ALI 6.5 Insider Part III: Friendly URLs

You've been waiting for it since 5.0.  You may have even purchased the BID Services add-on (LiquidSkin) to get it.  You've pulled your hair out trying to get indexed by Google (if you're an extranet site) because it doesn't recognize the different query strings, or trying to figure out a way to allow your marketing people to put decent looking URLs in internal announcements without them being as long as the announcement themselves.

"Friendly" URLs.  They're finally here!  Instead of some URL like "portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=200&PageID=0&cached=true&mode=2&userID=226", you'll now see something like "/portal/server.pt/community/demo_community", and if you're exceptionally motivated, you can even shorten the "/portal/server.pt/community/" part via configuration settings!  Here's how it works - if you go to a community, after the server.pt, you'll see /community/<communityname>/<communityid>:
friendly_url1.jpg

 

Why throw the ID on the end? Well, it's to address the use case where you have more than one community with the same name.  BUT, if you know your community name is unique, you can actually access the same community without the URL by manually typing it in: 
friendly_url2.jpg

 

Ah, but there's more.  What if I go in and create another community with the same name later?  Easy - the portal simply returns a search page for that community name, to allow the user to "disambiguate" the name:
friendly_url3.jpg

Also, notice pages aren't included in the URL unless you're navigating to a page other than the Home Page.  In that case, the URL simply becomes "/portal/server.pt/community/<community_name>/<community_id>/<page_name>/<page_id>.

This scheme doesn't apply everywhere; the friendly URLs are only applied to Profile, My Pages, Communities, and the Knowledge Directory (which isn't working in the beta build that I've got), not any administrative pages, but hey, who needs friendly URLs for those?

The only thing to point out here is that BEA chose to go with the <name>/<id> form of "friendly" URLs, rather than <root_folder>/<folder>/<folder>/<name>.  Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but if you're a LiquidSkin FriendlyURLs customer, LiquidSkin goes with the latter scheme.  So while that application should still work, if you choose to upgrade to this version, old links won't work anymore.  The only other thing that would have been nice is including the folder name in the Knowledge Directory path, which would have been a visual cue to users where the document (and others like it) are stored, and more importantly, been a valuable Search Engine Optimization tool, as most search engines put significant weight on terms in the URL for a specific document. 

But, hey, short URLs you can actually use!  Who's complaining?

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