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Pathauto and URLify

There are a couple of points in this article which are either inaccurate, incomplete, or out of date. Hopefully I can clear them up a little.

Inaccuracies about Pathauto

Pathauto is not the cause of performance issues - the source of the problem is in the path module which is easily seen if you look at the project and component in the issue to fix that performance problem. While Pathauto isn't the source of the problem, it does a good job of highlighting it. Urlify, if it existed when 4.6 was popular, or an aggressive user who entered aliases for every node would cause the same performance problem.

The problem of Pathauto creating long aliases is completely up to the user. The admin specifies on the admin/settings/pathauto page just how long the URL should be. For Drupal5 I have changed the max length to 100 and there is a proposed text to alert users to the problems of using 128 as the max length. If people agree that text explains the problem then I will commit it.

As of Drupal5 Pathauto now includes the ability to ignore insignificant words as it creates the URL, so in this regard they are now feature equivalent.

How Pathauto is better than Urlify

One feature that pathauto has which is missing from URLify is the ability to bulk update aliases. If you have created a large number of aliases and then decide to change the pattern, pathauto can regenerate all of them. With URLify you would have to go back and edit them all by hand.

Additionally, there is no way to use urlify to alias users or taxonomy (as far as I know).

Pathauto vs. Urlify - different tools for different situations

I agree that they are both useful modules and appropriate for different situations. In my mind, pathauto is best for a couple of situations. The most obvious is a site where you don't want to give ordinary users the ability to create paths. Any site with a non-trivial number of users falls into that category. If you have a site that is completely run by a small group of savvy people then URLify is a great option.

Additionally there is room for the modules to work together. Pathauto can alias your taxonomy and user paths - something urlify doesn't attempt to do. So, another reasonable use is to set the pathauto pattern for nodes blank (i.e. pathauto won't create aliases) and have pathauto take care of User/Taxonomy aliases - then let URLify help you create good titles for your nodes.

As is often the case with complex questions - the answer to which module to use is "it depends".

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Comments

Response to notice of inaccurate/out-of-date information

You are correct to point out the perceived inaccuracies/ambiguities in my article comparing Urlify and pathauto. As it turns out, each one of these tools has a specific purpose, and neither is an attempt to duplicate the functions of the other.

I will be reviewing a number of articles I have written once I begin testing future Beta and RC version of Drupal 5; and I will provide a more detailed update at that point.

Thank you for pointing out the correction

Pathauto development path

I am wondering what your opinion/plan is for pathauto in the context of SEO. One of the the main objective for using URLify or Pathauto (at least in my case), is to move away from the 'content empty' default path names node/xx in Drupal to a system that uses content-rich and meaningful words in a given path.

URLify populates the pth field with words from the title of the page (removing certain predetermined words - conjunctions and prepositions), and allows the author to further edit/enhance the suggested path. Much as this has qualitative value, it is very labour intensive and impractical for sites with a large number of paths.

Pathauto on the other hand makes it easy to quickly create paths for a large number of pages, but it does not provide the same flexibility to tweak paths as they are created to optimise them and give a 'human touch'. Do you have plans to enhance pathauto so that it can allow more qualitative control?

..

I'm not sure how pathauto could be improved in this regard after the current situation of 5.0. It now has the "remove these title words from the URL" feature so you can automatically remove your "the" and "if" where you want. Beyond that it would be quite difficult to offer automatic-manual configuration, wouldn't it?

If you have any ideas on this please do let me know!

The pathauto issue queue or the Drupal Working Group for Paths might be more open places to discuss these ideas in addition to here (namely, I don't have to manually approve the comments that happen there :)

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