Mappings for Resource Resolution


The resource resolution (mapping a request path to a resource in Sling's resource tree) can be influenced in different ways:

  • Root Level Mappings
  • Alias Configurations
  • Vanity Path Configurations
  • Namespace Mangling

Root Level Mappings

The mapping of request URLs to resources is mainly configured in a configuration tree which is (by default) located below /etc/map. While the actual location can be configured with the property of the OSGi configuration, it is suggested to leave the default value.

When dealing with the resource resolution we have a number of properties influencing the process:

  • sling:match – This property when set on a resource in the /etc/map tree (see below) defines a partial regular expression which is used instead of the resource's name to match the incoming request. This property is only needed if the regular expression includes characters which are not valid JCR name characters. The list of invalid characters for JCR names is: /, :, [, ], *, ', ", \, | and any whitespace except blank space. In addition a name without a name space may not be . or .. and a blank space is only allowed inside the name.
  • sling:redirect – This property when set on a resource in the /etc/map tree (see below) causes a redirect response to be sent to the client, which causes the client to send in a new request with the modified location. The value of this property is applied to the actual request and sent back as the value of Location response header.
  • sling:status – This property defines the HTTP status code sent to the client with the sling:redirect response. If this property is not set, it defaults to 302 (Found). Other status codes supported are 300 (Multiple Choices), 301 (Moved Permanently), 303 (See Other), and 307 (Temporary Redirect).
  • sling:internalRedirect – This property when set on a resource in the /etc/map tree (see below) causes the current path to be modified internally to continue with resource resolution. This is a multi-value property, i.e. multiple paths can be given here, which are tried one after another until one resolved to a resource.

Root Level Mappings apply to the request at large including the scheme, host, port and uri path. To accomplish this a path is constructed from the request like this {scheme}/{host}.{port}/{uri_path}. This string is then matched against mapping entries below /etc/map which are structured in the content analogously. The longest matching entry string is used and the replacement, that is the redirection property, is applied.

Mapping Entry Specification

Each entry in the mapping table is a regular expression, which is constructed from the resource path below /etc/map. If any resource along the path has a sling:match property, the respective value is used in the corresponding segment instead of the resource name. Only resources either having a sling:redirect or sling:internalRedirect property are used as table entries. Other resources in the tree are just used to build the mapping structure.


Consider the following content

      +-- http
           |    +-- sling:redirect = ""
           |    +-- sling:internalRedirect = "/example"
           |    +-- sling:match = ".+\.example\.com\.80"
           |    +-- sling:redirect = ""
           +-- localhost_any
           |    +-- sling:match = "localhost\.\d*"
           |    +-- sling:internalRedirect = "/content"
           |    +-- cgi-bin
           |    |    +-- sling:internalRedirect = "/scripts"
           |    +-- gateway
           |    |    +-- sling:internalRedirect = ""
           |    +-- (stories)
           |         +-- sling:internalRedirect = "/anecdotes/$1"
           +-- regexmap
                +-- sling:match = "$$2"
                +-- sling:internalRedirect = "/content/([^/]+)/(.*)"

This would define the following mapping entries:

Regular Expression Redirect Internal Description
http/ no Redirect all requests to the Second Level Domain to www
http/ /example yes Prefix the URI paths of the requests sent to this domain with the string /example
http/ no Redirect all requests to sub domains to www. The actual regular expression for the host.port segment is taken from the sling:match property.
http/localhost.\d* /content yes Prefix the URI paths with /content for requests to localhost, regardless of actual port the request was received on. This entry only applies if the URI path does not start with /cgi-bin, gateway or stories because there are longer match entries. The actual regular expression for the host.port segment is taken from the sling:match property.
http/localhost.\d*/cgi-bin /scripts yes Replace the /cgi-bin prefix in the URI path with /scripts for requests to localhost, regardless of actual port the request was received on.
http/localhost.\d*/gateway yes Replace the /gateway prefix in the URI path with for requests to localhost, regardless of actual port the request was received on.
http/localhost.\d*/(stories) /anecdotes/stories yes Prepend the URI paths starting with /stories with /anecdotes for requests to localhost, regardless of actual port the request was received on.

