Raymond Chen has some thought experiments useful for discovering various kinds of stupidity in software design:
Tim Berners-Lee's principles of Web design includes my favorite: Test of Independent Invention. This has a thought experiment containing the construction of the MMM (Multi-Media Mesh) with MRIs (Media Resource Identifiers) and MMTP (Muli-Media Transport Protocol).
The Internet design principles (RFC 1958) includes the Robustness Principle: be strict when sending and tolerant when receiving. A good one, but applied too liberally can lead to interop issues. For instance, consider web browsers. Imagine one browser becomes so popular that web devs create web pages and just test out their pages in this popular browser. They don't ensure their pages conform to standards and accidentally end up depending on the manner in which this popular browser tolerantly accepts non-standard input. This non-standard behavior ends up as de facto standard and future updates to the standard essentially has had decisions made for it.
Windows allows for application protocols in which, through the registry, you specify a URL scheme and a command line to have that URL passed to your application. Its an easy way to hook a webbrowser up to your application. Anyone can read the doc above and then walk through the registry and pick out the application protocols but just from that info you can't tell what the application expects these URLs to look like. I did a bit of research on some of the application protocols I've seen which is listed below. Good places to look for information on URI schemes: Wikipedia URI scheme, and ESW Wiki UriSchemes.
|search-ms||Windows Search Protocol||
The search-ms application protocol is a convention for querying the Windows Search index. The protocol enables applications, like Microsoft Windows Explorer, to query the index with
parameter-value arguments, including property arguments, previously saved searches, Advanced Query Syntax, Natural Query Syntax, and language code identifiers (LCIDs) for both the Indexer and
the query itself. See the MSDN docs for search-ms for more info.
From the OneNote help:
ESW Wiki Info on callto
Skype callto info
NetMeeting callto info
Tells iTunes to subscribe to an indicated podcast. iTunes documentation.
C:\Program Files\iTunes\iTunes.exe /url "%1"
|Magnet||Magnet URI||Magnet URL scheme described by Wikipedia. Magnet URLs identify a resource by a hash of that resource so that when used in P2P scenarios no central authority is necessary to create URIs for a resource.|
RFC 2368 - Mailto URL Scheme.
Opens mail programs with new message with some parameters filled in, such as the to, from, subject, and body.
Example: mailto:?firstname.lastname@example.org&subject=test&body=Test of mailto syntax
MSDN describes associated protocols.
Wikipedia describes MMS.
"C:\Program Files\Windows Media Player\wmplayer.exe" "%L"
Also appears to be related to MMS cellphone messages: MMS IETF Draft.
Opens SecondLife to the specified location, user, etc.
SecondLife Wiki description of the URL scheme.
"C:\Program Files\SecondLife\SecondLife.exe" -set SystemLanguage en-us -url "%1"
Open Skype to call a user or phone number.
Wikipedia summary of skype URL scheme
"C:\Program Files\Skype\Phone\Skype.exe" "/uri:%l"
|skype-plugin||Skype Plugin Protocol Handler||
Something to do with adding plugins to skype? Maybe.
"C:\Program Files\Skype\Plugin Manager\skypePM.exe" "/uri:%1"
Opens TortoiseSVN to browse the repository URL specified in the URL.
C:\Program Files\TortoiseSVN\bin\TortoiseProc.exe /command:repobrowser /path:"%1"
Wikipedia describes webcal URL scheme.
Webcal URL scheme description.
A URL that starts with webcal:// points to an Internet location that contains a calendar in iCalendar format.
"C:\Program Files\Windows Calendar\wincal.exe" /webcal "%1"
Provides access to some Zune operations such as podcast subscription (via Zune Insider).
"c:\Program Files\Zune\Zune.exe" -link:"%1"
|feed||Outlook Add RSS Feed||
Identify a resource that is a feed such as Atom or RSS. Implemented by Outlook to add the indicated feed to Outlook.
Feed URI scheme pre-draft document
"C:\PROGRA~2\MICROS~1\Office12\OUTLOOK.EXE" /share "%1"
RFC 3860 IM URI scheme description
Like mailto but for instant messaging clients.
Registered by Office Communicator but I was unable to get it to work as described in RFC 3860.
"C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office Communicator\Communicator.exe" "%1"
RFC 5341 - tel URI scheme IANA assignment
RFC 3966 - tel URI scheme description
Call phone numbers via the tel URI scheme. Implemented by Office Communicator.
"C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office Communicator\Communicator.exe" "%1"
While re-reading Cryptonomicon I thought about what kind of information I'm leaking by posting links on Delicious. At work I don't post any Intranet websites for fear of revealing anything but I wondered if not posting would reveal anything. For instance, if I'm particularly busy at work might I post less indicating something about the state of the things I work on? I got an archive of my Delicious posts via the Delicious API and then ran it through a tool I made to create a couple of tables which I've graphed on Many Eyes
Information about URI Fragments, the portion of URIs that follow the '#' at the end and that are used to navigate within a document, is scattered throughout various documents which I usually have to hunt down. Instead I'll link to them all here.
