FYI, revised draft URL document

Larry Masinter (
Fri, 5 Aug 1994 00:54:39 +0200

This was submitted as an internet draft, to become a proposed standard
RFC. Note that relative URLs and fragment identifiers, etc. are not
part of this draft, although they may be specified in other proposed

Uniform Resource Locators T. Berners-Lee
draft-ietf-uri-url-06.txt L. Masinter
Expires March 4, 1995 M. McCahill
August 4, 1994

Uniform Resource Locators (URL)

Status of this memo

This document is an Internet-Draft. Internet-Drafts are
working documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force
(IETF), its areas, and its working groups. Note that other
groups may also distribute working documents as

Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six
months. Internet-Drafts may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted
by other documents at any time. It is not appropriate to use
Internet-Drafts as reference material or to cite them other
than as a ``working draft'' or ``work in progress.''

To learn the current status of any Internet-Draft, please check
the 1id-abstracts.txt listing contained in the Internet-Drafts
Shadow Directories on,,, or

This Internet Draft expires March 4, 1995.

0. Abstract

This document specifies a Uniform Resource Locator (URL), the
syntax and semantics of formalized information for location and
access of resources on the Internet.

1. Introduction

The work 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", RFC 1630.

This document was written by the URI working group of the Internet
Engineering Task Force. Comments may be addressed to the editor,
Tim Berners-Lee <>, or to the URI-WG
<>. Discussions of the group are archived at

2. Recommendations

This document describes the syntax for "Uniform Resource Locators"
(URLs): a compact representation of the location and access method
for a resource available on the Internet. Just as there are many
different methods of access to resources, there are several
_schemes_ for describing the location of such resources.

The generic syntax provides a framework for new URL schemes to be
resolved using as yet undefined protocols.

The syntax is described in two parts. First, we give the syntax
rules of a completely specified URL; second, we give the rules
under which parts of the URL may be omitted in a well-defined


URLs are written as follows:


A the URL contains the name of the scheme being used (<scheme>)
followed by a colon and then a string (the <scheme-specific-part>)
whose interpretation depends on the scheme.

Scheme names consist of lower case letters "a"--"z", digits, and
the characters plus ("+"), period ("."), and hyphen ("-"). For
resiliency, programs interpreting URLs should allow upper case
letters as equivalent to lower case in scheme names (e.g., allow
"HTTP" as well as "http").

A BNF description of the URL syntax is given in Section 5.

2.2. Reserved, unsafe, and encoded characters

URLs are represented as a sequence of characters. Characters are
used to represent the 8-bit byte that corresponds to their ASCII

There is a standard way, known as `URL-encoding', to encode bytes
that are otherwise disallowed: bytes are encoded by representing
them as a percent sign "%" followed by two hexadecimal digits (0-9,

In any circumstance, only printable ASCII characters are allowed:
URLs may not contain space or other non-printable characters. These
and the character "%" must always be encoded.

Many URL schemes reserve certain characters for a special meaning;
their appearance in the scheme-specific part of the URL has a
designated semantics. If it is necessary to designate a byte in a
component of a URL that would otherwise be represented by a
reserved character, it is necessary to represent that byte encoded.
The characters ";", "/", "?", ":", "@", "=" and "&" are the
characters which may be reserved for special meaning within a
scheme. No other characters may be reserved within a scheme.

Most characters mean the same thing when represented as themselves
as when represented encoded; however, this is not true for reserved
characters: encoding a reserved character for a particular scheme
may change the semantics of a URL.

There are a number of characters whose use in URLs is _unsafe_;
characters can be unsafe for a number of reasons. The characters
"<" and ">" are unsafe because they are used as the delimiters
around URLs in free text; the quote mark (""") is used to delimit
URLs in other systems. The character "#" is unsafe because it is
used in World Wide Web and in other systems to delimit a URL from a
fragment identifier that might follow it. Other characters are
unsafe because gateways and other transport agents are sometimes
known to modify such characters. All unsafe characters should
always be encoded within a URL. For example, the character "#"
should always be encoded within URLs, even in systems that do not
normally deal with fragment identifiers, so that if the URL is
copied into another system that does use fragments it will not be
necessary to change the URL encoding.

In general, only alphanumerics, reserved characters used for their
reserved purposes, "$", "-", "_", ".", and "+" are safe and may be
transmitted unencoded. Even so, safe characters _may_ be encoded
within the scheme specific part of a URL.

