Network Working Group T. Berners-Lee
Request for Comments: 2396 MIT/LCS
Updates: 1808, 1738 R. Fielding
Category: Standards Track U.C. Irvine
Uniform Resource Identifiers (URI): Generic Syntax
Status of this Memo
This document specifies an Internet standards track protocol for the
Internet community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
improvements. Please refer to the current edition of the "Internet
Official Protocol Standards" (STD 1) for the standardization state
and status of this protocol. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.
Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1998). All Rights Reserved.
This paper describes a "superset" of operations that can be applied
to URI. It consists of both a grammar and a description of basic
functionality for URI. To understand what is a valid URI, both the
grammar and the associated description have to be studied. Some of
the functionality described is not applicable to all URI schemes, and
some operations are only possible when certain media types are
retrieved using the URI, regardless of the scheme used.
A Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) is a compact string of characters
for identifying an abstract or physical resource. This document
defines the generic syntax of URI, including both absolute and
relative forms, and guidelines for their use; it revises and replaces
the generic definitions in RFC 1738 and RFC 1808.
This document defines a grammar that is a superset of all valid URI,
such that an implementation can parse the common components of a URI
reference without knowing the scheme-specific requirements of every
possible identifier type. This document does not define a generative
grammar for URI; that task will be performed by the individual
specifications of each URI scheme.
RFC 2396 URI Generic Syntax August 1998
Uniform Resource Identifiers (URI) provide a simple and extensible
means for identifying a resource. This specification of URI syntax
and semantics is derived from concepts introduced by the World Wide
Web global information initiative, whose use of such objects dates
from 1990 and is described in "Universal Resource Identifiers in WWW"
[RFC1630]. The specification of URI is designed to meet the
recommendations laid out in "Functional Recommendations for Internet
Resource Locators" [RFC1736] and "Functional Requirements for Uniform
Resource Names" [RFC1737].
This document updates and merges "Uniform Resource Locators"
[RFC1738] and "Relative Uniform Resource Locators" [RFC1808] in order
to define a single, generic syntax for all URI. It excludes those
portions of RFC 1738 that defined the specific syntax of individual
URL schemes; those portions will be updated as separate documents, as
will the process for registration of new URI schemes. This document
does not discuss the issues and recommendation for dealing with
characters outside of the US-ASCII character set [ASCII]; those
recommendations are discussed in a separate document.
All significant changes from the prior RFCs are noted in Appendix G.
1.1 Overview of URI
URI are characterized by the following definitions:
Uniformity provides several benefits: it allows different types
of resource identifiers to be used in the same context, even
when the mechanisms used to access those resources may differ;
it allows uniform semantic interpretation of common syntactic
conventions across different types of resource identifiers; it
allows introduction of new types of resource identifiers
without interfering with the way that existing identifiers are
used; and, it allows the identifiers to be reused in many
different contexts, thus permitting new applications or