Definitions. Fragments are defined in the URI RFC which states that they're used to identify a secondary resource that is related to the primary resource identified by the URI as a subset of the primary, a view of the primary, or some other resource described by the primary. The interpretation of a fragment is based on the mime type of the primary resource. Tim Berners-Lee notes that determining fragment meaning from mime type is a problem because a single URI may contain a single fragment, however over HTTP a single URI can result in the same logical resource represented in different mime types. So there's one fragment but multiple mime types and so multiple interpretations of the one fragment. The URI RFC says that if an author has a single resource available in multiple mime types then the author must ensure that the various representations of a single resource must all resolve fragments to the same logical secondary resource. Depending on which mime types you're dealing with this is either not easy or not possible.
HTTP. In HTTP when URIs are used, the fragment is not included. The General Syntax section of the HTTP standard says it uses the definitions of 'URI-reference' (which includes the fragment), 'absoluteURI', and 'relativeURI' (which don't include the fragment) from the URI RFC. However, the 'URI-reference' term doesn't actually appear in the BNF for the protocol. Accordingly the headers like 'Request-URI', 'Content-Location', 'Location', and 'Referer' which include URIs are defined with 'absoluteURI' or 'relativeURI' and don't include the fragment. This is in keeping with the original fragment definition which says that the fragment is used as a view of the original resource and consequently only needed for resolution on the client. Additionally, the URI RFC explicitly notes that not including the fragment is a privacy feature such that page authors won't be able to stop clients from viewing whatever fragments the client chooses. This seems like an odd claim given that if the author wanted to selectively restrict access to portions of documents there are other options for them like breaking out the parts of a single resource to which the author wishes to restrict access into separate resources.
HTML. In HTML, the HTML mime type RFC defines HTML's fragment use which consists of fragments referring to elements with a corresponding 'id' attribute or one of a particular set of elements with a corresponding 'name' attribute. The HTML spec discusses fragment use additionally noting that the names and ids must be unique in the document and that they must consist of only US-ASCII characters. The ID and NAME attributes are further restricted in section 6 to only consist of alphanumerics, the hyphen, period, colon, and underscore. This is a subset of the characters allowed in the URI fragment so no encoding is discussed since technically its not needed. However, practically speaking, browsers like FireFox and Internet Explorer allow for names and ids containing characters outside of the defined set including characters that must be percent-encoded to appear in a URI fragment. The interpretation of percent-encoded characters in fragments for HTML documents is not consistent across browsers (or in some cases within the same browser) especially for the percent-encoded percent.
Text. Text/plain recently got a fragment definition that allows fragments to refer to particular lines or characters within a text document. The scheme no longer includes regular expressions, which disappointed me at first, but in retrospect is probably good idea for increasing the adoption of this fragment scheme and for avoiding the potential for ubiquitous DoS via regex. One of the authors also notes this on his blog. I look forward to the day when this scheme is widely implemented.
XML. XML has the XPointer framework to define its fragment structure as noted by the XML mime type definition. XPointer consists of a general scheme that contains subschemes that identify a subset of an XML document. Its too bad such a thing wasn't adopted for URI fragments in general to solve the problem of a single resource with multiple mime type representations. I wrote more about XPointer when I worked on hacking XPointer into IE.
SVG and MPEG. Through the Media Fragments Working Group I found a couple more fragment scheme definitions. SVG's fragment scheme is defined in the SVG documentation and looks similar to XML's. MPEG has one defined but I could only find it as an ISO document "Text of ISO/IEC FCD 21000-17 MPEG-12 FID" and not as an RFC which is a little disturbing.
AJAX. AJAX websites have used fragments as an escape hatch for two issues that I've seen. The first is getting a unique URL for versions of a page that are produced on the client by script. The fragment may be changed by script without forcing the page to reload. This goes outside the rules of the standards by using HTML fragments in a fashion not called out by the HTML spec. but it does seem to be inline with the spirit of the fragment in that it is a subview of the original resource and interpretted client side. The other hack-ier use of the fragment in AJAX is for cross domain communication. The basic idea is that different frames or windows may not communicate in normal fashions if they have different domains but they can view each other's URLs and accordingly can change their own fragments in order to send a message out to those who know where to look. IMO this is not inline with the spirit of the fragment but is rather a cool hack.
When throwing together an HTML page at work that other people will view, I stick the following line in for style. Its IE's error page CSS and contaits a subtle gradient background that I like.This uses the res URI scheme. You can see the other interesting IE resources using my resource list tool.