As many of you may have noticed in the past few weeks since I have updated this site that there were a number of major changes. Improved site performance, new site skin, re-organized content, and most importantly new URL structures. In this article I will provide a review of the Url Master module created by IFinity, with a detailed account of my experiences with the module and how it helped make recent content changes possible.
I will approach this review in a multi-step process, reviewing all actions completed as part of my implementation of the module. At the end of the review I will also provide a short summary of support experiences that I had when working with Bruce Chapman of iFinity.
Installation of Url Master is a breeze; Bruce has taken the time to truly provide an easy to install module as you can work with Url Master following all standard DotNetNuke module installation processes. Even though web.config changes are needed to fully enable the module, the admin functionality handles all operations, even including a "revert to default provider" option to disable the module should you need to rollback. This is a very welcomed process as it makes it possible for anyone to get the module up and running.
Configuration and Documentation
Url Master provides a rich set of features that due to the nature of the actions performed can become quite complex. However, the documentation provided both in-line and in the documentation files provided with download make it very easy for even the first time user to configure the module to meet your needs.
After my first installation of Url Master in a test environment I had the module fully configured in under 5 minutes and had no issues navigating all of my sites. This make it very easy to get up and running, and ensures that you have the documentation needed to find the functionality that meets your needs.
301 Redirects and General Redirects
Aside from the Human Friendly format of the generated Url's, Url Master provides a very robust 301 redirect functionality, which has finally allowed me to remove a third party HttpModule that I had running on my sites that would migrate traffic from http://mitchelsellers.com to http://www.mitchelsellers.com. With a single configuration option in Url Master I am able to force the use of the www prefix, and all redirection is completed with the proper 301 redirect.
In addition to the 301 redirect for the domain identifier, I also used Url Master to setup specific redirects for pages that were removed during the reorganization of content on this site. Each page can be configured to have one or more Url's. I simply modified the Url's for the target page to include my old urls, and set them to 301 redirect to the new Url. In a matter of minutes I had configured redirects for 20 pages that were removed, this ensures that visitors to the site will see the content that I want, and not a homepage or an error page. This functionality is very useful for re-organizing content or for redirecting old site Url's to new DNN Url's.
Human Friendly Urls
One of the most common reasons that people migrate to the Url Master module is for the Human Friendly Url formats that are provided. I have found that the flexibility of Url Master and the quality of generated links is far superior to that of other modules. You can see from the links on this site (with the exception of the blog) that all Url's are very easy to read, remember, and access. The TabId and ModuleId values that are very common with DotNetNuke installations are hardly ever visible in the url. All things that make for urls that are presentable, searchable, and professional. No longer can sites be quickly identified as DotNetNuke sites by the TabId included in the Url.
The implementation of Human Friendly Urls is something that works great for the DotNetNuke core, and Bruce is even working on ways of improving the Urls for common modules as well. As of right now you will notice that at times the blog Url's on this site leave a bit to be desired. I wouldn't be surprised to see this behavior change in the near future as Bruce keeps working on enhancements to the module.
The support provided by Bruce is second to none. While implementing Url Master on this site I ran into a few issues when trying to perform certain redirect actions, and trying to keep existing links to pages. Bruce quickly identified, resolved, and delivered fixes for anything that was brought to his attention. I would receive responses within hours of submitting an issue, and typically had a fix within a few days. He is truly dedicated to making the product better for the entire community, and that is something from a commercial module that is very uncommon!
In the end the only verdict that I can come to when it comes to Url Master is "Why didn't I do this before?". The installation was easy, the functionality is great, and the support is top notch. I have noticed improvements in google placement already on some pages that have new Url's and not to mention I can actually remember Url's to my sites again. I personally find Url Master to be one of the "Must Have" modules for the implementation of any DotNetNuke site.