[uf-discuss] "Casual Web Services" and Well Designed Urls

Mike Schinkel mikeschinkel at gmail.com
Sat Oct 14 02:02:11 PDT 2006

To all:

I just read the email about a "Spread the Semantic Web" campaign and it made
me think it was important that I go ahead and present the following idea to
the microformat group. 

I recently started working on a project I'm calling "Well Designed Urls"
(http:///www.welldesignedurls.org/) that has been a pet issue of mine for a
long time. See my Aug 2005 blog post: 


The project includes a wiki like http://www.microformats.org/wiki and
planned blog and it's mission is to:

1.) Promote the use of Well Designed Urls by website owners/developers, 
2.) Promote having vendors design tools that make Well Designed Urls easy to
3.) Provide best practices for URL structure design and implementation, and
4.) Provide resources to make it easy to implement Web Designed Urls in web

I think "Well Designed Urls" have a lot of benefits in general, but I
believe they especially go hand-in-hand with Microformats. The reason I see
those two aligned is I believe we'll soon see an evolution towards what I'll

   Casual Web Services (think: "Structured Screen Scraping") 

I believe this evolution towards "Casual Web Services" will see the line
between HTML web pages and REST-based web services blurring into no line at
all.  Since the URL structure of a REST-based web services typically becomes
an important part of the API, HTML web pages will need Well Designed Urls in
order to operate effectively as REST-based web services. If I am correct
about this, it is important that we sooner than later start promoting Well
Designed Urls as well as crystalizing a set of best practices for URL
structure design. 

At least that my opinion and I am hoping you each concur. Thoughts?

-Mike Schinkel

P.S. One way to try and make a simple point about this is consider the
"rel-tag" microformat.  As per the spec: "The last path component of the URL
is the text of the tag."  Are you aware this is very difficult if not
impossible to implement on a standard Microsoft IIS5/6-based web server
using ASP, ASP.NET, or even PHP without a 3rd party product (ISAPI Rewrite
is one.) 

Unfortunately, and I'm only going by gut feeling here, over 90% of shared
hosting companies on the web will not support ISAPI Rewrite or another other
clean URL solution. Shining a light on the need for good clean URL design
could create enough demand that hosting companies would look for a solution.
Further, it could cause Microsoft, content management software vendors, and
other web app vendors to realize they really do need to incorporate clean
URLs into their products and stop treating URLs as if they were both
invisible and irrelevent to end users. 

Again, I hope you share my opinion.

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