Regular Expression Matching

As said above the mapping entries are regular expressions which are matched against path. As such these regular expressions may also contain capturing groups as shown in the example above: http/localhost\.\d*/(stories). After matching the path against the regular expression, the replacement pattern is applied which allows references back to the capturing groups.

To illustrate the matching and replacement is applied according to the following pseudo code:

String path = request.getScheme + "/" + request.getServerName()
        + "." + request.getServerPort() + "/" + request.getPathInfo();
String result = null;
for (MapEntry entry: mapEntries) {
    Matcher matcher = entry.pattern.matcher(path);
    if (matcher.find()) {
        StringBuffer buf = new StringBuffer();
        matcher.appendReplacement(buf, entry.getRedirect());
        result = buf.toString();

At the end of the loop, result contains the mapped path or null if no entry matches the request path.

NOTE: Since the entries in the /etc/map are also used to reverse map any resource paths to URLs, using regular expressions with wildcards in the Root Level Mappings prevent the respective entries from being used for reverse mappings. Therefor, it is strongly recommended to not use regular expression matching, unless you have a strong need.

Regular Expressions for Reverse Mappings

By default using regular expressions with wildcards will prevent to use the mapping entry for reverse mappings (see above).

There is one exception though: If there is a sling:internalRedirect property containing a regular expression the map entry will be exclusively used for reverse mappings (i.e. used only for (see also SLING-2560). The same resource may carry a sling:match property with wildcards and groups referring to the groups being defined in the sling:internalRedirect property.

This example

      +-- http
           |    +-- sling:internalRedirect = "/content/([^/]+)/home/(.*)"
           |    +-- sling:match = "$1/index/$2"

leads to the following entry being used in the reverse mapping table:

Pattern Replacement

Redirection Values

The result of matching the request path and getting the redirection is either a path into the resource tree or another URL. If the result is an URL, it is converted into a path again and matched against the mapping entries. This may be taking place repeatedly until an absolute or relative path into the resource tree results.

The following pseudo code summarizes this behaviour:

String path = ....;
String result = path;
do {
    result = applyMapEntries(result);
} while (isURL(result));

As soon as the result of applying the map entries is an absolute or relative path (or no more map entries match), Root Level Mapping terminates and the next step in resource resolution, resource tree access, takes place.

Resource Tree Access

The result of Root Level Mapping is an absolute or relative path to a resource. If the path is relative – e.g. myproject/docroot/sample.gif – the resource resolver search path (ResourceResolver.getSearchPath() is used to build absolute paths and resolve the resource. In this case the first resource found is used. If the result of Root Level Mapping is an absolute path, the path is used as is.

Accessing the resource tree after applying the Root Level Mappings has four options:

  • Check whether the path addresses a so called Star Resource. A Star Resource is a resource whose path ends with or contains /\*. Such resources are used by the SlingPostServlet to create new content below an existing resource. If the path after Root Level Mapping is absolute, it is made absolute by prepending the first search path entry.
  • Check whether the path exists in the repository. if the path is absolute, it is tried directly. Otherwise the search path entries are prepended to the path until a resource is found or the search path is exhausted without finding a resource.
  • Drill down the resource tree starting from the root, optionally using the search path until a resource is found.
  • If no resource can be resolved, a Missing Resource is returned.

Drilling Down the Resource Tree

Drilling down the resource tree starts at the root and for each segment in the path checks whether a child resource of the given name exists or not. If not, a child resource is looked up, which has a sling:alias property whose value matches the given name. If neither exists, the search is terminated and the resource cannot be resolved.

The following pseudo code shows this algorithm assuming the path is absolute:

String path = ...; // the absolute path
Resource current = getResource("/");
String[] segments = path.split("/");
for (String segment: segments) {
    Resource child = getResource(current, segment);
    if (child == null) {
        Iterator<Resource> children = listChildren(current);
        current = null;
        while (children.hasNext()) {
            child =;
            if (segment.equals(getSlingAlias(child))) {
                current = child;
        if (current == null) {
            // fail
    } else {
        current = child;

String Interpolation for /etc/map

Setting up /etc/map for different environments like dev, stage, qa and production was time consuming and error prone due to copy-n-paste errors.

