URN Madness (was re: Overloaded URIs must GO!)

Jerome McDonough jmcdonou at library.berkeley.edu
Fri May 28 20:21:16 BST 1999

At 01:24 PM 5/28/1999 -0400, David Megginson wrote:
>(I notice that the URN drafts call these "namespaces" rather than
>"schemes", so we will have to be careful to distinguish XML namespaces
>from URN namespaces.)
>At www.ietf.org, I find the following:
>1. http://www.ietf.org/internet-drafts/draft-ietf-urn-nid-req-08.txt
>  This document lists the requirements for registering a URN
>  namespace.

[The documents you don't need at the moment deleted.]
>Am I missing some other documents?  As far as I can see, the only URN
>namespace that is proposed in an IETF draft is the IETF namespace, and
>I cannot use a URN in the IETF URN namespace to create my own XML
>Where can I find the IETF draft documents describing URN namespaces
>built on DNS, ISBN, UUIDs, etc.?  Perhaps I just haven't looked in the
>right place.

No, you're looking in the right place, it's just that IETF drafts
for particular URN namespaces (other than IETF's own namespace) don't
exist yet.  The Internet Draft "URN Namespace Definition Mechanisms" that you
mention above contains the details on how name spaces will be registered
with IANA (in brief, and to quote the draft, "In a
nutshell, a template for the definition of the namespace is completed
for deposit with IANA, and a NID is assigned."  The template is mailed
to the urn-nid at apps.ietf.org mailing group for discussion, and if it's
a formal URN namespace proposal, after two weeks discussion the template
information gets issued as an RFC.).  Once a URN namespace is assigned
by IANA, the people/organization in charge of the namespace makes the
rules about how identifiers are assigned within that namespace.  Since
the Internet Draft hasn't gone to RFC status yet, the mechanisms for handling
this namespace assignment aren't completely in place.  So, people
like me who are already playing with URNs are using the 'experimental
namespace' described in the Internet Draft, e.g., for a page image file
on a project I'm working on, the URN would look like:


where x-ucb is the URN namespace, and as it's experimental, there's no
guarantee there won't be a collision of namespaces with somebody else (no
big deal for me at this point, given how I'm using URNs).

Once the Internet Draft goes to RFC status, I expect quite a few people
will start registering formal URN namespaces, and at that point, you'll start
seeing a lot of non-standards track RFCs for URN namespaces like ISBNs, 
SICIs, DOIs, etc. starting to appear.  Again from the Internet Draft, "URN 
namespace registrations will be posted in the anonymous FTP directory

Jerome McDonough -- jmcdonou at library.Berkeley.EDU  |  (......)
Library Systems Office, 386 Doe, U.C. Berkeley     |  \ *  * /
Berkeley, CA 94720-6000    (510) 642-5168          |  \  <>  /
"Well, it looks easy enough...."                   |   \ -- /  SGNORMPF!!!
         -- From the Famous Last Words file        |    ||||

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