Clean URLs with Jekyll/Apache

Yesterday I decided to shorten and clear the urls of my posts once and for all. By clean, I mean short and simple urls without dates, categories or anything else in them, only the post slug. My definition of cleanness also includes not having a slash at the end of the urls. For example, groveld.com/about.

To view options available when setting the permalink structure of posts in jekyll, you can take a look at the documentation, but for our purpose, it’s so simple and you might have already guessed it without looking at the docs: permalink: /:title

You have to put the above line in the _config.yml file in the root directory of your jekyll project.

If you have pagination, the permalink for the pagination could be as simple as paginate_path: "page/:num"

Now the tricky and more exciting part, which is telling apache to remove the trailing slashes! Here’s how I did it, with this htaccess configuartion:

Options -Multiviews +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
DirectorySlash Off

# remove the trailing slash
RewriteRule ^(.*)\/(\?.*)?$ $1$2 [R=301,L]

# rewrite /dir/file to /dir/file/index.html
RewriteRule ^([\w\/-]+)(\?.*)?$ $1/index.html$2 [L,T=application/x-httpd-html]

We’re done! but there’s one more thing I’d like to mention:

In this approach, jekyll creates a directory for each post, which in my opinion is not very nice. The solution for that will be to tell jekyll to create all posts as html files in some directory, like blog and then have Apache load the actual file for each post from the blog folder. However, if you try this, you’ll realize that jekyll always creates the paginations in folder structure (/page/2/index.html) and there’s no easy way to make it create html files (/page/2.html), and therefore that’ll messup our htaccess url rewrite. Now, if you have a decent knowledge of regex, then you’re fine and you can separate blog posts from paginations, but that’s not the case for me :p, so this is as far as I will go.

I also thought it might be useful to link to this article; although I didn’t use it myself and I only found it after doing what I just described in this post.