[whatwg] URN or protocol attribute

Brett Zamir brettz9 at yahoo.com
Thu Jun 3 22:04:57 PDT 2010

On 6/4/2010 12:59 PM, Brett Zamir wrote:
> On 3/11/2010 10:44 AM, Brett Zamir wrote:
>> On 3/11/2010 10:31 AM, Ian Hickson wrote:
>>> I would recommend following a pattern somewhat like the Web's initial
>>> development: create a proof of concept, and convince people that 
>>> it's what
>>> they want. That's the best way to get a feature adopted. This is 
>>> described
>>> in more detail in the FAQ:
>>> http://wiki.whatwg.org/wiki/FAQ#Is_there_a_process_for_adding_new_features_to_a_specification.3F 
>> Ok, fair enough. I think I'll try that as a browser extension <snip>
> Just as a follow-up, I have now made a Firefox extension which 
> supports two attributes on <a/>: "uris" and "alternateURIs", whereby 
> the former takes precedence over "href", and the latter are accessible 
> only by right-clicking links (though potentially discoverable by 
> custom styling of such links (automatable by the extension)).
> My thought is that sites which have the following goals may be 
> particularly interested:
> 1) Those wishing to maintain objectivity and refrain from endorsing 
> specific sites, e.g., governments, news institutions, scholars, or 
> sites like Wikipedia. Even for a site's internal links, use of 
> "alternateURIs" could offer convenience (e.g., Wikipedia would no 
> doubt wish to continue to use href to refer to its own ISBN page by 
> default, but could use the "alternateURIs" attribute to allow 
> right-clicks on the link to activate the URN link which in turn 
> activates their chosen default handler, e.g., Amazon, Google Books, 
> etc.). The same could be done for music, etc.
> 2) giving full user choice as to how to view the data (especially 
> useful for information of common and particular interest to the site 
> viewers, e.g., links to the Bible in a religious forum)
> 3) those wishing to try out new protocols of whatever type (not only 
> URNs), such as chatting protocols, whether installed via web or 
> browser extension, as the proposed markup gives them a convenient 
> fall-back to "href", so they don't have to have dead links for those 
> whose browsers do not support the protocol.
> https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/162154/

Just to elaborate a little bit further, one possible future addition 
which could further enhance this experience would be to design a 
protocol (and corresponding markup-detection mechanism), say "created:" 
or "wiki:" which would first check via HEAD request whether the page 
were created or not, and then style the link accordingly and possibly 
alter the URL to lead directly to the editing or alternatively, it could 
make HEAD requests to try out a sequence of URLs, e.g., checking whether 
Citizendium had an article, and if not, creating a link to the Wikipedia 
article if present. While this could be done potentially via the server 
(e.g., this extension for Mediawiki: 
http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Extension:BADI_Pages_Created_Links ), I 
believe allowing client-side markup to do it would facilitate use of 
this potential more widely, allowing wikis or open-forums to link with 
one another in a way which prevents wasted visits by their users.

Although URNs could also be used (as supported already potentially in 
the above extension) to try to find encyclopedic articles (e.g., 
urn:name:pizza), or better yet, through a new protocol which could 
suggest intended uses of the information (e.g., 
find:urn:name:pizza?category=order, find:urn:name:pizza?category=define, 
etc.) and thereby avoiding hard-coding information, the "created:" 
suggestion above could give authors more control than they have now if 
they did want to suggest a particular path-way.


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