Site directory changes made painless with htaccess

Posted
2:04 PM 29 January 2005

Previously the month in each URL of this site was represented with a number. On a whim I’ve decided it would be nicer and less ambiguous to use month names abbreviated to three characters. What might have been a major change is made minor with the addition of several lines to a .htaccess file. Requests for files residing in the old structure are redirected by apache to their new locations.

For example a clicking a link to an old entry regarding the last time I looked at my archive structure: http://www.ollicle.com/2003/09/02/no_more_archives.html forwards you to the corresponding location in the new structure.

The instruction to do so is entered into a hidden text file in the root of the site directory.

This is what this file (called .htaccess) looks like to achieve this. There is a line for each month:

RedirectMatch permanent ^(.*)/([0-9]{4})/01/(.*)$ $1/$2/jan/$3
RedirectMatch permanent ^(.*)/([0-9]{4})/02/(.*)$ $1/$2/feb/$3
RedirectMatch permanent ^(.*)/([0-9]{4})/03/(.*)$ $1/$2/mar/$3
RedirectMatch permanent ^(.*)/([0-9]{4})/04/(.*)$ $1/$2/apr/$3
RedirectMatch permanent ^(.*)/([0-9]{4})/05/(.*)$ $1/$2/may/$3
RedirectMatch permanent ^(.*)/([0-9]{4})/06/(.*)$ $1/$2/jun/$3
RedirectMatch permanent ^(.*)/([0-9]{4})/07/(.*)$ $1/$2/jul/$3
RedirectMatch permanent ^(.*)/([0-9]{4})/08/(.*)$ $1/$2/aug/$3
RedirectMatch permanent ^(.*)/([0-9]{4})/09/(.*)$ $1/$2/sep/$3
RedirectMatch permanent ^(.*)/([0-9]{4})/10/(.*)$ $1/$2/oct/$3
RedirectMatch permanent ^(.*)/([0-9]{4})/11/(.*)$ $1/$2/nov/$3
RedirectMatch permanent ^(.*)/([0-9]{4})/12/(.*)$ $1/$2/dec/$3

I’m no regular expressions wizard - so there’s a good chance that this can be done more elegantly. Trimming index.html from the monthly and daily archive links remains a task for another day.

Useful sources

The best documentation on redirection using this method is of course direct from Apache. This article on Retiring entries with Movable Type presents the interesting idea of using custom templates to create .htaccess files with Movable Type itself. Mark Pilgrim’s post, HTTP Error 410: Gone presented informative examples that helped me grasp what all this gear is about.

Oliver Boermans is a design geek in Adelaide, South Australia: ollicle.com is a place for Ollie to rant, reflect and share. Feed

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