URN status? (was Re: Public Identifiers)

W. Eliot Kimber eliot at dns.isogen.com
Sun Sep 20 00:40:59 BST 1998

As a result of prodding by Terry Allen (which I shouldn't have needed), I
did a little research into URNs (starting with

My conclusions from this research are:

1. The URN people seemed to have put a lot of good thought into the problem
and have developed what appear to be pretty solid proposals and/or
explorations of problems yet to be solved.

2. That the proposal for using DNS to map URN name spaces to resolvers
seems reasonable and could probably lead to a reasonable URN resolution
infrastructure given three things:
  - Support in DNS servers for the proposed new records (don't know what the
    status of this is)
  - Support in clients for using the new records (I assume this means 
    things like Web browers--again, don't know the status)
  - People to set up servers for resolving particular name spaces (e.g.,
    PURL-type servers)

None of these seem beyond the realm of possibility, but it is a lot to get
without centralized coordination.

3. That existing naming schemes such as SGML formal public IDs can be used
within a URN context if you're willing to escape lots of special characters
(but we're used to that with URLs anyway).

4. That URNs cannot be generally used today because there is no
generally-available resolution service.  There is a "Real Soon Now" promise
of a service, at least experimentally, but no indication from what I found
that one is available for general use.


<Address HyTime=bibloc>
W. Eliot Kimber, Senior Consulting SGML Engineer
ISOGEN International Corp.
2200 N. Lamar St., Suite 230, Dallas, TX 75202.  214.953.0004

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