Fixing Redirects of a Play! App behind an Apache2 SSL Proxy

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So you just finished your first Play! App. You want to run that thing behind an Apache2 as a HTTPS Proxy, because you do not want, that your User-Credentials are read as clear text.

So a very basic Apache Configuration looks like this:

    <IfModule mod_ssl.c>

        Listen 443
        SSLRandomSeed startup builtin
        SSLRandomSeed connect builtin

        <VirtualHost _default_:443>

            SSLEngine on
            ErrorLog /var/log/apache2/ssl_error_log

            SSLCipherSuite ALL:!ADH:!EXPORT56:RC4+RSA:+HIGH:+MEDIUM:+LOW:+SSLv2:+EXP:+eNULL
            SSLCertificateFile /etc/apache2/ssl/example/newcert.pem
            SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/apache2/ssl/example/webserver.nopass.key
            SSLCACertificateFile /etc/apache2/ssl/demoCA/cacert.pem
            SSLCARevocationPath /etc/apache2/ssl/certs/demoCA/crl

            ProxyPass               /play  
            ProxyPassReverse        /play  



I did already explained how to run a Play! Application within a Application Context. Here our Context is just “play”, but you can set it to something else. You can also change and add seperate instances with different ports (over 9000!!!).

You should alter two settings in your conf/application.conf

    # you need to add this

    # you need to uncomment this to prevent Play! from serving aside your Apache2 Proxy

   # you may uncomment and change this port number for chaning it
   # http.port=9000

Time for a Test Run. At a first glance it seems to work pretty nice. But as soon as you want to use the nifty routing redirects from Play!, the whole system breaks, because Play! still things, it runs in plain http on port 9000. To solve this, you need to change to things:

  1. Make Apache2 to send a specific header, that the Request was send through a Proxy
  2. Make Play! to fix the redirect to the correct URL

The first part is pretty easy. Just add

    RequestHeader set X_FORWARDED_PROTO 'https'

within your VirtualHost Tag – you may need to enable the headers module first to make that work.

The second part is a little bit more difficult. You have to add a before filter to your application controller:

    public class Application extends Controller {

        private static void checkSSL() {
            if (request.headers.get("x_forwarded_proto") != null
                    && "https".equals(request.headers.get("x_forwarded_proto").value())) {
       = true;
                request.port = 443;
            if (request.headers.get("x-forwarded-server") != null) {
                request.domain = request.headers.get("x-forwarded-server").value();

You can find the sources on GitHub.
B.t.w. the same problem also might appears in Rails Apps, i might write about this later on.

Hacking just for Fun: using Bookmarklets

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So there are a handful of webtools using Bookmarklets for their services. The first i know was for saving a Webpage to your bookmarks. Another famous service is Instapaper (it uses internally read it later pocket, but that is another Story). I have a special service in mind, i want to create using a Bookmarklets, before i start, i played around with the Bookmarklet from Instapaper.

The Magic is just a normale HTML A Tag, in whith some javascript is embedded:


If we unwrap that script we got

function iprl5(){
    var d=document,
        d.title='(Saving...) '+d.title;
        z.setAttribute('src',l.protocol+'//'+encodeURIComponent(l.href)+'&t='+(new Date().getTime()));
        alert('Please wait until the page has loaded.');

The command basically just creates a script tag in the active DOM-Tree and preloads some Javascript-File. The File is then executed by the Browsers JS Runtime.
I started a litte Demo Project. You find it here on GitHub. It is based on Play! 1.2.4 (Installation Guide here).

ATM there are just two JS Templates. The first one (app/views/Application/bookmarklet.js) just contains the source for the Script-Tag itself. The second (app/views/Application/input.js) will be loaded then after the Javascript behinde that link is called.