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Using different URLs to navigate around a single script

1. I want my website to have different URLs for each of my content pages so that users can easily bookmark pages, pass them on to friends and contacts easily and with confidence, and search engines can register and handle each as its own distinct page

but

2. I want most of the pages on my website to be provided by the same script, so that I can maintain a single piece of code that brings in variable content as required.

Requirements (1) and (2) may appear to conflict at first, but in reality they don't. Multiple URLs can be mapped onto a single script using Apache httpd's mod_rewrite (guide, reference). And that way, you can get the best of both worlds.

Mod_rewrite is very powerful; we use it in many places on our web site and on client web sites, and the casual website visitor hasn't a clue that it's in use. Because it's very powerful and flexible, though, the documentation can be a bit longwinded to wade through and it's often hard to see the wood for the trees. So here's an example:

In the .htaccess file in a directory called /boutique

RewriteEngine On
RewriteRule ^([^/]*)/([^.]*)\.html$ demo.php?andy=$1&graham=$2
RewriteRule ^([^/]*)\.html$ demo.php?toplevel=$1


Any top level .html requests are mapped to the script with a "toplevel" parameter as if one box on a form had been completed (that's the second rule). And .html requests that appear to be in subdirectories are mapped to the same script with parameters called "andy" and "graham" as if each of those elements had been entered into a form.

I've put up a live script on our save the train site under a subdirectory called boutique. Try out the following URLs:
http://www.savethetrain.org.uk/boutique/clothing.html
http://www.savethetrain.org.uk/boutique/clothing/trousers.html
http://www.savethetrain.org.uk/boutique/clothing/hats.html

The script source code is available here, the .htaccess file source is here, and training is available here
(written 2006-06-11, updated 2006-06-13)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
A603 - Web Application Deployment - Further httpd Configuration
  [4307] Identifying and clearing denial of service attacks on your Apache server - (2014-09-27)
  [4001] Helping search engines with appropriate 400 error codes - (2013-02-11)
  [3955] Building up from a small PHP setup to an enterprise one - (2012-12-16)
  [3862] Forwarding a whole domain, except for a few directories - Apache http server - (2012-09-17)
  [3635] Parse error: parse error, unexpected T_STRING on brand new web site - why? - (2012-03-03)
  [3449] Apache Internal Dummy Connection - what is it and what should I do with it? - (2011-09-19)
  [3133] An image from a website that occasionally comes out as hyroglyphics - (2011-01-14)
  [2900] Redirecting a page - silent, temporary or permanent? - (2010-08-03)
  [2478] How did I do THAT? - (2009-10-26)
  [2272] Monitoring and loading tools for testing Apache Tomcat - (2009-07-07)
  [2060] Database connection Pooling, SSL, and command line deployment - httpd and Tomcat - (2009-03-01)
  [1974] Moving a directory on your web site - (2009-01-03)
  [1955] How to avoid duplicating web page maintainance - (2008-12-20)
  [1954] mod_rewrite for newcomers - (2008-12-20)
  [1939] mod_proxy_ajp and mod_proxy_balancer examples - (2008-12-13)
  [1778] Pointing all the web pages in a directory at a database - (2008-08-30)
  [1767] mod_proxy and mod_proxy_ajp - httpd - (2008-08-22)
  [1762] WEB-INF (Tomcat) and .htaccess (httpd) - (2008-08-20)
  [1707] Configuring Apache httpd - (2008-07-12)
  [1636] What to do if the Home Page is missing - (2008-05-08)
  [1619] User and Group settings for Apache httpd web server - (2008-04-22)
  [1566] Strange behaviour of web directory requests without a trailing slash - (2008-03-06)
  [1564] Default file (MiMe types) for Apache httpd and Apache Tomcat - (2008-03-04)
  [1554] Online hotel reservations - Melksham, Wiltshire (near Bath) - (2008-02-24)
  [1551] Which modules are loaded in my Apache httpd - (2008-02-23)
  [1381] Using a MySQL database to control mod_rewrite via PHP - (2007-10-06)
  [1377] Load Balancing with Apache mod_jk (httpd/Tomcat) - (2007-10-02)
  [1355] .php or .html extension? Morally Static Pages - (2007-09-17)
  [1351] Compressing web pages sent out from server. Is it worth it? - (2007-09-14)
  [1207] Simple but effective use of mod_rewrite (Apache httpd) - (2007-05-27)
  [1121] Sharing the load with Apache httpd and perhaps Tomcat - (2007-03-29)
  [1080] httpd.conf or .htaccess? - (2007-02-14)
  [1009] Passing GET parameters through Apache mod_rewrite - (2006-12-27)
  [934] Clustering, load balancing, mod_rewrite and mod_proxy - (2006-11-21)
  [853] To list a directory under httpd on a web server, or not? - (2006-09-02)
  [662] An unhelpful error message from Apache httpd - (2006-03-30)
  [649] Denial of Service ''attack'' - (2006-03-17)
  [631] Apache httpd to Tomcat - jk v proxy - (2006-03-03)
  [550] 2006 - Making business a pleasure - (2006-01-01)
  [526] Apache httpd - serving web documents from different directories - (2005-12-12)
  [466] Separating 'per instance' data from binaries and web sites - (2005-10-16)
  [345] Spotting a denial of service attack - (2005-06-12)

A607 - Web Application Deployment - Apache httpd mod_rewrite
  [3753] Adding a passcode to a directory - (2012-06-05)
  [3568] Telling which ServerAlias your visitor used - useful during merging domains - (2012-01-04)
  [3339] Simplest ever proxy configuration? - (2011-06-28)
  [3197] Finding and diverting image requests from rogue domains - (2011-03-08)
  [2981] How to set up short and meaningfull alternative URLs - (2010-10-02)
  [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)
  [1771] More HowTo diagrams - MySQL, Tomcat and Java - (2008-08-24)
  [1731] Apache httpd, MySQL, PHP - installation procedure - (2008-08-01)
  [1376] Choosing between mod_proxy and mod_rewrite - (2007-10-02)
  [1006] Apache httpd and Apache Tomcat together tips - (2006-12-24)


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