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Re: What is at the end of the namespace?

From: Roy T. Fielding <fielding@ebuilt.com>
Date: Fri, 16 Nov 2001 13:05:24 -0800
To: Patrick.Stickler@nokia.com
Cc: a.powell@ukoln.ac.uk, www-talk@w3.org, uri@w3.org
Message-ID: <20011116130524.B1730@waka.ebuilt.net>
On Fri, Nov 16, 2001 at 12:30:56PM +0200, Patrick.Stickler@nokia.com wrote:
> > The scheme name is completely irrelevant to a URI's capacity for
> > identification -- it merely indicates the syntax for that 
> > namespace and,
> > when used in the context of a user action, some hint to the software
> > responsible for that action as to how it should go about handling the
> > identifier.  
> I really can't agree with that. 

That's okay, it's a (mostly) free world.

> That's like saying that, because a 'mailto:' URI is a URI and
> URI's can identify anything, I can use a 'mailto:' URI to 
> denote an abstract concept ...

Yes, you can.  It is just an identifier.  A variable.  A mathematical symbol
described by a sequence of characters in a syntax defined by the first
part of that string leading up to the colon character.

> and software should *know* that
> it means the abstract concept and not a way to send some
> content to a particular mailbox.

Nonsense.  Software doesn't *know* squat -- it has no intelligence, not
even AI.  It is merely used for various purposes.

> Sorry...  I just don't see that as beneficial to the web.

It is the Web.

> The dilution of semantics of URLs and URNs into just URI
> creates just too much confusion about the nature of specific
> URI schemes which invites abuse which results in chaos.

The only chaos I have seen is in the writings of more recent specifications
that ignore the research and experience of the Web developers in favor of
their own personal view of an ideal world.  When they implement something
that works and has the same expressive power as the Web itself, then I will
take their writings seriously.

> The URI scheme *should* say something about the nature and
> general semantics of the identifiers grounded in that
> scheme. To say that the scheme identity is irrelevant and
> everything goes is ludicrous.
> Why not then toss out *all* URI schemes, and just call
> everything 'uri:'?!

That is explained in Tim's original Web design notes and 1993 papers
on the Web.  The notion that everyone is going to agree on the same
namespace, let alone the same syntax, just isn't practical, and with the
proper design it isn't necessary.  So why waste time trying to convince
everyone to use a single namespace?  Tim's recent argument isn't about
making everyone use "http" as a namespace -- it is about not wanting
everyone to create their own namespace just because they can.  Sure,
it is possible, but it creates additional work and complexity for
everyone else.

Received on Friday, 16 November 2001 16:08:54 UTC

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