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Apache Module mod_include

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Description:Server-parsed html documents (Server Side Includes)
Module Identifier:include_module
Source File:mod_include.c
Compatibility:Implemented as an output filter since Apache 2.0


This module provides a filter which will process files before they are sent to the client. The processing is controlled by specially formatted SGML comments, referred to as elements. These elements allow conditional text, the inclusion of other files or programs, as well as the setting and printing of environment variables.



See also


Enabling Server-Side Includes

Server Side Includes are implemented by the INCLUDES filter. If documents containing server-side include directives are given the extension .shtml, the following directives will make Apache parse them and assign the resulting document the mime type of text/html:

AddType text/html .shtml
AddOutputFilter INCLUDES .shtml

The following directive must be given for the directories containing the shtml files (typically in a <Directory> section, but this directive is also valid in .htaccess files if AllowOverride Options is set):

Options +Includes

For backwards compatibility, the server-parsed handler also activates the INCLUDES filter. As well, Apache will activate the INCLUDES filter for any document with mime type text/x-server-parsed-html or text/x-server-parsed-html3 (and the resulting output will have the mime type text/html).

For more information, see our Tutorial on Server Side Includes.


PATH_INFO with Server Side Includes

Files processed for server-side includes no longer accept requests with PATH_INFO (trailing pathname information) by default. You can use the AcceptPathInfo directive to configure the server to accept requests with PATH_INFO.


Basic Elements

The document is parsed as an HTML document, with special commands embedded as SGML comments. A command has the syntax:

<!--#element attribute=value attribute=value ... -->

The value will often be enclosed in double quotes, but single quotes (') and backticks (`) are also possible. Many commands only allow a single attribute-value pair. Note that the comment terminator (-->) should be preceded by whitespace to ensure that it isn't considered part of an SSI token. Note that the leading <!--# is one token and may not contain any whitespaces.

The allowed elements are listed in the following table:

config configure output formats
echo print variables
exec execute external programs
fsize print size of a file
flastmod print last modification time of a file
include include a file
printenv print all available variables
set set a value of a variable

SSI elements may be defined by modules other than mod_include. In fact, the exec element is provided by mod_cgi, and will only be available if this module is loaded.

The config Element

This command controls various aspects of the parsing. The valid attributes are:

echomsg (Apache 2.1 and later)
The value is a message that is sent back to the client if the echo element attempts to echo an undefined variable. This overrides any SSIUndefinedEcho directives.
The value is a message that is sent back to the client if an error occurs while parsing the document. This overrides any SSIErrorMsg directives.
The value sets the format to be used when displaying the size of a file. Valid values are bytes for a count in bytes, or abbrev for a count in Kb or Mb as appropriate, for example a size of 1024 bytes will be printed as "1K".
The value is a string to be used by the strftime(3) library routine when printing dates.

The echo Element

This command prints one of the include variables defined below. If the variable is unset, the result is determined by the SSIUndefinedEcho directive. Any dates printed are subject to the currently configured timefmt.


The value is the name of the variable to print.

Specifies how Apache should encode special characters contained in the variable before outputting them. If set to none, no encoding will be done. If set to url, then URL encoding (also known as %-encoding; this is appropriate for use within URLs in links, etc.) will be performed. At the start of an echo element, the default is set to entity, resulting in entity encoding (which is appropriate in the context of a block-level HTML element, e.g. a paragraph of text). This can be changed by adding an encoding attribute, which will remain in effect until the next encoding attribute is encountered or the element ends, whichever comes first.

The encoding attribute must precede the corresponding var attribute to be effective, and only special characters as defined in the ISO-8859-1 character encoding will be encoded. This encoding process may not have the desired result if a different character encoding is in use.

In order to avoid cross-site scripting issues, you should always encode user supplied data.

The exec Element

The exec command executes a given shell command or CGI script. It requires mod_cgi to be present in the server. If Options IncludesNOEXEC is set, this command is completely disabled. The valid attributes are:


The value specifies a (%-encoded) URL-path to the CGI script. If the path does not begin with a slash (/), then it is taken to be relative to the current document. The document referenced by this path is invoked as a CGI script, even if the server would not normally recognize it as such. However, the directory containing the script must be enabled for CGI scripts (with ScriptAlias or Options ExecCGI).

The CGI script is given the PATH_INFO and query string (QUERY_STRING) of the original request from the client; these cannot be specified in the URL path. The include variables will be available to the script in addition to the standard CGI environment.