Thursday, July 3, 2014

Accessing a VS2013 Express website on a Parallels VM from a Mac

NB. Updated for Windows 10/VS2015 here.

I’ve got a Mac which is running a Windows 7 Parallels VM that I use for Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 development. I’m using the Express Edition of VS2013. If I code up a web application (maybe a web service or an ASP.NET Web API) and run it in the IDE, I can hit it from the browser on that machine at http://localhost:57017/api/test.

How can I consume this Windows 7 web service from my Mac?

First of all I need to know the IP address of my Win 7 machine. Fire up a “cmd" prompt and run “ipconfig”. In my case the "IPv4 Address” is

To avoid having to remember and type this address, let’s add it to the “hosts” file on the Mac. Do this from the Terminal on the Mac using “sudo vi /private/etc/hosts” and add in a new line such as:     win7

Sadly, if I fire up Safari on my Mac and try to browse to http://win7:57017/api/test or (, it won’t find the page. There are two reasons for this:

  1. By default, IIS Express only allows access to your Visual Studio websites via localhost, and
  2. The Windows 7 firewall will block incoming connections to this website.

Fortunately, both of these can be overcome thanks to the handy tips on this webpage. Read it for the details, but for my quick reference I need to do the following on the Windows 7 machine:

  1. Edit the C:\Users\{UserName}\Documents\ IISExpress\config\applicationhost.config file and search for my website, adding the following binding (the localhost line will already be there - add the second line with the IP address):

    <binding protocol="http" bindingInformation="*:57017:localhost" />

    <binding protocol="http" bindingInformation="*:57017:" />

    NB.This step needs to be done for each new website.  

  2. Create a hole in the Windows 7 firewall using these two commands from a “Run as Administrator” cmd prompt: 

    >netsh http add urlacl url= user=everyone

    >netsh advfirewall firewall add rule name="IISExpressWeb" dir=in protocol=tcp localport=57017 profile=private remoteip=localsubnet action=allow

Now, firing up Safari on the Mac and browsing to http://win7:57017/api/test should work!

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