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Re: URIs in QR (was: URI length statistics "in the wild"?)

From: Dan Brickley <danbri@danbri.org>
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 2010 18:58:36 +0200
Message-ID: <x2ueb19f3361004080958qccca9828l57371f2e7c863f33@mail.gmail.com>
To: Sandro Hawke <sandro@w3.org>
Cc: Erik Wilde <dret@berkeley.edu>, uri@w3.org, Bob Aman <bobaman@google.com>
On Thu, Apr 8, 2010 at 6:28 PM, Sandro Hawke <sandro@w3.org> wrote:
>> hello all.
>> > Yes, well if not using tinyurl.com or bit.ly.com, I think quite likely
>> > that people encoding URIs in QR Codes will have a strong incentive to
>> > keep them short. Most likely uses are for homepages, blogs, of people
>> > and businesses, or lookups into databases (books, inventory etc).
>> interestingly, goo.gl (google's URI shortener) not only provides short
>> URIs, you can also get the QR for any short URI by just appending .qr to
>> it (which simply redirects to the google chart API using QR mode):
>> http://twitter.com/dret/status/11797022951

Nice, hadn't seen that. In a similar vein, the BBC /programmes team
have wired up every page there to have a QR version also,
http://2d-code.co.uk/bbc-qr-code/ (also cute,
http://2d-code.co.uk/bbc-logo-in-qr-code/ ). For example
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00lbpcy/qrcode which should get you
to http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00lbpcy and therefore to

>> i have recently become very interested in QR, and from what i've found
>> out so far, while QR encoding/decoding (text2QR) is well-defined, the
>> landscape of what to expect and how to process it is very messy. many QR
>> programs fail to recognize anr/or properly decode URIs, using ad-hoc
>> methods and/or not recognizing URIs that are not http: URIs.

Yes, the use of URIs in QR struck me as rather ad-hoc too, relying on
heuristics too often.

>> since i am very interested in the mobile landscape and particularly in
>> the mobile web, i would like to ask if anybody is interested in starting
>> some activity (maybe a W3C incubator group) that would survey the
>> landscape of existing "standards" and tools, and maybe even come up with
>> some best practices for how to use QR codes in a web-friendly way.

I've often thought we should do this, but only recently got my hands
dirty coding (integrated a QR reader into an iPhone app).

I don't know the status of QR Codes as a spec, in terms of things like
public availability of the standards docs, royalty free status, etc.
etc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_Code#Standards suggests "NTT
docomo has established de facto standards for the encoding of URLs,
contact information, and several other data types" but the use of
"URL" rather than "URI" doesn't fill me with confidence that the work
is 100% done. But even having a 'state of the landscape' document
(rather than something standards-like) could be a huge help for
everyone. Although an XG is a good idea and I'd try to participate,
for now I'd settle for a fact-pooling Wiki page...

>> for example, just for fun i came up with this new office door sign:
>> http://www.flickr.com/photos/dret/4498124087/
> Cute.  Worked fine using my android phone aimed at my laptop screen.  I
> suppose now I'll be needing a desktop app (maybe part of the screenshot
> system) that recognizes QR codes in photos and videos displayed on my
> desktop.   :-)

Nice idea :)

Have a play with http://github.com/diva/digital-voices/
http://www.ics.uci.edu/~lopes/dv/dv.html too, especially the birdsong
encoding I think is quite lovely -
http://www.ics.uci.edu/~lopes/dv/BirdInfo.wav - you could have similar
software scanning audio going through your machine looking for secret
codes in radio jingles, youtube videos etc...

> I don't personally know anything about QR codes, and this is the first
> I've heard of a need for standardization, but as a W3C staff member, my
> ears perked up there.  Yes, this looks like it might well be a good fit
> for W3C.  It could be an incubator, like you suggest, or, if it's pretty
> clear what a solution looks like, it could be a Submission and then a
> Working Group.

I think there's a lot to be gained here around mobile apps, eg. to
avoid a proliferation of barcodes outside points of interest (shops,
restaurants etc) I hope we'll see a move towards a single barcode that
is for a page describing the location, and embedded RDFa to make that
description machine-readable.

Can you advise on the options when a W3C work item is heavily based
around work already standardised elsewhere? Are there formal
conventions/constraints already, or just social conventions like -
play nice and establish friendly liaison?

> Again, I don't know anything about QR codes, but I'm a bit surprised the
> folks who defined them haven't tackled this problem.  Perhaps this needs
> a new mix of URI and QR expertise.

A lot of QR use does seem to be to discover identifiers. My guess is
that heuristics are doing 80%+ of the work just fine, so there hasn't
been a strong driver to 'catch up with the paperwork' and say exactly
how this should work.

My guess is that the missing doc isn't any new standard, but more a
kind of implementor's report from the field, giving best practice
advise - eg. about the amount of data you can stuff into QR Codes and
similar and different phones' ability to handle this, about exact
detail of URI syntax, and perhaps other considerations like making
sure the is a 'mobile OK' and ideally RDF-enhanced version of anything
that is linked to. Plus perhaps conventions around distinguishing URI
codes for things (supply chain stuff, book IDs) from documents about
those things...


Received on Thursday, 8 April 2010 16:59:12 UTC

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