sh404SEF is developed by Yannick Gaultier and it is a fork of 404 SEF, a project started back in 2004 on the Mambo platform. The lead developer of 404 SEF was Beat, better known now as one of the main driving forces behind Community Builder. Artio SEF is also a fork of the same product and at least initially you’ll see a lot of similarities between the two.
What Do the URLs Look Like?
How Do I Install it?
Full installation instructions are inside the component and appear when you upload it. On most server configurations it will be as easy as installing the extension and changing the .htaccess file to accomodate third party SEF extensions.
Very good. Search the Joomla and Virtuemart forums for sh404SEF and whenever its mentioned you’ll see Yannick popping to answer questions. He also runs an official support forum.
I have received about a dozen updated versions from Yannick in the last week. Currently version 1.2.4 is live. Development has been ongoing since August 2006.
- Its free including options for Fireboard, Virtuemart and Community Builder! Currently its the only SEF URL solution able to cover Joomla’s three most important extensions.
- Removing the section and category from the URL to make the page appear closer to the root is possible.
- Creates 404 error logs so you can see where you may have broken incoming links and possible errors on your site.
- Allows custom redirects.
- Does a very good job of removing non ASCii characters from URLs. No odd characters such as % ` $ & that are produced by other SEF components.
- Works well with Joomfish.
- Automatically maps non-SEF URLs to its SEF equivilant.
- It comes with an excellent default set-up. It uses dashes instead of underscores and automatically maps all core components to short and sweet URLs such as /search.html.
- Low number of queries. Significantly less than Artio SEF.
- Ability to cache URLs.
- Easy upgrade. Simply uninstall the old component and install the new – all your settings remain in place.
- Able to use sef_ext files for OpenSEf and SEF Advance.
- Numerical URL addons to make a site eligible for Google News.
I have to admit that for the first time in this series, I really struggled to find things wrong with an SEF URL extension. I love the fact it works with Fireboard, Virtuemart and Community Builder, and that it contains the best features of several other extensions (caching, mapping non-SEF to SEF URLs, using sef_ext.php files from elsewhere). It has all the advantages of Artio SEF, but without the drawbacks of advertising in the metadata, heavy server usage and commercial plugins.
The one thing that stops me from giving it an unreserved thumbs-up is that I haven’t yet had the chance to take it out of the sandbox and test it on a site with heavy traffic. If you have, I’d love to hear from you. After a thorough testing, I’m confident enough with sh404SEF to give it a run on a big site myself and I’ll then update this review.