Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Note on Reading aspx Hearing Reports from the Louisiana Attorney Discipline Board

Mike Frisch has helpfully cataloged many instances on this site of state bars or their disciplinary authorities making it easier on people to see reports and read them. Or he has nicely ragged on ones that make it hard for no reason. Recently I have had more and more trouble reading the hearing committee reports and disciplinary board opinions from the website of the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board, ladb.org. I don't think it's intentional on their part (they have been a really good souce of information in the past and don't seem to try to hide disciplinary information), and they may open easily on many attorneys' computers, but they don't open easily on mine. They used to download in a PDF format. Now they seem to default to opening on the website's own page instead of getting downloaded (and on mine that just freezes my computer). And if you do download it, it saves in a format ending in .aspx. At least on my computer, that opens as garbled data.

I searched on the internet and found that .aspx is an executable file format that one should be wary to open. I guess opening it within the board's website "viewer" pane is not a problem (if you can get it do that), but once it is downloaded it does look scary to me. But I also read that one can change the file extension from .aspx to .pdf and that new file can then be opened as a regular PDF. I did that and it worked. That of course would be the same procedure one would use to easily read a downloaded report from this site linked from the Louisiana site, since it would likely be "saved as" to the .aspx extension, assuming that just clicking on the link from our blurb does not work.

An appeal to LADB: could you just go back to having the files saved as PDFs? I think this is probably a case where the tech consultants made the site needlessly complicated and assume everyone has on their computers the same opening-up programs as they do. Well, everyone does have a PDF reader. And no one is too scared of just opening up a non-executable simple PDF.

One internet sites tells me: "If you've downloaded an ASPX file and expected it to contain information (like a document or other saved data), it's likely that something is wrong with the website and instead of generating usable information, it provided this server-side file instead." That is exactly what happens with me: when I download the file offered at ladb.org, it arrives as an .aspx file and not "usable information" until I change it to a PDF. Please, ladb, fix the "something is wrong" part?

UPDATE: The site works fine in IE and Chrome browsers. I mean, fine in the sense that you can download a PDF after viewing it in their viewing pane. Personally, I prefer not to have a site open up docs and the like for viewing just by clicking on the Respondent's name. But I recognize that there's no technological error in having it do that. I just like to be asked first whether it does something on my computer. But I can't say LADB is doing anything awful by going ahead and executing a script in a viewing pane by my clicking on the name of a Respondent. It just presents it as a view to the reader. I am not a big fan of that way of doing that, or not asking first whether one wants to have something run on my computer. So I admit I like PDFs as the main presentation. But this way certainly does allow PDFs to be downloaded in these two browsers, at least, and also in some people's Firefox (though not mine).

[Alan Childress]


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After corresponding with Prof. Childress, we have determined the issue described above lies with the settings in the Mozilla Firebox web browser. To prevent the documents from opening in Abode Reader/Acrobat on entering the Decisions and Rules section and to keep the documents in the viewer on the webpage, follow the instructions below to change the settings in Firefox:

1. In Firefox, you go into your Menu. This is the icon that is three horizontal lines all the way to the right of the address bar.

2. Click the Options icon (looks like a gear).

3. Click the Applications icon at the top of the newly opened window (aptly labeled).

4. Scroll down the alphabetical list to find “Portable Document Format (PDF)” and click on it.

5. In the Actions column to the right, you will see what it is defaulted to do and a drop down arrow.

6. Click the drop down arrow and in the options, select “Preview in Firefox.”

7. Click OK.

Once this is done, go back to the Decisions and Rules page, or if you are already there, press F5 or otherwise refresh the page and it will then display in the default Firefox viewer which now gives you the option to download or print.

I hope this has been helpful to anyone that has had this problem and urge anyone with site issues to email webmaster@ladb.org or call the LADB.

Tim McKee
Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board

Posted by: Tim McKee | Aug 6, 2014 8:47:48 AM

Very helpful, Tim. Thank you for taking the time to test coworkers' computers and isolate it to Firefox and offering a clear process to make sure it is not replicated. At Tim's suggestion, I repeated my actions using Chrome and IE and he was right that the site worked fine and offered easy downloads of PDFs just as I remembered Louisiana doing before. Rather than following the checklist Tim has here (and thanks for sharing that), I am just using Chrome to visit the website.

Posted by: Alan Childress | Aug 20, 2014 8:45:13 PM

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