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Okay so my question is quite simple. I need to implement some custom routing rules for my plugin. Those routes would only take one argument (so nothing complicated) and would look like : http://www.example.org/myroute/myargument

And ideally, this would call a custom class, and display a custom template (that could directly access the class).

What's the best approach for this ? Cheers

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

You need to do 3 important things.

  1. Create a custom rewrite rule to turn parts of the uri into values passed to index.php
  2. Add myroute and myargument as query vars to wordpress knows they are valid $_GET paramters when the rewrite rules pass something to them
  3. Flush the rewrite rules.

First, Im going to recommend that instead of http://www.example.org/myroute/myargument, you settle on some kind of special prefix or suffix to denote when the uri should be considered one of these special 'routes'. For the the sake of this example, I've chosen the prefix api, so that it would be http://www.example.org/api/myroute/myargument. I chose api because when i did something restful like what you seem to be working on, it was for an API.

The Code

add_filter( 'rewrite_rules_array','my_insert_rewrite_rules' );
add_filter( 'query_vars','my_insert_query_vars' );
add_action( 'wp_loaded','my_flush_rules' );

// flush_rules() if our rules are not yet included
function my_flush_rules(){
    $rules = get_option( 'rewrite_rules' );

    if ( ! isset( $rules['api/(.*?)/(.+?)'] ) ) {
        global $wp_rewrite;

// Adding a new rule
function my_insert_rewrite_rules( $rules )
    $newrules = array();
    $newrules['api/(.*?)/(.+?)'] = 'index.php?myroute=$matches[1]&myargument=$matches[2]';
    return $newrules + $rules;

// Adding the id var so that WP recognizes it
function my_insert_query_vars( $vars )
    array_push($vars, 'myroute', 'myargument');
    return $vars;

Quick Breakdown

Its all fairly straight forward, the regex pattern is added to a list of all the rewrite rules in WordPress, and your custom pattern is at the of the list. When the there is a match to the pattern, WordPress will stop looking, and pass the captured values to the back references in the index.php string.

Adding the query vars just makes them myroute and myargument valid for index.php to handle.

Alternative way of 'namespacing' your custom route

If you wanted to avoid using /api/ as a prefix, you could use a query string var instead. To do something like that you would change the regex to something like (.*?)/(.+?)\\?api=1 and then add api as an additional parameter to the array_push function in my_insert_query_vars().

That would change the custom route to be triggered anytime there is http://example.com/anytext/anytext?json=1.

Ignore the use of the term 'namespacing' - just used it for brevity.

If you dont 'namespace' with either a prefix or a suffix, you will end up with colliding uri patterns. This is because WordPress will have no way to distinguish your custom pattern from one intended to be a post or page. How would wordpress know if that 'myroute' is not a taxonomy, or a term, or a parent page?

Hope this helps.

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Handy note: rules defined in my_insert_rewrite_rules follow order of definition! Start with the longest rule first then work down to the simplest, otherwise /api/myroute will override /api/myroute/myargument. – emc Feb 25 '14 at 17:42
@npc Thats an important point to be aware of when creating custom rewrite rules, they can collide that way too. In the example above though, thats not a problem because /api/myroute would simply not be a valid path. – eddiemoya Mar 3 '14 at 19:37
great info, thanks. – emc Mar 3 '14 at 23:03
How could someone load a custom template from their plugin directory whenever the example.org/api/myroute/myargument page was requested? – Matt Keys Sep 21 '14 at 10:36
Here is the actual and complete solution by the wordpress: codex.wordpress.org/Rewrite_API/add_rewrite_rule – Imran Sep 12 '15 at 20:15

To expand a bit on what eddiemoya did above:

Like the original poster of this question I wanted to create a custom rewrite, and also deliver a custom template for that rewrite page. The code from edditmoya got me started in the right direction, and I added an extra function to serve up my custom template when the page is accessed.

The custom template could be located anywhere, in my case it is stored in the plugin directory.

I also only wanted to check if the rewrite rules needed to be flushed during plugin activation, so I put that on a register_activation_hook

See below for the full example of what I did:

UPDATED simplified based on advice from milo

class Your_Class

    public function init()
        add_filter( 'template_include', array( $this, 'include_template' ) );
        add_filter( 'init', array( $this, 'rewrite_rules' ) );

    public function include_template( $template )
        //try and get the query var we registered in our query_vars() function
        $account_page = get_query_var( 'account_page' );

        //if the query var has data, we must be on the right page, load our custom template
        if ( $account_page ) {
            return PATH_TO_PLUGIN_TEMPLATES_DIR . 'register.php';

        return $template;

    public function flush_rules()


    public function rewrite_rules()
        add_rewrite_rule( 'account/(.+?)/?$', 'index.php?account_page=$matches[1]', 'top');
        add_rewrite_tag( '%account_page%', '([^&]+)' );


add_action( 'plugins_loaded', array( new Your_Class, 'init' ) );

// One time activation functions
register_activation_hook( PATH_TO_PLUGIN_FILE, array( new Your_Class, 'flush_rules' ) );
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you can also just use add_rewrite_endpoint, which will generate the rule for you and add the query var in one go. also if you're adding your own rewrite rules, I suggest the add_rewrite_rule function instead of filtering rewrite_rules_array. – Milo Sep 23 '14 at 23:31
Thanks Milo, I updated the code to use add_rewrite_rule instead of filtering the rewrite array. I looked at add_rewrite_endpoint but I think add_rewrite_tag may be a better fit for my needs. It seems like add_rewrite_endpoint is mostly useful if you want to add extra argument to existing WP rewrites. Correct me if I am wrong here. – Matt Keys Sep 24 '14 at 0:03

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