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Hypertext Type: Cool URIs do not change.

Hypertext Type: Cool URIs do not change.

2023-03-03 15:59:56

Hypertext Type: Cool URIs do not change.

W3C Style Guide

What makes a cool URI?
A cool URI is one which doesn’t change.
What kinds of URI change?
URIs do not change: folks change them.

There are not any causes in any respect in principle for folks to vary URIs (or cease
sustaining paperwork), however hundreds of thousands of causes in follow.

In principle, the area title area proprietor owns the area title area and
subsequently all URIs in it. Besides insolvency, nothing prevents the area title
proprietor from conserving the title. And in principle the URI area below your area
title is completely below your management, so you can also make it as steady as you want.
Just about the one good purpose for a doc to vanish from the Internet is
that the corporate which owned the area title went out of enterprise or can no
longer afford to maintain the server working. Then why are there so many dangling
hyperlinks on this planet? A part of it’s simply lack of forethought. Listed here are some
causes you hear on the market:

We simply reorganized our web site to make it higher.

Do you actually really feel that the previous URIs can’t be stored working? In that case, you
selected them very badly. Consider your new ones in order that it is possible for you to to
hold then working after the following redesign.

We’ve a lot materials that we won’t hold observe of what’s outdated
and what’s confidential and what’s legitimate and so we thought we would higher simply
flip the whole thing off.

That I can sympathize with – the W3C went via a interval like that, when
we needed to fastidiously sift archival materials for confidentiality earlier than making
the archives public. The answer is forethought – ensure you seize with
each doc its acceptable distribution, its creation date and ideally its
expiry date. Preserve this metadata.

Effectively, we discovered we needed to transfer the information…

This is likely one of the lamest excuses. Lots of people do not know that servers
equivalent to Apache offer you numerous management over a versatile relationship between
the URI of an object and the place a file which represents it truly is in a
file system. Consider the URI area as an summary area, completely
organized. Then, make a mapping onto no matter actuality you truly use to
implement it. Then, inform your server. You may even write bits of your server
to make it good.

John would not preserve that file any extra, Jane does.

No matter was that URI doing with John’s title in it? It was in his
listing? I see.

We used to make use of a cgi script for this and now we use a binary program.

There’s a loopy notion that pages produced by scripts must be positioned
in a “cgibin” or “cgi” space. That is exposing the mechanism of the way you run
your server. You modify the mechanism (even conserving the content material the identical )
and whoops – all of your URIs change.

For instance, take the Nationwide Science Basis:

NSF On-line Paperwork

the primary web page for beginning to search for paperwork, is clearly not going to
be one thing to belief to being there in just a few years. “cgi-bin” and
“oldbrowse” and “.pl” all level to bits of how-we-do-it-now. In contrast, if
you utilize the web page to discover a doc, you get first an equally unhealthy

Report of Working Group on Cryptology and Coding Concept

for the doc’s index web page, however the html doc itself against this is
very significantly better:

this one, the “pubs/1998” header goes to provide any future
archive service a great clue that the previous 1998 doc classification scheme
is in progress. Although in 2098 the doc numbers may look completely different, I
can think about this URI nonetheless being legitimate, and the NSF or no matter carries on
the archive not being in any respect embarrassed about it.

I did not suppose URLs must be persistent – that was URNs.

That is the in all probability one of many worst side-effects of the URN discussions.
Some appear to suppose that as a result of there’s analysis about namespaces which is able to
be extra persistent, that they are often as lax about dangling hyperlinks as they like
as “URNs will repair all that”. In case you are one in all these people, then enable me to
disillusion you.

Most URN schemes I’ve seen look one thing like an authority ID adopted
by both a date and a string you select, or only a string you select. This
seems to be very like an HTTP URI. In different phrases, should you suppose your group
will likely be able to creating URNs which is able to final, then show it by doing it
now and utilizing them on your HTTP URIs. There’s nothing about HTTP which
makes your URIs unstable. It’s your group. Make a database which maps
doc URN to present filename, and let the online server use that to truly
retrieve information.

When you have gotten thus far, then until you might have the money and time
and contacts to get some software program design finished, then you definitely may declare the following

We wish to, however we simply haven’t got the correct instruments.

Now right here is one I can sympathize with. I agree completely. What that you must
do is to have the online server search for a persistent URI straight away and
return the file, wherever your present loopy file system has it saved away
in the intervening time. You want to to have the ability to retailer the URI within the file as a
verify, and continuously hold the database in tune with actuality. You’d prefer to
retailer the relationships between completely different variations and translations of the
similar doc, and also you’d prefer to hold an impartial document of the checksum
to supply a guard in opposition to file corruption by unintended error. And net
servers simply do not come out of the field with these options. While you wish to
create a brand new doc, your editor asks you for a URI as an alternative of telling

You want to have the ability to change issues like possession, entry, archive stage
safety stage, and so forth, of a doc within the URI area with out altering
the URI.