3. Specific Schemes

The mapping for some existing standard and experimental protocols
is outlined in the BNF syntax definition. Notes on particular
protocols follow. The schemes covered are:

ftp File Transfer protocol
http Hypertext Transfer Protocol
gopher The Gopher protocol
mailto Electronic mail address
news USENET news
nntp USENET news using NNTP access
telnet Reference to interactive sessions
wais Wide Area Information Servers
file Host-specific file names
prospero Prospero Directory Service

Other schemes may be specified by future specifications. Section 4
of this document describes how new schemes may be registered, and
lists some scheme names that are under development.

3.1. Common Internet Scheme Syntax

While the syntax for the rest of the URL may vary depending on the
particular scheme selected, URL schemes that involve the direct use
of an IP-based protocol to a specified host on the Internet use a
common syntax for the initial part of the scheme-specific data:


This initial part starts with a double slash "//" to indicate its
presence, and continues until the following slash "/", if any.
Within this section are:

An optional user name. Some schemes (e.g., ftp) allow the
specification of a user name.

An optional password. If present, it follows the user
name separated from it by a colon.

The user name (and password), if present, are followed by a
commercial at-sign "@". Within the user and password field, any
":", "@", or "/" must be encoded.

Note that an empty user name or password is different than no user
name or password; there is no way to specify a password without
specifying a user name. E.g., <URL:> has an empty
user name and no password, <URL:> has no user name,
while <URL:> has a user name of "foo" and an
empty password.

The fully qualified domain name of a network host, or its IP
address as a set of four decimal digits separated by periods.
Fully qualified domain names take the form as described in
Section 3.5 of RFC 1034: a sequence of parts separated by

The (optional) port number to connect to. Most schemes
designate protocols that have a default port number. Another
port number may optionally be supplied, in decimal, separated
from the host by a colon.

The rest of the locator consists of data specific to the
scheme, and is known as the "url-path". It supplies the
details of how the specified resource can be accessed. Note
that the "/" between the host (or port) and the url-path is
NOT part of the url-path.

The url-path is interpreted in a manner dependent on the scheme
being used.

3.2. FTP

The FTP URL scheme is used to designate files and directories on
Internet hosts accessible using the FTP protocol (RFC959).

A FTP URL follow the syntax described in Section 3.1. If :<port>
is omitted, the port defaults to 21.

3.2.1. FTP Name and Password

A user name and password may be supplied. If no user name or
password is supplied and one is requested by the FTP server, the
conventions for "anonymous" FTP are to be used, as follows:

The user name "anonymous" is supplied.

The password is supplied as the Internet e-mail address
of the end user accessing the resource.

If the URL supplies a user name but no password, and the remote
server requests a password, the program interpreting the FTP URL
should request one from the user.

3.2.2. FTP url-path

The url-path of a FTP URL has the following syntax:


Where <cwd1> through <cwdN> and <name> are (possibly encoded)
strings and <typecode> is one of the characters "a", "i", or "d".

The url-path is interpreted as a series of FTP commands as follows:

Each of the <cwd> elements is to be supplied, sequentially, as
the argument to a CWD (change working directory) command.

If the typecode is "d", perform a NLST (name list) command with
<name> as the argument, and interpret the results as a file
directory listing.

Otherwise, perform a TYPE command with <typecode> as the
argument, and then access the file whose name is <name> (for
example, using the RETR command.)

Within a name or CWD component, the characters "/" and ";" are
reserved and must be encoded. The components are decoded prior to
their use in the FTP protocol. In particular, if the appropriate
FTP sequence to access a particular file requires supplying a
string containing a "/" as an argument to a CWD or RETR command, it
is necessary to encode each "/" as %2F.

For example, the URL <URL:ftp://myname@host.dom/%2Fetc/motd> is
interpreted by FTP-ing to "host.dom", logging in as "myname"
(prompting for a password if it is asked for), and then executing
"CWD /etc" and then "RETR motd". This has a different meaning from
<URL:ftp://myname@host.dom/etc/motd> which would "CWD etc",
relative to the default directory for "myname", or <URL:ftp:
//myname@host.dom//etc/motd>, which would "CWD " with a null
argument and then "RETR motd".

