[whatwg] URN or protocol attribute

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Wed Mar 10 17:19:48 PST 2010

On Mon, 8 Feb 2010, Brett Zamir wrote:
> Internet Explorer has an attribute on anchor elements for URNs:
> http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms534710%28VS.85%29.aspx
> This has not caught on in other browsers, though I believe it could be a very
> powerful feature once the feature was supported with a UI that handled URNs
> (as with adding support for custom protocols).
> Imagine, for example, to take a link like:
> <a href="http://www.amazon.com/...(shortened)...."
> urn="isbn:9210020251">United Nations charter</a>
> The default behavior would simply follow the link, but if a user agent 
> supported the @urn attribute, and if the browser (or browser add-ons) 
> had registered support for that URN namespace identifier (here "isbn"), 
> it could, for example, open a dialog to ask which handler to use (or 
> whether to always use it), it could ask or otherwise allow in 
> preferences an HTML page (with wildcards) where the attribute's content 
> could be passed, or it could give the option whenever the user 
> right-clicked to choose which handler they wanted to use for a given 
> link.

Does this match IE's behaviour with the urn="" attribute?

Historically, browsers that have wanted to offer dedicated services for 
specific features, e.g. the iPhone handling map views using a dedicated 
Maps application, have done so by simply overriding parts of the URL 
space, e.g. in that case detecting when a page is on the Google Maps site 
and parsing the URL locally instead of sending it to the remote site.

Is there really a need for a more dedicated mechanism? It's not clear that 
there is much pent-up demand for this.

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

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