URL rewriting and WordPress

You may have noticed that WordPress by default creates and uses “Search Engine Optimized or Friendly” URLs. The raw URLs, which refer to the file on disk followed up by a train of grotesque-looking keywords and equals-signs and ampersands and question marks, are hidden from view. For WordPress, the magic comes from what is popularly known as URL rewriting. By sketching out simple or complex yet powerful rules to define what and how to rewrite, you can force the web server to completely transform URLs into clean, beautiful, search engine friendly forms.

Apache, a web server that can commonly be found to be the choice for deployment of WordPress, delegates the entire responsibility of URL rewriting to a module named mod_rewrite. URL rewriting rules can be defined globally, or on a per directory basis, which are interpreted and acted upon by mod_rewrite. In order for rules to be interpreted on a per directory basis, for which these are defined in a special configuration file that can exist within any directory, the AllowOverride setting must be enabled within Apache globally. If it isn’t, rules defined per directory will quietly be ignored.

In order for WordPress to weave its magic, both mod_rewrite and the AllowOverride setting must be enabled within Apache. This realisation dawned upon me when Asim mentioned that the two need to be enabled on Apache. On a server on which I had recently deployed WordPress for a friend, I noticed that created pages beyond the home page would give a mysterious 404. The two, as Asim gratuitously told me, were not enabled on Apache on that server which in turn were causing the 404 to pop out. I am surprised I did not stumble upon these two gotchas documented within WordPress—I may have overlooked, I am not sure.

I hope this serves to help a lost soul fumbling along a similar path.

7 thoughts on “URL rewriting and WordPress

  1. Pingback: URL rewriting and WordPress | Tea Break

  2. Normally on a production web-server or a web-server in a hosting environment (e.g. Plesk, Cpanel, etc.) these two are enabled so a lot of people don’t actually come across these issues. However if you are setting up the webserver with your own bare hands then the process is ofcourse manual.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s