Building extension-less Urls in Sitecore

by aboo bolaky 4. October 2009 08:55

Our goal here is to build a Sitecore solution having links without the .aspx extension.(although accessing a page with a .aspx extension should STILL work)

To start ,you need

  • Helicon ISAPI Rewrite Lite (the free one). Since I'm usingWindows 7 RC1 x64bit, I'll need to download the x64 bit flavour of Helicon Lite
  • A test Sitecore Application .. I will be using the Sitecore Starter Kit [Sitecore Starter Kit 6.0.0 rev.090203] as an my starting point.  (installed on IIS 7).

Before I start on implementing the solution, a little bit of background info would, I guess, be quite useful.

AddAspxExtension in LinkManager

A potential solution is to change the value of AddAspxExtension from true (by default) to false. If you do change it to false, you will have to create a wildcard script map to the ASP.NET runtime. This causes IIS to intercept every request made against the web server. This includes requests for images, pages and HTML pages. Therefore, enabling a wildcard script map to ASP.NET does have performance implications. If you wish to find another way to use pages without .aspx extensions in Sitecore, please read further....

Sitecore Aliases

Aliases, in a nutshell, allow you to shorten the url of an item. For example, if your item is currently accessible via http://hostname/MyParentItem/MyChildItem.aspx, you can specify an alias of myChildItem, which will be a placeholder for the actual item as it is in the Sitecore tree. Hence, the url of the alias is http://hostname/MyChildItem.aspx. For SEO purposes, this allows us to surface items from deep down in the hierarchy right up to the site root.


  • Aliases do not work if you remove the .aspx extension
  • No matter how far your items are in the sitecore tree, an alias allows you to refer to it from the site root.

Step 1: Install and Configure Helicon ISAPI Rewrite Lite

Start by installing Helicon ISAPI Rewrite. This process is fairly straightforward. Since we are using the lite version,  our Regex entries will be placed in the global http.conf (located in the Lite version installation folder). The entries in my httpd.conf are as follow:-

RewriteEngine on
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^(sitecore.*)$ $1 [L]
RewriteRule ^([^\.\?]+)/?(\?.*)?$ /$1.aspx$2 [L]


Url Rewriting Rationale

Before a request is forwarded to Sitecore, the ISAPI module intercepts it.

Line 1: You NEED that ! This turns on the Helicon ISAPI Module

Line 2: Errr...This is self-explanatory..

Line 3: We don't need to chop off the .aspx when we are in Sitecore CMS. For this reason, we're basically telling the module to not do anything when a request has "sitecore" in it.

Line 4: This is the most important bit. This appends .aspx (and querystrings,if any) to requests and consequently forwards the resulting request to Sitecore. Two scenarios arise as a result of this.

 3.1 : Sitecore maps the request to an item in the database. The page gets displayed in the end.

 3.2 : Sitecore cannot find the item based on the url. You will either end up with the  Sitecore's "Item Not Found" page.


Before we go any further, I need to confess that I did modify the Starter Kit a little prior to this operation. Basically, when you load the starter kit, you are greeted with a dummy home Site, that has a nice layout and there is a link to the Actual Starter Site. I was tired of this as my home page, So, I changed the value of "startItem" [in the Sites Definition of website (in web.config)] from "/home" to "/Sample". In that way, when i hit the website, I will eventually land on the real starter site!. Also, by doing so, all my urls within the website will no longer contain "/sitecore/content/.." since the Start Item has changed.

Quick Test on Urls

Request : http://sitecorestarterkit/References.aspx  [OK]

Request : http://sitecorestarterkit/References  [OK]

Request : http://sitecorestarterkit/Services/Architectual-Services.aspx [OK]

Request : http://sitecorestarterkit/Services/Architectual-Services [OK]

Request : http://sitecorestarterkit/Sitecore/  [OK..CMS access]

It looks like we have a half-baked solution. Aliases will now work without the .aspx extension as well. The other bits that need to be considered are

1 : How to make sitecore controls (.e.g. sc:link etc..) aware that they should drop the ".aspx" extensions

2 : How does it all tie up together with .NET (user controls etc..)