3.2.3. FTP Typecode is Optional

The entire ;type=<typecode> part of a FTP URL is optional. If it is
omitted, the client program interpreting the URL must guess the
appropriate mode to use. In general, the data content type of a
file can only be guessed from the name, e.g., from the suffix of
the name; the appropriate type code to be used for transfer of the
file can then be deduced from the data content of the file.

3.2.4 Hierarchy

For some file systems, the "/" used to denote the hierarchical
structure of the URL corresponds to the delimiter used to construct
a file name hierarchy, and thus, the filename will look similar to
the URL path. This does NOT mean that the URL is a Unix filename.

3.2.5. Optimization

Clients accessing resources via FTP may employ additional
heuristics to optimize the interaction. For some FTP servers, for
example, it may be reasonable to keep the control connection open
while accessing multiple URLs from the same server. However, there
is no common hierarchical model to the FTP protocol, so if a
directory change command has been given, it is impossible in
general to deduce what sequence should be given to navigate to
another directory for a second retrieval, if the paths are
different. The only reliable algorithm is to disconnect and
reestablish the control connection.

3.3. HTTP

The HTTP URL scheme is used to designate Internet resources
accessible using HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol).

The HTTP protocol is specified elsewhere. This specification only
describes the syntax of HTTP URLs.

An HTTP URL takes the form:


where <host> and <port> are as described in Section 3.1. If :<port>
is omitted, the port defaults to 80. No user name or password is
allowed. <path> is an HTTP selector, and <searchpart> is a query
string. The <path> is optional, as is the <searchpart> and its
preceding "?". If neither <path> nor <searchpart> is present, the
"/" may also be omitted.

Within the <path> and <searchpart> components, "/", ";", "?" are
reserved. The "/" character may be used within HTTP to designate a
hierarchical structure.


The Gopher URL scheme is used to designate Internet resources
accessible using the Gopher protocol.

The base Gopher protocol is specified in RFC 1436 and supports
items and collections of items (directories). The Gopher+ protocol
is a set of upward compatible extensions to the base Gopher
protocol and is specified in [2]. Gopher+ supports associating
arbitrary sets of attributes and alternate data representations
with Gopher items. Gopher URLs accommodate both Gopher and Gopher+
items and item attributes.

3.4.1. Gopher URL syntax

A Gopher URL takes the form:


where <gopher-path> is one of


If :<port> is omitted, the port defaults to 70. <gophertype> is
single-character field to denote the Gopher type of the resource to
which the URL refers. The entire <gopher-path> may also be empty,
in which case the delimiting "/" is also optional and the
<gophertype> defaults to "1".

<selector> is the Gopher selector string. In the Gopher protocol,
gopher selector strings are a sequence of 8-bit bytes which may
contain any characters other than tab, return, or linefeed. Gopher
clients specify which item to retrieve by sending the gopher
selector string to a gopher server.

Within the <gopher-path>, no additional characters have a reserved

Note that some gopher <selector> strings begin with a copy of the
<gophertype> character, in which case that character will occur
twice consecutively. The gopher selector string may be an empty
string; this is how gopher clients refer to the top-level directory
on a gopher server.

3.4.2 Specifying URLs for Gopher Search Engines

If the URL refers to a search to be submitted to a gopher search
engine, the selector is followed by an encoded tab (%09) and the
search string. To submit a search to a gopher search engine, the
gopher client sends the selector string, a tab, and the search
string to the gopher server.

3.4.3 URL syntax for Gopher+ items

URLs for Gopher+ items are have a second encoded tab and a
gopher+ string. Note that in this case, the %09<search> string must
be supplied, although the <search> element may be the empty string.

The <gopher+_string> is used to represent information required for
retrieval of the Gopher+ item. Gopher+ items may have alternate
views, arbitrary sets of attributes, and may have electronic forms
associated with them.

To retrieve the data associated with a Gopher+ URL, a client will
connect to the server and send the gopher selector, followed
optionally by a tab and the search string, followed by a tab and
the Gopher+ commands.

More explicitly, if the Gopher+ URL refers to a Gopher search type
(that is, if the Gopher type is 7), the client sends to the gopher
server the gopher selector string, followed by a tab, followed the
search string, followed by a tab, followed by the gopher+ commands.

