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How to set up short and meaningfull alternative URLs

Wouldn't it be nice is URLs were shorter? Well - there are ways of making them shorter these days and you'll find them on networking sites like Twitter ... http://bit.ly/d7t8ID or http://bbc.in/XTQ8V . But where such URLs gain in brevity, they loose in comprehensibility.

But it's very easy to provide brief URLs that *are* meaningful too - and to do so on your own site if you have a short domain name (not www.whydidiregistersomethingthislong.co.uk) - we've done it, and let me show you how.

I wanted a quick link to our hotel booking page at https://lightning.he.net/~wellho/hotel/reservation.php - I wanted to go there from wellho.info/booking (yes, do try that link - it will work!).

Here's how I did it:

1. On the server for the domain that's got the short URL, I added the following to the .htaccess file in the DocumentRoot (the server's running Apache httpd with mod_rewrite and AllowOverrides On)

  RewriteEngine On
  RewriteRule ^([a-zA-Z0-9]+)$ http://www.wellho.net/short/$1 [L]


That redirects any URLs in the root directory that are just strings of letters and digits to a more structured directory at a longer URL within our main domain.

2. In the "short" directory on the main domain server, I've also got a rewrite line which sends the received name to a PHP script (requirements on this machine - httpd, mod_rewrite, Overrides allowed and PHP):

  RewriteRule ^([a-zA-Z0-9]+)$ divert.php?shrtfrm=$1&%{QUERY_STRING}

3. The PHP script looks up the code in $_REQUEST[shrtfrm] from a file or database, and sends out Location header telling the browser where to go:

  header("Location: $fn");

And it is nice! .... I have a whole lot of meaningful short links I can give to people, and I can use them as a switchboard too - so that if we come up with a new map there isn't a huge amount of extra work to do to tell people where it is.

Let's see if you can guess what you'll get if you follow the following links (which will open in a new window):

Coate Waterwellho.info/weather

wellho.info/map

wellho.info/course
wellho.info/coursebooking

wellho.info/hotel
wellho.info/hotelbooking

wellho.info/askus

wellho.info/coffeeshop
wellho.info/chamber
wellho.info/carnival


I'll confess to having done a bit more too .... If you put in a number, it will take you straight to that article number in "The Horse's Mouth", and if you put in a word that happens to be the name of a page on our wiki, it'll take you to a page there.

The bluebell plant and flowerwellho.info/2202
wellho.info/2894
wellho.info/727

wellho.info/beanacre
wellho.info/coatewater
wellho.info/westwoods

wellho.info/phonein
wellho.info/walkin

And - yes - if you enter something that's not on our site you'll get an index of all the special links:

wellho.info/alpaca


The images used to illustrate this article all come from pages that are short-linked above. Can you find them?
(written 2010-10-02)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
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  [3568] Telling which ServerAlias your visitor used - useful during merging domains - (2012-01-04)
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  [2900] Redirecting a page - silent, temporary or permanent? - (2010-08-03)
  [2773] Dynamically watching your web site via a PHP wrapper - (2010-05-21)
  [2768] Carrying a long URL around - looking for memorable shorts - (2010-05-17)
  [2728] Redirecting a home page using mod_rewrite - (2010-04-17)
  [2555] Bookkeeping - (2009-12-29)
  [2094] If you have a spelling mistake in your URL / page name - (2009-03-21)
  [1954] mod_rewrite for newcomers - (2008-12-20)
  [1778] Pointing all the web pages in a directory at a database - (2008-08-30)
  [1771] More HowTo diagrams - MySQL, Tomcat and Java - (2008-08-24)
  [1731] Apache httpd, MySQL, PHP - installation procedure - (2008-08-01)
  [1636] What to do if the Home Page is missing - (2008-05-08)
  [1381] Using a MySQL database to control mod_rewrite via PHP - (2007-10-06)
  [1376] Choosing between mod_proxy and mod_rewrite - (2007-10-02)
  [1207] Simple but effective use of mod_rewrite (Apache httpd) - (2007-05-27)
  [1009] Passing GET parameters through Apache mod_rewrite - (2006-12-27)
  [1006] Apache httpd and Apache Tomcat together tips - (2006-12-24)
  [934] Clustering, load balancing, mod_rewrite and mod_proxy - (2006-11-21)
  [755] Using different URLs to navigate around a single script - (2006-06-11)
  [631] Apache httpd to Tomcat - jk v proxy - (2006-03-03)

G902 - Well House Consultants - Web site techniques, utility and visibility
  [4239] Facebook marketing - early experiences - (2014-01-19)
  [4136] How do I post automatically from a PHP script to my Twitter account? - (2013-07-10)
  [4115] More or less back - what happened to our server the other day - (2013-06-14)
  [4076] Web site - fully back! - (2013-04-29)
  [4001] Helping search engines with appropriate 400 error codes - (2013-02-11)
  [3974] TV show appearance - how does it effect your web site? - (2013-01-13)
  [3896] An email marathon - (2012-10-15)
  [3776] Some traps it's so easy to fall into in designing your web site - (2012-06-23)
  [3745] Legal change - You need to obtain user consent if you use cookies on your website - (2012-06-01)
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  [322] More maps - (2005-05-23)
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  [288] Colour blindness for web developers - (2005-04-22)
  [284] The Iconish language - (2005-04-19)
  [278] Cover all the options - (2005-04-13)
  [276] An apology to Mr Boneparte - (2005-04-11)
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  [259] Responding to spam - (2005-03-27)
  [222] Who are all these visitors? - (2005-02-20)
  [202] Searching for numbers - (2005-02-04)
  [197] Allow for peak traffic on your web site - (2005-02-01)
  [182] Your personal Google ranking - (2005-01-19)
  [179] The hunt for unique words - (2005-01-16)
  [173] Data Mining - (2005-01-09)
  [165] Implementing an effective site search engine - (2005-01-01)
  [142] Colour for access - (2004-12-06)
  [117] A case of case - (2004-11-14)
  [109] URLs - a service and not a hurdle - (2004-11-04)
  [98] No more 'Error 404' pages. Something better. - (2004-10-24)
  [32] Web design platoon - (2004-08-29)
  [23] Skills and responsibilities - (2004-08-22)

H305 - PHP - Web server configuration
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  [2774] PHP - Object Oriented Design in use - (2010-05-21)
  [2478] How did I do THAT? - (2009-10-26)
  [1938] Predictive Load Balancing - PHP and / or Java - (2008-12-13)

H312 - PHP - Tips and Techniques
  [4074] A comment on comments in PHP - (2013-04-28)
  [2274] PHP preg functions - examples and comparision - (2009-07-08)
  [2025] Injection Attack if register_globals in on - PHP - (2009-02-04)
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  [1667] Checking server performance for PHP generated pages - (2008-06-06)
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  [1010] Dates, times, clickable diarys in PHP - (2006-12-28)
  [917] Syntax checking in PHP - (2006-11-07)
  [789] Hot answers in PHP - (2006-07-02)


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Travel, Transport and Tourism - A vision for Melksham, 2026
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Right place, right season
Customer Review - Hotel Room, Melksham
Strong arm tactics in the bus industry? Poor result for the customer!
Travel, Transport and Tourism - A vision for Melksham, 2026
How to set up short and meaningfull alternative URLs
Ruby - examples of regular expressions, inheritance and polymorphism
Ruby - yield; parallel routines
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What is a factory method and why use one? - Example in Ruby
Creating, extending, traversing and combining Ruby arrays
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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