Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cool URIs

The best resource identifiers don't just provide descriptions for people and machines, but are designed with simplicity, stability and manageability in mind, as explained by Tim Berners-Lee in Cool URIs don't change and by the W3C Team in Common HTTP Implementation Problems (sections 1 and 3):

Simplicity.
Short, mnemonic URIs will not break as easily when sent in emails and are in general easier to remember, e.g. when debugging your Semantic Web server.
Stability.
Once you set up a URI to identify a certain resource, it should remain this way as long as possible. Think about the next ten years. Maybe twenty. Keep implementation-specific bits and pieces such as .php and .asp out of your URIs, you may want to change technologies later.
Manageability.
Issue your URIs in a way that you can manage. One good practice is to include the current year in the URI path, so that you can change the URI-schema each year without breaking older URIs. Keeping all 303 URIs on a dedicated subdomain, e.g. http://id.example.com/alice, eases later migration of the URI-handling subsystem.
Please, keep this in mind when assigning, generating, etc. URIs because then you're cool!
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