Too unhealthy. However we’ll get there. At W3C we use Jigedit performance
(Jigsaw server used for modifying) which does observe variations, and we
are experimenting with doc creation scripts. If you happen to make instruments, servers
and purchasers, take notice!

That is an excellent purpose, which applies for instance to many W3C pages
together with this one: so do what I say, not what I do.

Why ought to I care?

While you change a URI in your server, you may by no means utterly inform who
may have hyperlinks to the previous URI. They could have made hyperlinks from common net
pages. They could have bookmarked your web page. They could have scrawled the URI
within the margin of a letter to a buddy.

When somebody follows a hyperlink and it breaks, they typically lose confidence
within the proprietor of the server. Additionally they are annoyed – emotionally and
virtually from undertaking their objective.

Sufficient folks complain on a regular basis about dangling hyperlinks that I hope the
injury is apparent. I hope it additionally apparent that the fame injury is to
the maintainer of the server whose doc vanished.

So what ought to I do? Designing URIs

It’s the the obligation of a Webmaster to allocate URIs which it is possible for you to
to face by in 2 years, in 20 years, in 200 years. This wants thought, and
group, and dedication.

URIs change when there’s some info in them which adjustments. It’s
vital the way you design them. (What, design a URI? I’ve to design URIs?
Sure, it’s a must to give it some thought.). Designing principally means leaving info

The creation date of the doc – the date the URI is issued – is one
factor which is not going to change. It is vitally helpful for separating requests which
use a brand new system from these which use an previous system. That’s one factor with
which it’s good to begin a URI. If a doc is in any manner dated, even
although it will likely be of curiosity for generations, then the date is an efficient

The one exception is a web page which is intentionally a “newest” web page for,
for instance, the entire group or a big a part of it.

is the newest “Cash every day” column in “Cash” journal. The principle purpose
for not needing the date on this URI is that there isn’t a purpose for the
persistence of the URI to outlast the journal. The idea of “immediately’s
Cash” vanishes if Cash goes out of manufacturing. If you wish to
hyperlink to the content material, you’d hyperlink to it the place it seems individually within the
archives as

(Seems to be good. Assumes that “cash” will imply the identical factor all through the
lifetime of There’s a duplication of “98” and an “.html” you
do not want however in any other case this seems to be like a robust URI).

What to go away out

All the things! After the creation date, placing any info within the title
is asking for hassle a method or one other.

  • Authors title– authorship can change with new variations. Folks
    stop organizations and hand issues on.
  • Topic. That is tough. It all the time seems to be good on the time however
    adjustments surprisingly quick. I talk about this extra beneath.
  • Standing– directories like “previous” and “draft” and so forth, to not
    point out “newest” and “cool” seem throughout file methods. Paperwork
    change standing – or there could be no level in producing drafts. The
    newest model of a doc wants a persistent identifier no matter its
    standing is. Preserve the standing out of the title.
  • Entry. At W3C we divide the location into “Group entry”, “Member
    entry” and “Public entry”. It sounds good, however after all paperwork
    begin off as crew concepts, are mentioned with members, after which go public.
    A disgrace certainly if each time some doc is opened to wider dialogue
    all of the previous hyperlinks to it fail! We’re switching to a easy date code
  • File title extension. This can be a quite common one. “cgi”, even
    “.html” is one thing which is able to change. You will not be utilizing HTML for
    that web page in 20 years time, however you may want immediately’s hyperlinks to it to
    nonetheless be legitimate. The canonical manner of constructing hyperlinks to the W3C web site would not
    use the extension.(how?)
  • Software program mechanisms. Search for “cgi”, “exec” and different give-away
    “look what software program we’re utilizing” bits in URIs. Anybody wish to decide to
    utilizing perl cgi scripts all their lives? Nope? Lower out the .pl. Learn the
    server handbook on find out how to do it.
  • Disk title – gimme a break! However I’ve seen it.

So a greater instance from our web site is solely

a report of the minutes of a gathering of W3C chair folks.

Matters and Classification by topic

I will go into this hazard in additional element because it is likely one of the harder
issues to keep away from. Usually, matters find yourself in URIs whenever you classify your
paperwork in line with a breakdown of the work you might be doing. That breakdown
will change. Names for areas will change. At W3C we needed to vary “MarkUp”
to “Markup” after which to “HTML” to mirror the precise content material of the part.
Additionally, beware that that is typically a flat title area. In 100 years are you certain
you will not wish to reuse something? We needed to reuse “Historical past” and
“Stylesheets” for instance in our brief life.

