A subtle error: using System.IO.Path in a HTTP context

Here’s a fun little issue that you might eventually run across. Suppose you’re writing some code that needs to retrieve the extension from a URL. For example, a URL rewriter or Sitecore pipeline that acts only on certain file types.

You might think, as I would have, “oh, that’s built in to .NET - we’ll just use System.IO.Path.GetExtension()!”

And that would work, almost all of the time. The only issue comes from an internal implementation detail of IO.Path: it checks that the path does not contain characters that are invalid in a filesystem path. Specifically, “, <, >, |, and ASCII unprintables (< 32). Well, those characters (except perhaps the unprintables) are valid in a URL - so trying to get the extension of a URL path containing these characters will throw a nice fat exception:

System.ArgumentException: Illegal characters in path.
   at System.IO.Path.CheckInvalidPathChars(String path)
   at System.IO.Path.GetExtension(String path)

Unfortunately there is no way to disable this behavior - which is logical, given the purpose of IO.Path as a processor for file system paths, not URLs. Not even first parsing the URL using the System.Uri class will fix this, as this StackOverflow question suggests. The LocalPath property still includes the invalid characters that break Path.GetFileName() or Path.GetExtension().

There are a couple of ways I could see solving this problem. The first, and simplest - though possibly prone to security issues, would be to replicate what Path.GetExtension() does but omitting the invalid characters check. Reference:

int length = path.Length;
for (int i = length; --i >= 0; )
    char ch = path[i];
    if (ch == '.')
        if (i != length - 1)
            return path.Substring(i, length - i);
            return String.Empty;
    if (ch == DirectorySeparatorChar || ch == AltDirectorySeparatorChar || ch == VolumeSeparatorChar)
return String.Empty;

The second would be to remove any invalid characters prior to calling Path.GetExtension():

string url = "\"http://mo\"nkeys/foo/bar/\"";
var invalidChars = Path.GetInvalidPathChars().ToHashSet();
for (int i = url.Length - 1; i >= 0; i--)
    // technically you could use a stringbuilder, but since 99% of the time this won't ever be used, this seems optimized enough
    if (invalidChars.Contains(url[i])) url = url.Remove(i, 1);

var ext = Path.GetExtension(url);

Personally I like the second solution, since you’d benefit from any upstream fixes in Path.GetExtension() in future framework releases.