5 minute read BPS Version: 2022.1.2.31


This post is intended if you need to debug web service data source in these use cases:

  1. You don’t have admin permissions.
  2. WEBCON BPS is run in the public cloud WEBCONAPPS http://customer.webconapps.com.
  3. You don’t have access to the WEBCON BPS server the server and it cannot connect to your computer.

In all other cases it would be easier to follow this post Debug a web service data source.

Inspecting web service request with WEBCONAPPS.
Inspecting web service request with WEBCONAPPS.



For the described use cases we have the following prerequisites

  1. ngrok, will make your local computer accessible from the internet.
  2. nginx, will forward the request from your computer to the actual target.

Configuration of ngrok

There’s not much to do here. Follow Steps 2 to 3 from getting started page. Basically, it tells you to download ngrok, sign up, and get an authentication token for your newly created account on your computer. Afterwards you can use the following command.

ngrok http http://localhost:8000 --scheme http

This will start a tunnel from the ngrok server to your computer via the http://*.io address and you can view the incoming requests using the web interface.

Web interface URL and forwarding URL ending with .io are needed later
Web interface URL and forwarding URL ending with .io are needed later

Remark: If you are using a free account, the forwarding URL will change every time.

Configuration of nginx

Like ngrok, nginx needs to be extracted and can be started from the command line. Before starting it, we need to change the configuration. This is done by modifying the nginx\conf\nginxc.con file and adding a server element:

	server {
		listen       localhost:8000;
		location / {
			proxy_pass https://actualserver.com:7348/;
Added server element to ngix.conf
Added server element to ngix.conf

You need to change proxy_pass to be the same as the REST web service URL. listen should match the URL with which ngrok has been started.

nginx maps localhost to the actual URL
nginx maps localhost to the actual URL

Afterwards you can start nginx.exe with a double click or the command line.

Info: You can test the configuration with calling nginx -t in the command line. This will show you if there are any configuration errors. This is helpful because executing nginx will start background processes which are only visible in the task manager. If the configuration is wrong, it will fail silently.

Complete config file

#user  nobody;
worker_processes  1;
error_log  logs/error.log;
error_log  logs/error.log  notice;
error_log  logs/error.log  info;
#pid        logs/nginx.pid;
events {
    worker_connections  1024;
http {
    include       mime.types;
    default_type  application/octet-stream;

    log_format  main  '$remote_addr - $remote_user [$time_local] "$request" '
    #                  '$status $body_bytes_sent "$http_referer" '
    #                  '"$http_user_agent" "$http_x_forwarded_for"';
    access_log  logs/access.log  main;
    sendfile        on;  
    keepalive_timeout  65;
server {
		listen       localhost:8000;
		server_name         localhost;
		location / {
			proxy_pass https://....:7348/;

Configuration of WEBCON BPS

After configuring ngrok and nginx the only missing part is configuring WEBCON BPS. I found it helpful to duplicate the connection and change the Base service instance URL for this to the forwarding URL generated by ngrok.

Using the ngrok URL as `Base web service URL`
Using the ngrok URL as Base web service URL

Afterwards you can change the connection in the data source and start testing.


In my case the request failed with Invalid JSON in service response. after changing the connection.

First test failed with error.
First test failed with error.

The request was visible from the ngrok web interface (1) and there it was a “Bad Gateway” error.

Failed request is visible in the ngrok web interface.
Failed request is visible in the ngrok web interface.

Afterwards I tried to call the same URL from a browser which worked fine, so there was a difference in the request which caused the problem and it’s start for trial & error to see which difference caused the problem.

If WEBCON BPS fails and browser works, we need to compare the RAW request
If WEBCON BPS fails and browser works, we need to compare the RAW request

Don’t fear you can use the Replay with Modifications option from the Replay menu for this. You can manually modify the request and test it again.

Modifying a request and testing it again
Modifying a request and testing it again

In my case (Business Central) I had to add the custom header:

Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate
Adding a custom header fixed the `Invalid JSON in service response` error for Business Central
Adding a custom header fixed the Invalid JSON in service response error for Business Central

Once you verified the base functionality, you can continue with your actual issue.

Info: Replaying a request will not copy the query parameters. If you need these, you need to add them manually every time.

Cleaning up

Once you are finished you need to restore the connection of the modified data source and stop ngrok and nginx. In my case I had to resort to force to kill nginx from the task manager.

I prefer automating things, especially if I don’t use them on a regular basis. Therefore, I created two batch files. Which I placed in the same folder where I saved nginx and ngrok.

Batch files to start/stop debugging
Batch files to start/stop debugging

Content of start_debugging.bat

cd nginx
start nginx.exe
cd ..\ngrok 
start .\ngrok.exe http http://localhost:8000 --scheme http 

Content of stop_debugging.bat

taskkill /f /im nginx.exe
taskkill /im ngrok.exe

Plain text warning

WEBCON BPS will communicate in plain text with your computer. You may be able to change this configuring ngrok and nginx to use https. Activating https for ngrok is simple:

ngrok http https://localhost:443 --scheme https

For nginx you need to configure the server to use SSL, provide a certificate and key. I generated a self-signed certificate since you can deactivate certificate validation in the Designer Studio of the connection. The following commands generate a self signed certificate and exports it to a file which should contain the private key secured with the defined password. The execution requires admin privileges.

$targetFolder = "C:\Workspace\PoC\Inspect_WEBCONAPPS_Calls\"
$pfxFilePath = "$targetFolder\localhost.pfx"
$plainTextPassword = "Temp123"
$password = ConvertTo-SecureString -AsPlainText $plainTextPassword -Force
$cert = New-SelfSignedCertificate -DnsName @("localhost", "localhost.com")  -CertStoreLocation "cert:\LocalMachine\My" -NotAfter '2025-12-31' 
Export-PfxCertificate -Cert $cert -FilePath $pfxFilePath -Password $password   -Verbose | Out-Null

Extracting the private key from it with PowerShell didn’t work for me. I tested different, options but nothing was successful. So, I switched to this option (http://www.markbrilman.nl/2011/08/howto-convert-a-pfx-to-a-seperate-key-crt-file/), downloaded openssl to generate the certificate and key file. The last line of this code removes the pass phrase so nginx doesn’t ask for it during the start.

.\openssl\openssl pkcs12 -in localhost.pfx -nocerts -out localhost.key
.\openssl\openssl pkcs12 -in localhost.pfx -clcerts -nokeys -out localhost.crt
.\openssl\openssl rsa -in localhost.key -out localhost.unsecured.key 

I copied these to the created folder nginx\conf\ssl and modified the config to:

	server {
		listen       localhost:8000;
		listen              443 ssl; # 'ssl' parameter tells NGINX to decrypt the traffic
		server_name         www.dummy.com;
		ssl_certificate     ssl/dummycertificate.crt; # The certificate file
		ssl_certificate_key ssl/dummycertificate.unsecured.key; # The private key file
		location / {
			proxy_pass https://actualserver.com:7348/;

Testing the configuration works fine from the browser but from WEBCON BPS the connection can not be established. The reason for this is that WEBCON BPS executes a CONNECT method:

According to this post:

This doesn't work at all, because nginx is not designed to be a forward proxy, and does not support the CONNECT method.

There’s a module which could solve this, but you would need to build your own nginx version.

This is the end of my research. I did learn more than I intended too and this is definitely the end. If you want to use https you can go on from here or find an alternative to nginx. At least you have got an idea how it could work.