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Web Server

The Synchronet Web Server serves static (e.g. files) and dynamic content to HTTP clients (e.g. web browsers).


The Synchronet Web Server is a mostly HTTP 1.1 compliant web server capable of handing basic web servicing tasks. It has most of the basic features of a general-purpose web server one would come to expect (including CGI).

It also, through Server-Side JavaScript (SSJS), allows dynamic pages to be created which can access BBS data directly.

For more information on the webv4 implementation, visit webv4


Startup INI [Web] Section Keys

The [Web] section of your sbbs.ini file contains the following settings (keys):


Default value: ../web/root

This is the root directory of your web server... a request to will be served out of this directory.

NOTE: Older versions of Synchronet had this value default to ../web/html


Default value: error

The directory relative to RootDirectory where the various error message files are located. The error message files are named by the numeric HTTP error code they will represent and may be either .html or .ssjs files (.ssjs files take precedence over .html files for the same error).


Default value: index.html,index.ssjs

A comma-separated list of filenames in order of preference to serve as the default document in a directory. Many Sysops change this to: index.html,index.htm,index.ssjs. Do not remove the index.ssjs unless you are not using the stock web pages at all.


Default value: Basic,Digest

A comma-separated list of authentication mechanisms in order of preference. The standards say that Basic must come first, but no browser currently appears to use Digest if Basic is listed first. Supported values are Basic and Digest. Digest is more secure as the users password is not sent in the clear over the wire.


Default value: cgi-bin

A directory relative to RootDirectory where any files found will be considered CGI-executable. Be careful what files you put in this directory.


Default value: .cgi

A comma-separated list of file extensions/suffixes. Files with these extensions will be considered CGI-executable and the web server will attempt to execute them as such.

Other probably values include: .pl,.php,.exe


Default value: text/plain

If the CGI program does not generate a content-type header, this value will be used for the MIME content-type specified in the HTTP response.


Default value: .ssjs

Files with this extension will be considered SSJS files. On all systems, this will be attempted to run with the JavaScript interpreter.


Default value: 120

If a client holds a connection open for this many seconds without a request, the web server will shut down the connection.


Defalut value: 120

If a CGI script runs for more than this many seconds without any output, it will be terminated and the connection will be shut down.


Default value: ../data/logs/http-

The prefix of log files if HTTP_LOGGING is enabled (See next item) to store Common Logfile Format logs in. The current virtual host (if enabled, see next item), date, and .log are appended to this (e.g.http-2005-03-12.log).


Default value: NO_HOST_LOOKUP

The Options key is set to a | separated list of options to enable. In addition to the standard options, the web server also supports the following:


Log all received data to the console log, as well as various extra bits related to receiving data.


Log all transmitted data except the reply body itself, as well as various extra bits of information related to transmitted data.


Supports name-based virtual hosts. If your system has multiple host names, you can have each host name return unique content depending on which hostname is used. ie: if and both resolved to your system, you could have FreeBSD-specific pages on one, and general *nix stuff on the other.

A virtual host is added by simply putting the desired content into a sub-directory of RootDirectory with the desired hostname ie: web/root/ if the browser doesn't send the request host name (very old browsers, or some automated tools) they will be served out of document root. It is therefore a good idea to put links to your various virtual hosts in an index.html page in RootDirectory something like this:

    <title>Old Browser</title>
    Your browser is either too old to support
    name-based virtual hosts, or you have visited a
    virtual hosts that is not yet configured.  The
    following are hosted here:<br>
    <a href=""></a><br>
    <a href=""></a><br>


Disable CGI script execution.


Enable logging to a Common Logfile Format log as described in the HttpLogFile section. Usefull for running log analysis programs (like Webalizer:


Disable SSJS execution.


Enable TLS support.


Indicates that all URLs availabe via http are also available via https and redirects clients who want a TLS session to the https location.

Other configuration files

In addition to the [Web] keys in the sbbs.ini file, the web server also uses some other configuration files:


Contains the file extension to mime-type mapping. Each line is in the format “extension = mime-type” ie: “html = text/html” The extensions are case-insensitive and do not include the '.'.


Contains the URLs to the icons used by the default 404.ssjs script for each file type/extension. Format is “extension = URL”. Example: “html=/icons/layout.gif”. Two “magical” extensions exist: DIRECTORY which is used for directories and DefaultIcon which is used for extensions which don't exist in the list.


