URL semantics

Daniel LaLiberte (liberte@ncsa.uiuc.edu)
Thu, 9 Jan 1997 11:27:35 -0600 (CST)

From: Daniel LaLiberte <liberte@ncsa.uiuc.edu>
Date: Thu, 9 Jan 1997 11:27:35 -0600 (CST)
Message-Id: <199701091727.LAA02262@void.ncsa.uiuc.edu>
To: Larry Masinter <masinter@parc.xerox.com>
Cc: uri@bunyip.com
Subject: URL semantics
In-Reply-To: <97Jan8.203355pdt."278"@palimpsest.parc.xerox.com>

Larry Masinter writes:
 > I agree it's a little awkward, but I strugged to get the current
 > wording. The point is that the 'mailto:' URL is not the name of the
 > data object you get. It's the name of the interaction.

But for all URLs (and URNs, if they may be distinguished), the URL
identifies the interaction.  In the case of *some* URLs, the
interaction results in a data object, so it only *seems* that the URL
identifies the data object, but that is an indirect effect.

Furthermore, given a URL, many things may be done with it other than
the implied GET, open, or whatever.  For example, in addition to
GETting a resource, one could also get associated annotations.  To say
that a URL means only one thing (e.g. GET it) when it can, in fact,
may also mean many other things only confuses the issue.

 > I'm willing to change the URL scheme suggestion to talk about "open"
 > instead of "GET", but most documents currently talk about "GET".

I think those documents should be changed, if possible, or whatever it
takes to get this terminology changed.  But I don't know that "open"
is the best term either.  For each URL scheme, there might be a
different implied operation, but there also might be a different
implied operation for each context in which the URL appears, or an
explicit operation could be named.  For example, the ACTION (a URL) and
METHOD (e.g. POST) of an HTML form together say what to do when the
submit button is clicked.  So it is the context of the use of a URL
that determines what a URL means.

Daniel LaLiberte (liberte@ncsa.uiuc.edu)
National Center for Supercomputing Applications