If the Gopher+ URL does _not_ refer to a Gopher search (when the
Gopher type is not 7), the Gopher client sends to the server the
gopher selector string, followed by a tab, followed by the gopher+

3.4.4 Default Gopher+ data representation

When a Gopher server returns a directory listing to a client, the
Gopher+ items are tagged with either a "+" (denoting gopher+ items)
or a "?" (denoting Gopher+ items which have a +ASK form associated
with them). A Gopher URL with a Gopher+ string consisting of only
a "+" refers to the default view (data representation) of the item
while a Gopher+ string containing only a "?" refer to an item with
a Gopher electronic form associated with it.

3.4.5 Gopher+ items with electronic forms

Gopher+ items which have a +ASK associated with them (i.e. Gopher+
items tagged with a "?") require the client to fetch the item's
+ASK attribute to get the form definition, and then ask the user to
fill out the form and return the user's responses along with the
selector string to retrieve the item. Gopher+ clients know how to
do this but depend on the "?" tag in the gopher+ item description
to know when to handle this case. The "?" is used in the Gopher+
string to be consistent with Gopher+ protocol's use of this symbol.

3.4.6 Gopher+ item attribute collections

To refer to the Gopher+ attributes of an item, the Gopher URL's
Gopher+ string consists of "!" or "$". "!" refers to the all of a
Gopher+ item's attributes. "$" refers to all the item attributes for
all items in a Gopher directory.

3.4.7 Referring to specific Gopher+ attributes

To refer to specific attributes, the URL's gopher+_string is
"!attribute_name" or "$attribute_name". For example, to refer to
the attribute containing the abstract of an item, the
gopher+_string would be "!+ABSTRACT".

To refer to several attributes, the gopher+_string consists of
the attribute names separated by coded spaces. For example,
"!+ABSTRACT%20+SMELL" refers to the +ABSTRACT and +SMELL attributes
of an item.

3.4.8 URL syntax for Gopher+ alternate views

Gopher+ allows for optional alternate data representations
(alternate views) of items. To retrieve a Gopher+ alternate view,
a Gopher+ client sends the appropriate view and language
identifier (found in the item's +VIEW attribute). To refer to a
specific Gopher+ alternate view, the URL's Gopher+ string would
be in the form:


For example, a Gopher+ string of "+application/postscript%20Es_ES"
refers to the Spanish language postscript alternate view of a
Gopher+ item.

3.4.9 URL syntax for Gopher+ electronic forms

The gopher+ string for a URL that refers to an item referenced by
a Gopher+ electronic form (an ASK block) filled out with specific
values is a coded version of what the client sends to the server.
The gopher+ string is of the form:


To retrieve this item, the gopher client sends:


to the gopher server.


The mailto URL scheme is used to designate the Internet mailing
address of an individual or service. No additional information
other than an Internet mailing address is present or implied.

A mailto URL takes the form:


where <rfc822-addr-spec> is (the encoding of an) addr-spec, as
specified in RFC 822. Within mailto URLs, no additional characters
are reserved within the <rfc822-addr-spec> component.

Note that the percent sign ("%") is commonly used within RFC 822
addresses and must be URL-encoded.

Unlike many URLs, the mailto scheme does not represent a data
object to be accessed directly; there is no sense in which it
designates an object. It has a different use than the
message/external-body type in MIME.

3.6. NEWS

The news URL scheme is used to refer to either news groups or
individual articles of USENET news, as specified in RFC 1036.

A news URL takes one of two forms:


A <newsgroup-name> is a period-delimited hierarchical name, such as
"comp.infosystems.www.misc". A <message-id> corresponds to the
Message-ID of section 2.1.5 of RFC 1036, without the enclosing "<"
and ">"; it takes the form <unique>@<full_domain_name>. A message
identifier may be distinguished from a news group name by the
presence of the commercial at "@" character. No additional
characters are reserved within the components of a news URL.

If <newsgroup-name> is "*" (as in <URL:news:*>), it is used to
refer to "all available news groups".

The news URLs are unusual in that by themselves, they do not
contain sufficient information to locate a single resource, but,
rather, are location-independent.

3.7. NNTP

The nntp URL scheme is an alternative method of referencing news
articles, useful for specifying news articles from NNTP servers
(RFC 977).

A nntp URL take the form:


where <host> and <port> are as described in Section 3.1. If :<port>
is omitted, the port defaults to 119.

