Mastering the AEM Dispatcher Part 2: Case Insensitive URLs

Mastering the AEM Dispatcher Part 2: Case Insensitive URLs

In this second post in my series, Mastering the AEM Dispatcher. In this post, we’ll discuss how to support case-insensitive URLs in the AEM Dispatcher running on Apache httpd.

For customers coming from websites hosted on case-insensitive web servers, such as Microsoft IIS, moving to Apache can be a challenge. In a case-insensitive web server, the URL http://www.site.com/my-page.html is functionally equivalent of http://www.site.com/My-Page.html. In Apache httpd, which is case-sensitive, these are two different URLs and requesting a page at My-Page.html when the page is named my-page.html will result in a 404 error.

Further complicating things, you have two cases you’ll need to handle when moving from a case-insensitive web server to AEM Dispatcher on Apache httpd. You will need to support both case-insensitive URLs as well as case-insensitive redirects, so visitors to your old pages are redirected to the new AEM page.

 

Supporting Case Insensitive Requests

 

Luckily, Apache has a module made just for this use case. The appropriately named module, mod_speling, supports three use cases:

  • Redirecting users to similarly named pages when they misspell the URL
  • Redirecting users to pages with a different case than the URL the requested
  • Displaying a list of similar URLs if they misspell a URL and there are multiple similar options

In our case, we just want to support the second case, redirecting the user to the page in the correct case.

mod_speling is not enabled in Apache httpd by default, so we’ll need to enable it. First, we’ll enable the module in /etc/httpd/conf.modules.d/00-base.conf by adding the following line:
 

LoadModule speling_module modules/mod_speling.so

 
Depending on whether you want mod_speling enabled in just a single VHost or on all VHosts in Apache you can either configure the module in the particular VHost conf file or in /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf.

Since we want mod_speling enabled with case insensitivity we’ll configure it as such:
 

CheckSpelling on
CheckCaseOnly on

 
Finally, since mod_speling will serve up alternatives if it finds more than one close match, will need to provide a 300 error page or we’ll get the module’s (ugly) page. To support 300 errors, we just set the ErrorDocument directive:
 

ErrorDocument 300 /errors/404.html

 

Case Insensitive Redirects

 

When you migrate from a legacy system, you’ll usually get a list of legacy vanity URLs and legacy URLs which need redirects. Apache httpd’s redirect maps make this an easy process, but like everything else in Apache, they are case sensitive.

So how do we work around this? There is a built-in redirect map in Apache which lowercases whatever it receives. We can use this to first downcase the URL, then check for it in the redirect map.
 

RewriteMap map.legacy txt:/etc/httpd/conf.d/map-legacy.txt
RewriteMap lc int:tolower
RewriteCond ${map.legacy:${lc:$1}} !=""
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ ${map.legacy:${lc:$1}|/} [L,R=301]

 
You will also need to downcase the redirect source URLs so they will match, for example:
 

/vanity1 https://www.site.com/afolder/apage.html
/vanity2 https://apps.asite.com/An-App/In-IIS.aspx

 

Next Up: Simplifying Configuration in the AEM Dispatcher

 

This is the second post in the Mastering the AEM Dispatcher series. In the previous post, we discussed debugging the AEM dispatcher. In the next post, we’ll discuss setting up configuration files and using environment variables to make it easy to port configurations between websites and environments.
 

Note: This blog post is written based on a standard setup on a RedHat derivative (e.g. RedHat or CentOS) with the Apache Dispatcher Module. If you are using IIS or a Debian based OS (e.g. Debian or Ubuntu) the configurations, locations, and files may vary.

 

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