news: vs. nntp://host (was RE: mailto: + parameters?)

Foteos Macrides (
Sun, 21 Apr 1996 21:26:29 -0500 (EST)

Date: Sun, 21 Apr 1996 21:26:29 -0500 (EST)
From: Foteos Macrides <>
Subject: news: vs. nntp://host (was RE: mailto: + parameters?)
Message-Id: <01I3TG7ZYBNA0070CU@SCI.WFBR.EDU>

"Daniel W. Connolly" <> wrote:
>In message <01I3N5YZXAEG001840@SCI.WFBR.EDU>, Foteos Macrides writes:
>>>Hmmm.. I wouldn't say that.  [... why Dan SHOULD say it was
                                     discussed previously ...]
>The interoperability principle is only a few rungs above the
>extensibility principle, after all.
>>	That was also the reason, wasn't it, for adding nntp as an
>>access type which accepts a host field, and leaving news as an access
>>type which uses an independently configured host?
>That was another bogus idea. There's nothing wrong with:
>	news://
>No conflict at all.
>>  That's another
>>interoperability principle, embodied in RFC 1738, which has been
>How does this cause interoperability problems? Where is the
>case where a conforming implementation will behave unreliably?

	It's not a bogus idea.  It reflects the original values of the
Web as a cross-platform, cross-protocol, INTEROPERABLE, content-rich,
information sharing system.

	The NNTP protocol is like mail in that the articles are referenced
analogously to a usename@host, and can include characters that are reserved
in the http protocol.  Also, NNTP servers almost universally have restricted
access.  Therefore, news URLs were structured analogously to mailto URLs


and the client is configured to use an NNTP server to which it has access
rights.  That '#' does *not* mean what it normally would in a URL, and
should not be parsed as when in other URLs.

	To allow for specification of a host if multiple servers are
available to a client, a separate, "nntp" scheme exists, and *that*
is what a client with earnest concern for interoperability should use,
not "news", when specification of an NNTP server is needed in the URL.

	How does Netscape's behavior cause interoperability problems?
Take a look at the "W3C Reference Library".   That may have become an
anachronism in "today's market place", but it's not bogus, is it?
(I hope not, 'cuz I "reference" it regularly. 8-).

	Which isn't to say that the nntp scheme is well designed.  It
is well intended, but not well designed.  RFC1738 specifies that a
news group element should precede an article element in the path
field, and that's not a good idea because articles are not tied to
a news group (they could have been multiply cross-posted).  Also, it
does not specify that reserved characters in the path field should
be hex escaped, and it would be better if they were.


 Foteos Macrides            Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research
 MACRIDES@SCI.WFBR.EDU         222 Maple Avenue, Shrewsbury, MA 01545