Query parts in Linked Data URIs considered harmful

29. Mai 2011 um 01:40 Keine Kommentare

The generic syntax of URI (and of IRI with slightly different definition of the elements) is:

<scheme name> : <hierarchical part> [ ? <query> ] [ # <fragment> ]

RDF is based on “URI references” which have a different syntax, but all practical RDF data should follow the generic URI syntax. This is also implied by the Linked Data Principles which encourage you to use HTTP URIs. Furthermore it is a good advice not to include fragments in your URIs if you care about coexistence of the Web and the Semantic Web. Yes, there is RDF data with fragment parts and the so called Hash URIs are even given as one design pattern, but you can avoid a lot of trouble if you use URIs without them. By the way, fragment identifiers are also used a lot in JavaScript-based web applications that spoil the whole concept of REST as described in this recent in-depth article on Hash URIs.

I would even go further and say that well-designed URIs for Linked Data should also forgo the query part. A clean URI to be used as identifier in Linked Data should stick to this limited generic syntax:

http: <hierarchical part>

I do not argue to disallow URIs with query part, but I wonder how much they are really used and needed for resources other than Web resources. Especially URIs for non-information resources, should not have a query part. Most web applications will not distinguish between these two:

http://example.org?foo=1&bar=2

http://example.org?bar=2&foo=1

These are different URIs but equivalent URLs. Choosing URIs that are not equivalent to other URIs in common non-RDF applications is a good advice, isn’t it? If you choose a cleaner URI like http://example.org/foobar you could use additional query parts to refer to different representations (information resources) and services around the resource that is referenced by the base URI.

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