I know almost nothing about configuring and managing servers, so it took me a while to figure out how to set up an Elm single-page-application (SPA) on an Apache server.

An Elm SPA is an application that performs client-side routing from a single page (e.g. index.html). I set mine up manually as a learning process by referencing Richard Feldman’s canonical example, but elm-spa is probably the de facto tool nowadays to handle the boilerplate wiring.

Long story short, after scanning the Apache docs and this Digital Ocean page (though I don’t use Digital Ocean for hosting), the following formulation worked for my use case: redirect all URLs to index.html without changing the URL string. It’s important not to change the URL (hence Rewrite instead of Redirect, as the Elm SPA parses the URL string for client-side routing.

RewriteEngine on
RewriteRule ^(index.html)(\$|/) - [L]
RewriteRule [A-Za-z/]+ /index.html


The first rule prevents infinite recursion (which the server will interrupt with an error message).

I have the above in my .htaccess file at the public site root, but there may be a more efficient way to configure it (the internet says avoid .htaccess files if possible, but I’ll leave that for another day).