Within a object whose URI is well
defined, the URI of another object
may be given in abbreviated form,
where parts of the two URIs are the
same. This allows objects within
a group to refer to each other without
requiring the space for a complete
reference, and it incidentally allows
the group of objects to be moved
without changing any references.
It must be emphasized that when a
reference is passed in anything other
than a well controlled context, the
full form must always be used.
In the World-Wide Web applications,
the context URI is that of the document
or object containing a reference.
In this case partial URIs can be
generated in virtual objects or stored
in real objects, without the need
for dramatic change if the higher-order
parts of a hierarchical naming system
are modified. Apart from terseness,
this gives greater robustness to
practical systems, by enabling information
hiding between system components.
The partial form relies on a property
of the URI syntax that certain characters
("/") and certain path elements ("..",
".") have a significance reserved
for representing a hierarchical space,
and must be recognized as such by
both clients and servers.
A partial form can be distinguished
from an absolute form in that the
latter must have a colon and that
colon must occur before any reserved
characters. Systems not requiring
partial forms should not use any
unencoded slashes in their naming
schemes. If they do, absolute URIs
will still work, but confusion may
result. (See note on Gopher below).
The rules for the use of a partial
name relative to the URI of the
- If the scheme parts are different,
the whole absolute URI must be given.
Otherwise, the scheme is omitted,
- If the partial URI starts with a
non-zero number of consecutive slashes,
then everything from the context
URI up to (but not including) the
first occurrence of exactly the same
number of consecutive slashes which
has no greater number of consecutive
slashes anywhere to the right of
it is taken to be the same and so
prepended to the partial URL to form
the full URL. Otherwise:
- The last part of the path of the
context URI (anything following the
rightmost slash) is removed, and
the given partial URI appended in
its place, and then:
- Within the result, all occurrences
of "xxx/../" or "/." are recursively
removed, where xxx, ".." and "."
are complete path elements.
Note: Trailing slashesIf a path of the context locator
ends in slash, partial URIs are treated
differently to the URI with the same
path but without a trailing slash.
The trailing slash indicates a void
segment of the path.
The gopher system does not have the
concept of relative URIs, and the
gopher community currently allows
/ as data characters in gopher URIs
without escaping them to %2F. Relative
forms may not in general be used
for documents served by gopher servers.
If they are used, then WWW software
assumes, normally correctly, that
in fact they do have hierarchical
significance despite the specifications.
The use of HTTP rather than gopher
protocol is however recommended.
ExamplesIn the context of URI
the partial URIs would expand as
and in the context of the URI
the results would be exactly the