See Also

This can be a tempting manner of organizing a website – and certainly a tempting
manner of organizing something, together with the entire net. It’s a nice medium
time period resolution however has critical drawbacks in the long run

A part of the explanations for this lie within the philosophy of that means. each time period
within the language it a possible clustering topic, and every particular person can have a
completely different concept of what it means. As a result of the relationships between topics
are web-like slightly than tree-like, even for individuals who agree on an internet could
decide a unique tree illustration. These are my (oft repeated) basic
feedback on the hazards of hierarchical classification as a basic

Successfully, whenever you use a subject title in a URI you might be binding your self
to some classification. It’s possible you’ll sooner or later choose a unique one. Then,
the URI will likely be liable to interrupt.

A purpose for utilizing a subject space as a part of the URI is that duty
for sub-parts of a URI area is often delegated, and then you definitely want a reputation
for the organizational physique – the subdivision or group or no matter – which
has duty for that sub-space. That is binding your URIs to the
organizational construction. It’s usually secure solely when protected by a date
additional up the URI (to the left of it): 1998/pics may be taken to imply for
your server “what we meant in 1998 by pics“, slightly than “what in 1998
we did with what we now check with as pics.”

Remember the area title.

Do not forget that this is applicable not solely to the “path” a part of a URI however to the
server title. When you have separate servers for a few of your stuff, bear in mind
that that division will likely be unimaginable to vary with out destroying many many
hyperlinks. Some traditional “look what software program we’re utilizing immediately” domains are
“”, “safe”, “”. They’re made to make
administration of the servers simpler. Whether or not it represents divisions in your
firm, or doc standing, or entry stage, or safety stage, be very,
very cautious earlier than utilizing a couple of area title for a couple of kind of
doc. bear in mind that you could conceal many net servers inside one obvious net
server utilizing redirection and proxying.

Oh, and do take into consideration your area title. In case your title just isn’t cleaning soap, will
you wish to be known as “cleaning” even when you might have switched your
product line to one thing else. (With apologies to whoever owns cleaning at
the second).


Holding URIs in order that they’ll nonetheless be round in 2, 20 or 200 and even
2000 years is clearly not so simple as it sounds. Nonetheless, all around the Internet,
site owners are making selections which is able to make it actually troublesome for
themselves sooner or later. Typically, it is because they’re utilizing instruments whose
activity is seen as to current the most effective web site within the second, and nobody has
evaluated what’s going to occur to the hyperlinks when issues change. The message right here
is, nonetheless, that many, many issues can change and your URIs can and may
keep the identical. They solely can if you concentrate on the way you design them.

See additionally:

(again to Etiquette for server administrators, on
to Structure of your work)


How can I take away the file extensions

…from my URIs in a sensible file-based net server?

In case you are utilizing, for instance, Apache, you may set it as much as do content material
negotiation. You retain the file extension (equivalent to .png) on the file (e.g.
mydog.png), however check with the online useful resource with out it. Apache
then checks the listing for all information with that title and any extension, and
it could actually additionally decide the most effective one out of a set (e.g. GIF and PNG). (You do
not must put several types of file in numerous directories, in
reality the content material negotiation will not work should you do.)

  • Arrange your server to do content material negotiation
  • Make references all the time to the URI with out the extension

References which do have the extension on will nonetheless work however is not going to
enable your server to pick the most effective of presently accessible and future

(Actually, mydog, mydog.png and
mydog.gif are every legitimate net sources. mydog is
content-type-generic. mydog.png and mydog.gif are

After all, if you’re constructing your individual server, then utilizing a database to
relate persistent identifiers to their present type is a really clear concept —
although beware the unbounded progress of your database.

Corridor of flame — story 1: Channel 7

Throughout 1999,
was a web page I discovered documenting faculty closings as a result of snow. A substitute for
ready for them to scroll previous the underside of the TV display screen! I put a pointer
to it from my house web page. Come the primary massive storm of 2000, and I verify the
web page. It says,

“Closings as of .
There are presently no closings in impact. Please verify again when the
climate warrants”

Cannot be such a giant storm. Humorous the date is lacking. However then if I’m going to
the house web page of the location, there’s a massive button “faculty closings” which
takes me to which has an inventory of
many closed faculties.

Effectively, perhaps they modified the system which obtained the closings from the
definitive listing – however they didn’t want to vary the URI.

Corridor of flame — story 2: Microsoft Netmeeting

One of many smarts which got here with a rising dependency on the internet was that
functions might have built-in hyperlinks again to the producer’s website.
This has been used and abused to an important extent, however – you do must hold
the URL the identical. Simply the opposite day I attempted a hyperlink from Microsoft’s
Netmeeting 2/one thing consumer below a menu “Assist/Microsoft on the Internet/Free
stuff” and obtained an Error 404 – not discovered response from the server. They’ve
in all probability mounted it by now…

(c)1998 Tim BL

Historic notice: On the finish of the twentieth century when this was written,
“cool” was an epithet of approval notably amongst younger, indicating
trendiness, high quality, or appropriateness. Within the rush to stake our DNS
territory concerned the selection of area title and URI path had been generally
directed extra towards obvious “coolness” than towards usefulness or longevity.
This notice is an try and redirect the vitality behind the hunt for

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