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It is not URL, it is URI
URL has been deprecated...

 1:00 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

RFCs such as 2717 ("Registration Procedures for URL Scheme Names") and 2718 ("Guidelines for new URL Schemes") should both be generalized to refer to "URI schemes" rather that "URL schemes" and, after refinement, moved forward as Best Current Practice in IETF.

URIs, URLs, and URNs: Clarifications and Recommendations 1.0



 1:30 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

W3C Note 21 September 2001

It's been deprecated for quite a few years now though. The standards have applied best practice by trying to refrain from overuse and misuse of the term. If you spend any amount of time reading standards you already know this to be true. The HTML 4.01 Specification [w3.org] is a realization of that and a case in point. Back on December 24, 1999 when that spec was published you find an early attempt at clarification ...

Note. Most readers may be familiar with the term "URL" and not the term "URI". URLs form a subset of the more general URI naming scheme.

Purists have adopted "URI" and practice using as often as possible, gently correcting others on occasion. I try to use URI as often as possible in discussion but I have also used "URL". Most people just aren't using "URI" though. Try to search WebmasterWorld for URI in the context of a phrase and more often that not you are going to have to search again using terms like "url" or perhaps even "link" --

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions. But in light of this discussion, my New Year resolution will be to remain constant in my use of "URI"

Thnanks, P1R ;)


 1:36 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

Try to search WebmasterWorld...

lol! A small portion of those references are mine. ;)


Most people just aren't using "URI" though.

That's why I start these topics for discussion. ;)


 1:48 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

... and I thank you for that, you freaky purist.

We're going to have to get Brett to add it to the Glossary [webmasterworld.com] here though.


 2:30 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think folks would be confused by the W3C definitions of URI, URN, and URL. It's even a bit confusing to me after reading it a number of times.

Part of the definition says: "A URL is a type of URI that identifies a resource via a representation of its primary access mechanism..."

So, both URL's and URN's are encapsulated under the term URI?


 4:55 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's silly. The world uses URL. You have to use URL when dealing with clients and customers... unless you want to be a purist and get technical about it and correct them... in which case they won't be your customer much longer.

There's no point nitpicking or backtracking at this point. The world has decided it's URL... so, it's URL.


 5:04 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

So W3C is asking people to be less specific? Is this a first?


 5:07 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

I use URI with folks I'm sure understand it; else, it's URL.


 5:09 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

I use URI with folks I'm sure understand it; else, it's URL.

So which do you use in mixed company? :)


 5:14 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

Use URL when talking to common folk. Using or correcting people to use URI just makes you look like an arrogant uber geek prick -- even if you're correct.

What matters is the ability to quickly and easily communicate with your clients. The only tech term that comes to mind that's commonly misused and bothers me is "hacker." The media have always used the term hacker for cracker (not talking about white pasty Caucasians like myself). Now that's always bugged me.


 5:54 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

There's no point nitpicking or backtracking at this point. The world has decided it's URL... so, it's URL.

I'm with you Critter, what the heck does URI stand for anyway? I know URL stands for Uniform Resource Locater. Does URI stand for Uniform Resource Indicator? LOL ;-)



 5:57 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

Fortunately, I've never needed to use any version of URI/URL/URN with clients ... I simply refer to the "address", if it comes up at all.

I regularly use URI when I want to look like an arrogant uber geek prick, though. ;)

My basic, internal distinction has been: URL ends with a file extension or directory and URI ends with a parameter.

Locator = URL = http: //www.example.com/index.html
Indicator = URI = http: //www.example.com/index.html?pg=cart


 5:58 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

Use URL when talking to common folk.

To me, common folk would be my clients who are not savvy to the terminology. I would rephrase the above to be...

Use Web Address when talking to common folk.

Most people don't know what a URL is but they sure as heck know what a web address is. ;)

Its URI, not URL!

Call me whatever you want. ;)


 6:06 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

From the W3C note linked in the original post:
An http URI is a URL.

That is, the common usage of "URL" is correct.


 6:23 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

What's wrong with calling it 'that underlined clicky thing'?


 6:27 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

I tend to use "URL" because the two are synonymous in most contexts relating to web resources and it is in more common usage.

Eventually, I'm hoping that we will be seeing more about IRIs rather than just plain old URIs. IRIs are an important step to truly internationalizing the web.

More information here:


Another good document which is surprisingly accessible and explains the URI/URL/URN distinction is the RFC at the IETF:



 6:32 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

Most people don't know what a URL is.
Many people are sure as heck they know what a web address is.

Quick reference for a "non-techie" definition:
( to me this is as if someone didn't know how to dial long distance )

Question: What's the URL of the webpage/site?
Answer: What? What's a URL?

Question 2: Okay, the address of the website... what is it?
Answer 2: Oh, it's website@example.com

( This is where I usually snap. )

Question 3 ( out of three ): What's the domain name, what's the internet address, not the email address, but the stuff you enter in your IE6 next to where it says "address" to get there?
Answer 3: ... oh... I'm not sure...

