W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > uri@w3.org > February 2010

Re: fb: URIs?

From: Thomas Fruin <thomasfruin@mac.com>
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 2010 17:49:43 +0100
To: uri@w3.org
Cc: David Recordon <davidrecordon@facebook.com>, Dan Brickley <danbri@danbri.org>
Message-id: <3EF2B003-8B4F-4C4C-860F-8689D3A2CC11@mac.com>
> Specifically, we hear that
> 
> http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=4
>    and
> fb://profile/4
> 
> are semantically the same.  If the systems everywhere could dispatch
> on "http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=" as easily as they dispatch
> on "fb:", it seems like the technical side of this problem might go
> away.

Actually, it is not necessary that _everybody_ know how to distinguish between the two types of URI's. It is only necessary that the web site of the party that introduces the pseudo URI know the difference. Let me explain.

In this particular case, Facebook invented the fb:// pseudo URI and linked it to its iPhone app, so that these URI's would always open in the iPhone Facebook app. (A regular http://www.facebook.com/ URI would only get opened in the iPhone browser.)

The relatively simple standards-compliant solution would be the following:

1. Facebook URI's should always be stored in their generic and standards-compliant form: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=4
2. When a user opens such a link, it will be accessed in the standard way, through a web browser and the http protocol.
3. In the specific case that the web client is an iPhone, the Facebook web site can determine this and take appropriate action.
4. In this case, the action the Facebook web site can take is redirect the iPhone browser to a fb://profile/4 psuedo URI.
5. The effect of this redirection on an iPhone is that the Facebook app opens the desired link.

You can substitute "Facebook" and "www.facebook.com" for any other party that wishes to implement pseudo URI's for particular device-specific redirection. As long as they do it on their own web site and know what effect the pseudo URI will have on a user's device, things should be fine.

This is somewhat similar to Apple's handling of URI's that point to the iTunes store. These URI's start out as standard http: style URI's, but then get redirected to itunes:// pseudo URI's that open the iTunes Store application (either on computers or iPhone's).

My 2c worth...

-- Thomas Fruin
Received on Tuesday, 23 February 2010 16:50:19 UTC

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