[whatwg] link by name instead of url

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Thu Jul 29 18:11:35 PDT 2010

On Wed, 28 Apr 2010, Eitan Adler wrote:
> Use case 1:
> A document author wants to provide a link to some site. This site has
> multiple versions of the page depending on where you live (think
> google.co.uk, google.co.hk, google.com etc)
> Use case 2:
> A document author wants to ask users to share his page via the users
> preferred social network. Something like
> Please <a href="http://facebook.com">tell your friends</a> about this site!
> Use case 3:
> A document author wants to provide a link to search for more
> information on a preferred search engine.
> I'd like to leverage the user's bookmarks in these cases by allowing
> authors to specify markup like
> case 1: <a goto="google">google</a>
> case 2: <a goto="social-network">tell your friends</a>
> case 3: <a goto="search">search!<a>
> The UA would be responsible for determining which site to link to. A 
> href could be provided as a fallback for old browsers or for sites where 
> the user did not yet make a choice.

On Wed, 28 Apr 2010, Ashley Sheridan wrote:
> case 1: I don't think a browser could be that aware of a website. While 
> you see google.co.uk and google.cn as just different language versions 
> of the same site, a browser sees two different domain names entirely. I 
> think it's a dangerous assumption to just link the two domains by their 
> first parts, as that is no guarantee that they are the same site or even 
> owned by the same people, and the whois for a domain isn't always 
> reliable as registrars often register a domain in their company name 
> rather than for the individual.
> case 2: each of these types of social sharing sites tends to have their 
> own mechanism for sharing content which is generally in the form of a 
> link. A UA would have to be aware of each specific one and the format of 
> URL to pass them. This would potentially lead to some sites not offering 
> links to share to certain websites because the UA isn't aware of them.
> case 3: I'm not sure this offers anything that a user can't already 
> easily get themselves. Most browsers now allow multiple search engines 
> to be attached and swapped in and out easily. For example, in Firefox I 
> can easily switch between searching Google, Dictionary.com or Wikipedia. 
> It wouldn't make sense for most websites to offer anything but the first 
> one out of my list of three there. Often as well, a website might have a 
> particular reason for delivering traffic to a specific search engine. A 
> site that uses Google as a mechanism for searching it's own site might 
> naturally offer this as an option to search the Web (if it offered this 
> at all, which seems a strange thing to do anyway)


Furthermore, the use cases seem to cover two different cases:

In the first case, we have a situation where one service provider is 
offering a number of services under one name, from which each user is 
expected to select one.

In the second and third cases, we have a situation where many service 
providers are offering different services under one name, from which again 
each user is expected to select one.

The first use case is easily solved: provide a canonical URL for the 
service, and have the service automatically pick one. This is what Google 
does; if you visit http://google.com/ it redirects you to the most 
appropriate domain for you.

The other two cases are more complicated. We'd have to define generic 
concepts -- "social network", "search". We'd have to have a mechanism to 
avoid sites spamming that system -- porn sites shouldn't be able to claim 
to be the user's local post office, for instance. It's not really clear to 
me how we could do that in a distributed fashion.

It could, however, be solved by a third party. If this is a problem that 
really has a market need, an independent service provider could provide a 
service whereby different sites register for a name, and a user expresses 
a preference for that name, and sites can just link to that service 

So instead of linking to Google or Yahoo!, you would link to this service 
provider with the key "search", and it woudl redirect you as needed.

Since all these use cases can already be resolved, I haven't added 
anything to the spec.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

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