Re: URL internationalization!

Gregory J. Woodhouse (
Sat, 22 Feb 1997 11:06:17 -0800 (PST)

Date: Sat, 22 Feb 1997 11:06:17 -0800 (PST)
From: "Gregory J. Woodhouse" <>
To: Francois Yergeau <>
Subject: Re: URL internationalization!
In-Reply-To: <>
Message-Id: <>

On Sat, 22 Feb 1997, Francois Yergeau wrote:

> À 09:17 21-02-97 -0800, Gregory J. Woodhouse a écrit :
> >i-nodes       filenames
> >IP addresses  domain names
> >URLs          ?????
> URLs are in the wrong place.  Applications do not deal with i-nodes, they
> deal with filenames.  Ditto for users.  Same for domain names, which is
> what users and applications deal with as soon as the resolution service is
> available.  And same for URLs.  My browser has both an "Open file" and an
> "Open URL" command, and both are used identically: type in the stuff, and
> the application and system will resolve it to the resource I want to access.

I'm not so sure they are. True, existing applications use URLs like
filenames, but then again, that's all we have. If there were no DNS, we
would use IP addresses (in dotted quad notation, of course), and if there
were no directory service for our file systems we would have to use
internal names like i-node references. When I send mail with MS Exchange, I
use the recipient name and not an X.400 address, but if there were no
directory facility I would have to use X.400 addresses.
> Directories are at another level, one more indirection.  It would be wrong
> to push back i18n requirements to the directory level, they exist at the
> URL level.  It wouldn't help file submission any, for instance, and this is
> where the need is most flagrant.

Here, I have mixed feelings. I think URLs should be readable and easily
remembered. And, of course, URLs are embedded in hypertext, so even if a
directory service is used to provide appropriate human understandable
reource names, the links in the document will still use URLs, and so we are
caught in a bind. On the other hand, it seems that the goals of
universality and internationalization are hopelessly at odd with eachother,
and the best we can hope for is an encoding (such a UTF-8) that will allow
a representation (albeit maybe not a meaningful representation) of URLs on
any system. 

> -- 
> François Yergeau <>
> Alis Technologies Inc., Montréal
> Tél : +1 (514) 747-2547
> Fax : +1 (514) 747-2561

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