If the email address had a credible lead on what the domain could be I take what I can get and continue from there. Note that this has happened to me with people who've actually used MySpace, Google, and a variety of other Web 2.0 sites for years.

We didn't get to the URI part.
I'll leave that for next year.

[edited by: Miamacs at 6:34 pm (utc) on Jan. 11, 2007]


 6:40 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

Oopos. Thanks for the RFC link, encyclo.
Indicator = URI = http: //www.example.com/index.html?pg=cart
is wrong, despite my arrogant uber geekdom. Should be:
Identifier = URI = http: //www.example.com/index.html?pg=cart

[edited by: StupidScript at 6:40 pm (utc) on Jan. 11, 2007]


 6:45 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

Your clients know what IE6 means. Sheesh, you're lucky.

Mine tend to just type a url into a 'box' that comes with their home page. 5 times out of ten this is the Yahoo or Google search box, which then takes them to the Yahoo or Google SERPs page, upon which they click on the top result (hopefully) and eventually get to their web site.

You know when you look at the keywords in your server stat logs and it says www. domain.com? That's my clients.


 8:05 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

bouncybunny, we must share a lot of the same clients, because you just described my clients. I've watched them do it. If I suggest they bookmark it in their browser, they gush over the idea like I'm a genius. URI/URN/URL .... nope, doesn't fly.

If you even know what URI means you're part of a teeny-tiny minority of internet users. If you actually understand the difference between URI, URL, and URN, you probably shouldn't even be permitted to speak to non-geeks.


 10:36 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

I was hoping someone would have summerized it here for us semi-nerds. I read the document several times and could not understand the difference between URI and URL. Any help?


 11:03 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'll give it a whack ... :)

It's actually really forward-looking. The syntax is designed to grow (incredibly) to include non-Internet "resources", like people and books.

URI = top level = Uniform Resource Identifier
- All "resources" fit under this umbrella
- In addition, URI can be classified as both locators and names
a compact string of characters for identifying an abstract or physical resource
Examples: Any URL or URN; "red packages", "successful corporation"; etc.

URL = subset of URI = Uniform Resource Locator
- Information on "where to find" a resource
refers to the subset of URI that identify resources via a representation of their primary access mechanism (e.g., their network "location"), rather than identifying the resource by name or by some other attribute(s) of that resource
Examples: telnet://box.some.edu; mailto:someone@some.com; "in the store on the corner"; etc.

URN = subset of URI = Uniform Resource Name
- A unique name for any resource
refers to the subset of URI that are required to remain globally unique and persistent even when the resource ceases to exist or becomes unavailable
Examples: "StupidScript"; "the President of the United States"; Apple Inc.; Europe; etc.

Helpful? Correct?

[edited by: StupidScript at 11:06 pm (utc) on Jan. 11, 2007]


 11:43 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

Insofar as it is impossible to guess the difference in meanings, clearly the names are entirely arbitrary (and could be switched around quite meaningfully).

This being the case, the choice comes down to whether you are concise by nature or verbose by nature. If you are concise, use "URL", if you are verbose use "URI" (it has two syllables). It's also fair to say that, using "URL" in a web context is unlikely to be wrong.



 5:31 am on Jan 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

If you work in an office, and want the women to laugh about you when you leave, use URI.
If not, use web address.


 3:53 pm on Jan 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

If you want to be imprecise, use URI. If you want to be precise, use URL.

Web addresses are, in fact, URLs. They are also URIs, but so are a lot of things.

Using "URI" to talk about web page addresses is like using "mammal" to refer specifically to "horse". A horse is a mammal, but so are a lot of things.


 6:20 pm on Jan 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

sorry to be nit-picking, but most of the IETF references mentioned above are outdated. current documents are:

[ietf.org...] (replaces RFC2396)

Internationalized Resource Identifiers (IRIs):

URI schema registration:
[ietf.org...] (replaces RFC2717 and RFC2718)

they are quite worth reading.


 7:08 pm on Jan 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Kind of like the argument of whether it is buck naked or butt naked. Purists will insist on buck. :P


 9:11 pm on Jan 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

nonanet, do you think the updated documents will provide different basic definitions of what URI/URL/URN are acronyms of? What's your take on the plain-text interpretations of their functions?

(BTW, kaled, "URL" is not a word, it's an acronym ... it's pronounced "you-are-ell", not "earl". Both URL and URI have the same number of syllables. ;) Try going into a meeting at IBM and pronouncing their acronym "ibbem". Just FYI, since we're engaging in a discussion about acronym useage.)


 9:14 pm on Jan 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

URL is not a word, it's an acronym.

Isn't it an Abbreviation?

<abbr title="Uniform Resource Locator">URL</abbr>


 9:54 pm on Jan 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Acronym: a word formed from the initial letters or groups of letters of words in a set phrase or series of words, as Wac from Women's Army Corps, OPEC from Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or loran from long-range navigation.

Abbreviation: a shortened or contracted form of a word or phrase, used to represent the whole, as Dr. for Doctor, U.S. for United States, lb. for pound.
from Dictionary.com

[edited by: StupidScript at 9:58 pm (utc) on Jan. 12, 2007]

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