rewrite to new URL if it exists?

Posted on 2009-05-11
Last Modified: 2012-05-06
Here's what I want to do, hopefully someone can tell me how to accomplish it.

Let's say that the requested url is

with .htaccess see if the requested page does not exist.
if it does not exist then see if a php version of the same page does exist
then rewrite to the php page, if not then do nothiing

So if we have the following pages on the server:


a request for page1.html would not be rewritten
a request for page2.htm or page2.html would be rewritten as page2.php
a request for page3.htm would not be rewritten as the page does not exist.

Thanks for any help.

and if the
Question by:Hube02
  • 5
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

ID: 24358578
Does example 5 (Redirecting to a 404 page if the directory and file do not exist) on the following page help?

The exclamation point in the RewriteCond tells Apache to keep moving forward in the conditions if the file does not exist (!-f).
LVL 16

Expert Comment

ID: 24358646
Are your pages specifically set up in the following format?


Or could it also be something like:


The pattern might make a difference on what your rewrite conditions would look like.
LVL 16

Expert Comment

ID: 24358722
Actually, example 8 (Creating extensionless links) on the SitePoint article may have what you are looking for, but you would want to flip the php and html checks so that the conditions look for the HTML file first, and then fall over to the PHP file.
LVL 18

Author Comment

ID: 24360113
What is happening is that we are converting the site from .html files to .php files. It is a huge site, more than 600 pages. We want to keep the .html extension in the address bar, thus the reason for using rewrite. However, the job is going to take some time to complete.

We will be renaming all the files from .html to .php, other than this the file names/folders will be identical.

So, I need to rewrite to the php file if the htm or html file does not exist and the php file does exist, but I do not want the rewrite to work if the php file does not exist.

I've looked at these examples, but they do not seem to be exactly what I'm looking for.

LVL 16

Expert Comment

ID: 24360153
So you want the URL to always look like a .html is being server to the web browser, although it may be a .php file behind the scenes?

Are you renaming the .html files so they have exactly the same name as the old files, except they now have a .php extension?

If neither the .html file or .php file exist, are you ok with returning a 404 Not Found error?

What version of Apache are you using? Apache 1.x or 2.x?
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LVL 18

Author Comment

ID: 24360295
That's exactly what I'm looking for, I think.

for instance.

the browser will always show

but the file that is actually used might be index.html or index.php, depending on which file actually exists on the server. Only one of the two should exist.
LVL 16

Accepted Solution

jessc7 earned 500 total points
ID: 24360327

See if the follow rules work for you. I took the example at the following URL and modified it for your scenario (look for "Backward Compatibility for YYYY to XXXX migration"):

I tested the rules on my server, and the following worked for me, with the URL path looking like an .html file:

- test1.html (yes, served to browser)
- test1.php (no)

- test2.php (yes)
- (no other files)

- test3.html (yes)
- (no other files)

- (no files, returns 404)
RewriteEngine On

RewriteBase /

#   parse out basename, but remember the fact

RewriteRule   ^(.*)\.html$              $1      [C,E=WasHTML:yes]

#   rewrite to document.phtml if exists

RewriteCond   %{REQUEST_FILENAME}.html !-f

RewriteCond   %{REQUEST_FILENAME}.php -f

RewriteRule   ^(.*)$ $1.php                   [S=1]

#   else reverse the previous basename cutout

RewriteCond   %{ENV:WasHTML}            ^yes$

RewriteRule   ^(.*)$ $1.html

Open in new window

LVL 18

Author Comment

ID: 24363093
Perfect, I knew I needed to set some type of environment variable to get his to work, but I could not seem to do it. I tried back referencing a condition capture in the second condition, but that failed. Thank you for this.

LVL 18

Author Closing Comment

ID: 31580309
Perfect, Thanks again
LVL 18

Author Comment

ID: 24363149
A slight modification, after doing some more testing it seems that the last 2 lines are not needed for my particular use.

RewriteRule ^(.*)\.html$ $1 [C,E=WasHTML:yes]
#rewrite to document.php if exists
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME}.html !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME}.php -f
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ $1.php [L]

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