If you’ve installed a Windows Apache MySQL PHP (WAMP) server,
you most likely realized very quickly how much power is at your fingertips.
Unlike its Internet Information Services
(IIS) counterpart, Apache is not just about power, though, it’s also about
flexibility. With a WAMP server, one thing you can do easily is set up aliases
on your server.

What’s an alias?

Let’s say you’re using the document root for the main site,
and you want to direct the server directories outside of the document root. For
example, you want to map the following:

  • customers →  C:\CUSTOMER_DATA
  • repairs → C:\REPAIRS
  • engineers → C:\ENGINEERS

The way you go about it is not exactly intuitive when you’re
using a WAMP server. By default, the WAMP server interface allows you to
quickly set up those aliases; however, the end result doesn’t work.

I will explain how to use the WAMP server interface to
create the basic alias and then how to correct the setup created by WAMP.
You’ll have to manually edit a configuration file, but I’ll give you the
foundation of the configuration to use. First, let’s interact with the
interface. I assume you have already installed WAMP.

Using the interface

Left-click the system tray icon and then go to Apache |
Alias Directories | Add An Alias (Figure A). A command prompt window
will open prompting you to create the alias for the URL (Figure B).

Figure A

Creating an alias on a WAMP server is easy.

Figure B

Creating an alias with the WAMP server GUI.

Type the name of the alias; this will be what is added onto
the http://domain_name/ address
(e.g., http://domain_name/customers).

Enter the location of the folder that will house the pages
for this site. Keeping with our example, type C:\CUSTOMER_DATA\ and then hit Enter.

The alias is now set up — according to WAMP — but it doesn’t
work. The GUI tool isn’t good at creating the alias configuration. Never fear,
it’s a breeze to resolve.

Editing the file

When you create the alias using the WAMP interface, it will
create the necessary file in the correct location. The problem is the file’s content.
What WAMP creates looks like this, which will be all in one line:

Alias /CUSTOMERS/ “C:\CUSTOMER_DATA” <Directory “C:\CUSTOMER_DATA/”> Options Indexes FollowSymLinux MultiViews AllowOverride all order allow, deny Allow from all</Directory>

The file should look like this:

Alias /CUSTOMERS "C:/CUSTOMER_DATA"
<Directory "C:/CUSTOMER_DATA">
Options Indexes FollowSymLinks ExecCGI
AllowOverride all
Order Deny, Allow
Allow from 127.0.0.1
Allow from ::1
Allow from localhost
</Directory>

To edit that file, follow these steps:

1. Left-click the WAMP icon in the system tray.

2. Go to Apache | Alias Directories | ALIAS_NAME |
Edit Alias (ALIAS_NAME is the name of the alias you just created).

3. In the newly opened Notepad window, edit the
configuration file to reflect the above contents and save it.

4. Edit the configuration file to best fit your
needs (according to the Apache specifications).

After you save the file, restart the WAMP server, and you
should be able to point your browser to http://localhost/CUSTOMERS.
(Of course, you’ll need content within the C:\CUSTOMER_DATA directory.)
If you get an error, check to make sure the alias directory’s permissions allow
the server to read the contents; this will be dictated by a number of issues,
such as whether the server resides on a Windows domain.

Summary

If you’re looking to create server aliases, you can’t beat
the simplicity of doing so on a WAMP server. Hopefully, the developers will
solve the issue with the GUI tools creating correctly formatted configuration
files.

Next time around, we’ll focus on creating Virtual Hosts on
your WAMP server.