This file contains 2 sections where a list of file extensions and their associated content-creation handlers are specified:


The [CGI] section is for natively-executed CGI handlers (e.g. “pl = perl” indicates “perl” will be used to handle “.pl” files).


The [JavaScript] section is used for JS-executed content handlers (e.g. “xjs = xjs_handler.js”).


Contains a list of system environment variables to pass to CGI processes. Each variable can have an optionally specified default value, over-ridden value, and prepended or appended text.

webctrl.ini per-directory configuration file

Each directory under the RootDirectory may have a webctrl.ini file which overrides certain settings for the directory it's in and all child directories. Configuration keys may be set either globally, in a per-filename group, or, in version 3.17 or greater, a per-directory-name group. Using the * and ? wildcards as the group name such as [*.html] or [dirname/]. The following keys may be used in these files:


Specifices an ARS string which all users must match to be able to access files in this directory. Will force an HTTP login.

For example, to require a login, but allow any user to access files in a directory, but only a sysop to access *.log files and .git directories, the following could be used:

AccessRequirements=level 0
AccessRequirements=level 90
AccessRequirements=level 90


Sets the realm that is displayed to the user for the HTTP login. Default is the BBS name.


Sets the realm that is displayed to the user for the HTTP login when Digest authentication is being used. Default is the Realm value.


A comma-separated list of authentication mechanisms in order of preference. The standards say that Basic must come first, but no browser currently appears to use Digest if Basic is listed first. Supported values are Basic and Digest. Digest is more secure as the users password is never sent over the wire.


Specifies a different directory to check for error pages. If the error page is not found, will still check the global error directory.


Specify an alternate CGI directory to check for CGI files.


Specifies that the index files can be ran for unlocated pages in the current directory. This effecively works like a custom 404 page.


Specifies the socket and port of a FastCGI listener in the <Address>:<Port> format (ie: Should be used with wildcard sections like this:


Added on November 1st, 2015 to CVS (in 3.17a).

See php for details on using with PHP.


Specifies a Javascript snippet which can modify the http_request.request_string. This allows internal redirects like the RewriteRule feature in Apache .htaccess files. The key must *begin* with the string “Rewrite” which may be followed by any legal INI key characters. The order of execution is not guaranteed.

Added on November 3rd, 2015 to CVS (in 3.17a).


A JavaScript snippet which is executed in the same context as Rewrite* lines, but before any Rewrites are executed. This allows load()ing some common code before execution... ie: JSPreExec=load(js.startup_dir+'/rewrite_lib.js');.

Added on November 3rd, 2015 to CVS (in 3.17a).

JavaScript Objects

In addition to the standard JavaScript objects, the web server provides the following:

http_request object

The http_request object contains information from the client that was included during this request. This objects properties are as follows:


Contains extra path information that was included with the request AFTER the URI which identified this script. For example, if the request was for then path_info would contain the string “/test/this”


Contains the HTTP method used to run the script. As of this writing, the available methods are “HEAD”, “GET”, “POST”, and “OPTIONS”


The virtual path that this URI was reached by. This is the portion of the URI from the end of the host to the end of the filename.


This object contains the values of any form data which was submitted with the request. This is an associative “array” of name/value pairs. THE VALUES ARE ARRAYS OF STRINGS. The reason for this is that it is legal and often useful to have multiple form fields with the same name.


If a query string was included, this is the raw, unparsed query string.


As with query_string but for data which was POSTed.

An associative array of header name/value pairs.

Much like the query object, this object contains key/value pairs of set cookies. Once again, this is an array of strings since multiple values for the same key can be set for cookies.


The real OS's complete path to this script.


The ARS string which applies to this request.


The raw request string sent by the client.


The value of the host header for this request.


The virtual host serving this request.


The HTTP version used for this request as a string.


The IP address of the client.


If the web server does host lookups (disabled by default), this is the remote hostname.

http_reply object

The http_reply object is used to pass information about the reply back to the Synchronet web server. The properties are as follows:


HTTP status string. The default is generally “200 Ok”


An associative array of headers to include with the reply. The only pre-defined one is “Content-Type” which defaults to “text/html”.


This optional property can be set to “true” to make write()s go directly to the client for HTTP/1.0 connections. This prevents keep-alives from working but generally appears faster to the client. Since HTTP/1.1 requests use chunked mode, this isn't required for HTTP/1.1.

