Re: Symbolic vs Numeric identifiers (was Re: URL internationalization!)

Martin J. Duerst (
Wed, 26 Feb 1997 18:41:09 +0100 (MET)

Date: Wed, 26 Feb 1997 18:41:09 +0100 (MET)
From: "Martin J. Duerst" <>
To: Daniel LaLiberte <>
Cc: "Gregory J. Woodhouse" <>,
Subject: Re: Symbolic vs Numeric identifiers (was Re: URL internationalization!)
In-Reply-To: <>
Message-Id: <Pine.SUN.3.95q.970226183357.245S-100000@enoshima>

On Mon, 24 Feb 1997, Daniel LaLiberte wrote:

> Gregory J. Woodhouse writes:
>  > 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 [...]
> Another way to describe this division is symbolic versus numeric
> identifiers.  URLs are already symbolic, and as such, they belong in
> the column with filenames and domain names.

Comming back to URL internationalization, I think the distinction
between symbolic and numeric identifiers is a very useful one.

One can see symbolic identifiers as things that mean something
to the user, and numeric identifiers as things that don't mean
anything to the user. [of course, there are numbers, such as
007, that mean something to many, but in general, they don't]

Now ASCII identifiers can be highly symbolic for people used
to the basic Latin alphabet. To others, who may have heard
about them in school, but never much used them, these things
will be highly "numeric". One core idea of URL internationalization
is to allow to make URLs symbolic for those user groups that
are mostly dealing with them (for the rare outsider, we have
the "numeric" %HH fallback).

Regards,	Martin.