The <newsgroup-name> is the name of the group, while the
<article-number> is the numeric id of the article within that

Note that while nntp: URLs specify a unique location for the
article resource, most NNTP servers currently on the Internet today
are configured only to allow access from local clients, and thus
nntp URLs do not designate globally accessible resources. Thus, the
news: form of URL is preferred as a way of identifying news


The Telnet URL scheme is used to designate interactive services
that may be accessed by the Telnet protocol.

A telnet URL takes the form:

telnet://<user>:<password>@<host>:<port> [ / ]

as specified in Section 3.1. The port defaults to 23; the <user>
and <password> segments are completely optional (a <password>
requires a <user> element.)

This URL does not designate a data object, but rather an
interactive service. In practice, the <user> and <password>
supplied are advisory only.

3.9. WAIS

The WAIS URL scheme is used to designate WAIS databases, searches,
or individual documents available from a WAIS database. WAIS is
described in [6]; the WAIS protocol is described in RFC 1625 [19].

A WAIS URLs takes one the following forms:


where <host> and <port> are as described in Section 3.1. If :<port>
is omitted, the port defaults to 210. The first form designates a
WAIS database that is available for searching. The second form
designates a particular search. <database> is the name of the WAIS
database being queried.

The third form designates a particular document within a WAIS
database to be retrieved. In this form <wtype> is the WAIS
designation of the type of the object. Many WAIS implementations
require that a client know the "type" of an object prior to
retrieval, the type being returned along with the internal object
identifier in the search response. The <wtype> is included in the
URL in order to allow the client interpreting the URL adequate
information to actually retrieve the document.

The <wpath> of a WAIS URL consists of the WAIS document-id, encoded
as necessary using the method described in Section 2.2. The WAIS
document-id should be treated opaquely; it may only be decomposed
by the server that issued it.

3.10 FILES

The file URL scheme is used to designate files accessible on
a particular host computer. This scheme, unlike most other
URL schemes, does not designate a resource that is universally
accessible over the Internet.

A file URL takes the form:


where <host> is the fully qualified domain name of the system on
which the <path> is accessible, and <path> is a hierarchical
directory path of the form <directory>/<directory>/<name>.

For example, a VMS file


might become


As a special case, <host> can be the string "localhost" or the
empty string; this is interpreted as `the machine from which the
URL is being interpreted'.

The file URL scheme is unusual in that it does not specify an
Internet protocol or access method for such files; as such, its
utility in network protocols between hosts is limited.


The Prospero URL scheme is used to designate resources that are
accessed via the Prospero Directory Service. The Prospero protocol
is described elsewhere [16].

A prospero URLs takes the form:


where <host> and <port> are as described in Section 3.1. If :<port>
is omitted, the port defaults to 1525. No username or password is

The <hsoname> is the host-specific object name in the Prospero
protocol, suitably encoded. This name is opaque and interpreted by
the Prospero server. The semicolon ";" is reserved and may not
appear without quoting in the <hsoname>.

Prospero URLs are interpreted by contacting a Prospero directory
server on the specified host and port to determine appropriate
access methods for a resource, which might themselves be
represented as different URLs. External Prospero links are
represented as URLs of the underlying access method and are not
represented as Prospero URLs.

Note that a slash "/" may appear in the <hsoname> without quoting
and no significance may be assumed by the application. Though
slashes may indicate hierarchical structure on the server, such
structure is not guaranteed. Note that many <hsoname>s begin with a
slash, in which case the host or port will be followed by a double
slash: the slash from the URL syntax, followed by the initial slash
from the <hsoname>. (E.g., <URL:prospero://host.dom//pros/name>
designates a <hsoname> of "/pros/name".)

In addition, after the <hsoname>, optional fields and values
associated with a Prospero link may be specified as part of the
URL. When present, each field/value pair is separated from each
other and from the rest of the URL by a ";" (semicolon). The name
of the field and its value are separated by a "=" (equal sign). If
present, these fields serve to identify the target of the URL. For
example, the OBJECT-VERSION field can be specified to identify a
specific version of an object.


A new scheme may be introduced by defining a mapping onto a
conforming URL syntax, using a new prefix. Experimental prefixes
may be used by mutual agreement between parties. Scheme names
starting with the characters "x-" are reserved for experimental

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) will maintain a
registry of URL schemes. Any submission of a new URL scheme must
include a definition of an algorithm for accessing of resources
within that scheme and the syntax for representing such a scheme.

