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Re: URI reference to a directory (what do you want to do?)

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Fri, 29 Aug 2003 10:35:01 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: "Israel Viente" <israel_viente@il.vio.com>, <uri@w3.org>

At 02:30 PM 2003-08-27, Israel Viente wrote:
>Can a URI reference to a folder and not a file ?
>How can you distinguish between a file URI and a folder one ?

So far, we have reiterated that there is no 'folder' concept in the
top-level URI specification for all schemes.

On the other hand, many HTTP servers offer a function resembling the directory
listing which is accessible by the URI


What is it that you are trying to do?

True, for the most-hit URIs of the form


one can request


and get the same results.  True, this may take more net traffic and
wall-clock time for the user, so that when you mean the former, it is better
to put it (complete with slash character) as the value of the the
html:a.href attribute.

But yet you can't do URI-munging transforms to bash




with certainty that this is equivalent on the server side, if what you want
is to offer directory services from your site there are multiple competing
implementations that will make this available from *your site*.

Current HTTP practice runs against offering directory [a.k.a. folder]
listings as a matter of site policy.  The data persistence service that the
server uses in its computing platform often contains a mix of things like
HTML files that are wished to be visitable by the public and supporting data
that is not wished to be shared in its persistent form.

Current best practice would be to offer somewhere obvious on the site a
hierarchical catalog of the site contents that works much like a digital
talking book Table of Navigation[1].


[1]  ANSI/NISO Z39.86, Supporting Documents Index Page
Received on Friday, 29 August 2003 11:03:22 UTC

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