Apache > HTTP Server > Documentation > Version 2.2

Apache mod_rewrite Introduction

Available Languages:  en 

This document supplements the mod_rewrite reference documentation. It describes the basic concepts necessary for use of mod_rewrite. Other documents go into greater detail, but this doc should help the beginner get their feet wet.

See also



The Apache module mod_rewrite is a very powerful and sophisticated module which provides a way to do URL manipulations. With it, you can do nearly all types of URL rewriting that you may need. It is, however, somewhat complex, and may be intimidating to the beginner. There is also a tendency to treat rewrite rules as magic incantation, using them without actually understanding what they do.

This document attempts to give sufficient background so that what follows is understood, rather than just copied blindly.


Regular Expressions

mod_rewrite uses the Perl Compatible Regular Expression vocabulary. In this document, we do not attempt to provide a detailed reference to regular expressions. For that, we recommend the PCRE man pages, the Perl regular expression man page, and Mastering Regular Expressions, by Jeffrey Friedl.

In this document, we attempt to provide enough of a regex vocabulary to get you started, without being overwhelming, in the hope that RewriteRules will be scientific formulae, rather than magical incantations.

Regex vocabulary

The following are the minimal building blocks you will need, in order to write regular expressions and RewriteRules. They certainly do not represent a complete regular expression vocabulary, but they are a good place to start, and should help you read basic regular expressions, as well as write your own.

Character Meaning Example
.Matches any characterc.t will match cat, cot, cut, etc.
+Repeats the previous match one or more timesa+ matches a, aa, aaa, etc
*Repeats the previous match zero or more times.a* matches all the same things a+ matches, but will also match an empty string.
?Makes the match optional.
.Matches any charactercolou?r will match color and colour.
^Called an anchor, matches the beginning of the string^a matches a string that begins with a
$The other anchor, this matches the end of the string.a$ matches a string that ends with a.
( )Groups several characters into a single unit, and captures a match for use in a backreference.(ab)+ matches ababab - that is, the + applies to the group. For more on backreferences see below.
[ ]A character class - matches one of the charactersc[uoa]t matches cut, cot or cat.
!NotNegates a match - that is, ensures that it does not match.

Regex Back-Reference Availability

One important thing here has to be remembered: Whenever you use parentheses in Pattern or in one of the CondPattern, back-references are internally created which can be used with the strings $N and %N (see below). These are available for creating the strings Substitution and TestString. Figure 2 shows to which locations the back-references are transferred for expansion.

[Needs graphics capability to display]
Figure 2: The back-reference flow through a rule.


RewriteRule basics

Basic anatomy of a RewriteRule, with exhaustively annotated simple examples.


Rewrite Flags

Discussion of the flags to RewriteRule, and when and why one might use them.


Rewrite conditions

Discussion of RewriteCond, looping, and other related concepts.


Rewrite maps

Discussion of RewriteMap, including simple, but heavily annotated, examples.


.htaccess files

Discussion of the differences between rewrite rules in httpd.conf and in .htaccess files.


Environment Variables

This module keeps track of two additional (non-standard) CGI/SSI environment variables named SCRIPT_URL and SCRIPT_URI. These contain the logical Web-view to the current resource, while the standard CGI/SSI variables SCRIPT_NAME and SCRIPT_FILENAME contain the physical System-view.

Notice: These variables hold the URI/URL as they were initially requested, i.e., before any rewriting. This is important because the rewriting process is primarily used to rewrite logical URLs to physical pathnames.



Available Languages:  en