every other link that they've clicked on in Excel works
fine.  While the fault may not be with the Shibboleth software, it is
certainly something that minders of SPs and IdPs would be brought into help
debug and fix if possible.  In that regard, checking in to see if a solution
has emerged to a common problem is a perfectly fine topic for this list.

Oddities abound it seems.


On Wed, Sep 28, 2011 at 1:44 PM, Kevin P. Foote <kpfoote at> wrote:

> Thanks Keith / Michael -
> Wow! ..shib users list is reading my mind.. / todo list :-)
> This is great info!
> I've received reports of errors on this same issue.. stating that
> in previous semesters links embedded in M$Office products worked.. but
> now they don't.
> I was getting ready to back rev my dev IdP to do more investigation
> whether or not the move from 2.2.1 to 2.3.3 was the culprit.
> Seems the OS / Office combo is the place to look .. now I'll point back
> to the Windows 7 desktop upgrade :-)
> Thanks again guys..
> ------
> thanks
>  kevin.foote
> On Wed, 28 Sep 2011, Wessel, Keith William wrote:
> -> Hi,Michael,
> ->
> -> Yes, this is a Microsoft issue, not a Shib issue. We've even seen it in
> our legacy SSO (non-Shib) setup. Microsoft tries to pass the blame to the
> SSO in this KB article:
> ->
> ->
> ->
> ->
> -> But at least they consider it to be a known issue.
> ->
> -> There is a registry hack that will tell Ofice apps to open the link in
> the browser and not Office. It's not ideal, though, since it does meana
> registry modification.
> ->
> -> Good luck, and if anyone's found another way around this, I'd love to
> hear about it, too.
> ->
> -> Keith
> ->
> ->
> ->
> -> From: users-bounces at [mailto:users-bounces at]
> On Behalf Of McDermott, Michael
> -> Sent: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 12:13 PM
> -> To: Shib Users
> -> Subject: Dealing with links embedded in Excel
> ->
> -> Dear Shib Users,
> -> A crafty user has created a report that generates an excel file which
> will display a list of errors for their problem domain and a link to the
> specific record in the web application that manages that domain.  The
> application is protected by shibboleth.  All of the individual links work,
> they just do not work in when clicking them in Excel in Windows.
> ->
> -> It seems that this problem is documented:
> ->
> ->
> ->
> ->
> -> After some debugging, this is clearly an Excel problem, the root of
> which seems to be that Excel makes the initial http call and does not invoke
> the browser until it gets an http 200 response code (and in a normal
> interaction there would be a few redirects before you get to the login
> page).  The effect is that the user's browser arrives at the Shibboleth IdP
> login screen, not knowing which SP this request is for and so the process
> fails after login.  I have tried to work through this with both SP and IdP
> initiated AuthN and since they both use redirects, the error is the same.
> ->
> -> On the surface it seems like there is a problem with Shibboleth,
> particularly since a diligent, non technical user will paste the link into
> their browser to confirm it works at all before calling.
> ->
> -> As in the preceding posts, I do not have a work around in Excel (e.g. a
> way to make Excel open the browser and then pass in the link), so if someone
> does, please let me know.
> ->
> -> At the very least this might server as a warning to others that this
> issue exists and your IdP works fine.
> ->
> -> --
> -> Michael J. McDermott
> -> Lead Developer, Identity and Access Management
> -> Brown University
> ->
> ->
> --
> To unsubscribe from this list send an email to
> users-unsubscribe at

Michael J. McDermott
Lead Developer, Identity and Access Management
Brown University
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