Re: ISSUE-81 (resource vs representation)

On Sun, 27 Sep 2009, Roy T. Fielding wrote:
> Stop the bullshit, Ian.  The terminology used by the majority of Web 
> developers is that a URI is used to identify a resource for the sake of 
> manipulating its current state.  Maybe if you spent a little more time 
> talking to Web developers instead of just browser developers, you might 
> understand why the architecture is specified the way it is currently.

With all due respect, my experience disagrees with yours. I don't have 
data to back this up; maybe we could collect some?

> I've had the same argument a thousand times over the past fifteen
> years and the Web resource still means the same thing today.

It seems to me that if you've had the same argument every two months for 
fifteen years that maybe you're wrong.

> The same term is used for a lot of things that are general computing 
> resources, but no spec considers the thing identified by a resource 
> identifier to be a bag of bits.

#   <uri>
#          The value is a URI that designates an external resource (such 
#          as an image).

#  2.1.1 Introduction to URIs
#   Every resource available on the Web -- HTML document, image, video
#   clip, program, etc. -- has an address that may be encoded by a
#   Universal Resource Identifier, or "URI".

ECMAScript 3.1:
#  15.1.3 URI Handling Function Properties 
#   Uniform Resource Identifiers, or URIs, are strings that identify 
#   resources (e.g. web pages or files)

SVG 1.1:
# A URI reference is specified within an href attribute in the XLink
# [XLINK] namespace. If the default prefix of 'xlink:' is used for
# attributes in the XLink namespace, then the attribute will be
# specified as xlink:href. [...]
# If the xlink:href references a stand-alone image resource such as a
# JPEG, PNG or SVG file [...]

XMLSchema (Part 1: Structures; Second Edition):
# Their schemaLocation attributes, consisting of a URI reference [...]
# 1. If the actual value of the schemaLocation [attribute]
#    successfully resolves one of the following must be true:
#    1.1 It resolves to (a fragment of) a resource which is an XML
#        document (of type application/xml or text/xml with an XML
#        declaration for preference, but this is not required)

PICS services 1.1:
# A URL describes the location and means of retrieval for a single
# document.

PICS labels 1.1:
# document
#    Any item that can be referred to by a URL. Also known, in other
#    contexts, as a "hypertext page" or a "resource."

So again, with all due respect, I disagree.

> A resource is not a bag of bits.  A bag of bits can't act as a gateway 
> for sending SMS messages to cellphones.

Indeed, that would be an HTTP server.

> A bag of bits can't maintain a constant sense of identity when the bits 
> change upon every observation.

Indeed, resources don't have senses of identity.

> A bag of bits can't respond to a POST with a 204.

Indeed, only HTTP servers do that.

> A bag of bits does not remotely control a robot arm on the other side of 
> the world.

Indeed, HTTP servers do that.

> A bag of bits does not in any way appreciably reflect the significance 
> of "": not today, not last week, and certainly 
> not as a continuation over time.

Indeed. Nor do resources. The URL "" has as its 
significance "use the HTTP protocol on the server with host name 
'' on port 80 with path '/hixie'"; it doesn't have any more 
actual significance than that.

> > > HTML is not a standalone specification.  It is part of the World 
> > > Wide Web architecture.  If you don't want to standardize within the 
> > > constraints of the Web, then feel free to change the name of the 
> > > specification to something else.
> > 
> > The W3C asked us to rename it to HTML5, actually. It used to be called 
> > Web Applications 1.0.
> I know that.  It is time for you to start taking the new title 
> seriously.

I'd much rather rename it again than have to start using obscure 
terminology that is out of touch with what Web developers understand.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

Received on Monday, 28 September 2009 08:19:31 UTC