Extra global methods

The web server also adds a new global JavaScript method that requests that the specified cookie be set:

set_cookie(string key, 
         string value 
	   [, time_t expires 
	   [, string domain 
	   [, string path 
	   [, bool secure ]]]])

Extra global variables


The path to the web server's document root directory.

See also: the RootDirectory key under [Web] in sbbs.ini.

The SSJS Template System

The default web pages use a SSJS Template engine which also allows for Theme support.

[Note: With this latest implementation of SSJS, @@ codes no longer can be nested.]

The SSJS Template Scheme

Each page consists of four parts:

The Header


This file contains the basic requirements for the HTML page. The opening HTML, doctype, title, CSS file link, etc. The header file includes the open body, System Name, and User greeting plus the initial page layout table start. The rest of the layout is continued in the next files.

Top Navigation


The file contains the basic design of the “breadcrumbs” The links are dynamically generated by topnav_html.ssjs so both files need to be addressed when modifying or creating themes. In the case of the default layout, has a left and right graphic and a middle section that the dynamic content goes. The background image is handled by CSS. You can change this to anything you like.

The topnav_html.ssjs file may seem daunting at first, but it is pretty straight forward. It has a series of if statements that check the current page location and sets up the breadcrumbs based on what you want it to say.

For example: You want to add a Links page called links.html in the main directory. You would add a check for the path to links.html as:

    template.topnav.push({html: '<span class="tlink">Some Links</span>'});

Left Side Navigation


This starts the main table layout in the default layout and also provides two other things – the main navigation links and a brief nodelisting that displays when users are online via telnet. The links are dynamically created as in the Top Navigation example above with the exception of the two static links.

Main Content (various files)

This is where the layout of the main content is created. It is best to look at the various files in ../web/templates/default & ../web/templates/default/msgs to see how the code is displayed for the various functions of the Web side of Synchronet. Some details on what each of the special codes contained in those files do will follow.


This file contains the closing HTML and whatever bottom information you would like. In the case of the default layout, the Web Server/Synchronet versions and the XHTML 1.0 logo. Links to privacy statements or anything else can be placed here and they will be displayed at the bottom of each page.

SSJS Theme Support

Theme Layouts can be added to Synchronet by creating them and placing the *.inc files in their own directory under ../web/templates/

Themes are activated by editing the ../web/templates/html_themes.ssjs file. This file contains:

/* Set default theme name */
var DefaultTheme="Default";
/* Edit this bit to add/remove/modify theme descriptions and dirs */
Themes["Default"]=new Object;
Themes["Default"].desc="Default Synchronet Theme";

Themes are added by editing below the Default Theme such as:

Themes["CoolTheme"]=new Object;
Themes["CoolTheme"].desc="My Cool Theme";

To change the Default Theme, change:

var DefaultTheme="Default";


var DefaultTheme="CoolTheme";

Special Codes Used in the SSJS Template System

By looking at at the message related files located in templates/default/msgs, it can be seen that some special codes are used to display dynamically created content. It is very important to maintain the information EXACTLY as seen in each file or else the messaging system will fail. While how it is displayed can be changed, the correct information will only be dispayed by following the format in the *.inc files.

For example the

<!-- Main Content -->  
<td class="main" valign="top"><br />
<table class="grouplist" border="0" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="2">
<th class="grouplist">Message Group</th><th class="grouplist">Subs</th>
<<REPEAT groups>>
  <td class="grouplist">
      <a class="grouplist" href="subs.ssjs?msg_grp=^^groups:name^^">
  <td class="grouplist" align="right">
<<END REPEAT groups>>
<br />
<!-- end Main Content -->

While the table layout can be changed or even eliminated, the information within the «REPEAT groups>> and «END REPEAT groups>> must remain intact. To remove the table yet keep the correct infomation, the resulting would be changed to (while maintaining the main table layout in this case) to:

<!-- Main Content -->  
    <td class="main" valign="top"><br />
  <<REPEAT groups>>
    <a class="grouplist" href="subs.ssjs?msg_grp=^^groups:name^^">
    @@JS:msg_area.grp_list[RepeatObj.index].sub_list.length@@<br />
  <<END REPEAT groups>>
  <br />
  <!-- end Main Content -->

This principle applies to all the .inc files in msgs respectively.

The SSJS Template Library

name is replaced with the HTML encoded value of

i.e.; Spaces are replaced with: this&nbsp;is&nbsp;html

^^name^^ is replaced with the URI encoded value of

i.e.; Spaces are replaced with: this%20is%20URI

@@name@@ is replaced with the value if

No changes or encoding is performed.