URL schemes must have demonstrable utility and operability. One
way to provide such a demonstration is via a gateway which provides
objects in the new scheme for clients using an existing protocol.
If the new scheme does not locate resources that are data objects,
the properties of names in the new space must be clearly defined.

New schemes should try to follow the same syntactic conventions of
existing schemes, where appropriate. It is likewise recommended
that, where a protocol allows for retrieval by URL, that the client
software have provision for being configured to use specific
gateway locators for indirect access through new naming schemes.

The following scheme have been proposed at various times, but this
document does not define their syntax or use at this time. It is
suggested that IANA reserve their scheme names for future

afs Andrew File System global file names.
mid Message identifiers for electronic mail.
cid Content identifiers for MIME body parts.
nfs Network File System (NFS) file names.
tn3270 Interactive 3270 emulation sessions.
mailserver Access to data available from mail servers.
z39.50 Access to ANSI Z39.50 services.

5. BNF for specific URL schemes

This is a BNF-like description of the Uniform Resource Locator
syntax, using the conventions of RFC822, except that "|" is used to
designate alternatives, and brackets [] are used around optional or
repeated elements. Briefly, literals are quoted with "", optional
elements are enclosed in [brackets], and elements may be preceded
with <n>* to designate n or more repetitions of the following
element; n defaults to 0.

url = httpurl | ftpurl | newsurl |
nntpurl | telneturl | gopherurl |
waisurl | mailtourl | fileurl |
prosperourl | otherurl
otherurl = scheme ":" schemepart
scheme = 1*[ lowalpha | digit | "+" | "-" | "." ]
schemepart = *xchar

login = [ user [ ":" password ] "@" ] hostport
hostport = host [ ":" port ]
host = hostname | hostnumber
hostname = alpha *uchar
hostnumber = digits "." digits "." digits "." digits
port = digits
user = *[ uchar | ";" | "?" | "&" | "=" ]
password = *[ uchar | ";" | "?" | "&" | "=" ]

ftpurl = "ftp://" login [ "/" fpath [ ";type=" ftptype ]]
fpath = fsegment *[ "/" fsegment ]
fsegment = *[ uchar | "?" | ":" | "@" | "&" | "=" ]
ftptype = "A" | "I" | "D" | "a" | "i" | "d"

fileurl = "file://" host [ "/" fpath ]

httpurl = "http://" hostport [ "/" hpath [ "?" search ]]
hpath = hsegment *[ "/" hsegment ]
hsegment = *[ uchar | ";" | ":" | "@" | "&" | "=" ]
search = *[ uchar | ";" | ":" | "@" | "&" | "=" ]

gopherurl = "gopher://" hostport [ / [ gtype [ selector
[ "%09" search [ "%09" gopher+_string ] ] ] ] ]
gtype = xchar
selector = *xchar
gopher+_string = *xchar

mailtourl = "mailto:" encoded822addr
encoded822addr = 1*xchar

newsurl = "news:" grouppart
grouppart = "*" | group | article
group = alpha *[ alpha | digit | "-" | "." ]
article = 1*[ uchar | ";" | "/" | "?" | ":" | "&" | "=" ] "@" host

nntpurl = "nntp://" hostport "/" group [ "/" digits ]

telneturl = "telnet://" login [ "/" ]

waisurl = waisdatabase | waisindex | waisdoc
waisdatabase = "wais://" hostport "/" database
waisindex = "wais://" hostport "/" database "?" search
waisdoc = "wais://" hostport "/" database "/" wtype "/" wpath
database = *uchar
wtype = *uchar
wpath = *uchar

prosperourl = "prospero://" hostport "/" ppath *[ fieldspec ]
ppath = psegment *[ "/" psegment ]
psegment = *[ uchar | "?" | ":" | "@" | "&" | "=" ]
fieldspec = ";" fieldname "=" fieldvalue
fieldname = *[ uchar | "?" | ":" | "@" | "&" ]
fieldvalue = *[ uchar | "?" | ":" | "@" | "&" ]

