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Re: QA Tips: Make readable URIs

From: Victor Engmark <engmark@stud.ntnu.no>
Date: Thu, 18 Sep 2003 12:38:31 -0400 (EDT)
Cc: www-qa@w3.org
To: Dominique HazaŽl-Massieux <dom@w3.org>
Message-Id: <86661C8D-E9F8-11D7-8969-0003934BEBF0@stud.ntnu.no>

Dominique HazaŽl-Massieux:

> - one of the principle behind the design of the URIs is that they are
> opaque, which means that nothing/nobody should infer anything from the
> characters used in the URI; this should be reminded at the very top of
> the tip, and maybe the title of the tip should be changed to make that
> clearer.

A small section with the basic reasoning behind making short, intuitive,
and implementation-independent URIs should definitely be placed on top.
This introduction should emphasize the overall advantages.

> - it's probably a good idea to make your URIs readable, for reasons
> close the ones you give; ie, when people have to type URIs instead of
> following links, it's much easier to type "readable URIs" than very
> complex ones; still, I don't think the tip should speak about
> "remembering URIs" for casual users, nor the bookmark use case seems
> very relevant. I would say something like
> "When a URI has to be advertized through a medium that doesn't easily
> support following hypertext links (e.g. a URI on paper or in some email
> clients), it's much easier for the user to have to type a readable URIs
> rather than a unreadable one."

One goal is for users to be able to communicate URIs without having to
look up the page and then copy-paste the URI. This is especially
important when written communication is not readily available.

> I simply don't agree on the recommendation of using directories
> generally speaking. The organisation of a Web site is really too
> dependent on the server configuration, the information architecture, 
> the
> publication system to make such a general recommendation.

The method of using directories is only useful if the content in some
way is organized hierarchically. This should be emphazised in the tip,
but as long as this condition is met I think it is a good idea.

> Regarding the use of shorter URIs, content negotiation has the
> same effect as the use of directory, with even one less character; this
> should be the proposed solution.

Do you mean using http://www.example.org/fish (where
"fish.(html|php|...)" is a file rather than a directory) instead of
http://www.example.org/fish/ (slash at the end)? I am not sure how this
changes the recommendation, as http://www.example.org/fish can be used
even when "fish" is a directory.

> I like the part about language negotiation, although it would be nice 
> to
> have this notion appear in the text.

You mean it should include a more technical explanation? A guide for web
server administrators would probably be useful.

> I don't like the idea of localizing URIs; it goes way too far in the
> readability of URIs and against the opacity of URIs. Typing URIs 
> doesn't
> happen that often that you would have to maintain several structures 
> for
> your URI space. Besides, the proposed solution is too specific 
> (symbolic
> links doesn't exist on all OS); the most generic solution would 
> probably
> involve using HTTP redirects.
> In the reference section, the link to your web page should be removed
> since it's not about the particular topic of the document (you can of
> course link it from the <address> of the tip), and further 
> documentation
> on Content/Language Negotiation would be interesting (ie, not only the
> way to do it in Apache, but the general specification).

.htaccess redirects could be explained instead. But since I'm kind of
new in the game: Is .htaccess Apache-specific, and does a generic
explanation of redirects exist, which does also specify how to implement
it on different web servers?

> To summarize, I think that the tip addresses a valid question, but 
> would
> benefit from a bit more work, and maybe from being based on the CHIPs
> note which addresses severeal of this problem. Is that something you
> would be willing to do?

As I am not familiar with the CHIPs note, I am kind of short on time,
and I do not have the technical background to explain web server
configuration, it would probably be best if somebody else could continue
the work on the tip.

Victor Engmark
Good deed of the day: www.thehungersite.com
Received on Thursday, 18 September 2003 12:52:53 UTC

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