Handling redirects in Netlify

Netlify is a static hosting platform with a git-based deployment system for hosting frontend applications. The built files are delivered via a CDN

Talk about serverless!

So how then do we handle redirection? Thankfully, Netlify has a pretty nifty way to redirect routes which we'll be looking at below.

There are two ways to implement redirection on Netlify.

  1. Using the _redirects file
  2. File-based configuration with netlify.toml

Using the _redirects file

To use this method, create a _redirects file in a folder that's supposed to be the root of your site.

For example /static or /public, it all depends on your project's configuration.

Each redirect rule needs to be placed on a new line like this:

# lines like these are ignored
/      https://newsite.com	

Looking at the snippet above, when a user navigates to your site's homepage, they get redirected to the new URL specified on the same line after the old URL.

Lines that begin with # are ignored, so they're useful form making comments.

Specifying custom status codes

By default, all redirect rules have a status code of 301 but to specify a custom status code, you can add that after the new URL like this:

/content     /blog 302

Now, the server will respond with a status code of 302. The 301 redirect indicates a permanent redirect while the 302 indicates a temporary one.

Other response codes could be used, like 404 and 200.

Splats

An asterisk (*) after the old URL indicates a splat. A splat represents the remaining parts of the URL after the previous /.

/content/*     /blog/:splat

Navigating to /content/a-random-post will redirect to /blog-a-random-post.

Shadowing

If a file currently being navigated to exists, the content of the file would still be rendered. However, you can force the redirection by appending an exclamation (!) to the new URL.

/blog/*      /blog/index.html! 200

Navigating to /blog/new-post.html will redirect to /blog/index.html no matter what.

File-based configuration with Netlify.toml

The netlify.toml file is used for configuring Netlify outside the dashboard, it also provides a more structured way to handle redirection with more options.

Every redirect rule is written below a line starting with [[redirects]]

[[redirects]]
from = "/content/*"
to = "blog/:splat"
status = 301
force = true

By now you must be familiar with the first three rules above, the force rule is equivalent to the ! in the _redirects file.

There are more options for the file-based redirects option here.

Roundup

If you happen to have both files in your site's root directory, the _redirects file usually has the highest priority than the netlify.toml file in terms of redirects.

Also, more specific redirection rules also have higher priority than generic ones.

/blog/index.html      /index.html 302
/blog/*        /articles/:splat 301

All navigations to /blog except the /blog/index.html file will be redirected to the /articles route.

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