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I want to have the ability to test .htaccess rules before saving them to the main .htaccess file.

Is it possible to set a specific request header and have Apache use a set of rules from a different .htaccess file.

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Yes, I know that you can/should use development sites/environments for testing these types of changes, but am asking because the thought occurred to me that I might be able to do this as well. Using ".htaccess" inside quotes because the name of the secondary file name would obviously not be able to be .htaccess – Dez Jun 12 '14 at 19:31
Start with this guide – eyoung100 Jun 12 '14 at 19:58

This may be possible with Apache 2.4's new features which includes <If>, <ElseIf> and <Else> directives.


Possible example:

AccessFileName .htaccess
<If "$req{Host} != 'test.mydomain.com'">
    AccessFileName .htaccess_test

For older versions I am not aware of any such options. Perhaps using SetEnvIf would work.


SetEnvIf Remote_Host "^test\.mydomain\.com$" htaccess_file_name=.htaccess_test
SetEnvIf Remote_Host "^www\.mydomain\.com$" htaccess_file_name=.htaccess
AccessFileName htaccess_file_name

I haven't tried this so I can't say that it will actually work at all but it's worth a shot.

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I don't think you'll be able to change the AccessFileName per request since this directive needs to go in httpd.conf (or a virtual host context) and is therefore not executed on each request. However, you could perhaps execute different sections within the same .htaccess file, depending on the request (using <if> on Apache 2.4 - as you suggest), or perhaps <IfDefine> on earlier versions of Apache? – w3dk Jun 12 '14 at 21:26
Yes this would require editing the httpd.conf or related virtual host config. When I have a chance I will test this out to be sure. I don't think it is possible with any versions prior to 2.4 though. I do know that using SetEnvIf variables wont work with <IfDefine>, unfortunately. – Dave Lozier Jun 12 '14 at 22:04
"is therefore not executed on each request" - Sorry, I'm not sure what I was thinking there, that is obviously not correct. However, I was just trying to have a go with this myself but (for some reason) I'm unable to set AccessFileName conditionally inside an <If> block? I'm simply unable to restart the server (unhelpful error). I can set AccessFileName outside of the <If> block and use other directives inside the <If> block, but not AccessFileName? Did you manage to test this? – w3dk Jun 13 '14 at 11:35
Sorry I wasn't able to get back and post a reply. I had the same problem with apache complaining that AccessFileName couldn't be used inside the <If> block. I think the only viable solution is to create a testing virtual host domain that is pointed at the same document root and set the AccessFileName to something else in that vhost configuration. – Dave Lozier Jun 15 '14 at 3:00

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