lowalpha = "a" | "b" | "c" | "d" | "e" | "f" | "g" | "h" |
"i" | "j" | "k" | "l" | "m" | "n" | "o" | "p" |
"q" | "r" | "s" | "t" | "u" | "v" | "w" | "x" |
"y" | "z"
hialpha = "A" | "B" | "C" | "D" | "E" | "F" | "G" | "H" | "I" |
"J" | "K" | "L" | "M" | "N" | "O" | "P" | "Q" | "R" |
"S" | "T" | "U" | "V" | "W" | "X" | "Y" | "Z"
alpha = lowalpha | hialpha
digit = "0" | "1" | "2" | "3" | "4" | "5" | "6" | "7" |
"8" | "9"
safe = "$" | "-" | "_" | "." | "+"
extra = "!" | "*" | "'" | "(" | ")" | "," | "="
national = "{" | "}" | "|" | "\" | "^" | "~" | "[" | "]"
punctuation = "<" | ">" | """ | "#"
reserved = ";" | "/" | "?" | ":" | "@" | "&" | "="
hex = digit | "A" | "B" | "C" | "D" | "E" | "F" |
"a" | "b" | "c" | "d" | "e" | "f"
escape = "%" hex hex

unreserved = alpha | digit | safe | extra | national
uchar = unreserved | escape
xchar = unreserved | reserved | escape
digits = 1*digit

6. Security considerations

The URL scheme does not in itself pose a security threat. Users
should beware that there is no general guarantee that a URL which
at one time points to a given object continues to do so, and does
not even at some later time point to a different object due to the
movement of objects on servers.

A URL-related security threat is that it is sometimes possible to
construct a URL such that an attempt to perform a harmless
idempotent operation such as the retrieval of the object will in
fact cause a possibly damaging remote operation to occur. The
unsafe URL is typically constructed by specifying a port number
other than that reserved for the network protocol in question. The
client unwittingly contacts a server which is in fact running a
different protocol. The content of the URL contains instructions
which when interpreted according to this other protocol cause an
unexpected operation. An example has been the use of gopher URLs
to cause a rude message to be sent via a SMTP server. Caution
should be used when using any URL which specifies a port number
other than the default for the protocol, especially when it is a
number within the reserved space.

Care should be taken when URLs contain embedded encoded delimiters
for a given protocol (for example, CR and LF characters for telnet
protocols) that these are not unencoded before transmission. This
would violate the protocol but could be used to simulate an extra
operation or parameter, again causing an unexpected and possible
harmful remote operation to be performed.

The use of URLs containing passwords that should be secret is
clearly unwise.

7. Acknowledgements

This paper builds on the basic W3 design and much discussion of
these issues by many people on the network. The discussion was
particularly stimulated by articles by Clifford Lynch (1991),
Brewster Kahle (1991) and Wengyik Yeong (1991b). Contributions from
John Curran (NEARNET), Clifford Neuman (ISI) Ed Vielmetti (MSEN)
and later the IETF URL BOF and URI working group have been
incorporated into this issue of this paper.

The draft url4 (Internet Draft 00) was generated from url3
following discussion and overall approval of the URL working group
on 29 March 1993. The paper url3 had been generated from udi2 in
the light of discussion at the UDI BOF meeting at the Boston IETF
in July 1992. Draft url4 was Internet Draft 00. Draft url5
incorporated changes suggested by Clifford Neuman, and draft url6
(ID 01) incorporated character group changes and a few other fixes
defined by the IETF URI WG in submitting it as a proposed standard.
URL7 (Internet Draft 02) incorporated changes introduced at the
Amsterdam IETF and refined in net discussion.

The draft 03 includes changes made at Houston in Nov 93, and on the
net before Seattle March 1994. Draft 04 responded to various
suggestions and remarks made since the Seattle March 1994 meeting,
special thanks to Dan Connolly, Ned Freed, Roy Fielding, and Guido
van Rossum for their careful readings and corrections. Draft 05
makes a number of minor modifications suggested at or just before
the Toronto July 1994 IETF meeting. This draft incorporates
numerous revisions and edits as suggested by the active members of
the IETF URI Working Group.

APPENDIX: Recommendations for URLs in Context

URIs, including URLs, are intended to be transmitted though
protocols which provide a context for their interpretation.

In some cases, it will be necessary to distinguish URLs from other
possible data structures in a syntactic structure. In this case, is
recommended that URLs be preceeded with a prefix consisting of the
characters "URL:". For example, this prefix may be used to
distinguish URLs from other kinds of URIs.

