Pretty URLs at a Glance - Fluid Topics

Category
At a Glance
Audience
public

Pretty URLs at a Glance

Fluid Topics automatically generates an original set of URLs each time an administrator publishes content to a portal. While these URLs are designed to remain unique and robust, they are not user-friendly. Pretty URLs replace original URLs with a more informative URL that gives the user an idea of what the content is about.

Business value

Using the Pretty URL feature offers the following advantages:

  • Content managers can create links that remain stable even as documents change over time, thus eliminating the risk of sharing a dead link.
  • Users can easily understand and remember a Pretty URL.
  • Document and topic URLs become meaningful.
  • From an SEO perspective, search engines use Pretty URLs in the same way as canonical (original) URLs.
  • Pretty URLs are easy to read in Google Analytics or in any other analytics platform that uses URLs.

Feature overview

It is possible to define a Pretty URL within content or configure one or more templates for Fluid Topics to use in order to automatically generate a Pretty URL for all or part of document during the publishing process.

When defining templates, it is possible to add metetadata requirements so that template A applies to document type A, template B to document type B, and so on.

For example, the Pretty URL generator has created the following URL for the current version of the Fluid Topics User Guide:

Note that the Pretty URL for the latest version of any document does not include a version number. The version number is only used for older versions, as in the following examples:

Once defined, the Pretty URL is considered to be the canonical URL and is used everywhere a URL is required.

Pretty URL template settings

Since it is considered to be the current/canonical URL, the Pretty URL has to be UNIQUE and link to one and only one topic or document, now and in the future. This is important to consider when creating templates. A Customer Success Manager can help if needed.
Using templates (as opposed to manually defining a Pretty URL within the content) offers greater flexibility. A template can include a document's name, topic's name, version, language, or any other metadata that helps differenciate one piece of content from another.
Fluid Topics launches a reprocess job to apply Pretty URLs as soon as the templates are defined and saved. Since reprocess jobs can be long (depending on content volume), it is more efficient to define all templates at once, rather than one at a time.

Prerequisites

It is necessary to have the ADMIN or KHUB_ADMIN user role in order to define Pretty URL templates.

Results

Here are a few examples of Pretty URLs and how they were created.

Enable and configure the Pretty URLs feature

Example: How we configure our Pretty URLs

This section explains how we define our pretty URL templates, including metadata requirements and template order, in order to meet the following requirements:

  • Our customers can easily access the SaaS version of the documentation using stable URLs.
  • Multiple audiences can access the version of the documentation destined for them.
  • Since we frequently update our documentation as part of our continuous integration and deployment policy, automatic pretty URL generation must remain relatively simple and resilient.
  • Since multiple teams publish different types of documentation using several tools, the pretty URL templates should contain consistent portal URLs and include metadata showing the type of document.
  • Upgrading to a new major product version must require only two small changes to the metadata requirements.

Context and objectives

For each document in the Fluid Topics documentation corpus, the following metadata allows us to create different variants:

  • {ft_version} for the product version (3.8, 3.9, 3.10, etc.).
  • {audience} public or other audience (internal, on premises, etc.).

To ensure that the pretty URL of each document remains unique, we use this metadata in our pretty URL templates.

Our primary objective is to provide a stable URL for the current version of the documentation. Other objectives include the following:

  • The URL of each document variant for the current Saas version should remain the same when a new product version is released, and the URL should not include the product version.
  • The "public" documentation should not have "public" in its URL.
  • The "internal" documentation can include information about the audience.

Settings overview

We define Pretty URL templates at the document level as follows:

Template Metadata requirement URL
1 {ft:title} ft_version=3.9 / audience=public https://doc.fluidtopics.com/r/Fluid-Topics-User-Guide
2 {audience}/{ft:title} ft_version=3.9 https://doc.fluidtopics.com/r/premium/Fluid-Topics-Configuration-and-Administration-Guide
3 {FT_Version}_{audience}/{ft:title} https://doc.fluidtopics.com/r/3.8_premium/Fluid-Topics-Configuration-and-Administration-Guide
The URLS for templates 2 and 3 require authentication since the audience is not public.

The pretty URL generator applies the templates in the order listed. If metadata used in the template is not present in the document, or if the metadata requirement is not met, the generator tries to use the next template.

At the topic level, we use only the following template:

Template Metadata requirement URL
1 {document.ft:prettyUrl}/{parents-and-self.ft:title} https://doc.fluidtopics.com/r/Fluid-Topics-User-Guide

In this template, the first part means that the topic's pretty URL will begin with the document's pretty URL as defined above. The second part is built on the breadcrump of the document's Table of Contents and the topic's title.

As a result, topic pretty URLs remain unique even when content is modified or when its location within the document changes.

Maintenance

Since Fluid Topics applies the pretty URL templates automatically, the only maintenance required is to change the metadata requirement based on the version metadata when there is new Fluid Topics release.

Here is an example of the maintenance we performed to make Pretty URLs point to 3.10 content instead of 3.9 content when we released the 3.10 product version:

  • Publish the updated documentation. The ft_version metadata value is 3.10. The Pretty URLs are processed, and template 3 is used because the metadata requirement associated with templates 1 and 2 ("ft_version = 3.9") is not met.

  • Change the metadata requirement (ft_version = 3.10) in templates 1 and 2.

  • Reprocess the content so that the new documentation uses the same stable Pretty URLs as the previous documentation.

After reprocessing, https://doc.fluidtopics.com/r/Fluid-Topics-User-Guide is the URL of the 3.10 version of the Fluid Topics User Guide instead of the 3.9 version.