With SLING-7768 Sling now supports String Interpolation under /etc/map. Before you had to configure the location of the mapping and make it run mode aware by taking advantage of the Sling OSGi Installer's run mode awareness.

With the string interpolation feature it is possible to add placeholders to sling:match entries to adapt them to different environments.

The values are either provided by System, Bundle Context or String Interpolation Configuration values.

The placeholders have this format: $['type':'name';default='default value'].

The type can be:

  • env: take from the System Properties
  • prop: taken from the Bundle Context Properties
  • otherwise: taken from the String Interpolation Configuration

With this it is possible to create a single set of /etc/map definitions and then adjust the actual values of an instance by an OSGi configuration.

Note: the placeholder must be placed into a sling:match entry and cannot be the JCR Node name, as some of the characters are not allowed.

Setting up /etc/map interpolation

The Substitution Configuration can be found in the OSGi Configuration as Apache Sling String Interpolation Provider.

The property Placeholder Values takes a list of key=value entries where each of them map a variable with its actual value.

In our little introduction we add an entry of Save the configuration for now. Before going on make sure that you know Mapping Location configuration in the OSGi configuration of Apache Sling Resource Resolver Factory.

Now go to composum and go to that node. If it does not exist then create one.

The mapping should look like this:

  • etc * map * http * my-mapping * sling:match=$[].8080

Opening the page http://localhost:8080/starter/index.html should work just fine.

This is a mapping from System Properties with a default:

  • etc * map * http * my-mapping * sling:match=$[;default=localhost].8080

Testing /etc/map interpolation

Now got back to the String Interpolation configuration and change the value to and save it.

For local testing open your hosts file (/etc/hosts on Unix) and add a line like this: save it and test with ping to make sure the name resolves. Now you should be able to open the same page with:

Now do the same with

The String Interpolation works with any part of the etc-map tree.

Alias Configurations

The property sling:alias may be set on any resource to indicate an alias name for the resource. For example the resource /content/visitors may have the sling:alias property set to besucher allowing the resource to be addressed in an URL as /content/besucher as well as the original path /content/visitors.

Impact of Alias Handling

In general, the number of aliases have a direct impact on the performance of the resource resolution - as basically all possible permutations of paths for a resource have to be tested against the incoming request path. By default a cache is used to speed up handling aliases during resolving resources. It is highly recommended to have this cache enabled to avoid slowing down request performance. However, the cache might have an impact on startup time and on the alias update time if the number of aliases is huge (over 10000).

The cache can be disabled by setting the property resource.resolver.optimize.alias.resolution of the OSGi configuration to false.

Limitation of sling:alias for Principal with a limited access

Assuming there is * An User named testuser * An ACE with deny jcr:all in / for everyone * An ACE with allow jcr:read in /content for testuser

If the sling:alias property (e.g. myalias) is set directly in /content, the User testuser will not be able to address the resource /content in an URL as /myalias. Instead if the sling:alias property is set in any resource under /content (e.g. /content/visitors) the sling:alias feature will work as usual.

Vanity Path Configuration

While an alias can provide a variation for a resource name, a vanity path can provide an alternative path for a resource. The following properties can be set on a resource:

  • sling:vanityPath – This property when set on any resource defines an alternative path to address the resource.
  • sling:redirect – This property when set on a resource with a vanity path causes a redirect response to be sent to the client, which causes the client to send in a new request with the modified location. The value of this property is applied to the actual request and sent back as the value of Location response header.
  • sling:redirectStatus – This property defines the HTTP status code sent to the client with the sling:redirect response. If this property is not set, it defaults to 302 (Found). Other status codes supported are 300 (Multiple Choices), 301 (Moved Permanently), 303 (See Other), and 307 (Temporary Redirect).
  • sling:vanityOrder – It might happen that several resources in the resource tree specify the same vanity path. In that case the one with the highest order is used. This property can be used to set such an order.

Rebuilding The Vanity Bloom Filter

SLING-4216 introduced the usage of a bloom filter in order to resolve long startup time with many vanityPath entries. The bloom filter is handled automatically by the Sling framework. In some cases though, as changing the maximum number of vanity bloom filter bytes, a rebuild of the vanity bloom filter is needed.