In addition, there are many occasions when URLs are included in
plain, non-marked-up text; examples include electronic mail, USENET
news messages, or printed papers. In such cases, it is convenient
to have a separate syntactic wrapper that delimits the URL and
separates it from the rest of the text. For this purpose, is
recommended that angle brackets ("<" and ">"), along with the
prefix "URL:", be used to delimit the boundaries of the URL. This
wrapper does not form part of the URL and should not be used in
contexts in which delimiters are already specified.

In some cases, extra whitespace may need to be added to break long
URLs across lines. The whitespace is ignored when extracting the
URL. In the case where a fragment identifier is associated with a
URL (following a "#"), the identifier would be placed within the
brackets as well.


Yes, Jim, I found it under <URL:
;type=d> but you can probably pick it up from <URL:ftp://ds.inter>. Note the warning in <URL:


[1] Anklesaria, F., et al. (1993) "The Internet Gopher Protocol",
RFC 1436. <URL:>.

[2] Anklesaria, F., et al. (1993) "Gopher+ upward compatible
enhancements to the Internet Gopher protocol", University of
Minnesota, July 1993, <URL:
/pub/gopher/gopher_protocol/Gopher+/Gopher+.txt>. See also:

[3] Berners-Lee, T., (1994) "Universal Resource Identifiers in
WWW". RFC 1630, <URL:>.

[4] Berners-Lee, T ., (1993) "Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)" ,
CERN, November 1993, as updated from time to time,

[5] Crocker, D. H., (1982) "Standard for ARPA Internet Text
Messages". RFC822, <URL:>.

[6] Davis, F, et al., (1990) "WAIS Interface Protocol Prototype
Functional Specification", Thinking Machines Corporation, April
23, 1990 <URL:>.

[7] Deutsch, P., Emtage, A. & Marine, A. (1994) "How to Use
Anonymous FTP." RFC1635. <URL:

[8] International Standards Organization, (1991) Information and
Documentation - Search and Retrieve Application Protocol
Specification for Open Systems Interconnection, ISO-10163.

[9] Horton, M., Adams, R., (1987)"Standard For Interchange of
USENET messages", RFC1036. <URL:

[10] Huitema, C., (1991) "Naming: strategies and techniques",
Computer Networks and ISDN Systems 23 (1991) 107-110.

[11] Kahle, B. (1991) "Document Identifiers, or International
Standard Book Numbers for the Electronic Age".

[12] Kantor, B., and Lapsley, P., (1986) "Network News Transfer
Protocol", RFC977. <URL:>

[13] Kunze, J., "Functional Requirements for Internet Resource
Locators", to be published as RFC????. Available as an internet
draft <URL:

[14] Lynch, C., (1991) Coalition for Networked Information.
"Workshop on ID and Reference Structures for Networked
Information", November 1991. See

[15] Mockapetris, P. (1987) "Domain Names - Concepts and
Facilities." RFC1034, USC-ISI,

[16] Neuman, B. Clifford, and Augart, Steven (1993). "The Prospero
Protocol", USC Information Sciences Institute, June 1993 and as
updated from time to time, <URL:

[17] Postel, J. and Reynolds, J. (1985) "File Transfer Protocol
(FTP)", RFC959. <URL:>

[18] Sollins, K. and Masinter, L. (1994) "Requirements for Uniform
Resource Names", to be published as an RFC. Available as an
internet draft <URL:

[19] St. Pierre, M,, (1994) "WAIS over Z39.50-1988", RFC1625

[20] Yeong, W. (1991) "Towards Networked Information Retrieval",
Technical report 91-06-25-01, June 1991, Performance Systems
International, Inc. <URL:>

[21] Yeong, W., (1991) "Representing Public Archives in the
Directory", Internet Draft, November 1991, now expired.


Tim Berners-Lee
World-Wide Web project
1211 Geneva 23,
Tel: +41 (22)767 3755
Fax: +41 (22)767 7155

Larry Masinter
Xerox PARC
3333 Coyote Hill Road
Palo Alto, CA 94034
Tel: (415) 812-4365
Fax: (415) 812-4333

Mark McCahill
Computer and Information Services,
University of Minnesota
Room 152 Shepherd Labs
100 Union Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Tel: (612) 625 1300