Saturday, 28 March 2009

Google SiteMap Generator + Input validation failed Error

Since Google release their Google Site Map Generator I have been using it on my web server for the sites that I manage. Setting it up and getting it running was fine and I haven't had a problem, that was until this week.

This week I noticed that as I was only letting the generator update the sitemap from actual URL hits quite often a few of my sites aren't hit for a day at a time which was resulting in empty sitemaps. This then causes Google WebMaster Tools to whinge at you which isn't a good thing. So I decided to update my settings to include parsing my IIS Log Files in the hope it would use previous days ones and not generate blank files.

This is where I hit a road block. When ever I changed a setting and clicked save the generator would be really useful and tell me that "Input Validation Failed" and to basically sort myself out. I was confused to say the least as everything was fine, no field was highlighted as being erroneous so I ended up giving up and leaving it.

Today I came back to it and tried again but the same error occurred. So I started to poke around and decided to manually update the sitesetttings xml file, usually located: C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Google Sitemap Generator\sitesettings.xml. And this is when I noticed the issue that was affecting me.

Each site within your IIS setup has a node in the sitesettings xml file, here it has information about it's host name, whether it's setup for sitemaps etc. But it also contains the location of the IIS log files regardless of whether you are parsing them or not.

Now a few weeks ago I decided to move all my sites log files from the default location of C:\WINDOWS\system32\LogFiles\{site} to a more convenient location, for this example lets say E:\LogFiles\{site}, now this was all well and good for IIS etc but upon creation of sites the Google SiteMap Generator is logging these locations. So when I had moved the log files the generator was still looking at the old location, a bit of guessing / how I would do it lead me to believe that upon saying parse log files for sitemaps the generator checks to see if it can read the log files, but as they have moved it cant find them and errors.

Now all I did to fix this was manually do a find and replace on the log file locations within sitesettings.xml saved the file and restarted the generator to find it was finally happy and working OK. Hopefully Google in the next release of this generator will remove this issue / make it clearer what is wrong. Ideally upon startup or even when you choose to use log file parsing it should look at IIS to see if the path to the log files is the same as it has, if not update it before it validates. This would save heartache for a few people at least.

So I'm now happy again with the generator, the problem wasn't that hard to fix and upon spotting it made alot of sense, it just shows what a little bit of investigating can do.

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