Only a very small handful of people from Rochester and the surrounding areas – those who like local music – will get the reference in the title of this post. Maybe a few people outside of the Rochester area. That’s OK. It’s a small homage to a favourite local band…
By now, most of us who are committed to social web development take it as a given that URLs should be as clean as possible for as much content on your site as possible[2. For a good discussion of clean URLs, their meaning and their use, see this article.]. Clean, clear URLs provide your audience with an intuitive way to understand the structure of your website, provide an easy method to return to favourite topics or sections of your site and not least-importantly, provide search engines with easily keyword-associated URLs to log and serve to their customers.
With CakePHP, clean URLs are part of the normal process of building pages, rather than an imposition. A URL to a given resource on your CakePHP website will have a format of domain.com/:controller/:action/:param/:param…[1. If you’re not familiar with this format, have a look at this page, which is our topic of discussion, anyway.] Without knowing how your site will be organized, this is a fairly intuitive way of organizing URLs. Your controller name should be fairly descriptive of what it works with, “posts,” or “teeshirts”; your action will probably be fairly descriptive of what its meant to do, “edit,” “view,” “index,” and so forth.
But not in all cases does the standard formatting work. In the case of the site that I’m in the process of developing, PotholePatrol.org, I needed to make some changes to the way CakePHP structured it’s URLs to make things slightly more intuitive to the layout of the website. For example, since the organization of data revolves around Metro areas containing one or more Towns having many Potholes, using /metros, /towns/ and /potholes didn’t make sense and wouldn’t have accurately reflected that organization.