The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and Internet Engineering Task Force
(IETF) have created a new standard and specification to improve the
efficiency with which users leverage resources on the Web.
The standards address Uniform Resource Identifiers (URI)
Internationalized Resource Identifiers (IRI)
to such resources as documents and Web sites from all over the world, with a
few clicks. The W3C describes URIs as the “glue that holds the Web
As a replacement to the URI specification released in 1998, RFC 3986, STD 66 Uniform
Resource Identifier (URI): Generic Syntax is an IETF standard that describes
the design, syntax and resolution of URIs. It also addresses security
considerations and determines if two URIs are equivalent.
The standard features such changes as the notion that the host component of
a URI will now support domain names from all over the Web. Other technical
changes include a rule for absolute URIs with optional fragments, and a refreshed “Normalization and Comparison” section.
Its authors include W3C Director Tim Berners-Lee, who earlier created the
Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and the HyperText Markup Language (HTML)
for Web-based communication; Roy Fielding of Day Software; and Larry
Masinter of Adobe Systems.
Though still a proposed standard — and therefore a spec — by the
IETF, the RFC 3987
Internationalized Resource Identifiers (IRIs) allow users to identify Web
resources in their own language. It was developed in part by the W3C
Internationalization Working Group and was written by W3C member Martin
Durst and Michel Suignard, of Microsoft.
While the natural scripts of the world’s languages use characters other than
A-Z, the new IRI standard expands characters from a subset of US-ASCII to
the Universal Character Set (Unicode/ISO 10646). This will allow content
developers and users to identify resources in their own languages.
The W3C said it anticipates a seamless transition from URI to IRI because
every URI is already and IRI, meaning “URI users do not need to do anything
differently in order to find what they need on the Web.”
Moreover, the W3C said many of its specifications, including XML
will benefit from the IRI spec because it supports international characters.
The URI and IRI update is the latest in a line of collaboration between the
W3C and IETF. While the W3C is driving many of the most important standards
on the Web — most recently new standards for Web services — URIs predate the group.
This fact, couple with the notion that the IETF uses URIs in many of its
endeavors, is why the IETF has taken the lead on shepherding the new