@@name:sname@@ is replaced with the value of (^^ and are also supported) ''@@JS:js_expression@@'' is replaced with the return value of ''js_expression'' (^^ and are also supported)

<<REPEAT name>>
<<END REPEAT name>>

Iterates over the array/object and replaces name:sname with the value of (^^ and %% are also supported)

SSJS Message Configuration

Configuration settings for the SSJS Messaging system is located in the ../web/lib/msgsconfig.ssjs file:

next_msg_html="Next Message";
prev_msg_html="Previous Message";
showall_subs_enable_html="Show all subs";
showall_subs_disable_html="Show subs in new scan only";
show_messages_all_html="Show all messages";
show_messages_yours_html="Show messages to you only";
show_messages_your_unread_html="Show unread messages to you only";
anon_only_message="Message will be posted anonymously";
anon_allowed_message='<input type="checkbox" name="anonymous" value="Yes" /> Post message anonymously';
anon_reply_message='<input type="checkbox" name="anonymous" value="Yes" checked /> Post message anonymously';
private_only_message="Message will be marked private";
private_allowed_message='<input type="checkbox" name="private" value="Yes" /> Mark message as private';
private_reply_message='<input type="checkbox" name="private" value="Yes" checked /> Mark message as private';

Each of these are configurable.

See the actual file for the defaults currently in use.

Embedded Javascript

The *.inc files can (and do in the default layout) have embedded JavaScript which is parsed by the JavaScript engine. Care should be taken as a large number of embedded JavaScript in the *.inc files slow down overall processing of pages.

Anything contained within @@JS: @@ is processed by the Server-side JavaScript engine.

For example, it can check if the user is Guest or an actual user with this line:

@@JS:if(user.number==0 || '<html code for Guest>'; \
else '<html code for registered user>';@@

What this does is display links specific for Registered Users only to them and not Guest. There are many things that can be done with @@JS: @@ code. Note, it also can be used to display HTML based on location as in the node listing stuff. In this case, it checks for whether or not a user is online, or if the user is anywhere but the Who's Online page before displaying the Left side node listing.

IMPORTANT! Anything contained within @@JS: @@ MUST be on one line or there will be errors in parsing.


This version of the Web Layout now includes a new file called global_defs.ssjs. It is located in the ../web/lib directory. This file can be used for creating global definitions that span all pages of a site. For example:


Now @@user_alias@@ can be in any *.inc template files and it will display the user's alias.

Care should be exercised when using this file as loading it up with hundreds of predefined definitions may slow down overall page rendering as the file is loaded on every page. It would be better to just put a few popular definitions that are truly global rather many definitions. It would be inefficient to have thirty of forty message definitions being loaded when a user is looking at the statistics page.

XJS files

XJS files, handled by exec/xjs_handler.js are what many people consider to be an easier method of generating SSJS files. XJS files are HTML files with JS commands embedded in them using special tags much like PHP. XJS files are translated on-the-fly to .ssjs files using the same name with .ssjs appended. For example, a file named test.xjs will, when ran, generate a test.xjs.ssjs file.

XJS syntax

In an XJS file, everything not within a special xjs tag is send to the remote host unmodified, and everything inside the xjs tag is interpreted as JS statements to be executed at that point in the file. The xjs tag begins with either “<?xjs” or “<?” and ends with “?>”. A simple example would be:

<html><head><title><?xjs write( ?></title></head>
Your SysOp "<?xjs write(system.operator) ?>" welcomes you to
<?xjs write( ?>

This would send the following web page to the remote system:

<html><head><title>My Brand New BBS</title></head>
Your SysOp "Sysop" welcomes you to
My Brand New BBS

Looping constructs are permitted, however, not using brackets can result in unexpected effects. Because of this, it is reccomended to *always* use brackets with looping and flow control items.

The following example displays the numbers from one to 10.

var i;
for(i=1; i<=10; i++) {
<?xjs write(i) ?><br>
<?xjs } ?>

XJS-specific global methods and properties

The following JavaScript methods and properties are available to XJS files only.


Runs the specified xjs file at the current position. Local variables are NOT visible to xjs_load()ed pages. The filename is assumed to be relative to the including file (or absolute.)


Contains the path that the current xjs script was loaded from and which parameters to xjs_load() are assumed to be relative to. If you change the value of cwd, it will change the location where xjs_load() will check for files.

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