Howto: the Cork County Council Planning Enquiry System

The planning enquiry system of Cork County Council is a powerful system for downloading and viewing all the documents related to a planning enquiry. Unfortunately it relies on outdated software that most people won’t have access to any more (and for security reasons, that’s a good thing!). There are Android and iPhone apps too, but it’s not easy reading planning documents on small screens, and at least on Android requires the use of a third party app to view the .djvu files. You can also save the files to a dropbox folder to share with your desktop, but it’s awkward doing so. The mobile apps can’t download large files either.

When you first go into it, this is the page you see. If you’re using a modern browser (like Microsoft Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari) you can’t really do much more. It requires Internet Explorer to work.

However, by looking at the source code of the page I discovered this code that sends you to MainFrames.aspx.

The next page allows you to search the planning database but until you’re running Internet Explorer you won’t get very far as it uses the Autodesk Mapguide Viewer for it to show anything.

So, if you’re not running Internet Explorer on your up-to-date copy of Windows or you use macOS, Linux or anything else you’ve only one other option. Use a virtual machine.

Go grab a copy of VirtualBox and install it, then download a free virtual machine image from this Microsoft page and import that into VirtualBox. I found the IE9 one worked perfectly. It expires after 90 days but you can download another image if you need to later.

VirtualBox allows you to set up a shared folder where you can download the planning files, and work on them at your leisure!


Drowning in the flood

I have noticed a strange thing in the past week or so. Google has referred legitimate looking browser user agents to this blog and In and within seconds that browser tries to download all my feed links, and several months of my archives. I have a little flood protection built in and it stops them with a 403 after several of these requests but it’s annoying. It’s some sort of pre-fetching plugin to “speed up” browsing isn’t it? Firefox has a similar thing in the form of the “Fasterfox” extension if memory serves. Ben Metcalfe has a good write up on the evils of pre-fetching. It could kill your database or use all your credits in online stores!

Whatever you’re using, welcome to my kill file. … “GET /index.php?tag=suicide-girls HTTP/1.1” 200 36422 “” “Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)” … “GET /wp-content/plugins/widgets/rss.png HTTP/1.1” 200 3341 “” “Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)” … “GET /feed/atom/ HTTP/1.1” 200 35775 “” … … “GET /feed/ HTTP/1.1” 200 35449 … … “GET /feed/rss/ HTTP/1.1” 200 4636 … … “GET /wp-content/themes/whiteasmilk/style.css HTTP/1.1” 200 9639 “-” … … “GET /xmlrpc.php HTTP/1.1” 200 42 … … “GET /2006/07/ HTTP/1.1” 200 68150 … … “GET /2006/09/ HTTP/1.1” 200 68150 … … “GET /2006/08/ HTTP/1.1” 200 68150 … … “GET /2006/06/ HTTP/1.1” 200 68150 …