URI, URL, URN, You Are What?

First off let me state, I have no clue what I’m talking about here. Now that we all know, or already knew, that, let’s get started. From what I can figure out, the basics of UR* acronyms goes a little som’n som’n like this:

A URI is HOW (the protocol), WHERE (the location of the resource, website, book, etc.), and WHAT (The name of the resource). A URL is HOW and WHERE. Finally, A URN is WHAT. This leads to the URI = URL + URN.

So how does this relate to say http://example.com/? Well, beats the hell out of me. But certainly Machines know how to read the UR* of that thing.

So just what is that thing? Um, it’s a URL … NO, it’s a URI … wait it’s a URN … NO NO NO, it’s a URI! Because it tells a Machine on the Internet HOW, WHERE, and WHAT about that resource. The resource here being http://example.com/.

“But wait”, you say, “I, and everyone else I know, including the side of the bus, say that’s a URL!”. Why yes it is a URL. But no it’s not, cause it’s a URI. A URI wouldn’t be much without a URL.

Hmmm, now I’m confused. Let me try and explain what I know, or think I know.

When you go into a library (a big building where they keep books) looking for a book, you head over to the computer, or if you live in the boonies you head to that screwed up box of drawers of cards thingy. But anyway, you look up the book name on the computer, and it gives you the name of the book, the location of the book, and how the book is organized in that location. Yes! it gave you a URI, I think it did anyway.

So all together now, <everyone>the URI is HOW (the way the books are sorted in said location), WHERE (the location of the book), and WHAT (the name of the book)</everyone>.

So in conclusion, what we all call a URL, we should be calling a URI. But everyone calls it a URL, so who cares. Call it a URI if you want to be W3 l33t, or a URL if you’re normal. It all comes down to the fact, in my opinion, all those UR* acronyms are fancy letters to make W3 documents look “official”.

And please, if I’m wrong about the above please yell at me by leaving a comment.

URI, URL, URN, You Are What? was written by


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Know: I know this! now: Now lets go teach matt how to spell ‘Know’ and ‘Now’! :-D


Missed one.

Hmmm, know I’m confused. Let me try and explain what I know, or think I know.


Wow that was confusing.

As long as it somehow works, I won’t worry about it hahahah .


You’re almost correct there.

An Uniform Resource Locator (URL) provides a concise address for the identification of an Internet resource (i.e. where) e.g. http://www.example.com/index.php An Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) provides a means to identify a single document or fragment (i.e. where and what) e.g. http://www.example.com/index.php?p=page1 And an Uniform Resource Name (URN) is used to identify an Internet resource without the scheme (i.e. without the how). They were intended to offer a persistent way of encoding a resource.

It’s all fairly esoteric and only the most pedantic would care.



“Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs, aka URLs) are short strings that identify resources in the web: documents, images, downloadable files, services, electronic mailboxes, and other resources.”

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