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Rewriting URLs without Apache - a reversal

Written by Richard Heyes, RGraph author, on 6th August 2022

You may remember me writing about a new way of doing rewrites - without the Apache mod_rewrite module. Well, after a year or so of using this method I've decided to revert back to the standard way of doing Apache rewrites and redirects - ie using the RewriteRule directive (as well as the RedirectPermanent directive too).

Why?

Living with the new method just proved to be "not quite as simple" as using traditional methods with too many things to keep in mind. For example, the script name wasn't the same as the request URI - not a problem really - but something to remember and if you didn't you could easily get caught out.

Also, when I originally blogged about this method, I noted that performance wasn't an issue unless you had thousands of redirects. Now, I don't have any hard numbers to support this, but I do have a "feeling" (based on observations) that using the Apache directives is faster in practice than the new method. I think that I can note a very slight improvement - possibly due to there being no massive php file to parse. But, as with a lot of things, this may be just in my head!

So how have you laid out the redirects?

All the redirects are now placed in a single .htaccess file (previously they were in seperate files in each directory),grouped by directory and commented clearly to make finding things easy. For example:

################################
# Redirect regular expressions #
################################
RedirectMatch /canvas/docs/adjusting-linehtml.* /canvas/adjusting-line.html
RedirectMatch ^/demos/bar-basic.html.+          /demos/bar-basic.html
RedirectMatch ^/fiddle.*                        /demos/index.html

# ...

################
# REDIRECTS: / #
################
RedirectPermanent /interactive  /demos/index.html
RedirectPermanent /interactive/ /demos/index.html
RedirectPermanent /browser      /install/browsers.html

# ...

####################
# REDIRECTS: /blog #
####################
RedirectPermanent /blog/index.html/index.html /blog/index.html
RedirectPermanent /blog/index.html/2011       /blog/index.html
RedirectPermanent /blog/index.html/2012       /blog/index-2012.html

# ...

######################
# REDIRECTS: /canvas #
######################
RedirectPermanent /canvas/funnel                /canvas/funnel.html
RedirectPermanent /canvas/misc.html/            /canvas/misc.html
RedirectPermanent /canvas/interactive-keys.html /canvas/keys.html#interactive-keys

Not too difficult to maintain and quick. What everyone wants right?