W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > xml-uri@w3.org > May 2000

Re: URI versus URI Reference

From: Michael Mealling <michael@bailey.dscga.com>
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 11:37:38 -0400
To: abrahams@acm.org
Cc: John Cowan <cowan@locke.ccil.org>, timbl@w3.org, jcowan@reutershealth.com, xml-uri@w3.org
Message-ID: <20000525113737.C7740@bailey.dscga.com>
On Thu, May 25, 2000 at 11:05:34AM -0400, Paul W. Abrahams wrote:
> "Paul W. Abrahams" wrote:
> > I believe that the repair to RFC2396 would be simple, however: drop the 
> > term ``URI reference'' and replace it by ``URI'' in all its occurrences 
> > within the document.  It's an odd term in any case, since it seems to 
> > mean ``Universal Resource Identifier identifier'' (no one seems to be 
> > arguing that a URI reference points to a URI rather than to a resource).

NO. Absolutely and fundamentally NO. The term 'Reference' is not used the
the way you seem to be claiming. The term 'Reference' in 2396
refers to the use of the URI <strong>in</strong> Hypertext 
<strong>References</strong> (i.e. HREFs) at the time. No where is the term 
used as some kind of programming language pointer reference.

There are some rather large specifications that depend on URIs in 2396
being what the ABNF calls 'absoluteURI' for various reasons that stem
from the entire concept of 'bases', relative addressing and fragments being 
invalid. If you attempt to change this you are going to break 
several specifications such as LDAP, Whois++, Rwhois, probably the URN 
URI scheme. I can give you a longer list if you want....

> Actually, that doesn't deal with the problem of fragments, I now realize.  But one could
> write in Sec 4:
> 
>    URI-reference = [URI] [ "#" fragment-identifier]
>    URI = absoluteURI | relativeURI
> 
> That pins down what a URI is and also what the difference between a URI 
> and a URI reference is.  It does explicitly accept relative URIs as a 
> kind of URI and also as a kind of URI reference.

That change breaks things and violates a large amount of concensus that
has been reached over almost a decade about what a URI is and isn't.
A relative URI is a bit of syntactic sugar to make life easy for people
who edit XML with /bin/vi or notepad. It is not and never has been
a useful part of making the architecture work.

Your suggestion is IMNSHO a rather fundamental and radical change that
doesn't buy us anything other than broken specs. Please remember that
URIs are used for things other than HTML and XML...

-MM

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Received on Thursday, 25 May 2000 11:48:59 UTC

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