In order to rebuild vanity bloom filter:

  • stop Apache Sling
  • locate the bundle in the file system (e.g. $SLING_HOME/felix/bundleXX)
  • locate the vanityBloomFilter.txt file in the file system (e.g. $SLING_HOME/felix/bundleXX/data/vanityBloomFilter.txt)
  • delete the vanityBloomFilter.txt file
  • start Apache Sling (this might take few minutes, depending on how many vanity path entries are present)

Interactions between mappings and authentication requirements

The Sling authentication mechanism works by registering authentication requirements for paths which are protected. Normally these authentication requirements transparently apply to child resources as well due to the hierarchical nature of the paths used.

Additional mappings complicate the situation, therefore additional authentication requirements are automatically registered by Sling. For instance, assuming the following repository structure:

    +-- parent
        +-- sling:alias = "secret"
        +-- child

and that /content/parent is a protected resource, authentication requirements will automatically be registered for both /content/parent and /content/secret.

Although the section below uses vanity paths, it applies equally to mappings set up in /etc/map

One scenario where authentication requirements will not be registered properly is when the child of a protected resource has an external vanity path ( or resource mapping ) that is not a descendant of an existing authentication requirement, such as:

    +-- parent
        +-- child
            +-- sling:vanityPath = "/vanity"

In this scenario no authentication requirement will be registered for /vanity, which lead to the resource being accessible without authentication. If registering mappings for children of protected resources is desired, the following precautions must be taken:

  • use external redirects. These will instruct the client to generate a new HTTP request, which will be properly handled by the Sling authentication
  • manually set up authentication reqiurements for internal mappings

For an in-depth discussion on the matter, see SLING-9622 - Avoid registration of auth requirements for aliases and vanity paths and also SLING-9689 - Handle authentication requirements for children of protected resources when internal mappings for plans of improving the situation.

Namespace Mangling

There are systems accessing Sling, which have a hard time handling URLs containing colons (:) in the path part correctly. Since URLs produced and supported by Sling may contain colons as JCR based resources may be namespaced (e.g. jcr:content), a special namespace mangling feature is built into the ResourceResolver.resolve(...) and methods.

Namespace mangling operates such, that any namespace prefix identified in a resource path to be mapped as an URL in the map methods is modified such that the prefix is enclosed in underscores and the colon is removed.

Example: The path /content/_a_sample/jcr:content/jcr:data.png is modified by namespace mangling in the map method to /content/_a_sample/_jcr_content/_jcr_data.png.

Conversely, the resolve methods must undo such namespace mangling to get back at the resource path. This is simple done by modifying any path such that segments starting with an underscore enclosed prefix are changed by removing the underscores and adding a colon after the prefix. There is one catch: Due to the way the SlingPostServlet automatically generates names, there may be cases where the actual name would be matching this mechanism. Therefore only prefixes are modified which are actually namespace prefixes.

Example: The path /content/_a_sample/_jcr_content/_jcr_data.png is modified by namespace mangling in the resolve method to get /content/_a_sample/jcr:content/jcr:data.png. The prefix _a_ is not modified because there is no registered namespace with prefix a. On the other hand the prefix jcr is modified because there is of course a registered namespace with prefix jcr.

Debugging Issues

Use the Apache Felix Web Console Plugin provided at /system/console/jcrresolver to inspect both the mapping and the resolver map entries. Also you can check what either or ResourceResolver.resolve(...) would return for a given URL/path.

JCR Node Types

To ease with the definition of redirects and aliases when using nodes in a JCR repository, the following node types are defined:

  • sling:ResourceAlias – This mixin node type defines the sling:alias property and may be attached to any node, which does not otherwise allow setting a property named sling:alias
  • sling:MappingSpec – This mixin node type defines the sling:match, sling:redirect, sling:status, and sling:internaleRedirect properties to define a matching and redirection inside the /etc/map hierarchy.
  • sling:Mapping – Primary node type which may be used to easily construct entries in the /etc/map tree. The node type extends the sling:MappingSpec mixin node type to allow setting the required matching and redirection. In addition the sling:Resource mixin node type is extended to allow setting a resource type and the nt:hierarchyNode node type is extended to allow locating nodes of this node type below nt:folder nodes.

Note, that these node types only help setting the properties. The implementation itself only cares for the properties and their values and not for any of these node types.