Routes planning and the road to Routes 2.0

Routes has been a wonderfully successful project of mine as its used not just in Pylons but quite a few other small WSGI apps. It's even been integrated as a CherryPy URL dispatching option for those using TurboGears 1.x or plain CherryPy. It's come a long way since 1.0 and has diverged on quite a few fronts from the Rails version that it was originally duplicating in functionality, which has me thinking that perhaps its time to consider 2.0 and what that will mean.

First, I think there's quite a few behaviors that don't make sense and probably never have. The Route minimizing functionality sounds neat and fulfills the Rails ideal of ‘keeping urls pretty' yet suffers from a fundamental flaw… they result in multiple valid URL's for the same page. James Tauber covers some of the implications of this in addition to the issue with relative URL's not working right either. The example he cites is even worse for Routes since Routes can easily result in multiple URL's mapping to the same controller action.

Routes 2.0

To solve the multiple URL issue, and also address some Named Routes confusion that recently hit the Pylons mailing list, Routes 2.0 will do a few things differently than Routes 1.X. Many things will be significantly more explicit and more predictable as a result. In addition, I want to add more functionality so that Routes can be the end-all of URL generation in addition to URL dispatching, even for use purely generating links conditionally that aren't even used for URL dispatching.

Some of the key changes planned for Routes 2.0:

  • Routes recognition and generation will always be explicit

Currently, there's an explicit option that removes the keyword controller/action/id defaults, 2.0 will not have these implicit defaults.

  • Defaults don't cause minimization

Defaults just mean they'll be used, they won't result in Route minimization which increases the amount of URL's that end up matching to a single controller action.

  • Trailing slashes shouldn't be an issue

Without routes being minimized, a route such as ‘home/index' will always be ‘home/index' instead of being minimized to /home/. This will resolve the trailing slash issue.

  • Named Routes will always use the route named

A named route currently just means that the defaults for that route will be used during route generation. This currently can cause confusion because people believe that the named route actually forces that route to be used during generation.

  • Generation-only routes

A new option, which will result in routes that are used purely for generation. This option will likely be used primarily for static resources which may be on other servers, or may need the domain rotated so that the browser can do parallel resource loading. For example, one would be able to provide a list of domains to be used, and the generated links will rotate as desired on the page to split page resources over multiple domains.

  • Redirect routes

Sometimes, (especially when replacing legacy apps), its desirable to slowly migrate URL scheme's from the old to the new rather. While URL's should never change, sometimes the system being replaced has horrid URL's that violate all URL recommendations. Being able to provide a smooth migration path from the old URL's to the new ones is handy, and permanent redirects are respected by many search crawlers as well.

Migration and Compatibility

Routes 1.8 will include options to turn on behavior that will be the default in Routes 2.0, and if you like how Routes 1.X works there's no need to worry, it will still be maintained for the foreseeable future. It's currently extremely stable, and has a massive unit test suite to ensure it operates as designed.

Add Your Desired Feature Here

What other features are Routes users currently looking for?

Ben Bangert
Ben Bangert
Software Contriver

Code. Homebrew. Hike. Rollerblade.