Re: Is this use of BASE kosher?

Murray Altheim (
Thu, 3 Aug 95 13:09:44 EDT

Owen Rees <> wrote:
>Compare this with draft-ietf-html-specv3-00.txt:
> The BASE element allows the URL of the document itself to be
> recorded in situations in which the document may be read out of
> context. URLs within the document may be in a "partial" form
> relative to this base address. The default base address is the URL
> used to retrieve the document.
>Saying that the URI in BASE is the (implied canonical or best) URL for the
>document or that it must be a working URI for the resource is too strong,
>but I think that much of the confusion would go away if it is made clear
>that the base URI is to be considered a name for the resource that
>contains it.
>An alternative would be to abolish BASE altogether! Any document
>containing BASE can be transformed to one without BASE by applying the
>relative URL rules without the need for any other context. It adds no
>power and seems to have created much confusion.
>Owen Rees

I must strongly disagree, as I have found a great deal of use of BASE in
both storing and transmitting HTML documents, precisely "recorded in
situations in which the document may be read out of context". Without the
BASE tag, how can a server administrator easily record the location of the
document without resorting to stuffing what is currently stored in the BASE
(the URL of the document) into a comment or other ambiguous container? How
can a document author send their documents via wire to the server? How can
documents be archived and then esaily restored to their correct locations?
I currently remotely dump an archive of documents into a watch folder,
which decompresses and distributes the documents via their BASE address. No

As you quoted in the specv3-00 draft, BASE is very functional. I've been
following the discussion, and I'm not sure where all the confusion is. If
it's a question of whether the URL contains the document name or is simply
a directory to the document, I would certainly vote to follow the above
quoted draft, as parsing the document name from the end to get the
directory is quite simple.

I don't see how this is all being misconstrued, ie., why the question of
fragment identifiers is even being considered: a URL with an attached
fragment ID no longer refers to the entire resource, which would IMHO
preclude its use as the "default base address [...] used to retrieve the

If the intent of BASE is matched by the draft statement as above, then I
hope this whole mess is simply in the way this intent is correctly or
incorrectly mirrored in the DTD, and not some fundamental misunderstanding
of the purpose of BASE. I cannot fathom why this thread has gone on so


Murray M. Altheim, Information Systems Analyst
National Technology Transfer Center, Wheeling, West Virginia