Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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URLs

478 words

And more Three Letter Expressions coming up…

The form of URLs is an important topic on the web. You’ll want to have URLs which are readable and possibly even easy to guess. That way people can remember them without problems. Examples for how this is done well can be seen at Wikipedia which uses relatively straightforward URLs like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/orthorhombic that give a clear indication of what the page will be about. But, even, better they allow very convenient URL input by automatically forwarding you to where you probably wanted to go if you quickly enter wikipedia.org/orthorhombic into your address bar. I think that is tremendously useful and makes the site much more easily accessible.

Similarly, I like the A9 search service for having simple URLs like http://a9.com/haldern for a request. It means you can easily enter your search request in you browser’s URL bar without having to worry about question marks and other crap. And the best thing is that making this work is probably quite easy. Some clever RedirectMatch rules should do the trick.

While I’m quite happy with the URL scheme I use for this site, I keep thinking that things could be better. As the scheme is I have a folder for each month of posts, giving paths à la /ssp/blog/2005/10/urls. This means that each folder has a moderate number of posts and can be handled reasonably well. That makes more sense than having a folder for each day containing a single item. And it avoids the clutter of having all posts in a single folder – an approach which’d also mean I couldn’t repeat the same title every now and again.

But sometimes, when looking for a specific old post, I’d really like to be able to just type in a path like /ssp/blog/urls and then have some mod_rewrite magic script iterate through all my folders for me and display the relevant page if there is a unique match, display a list of links if there are multiple matches or initiate a Movable Type (or better Google) query for that search term. I’d find that very handy. Probably a good time to regret hating perl…

Another place where people should really take care about their URLs and possible redirections are the start pages of their domains. Frequently entering domain names à la domain.com into your browser’s address bar will result in a redirection to their preferred start page and leave you with something like http://www.domain.com/index.php in your address bar. Should you decide to bookmark that page and should the site be redesigned later on to improve their URLs, you can easily end up having a bookmark for a non-existing page later on. I’ve seen this happen a number of times. Most notably I’ve seen this at the A List Apart site. Meaning that this problem even hits those who most likely know better.

October 22, 2005, 10:28

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