Erik Dafforn recently posted his Webmaster Wish List for 2008. What it sounds like is that Erik is really asking for tools that make it easier to configure web sites and, more specifically, how web servers respond to requests. What's interesting about his list is that most of his wish list can easily be answered with the implementation of a simple iRule on BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager.

For example, you might have pages such as www.companyname.com/products/ and www.companyname.com/products/index.aspx. Typically, these URLs contain exactly the same content, but due to inconsistent linking throughout the site (and from third-party sites), both URLs become independently indexed and attain independent link popularity values.

Engines are getting better at understanding that URLs like these are frequently, and inadvertently, identical. But great tool would be some logic in the equation, so Webmasters could tell engines, "If a given page '/index.aspx' exists, the page is identical to the URL of the immediately preceding folder, and it should be treated as such."

The good news is that this type of URL manipulation and mapping is a breeze using iRules. The beauty of using iRules as opposed to a tool that would change the configuration of the web server is that once the iRule is written it can be (1) reused and (2) applied to all instances of the appropriate web server, including new ones that might be added later on to address growing capacity needs.

A second item on Erik's wish list is:

a tool that enables Webmasters to assign redirects (either temporary or permanent) from one URL to another

Now I'm not dissing redirects, but there's an even better way to handle this desire. An iRule can easily "map" one URL to another without requiring the additional network traffic and requests incurred by a traditional HTTP redirect. In fact, here's a great little post on the subject from Joe describing the iRule to do this. But in case you really want to redirect, yup - you guessed it - iRules can accomplish that as well. The beauty of using the iRule to do this is that you can eliminate the overhead associated with a redirect. Additionally, a single iRule can be applied to entire farms (pools, clusters) of servers without requiring changes to every web server.

Erik, your wishes are iRules commands. Literally.