Step 2: XSL Extensions (revised)

To follow up on custom solution, you will need to tell Sitecore to remove the ".aspx" when it renders urls (either via sc:link [xsl extensions] or c# code). For XSL Extensions, we need to disable the default implementation that Sitecore provides us with and roll out our own. Fortunately, it's very easy to do so. [Credits : Chris Wojciech ]


2.1 : Turn off the default XslHelper

<!-- Changed from "On" to "Off" -->
<extension mode="off" type="Sitecore.Xml.Xsl.XslHelper, Sitecore.Kernel" 
	namespace="" singleInstance="true" />



2.2 : Create your own XslHelper

 namespace Starterkit.Utils
	 public class XslHelper : Sitecore.Xml.Xsl.XslHelper
		public override string path(System.Xml.XPath.XPathNodeIterator iterator)
			string path = base.path(iterator);
			string newPath = Regex.Replace(path, ".aspx", String.Empty, RegexOptions.IgnoreCase | RegexOptions.Compiled);
			return newPath;
		public override string link(string fieldName, System.Xml.XPath.XPathNodeIterator iterator, string parameters)
			string path =, iterator, parameters);
			string newPath = Regex.Replace(path, ".aspx", String.Empty, RegexOptions.IgnoreCase | RegexOptions.Compiled);
			return newPath;
		public override string StartLink(System.Xml.XPath.XPathNodeIterator iterator, string parameters)
			string path = base.StartLink(iterator, parameters);
			string newPath = Regex.Replace(path, ".aspx", String.Empty, RegexOptions.IgnoreCase | RegexOptions.Compiled);
			return newPath;


For each of those three methods, we're only replacing the .aspx with an empty string. To enable <sc:link/> to use our custom Xsl Helper, we need to add another entry to the <xslextensions> section


	<!-- Changed from "On" to "Off" -->   
	<extension mode="off" type="Sitecore.Xml.Xsl.XslHelper, Sitecore.Kernel" 
	namespace="" singleInstance="true" />  
	<extension mode="on" type="Starterkit.Utils.XslHelper, Starterkit.Utils"
	 namespace="" singleInstance="true" />


NEARLY THERE!!!. All the links (that are rendering using sc:link) have now lost the .aspx extensions on the front end.

Step 3 : Sitecore and .NET interaction (with Url Rewriting)

If you have a Sitecore solution built using XSLT renderings only (highly unlikely though..), you're kinda safe here. However, if you have usercontrols (that host controls that can cause a postback) as well (for argument's sake, a contact us form), you end up with one issue.

Let's create a Contact Us form and add it to the presentation of the Contact Us item in Sitecore


User Control Designer

 <%@ Control Language="c#" AutoEventWireup="true"
 Codebehind="~/layouts/Starter Kit/Sublayouts/ContactUs.ascx.cs" %>
 <asp:Label Text="First Name : "  AssociatedControlID="txtFirstName" runat="server" />
 <asp:TextBox ID="txtFirstName" runat="server" />
 <asp:Label Text="First Name : "  AssociatedControlID="txtFirstName" runat="server" /> 
 <asp:TextBox ID="TextBox1" runat="server" />
 <asp:Button ID="btnSend" Text="Send" runat="server" />


Page Source

 <form name="mainform" method="post"
 action="/Contact.aspx" id="mainform">

To solve this, you will need to create a Control Adapter for the Forms in your application. Control Adapters allow you to inject custom code within the rendering of a control.


Form Control Adapter

namespace Starterkit.Utils
	public class FormActionRewriter : System.Web.UI.Adapters.ControlAdapter
		protected override void Render(System.Web.UI.HtmlTextWriter writer)
			base.Render(new RewriteFormHtmlTextWriter(writer));
	class RewriteFormHtmlTextWriter : HtmlTextWriter
		public RewriteFormHtmlTextWriter(HtmlTextWriter writer)
			: base(writer)
			this.InnerWriter = writer.InnerWriter;
 		public RewriteFormHtmlTextWriter(System.IO.TextWriter writer)
			: base(writer)
			base.InnerWriter = writer;
		public override void WriteAttribute(string name, string value, bool fEncode)
 			if ((name == "action"))
				HttpContext Context = null;
				Context = HttpContext.Current;
				if (Context.Items["ActionAlreadyWritten"] == null)
					if ((!Context.Request.RawUrl.Contains("sitecore")))
					{   //remove .aspx extension if we're on the front end
						value = Regex.Replace(Context.Request.RawUrl, ".aspx", String.Empty, RegexOptions.IgnoreCase | RegexOptions.Compiled);
						Context.Items["ActionAlreadyWritten"] = true;
			base.WriteAttribute(name, value, fEncode);

Add Form Control Adapter in Solution

Open the form.browser (located in ~/App_Browsers) and add the new entry

	<browser refID="Default">
			<adapter controlType="System.Web.UI.HtmlControls.HtmlForm" 
			adapterType="Sitecore.Web.FormAdapter, Sitecore.Kernel" />  
			<adapter controlType="System.Web.UI.HtmlControls.HtmlForm"
			adapterType="Starterkit.Utils.FormActionRewriter, Starterkit.Utils" />    


<form name="mainform" method="post"
 action="/Contact" id="mainform">


RESULT !!! .... Back to Sitecore :)

Tags: ,

.Net | Applications | Sitecore


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