The 'file' URI Scheme

About six months ago I first created a (rubbish) Internet Draft – in the naive hope that it would be relatively easy to usher through the IETF process and be published as an RFC – to revive the 'file' URI scheme. I did it partly because it came up on the ruby core bug tracker that since RFC 1738 was made obsolete* there is no current spec that defines 'file' URIs†, and partly because I really just want to see my name on an RFC.

* Paul Jones (the web-finger guy) made a pretty good summary of his interpretation of the obsoletion, and I agree, but in RFC land "Obsolete" means "Obsolete", and there's not much getting around it.

† There's RFC 1630 which is Informational (i.e. not a standard).

I sent a message to the IETF Apps WG, and there was a bit of discussion (including Paul Hoffman telling me that he gave up on the original effort eight years prior, but "Good luck, seriously.") and it was mostly positive and constructive, but still a bit hard. Well, maybe more daunting than hard. So I put my head down and read a lot more of the history of the scheme, and the vagaries of the various implementations, not to mention the way RFCs tend to be written, and the IETF publishing process in general. And I kept at it for about six months.

Actually it's just shy of six months; I just got an email from the IETF Secretariat informing me that version 00 of the draft will expire in 5 days 19 hours, on the 22nd.

Anyway, when I published version 09 the other day I sent an email to the W3C's URI Interest Group mailing list, and the response was really heartening. A lot more people had a lot more things to say, offering plenty of critiques and suggestions, even suggesting editorial improvements. I figure, if they're copy-editing my words then the content must be pretty alright. It's even sparked a couple of tiny discussions, about whether I should instruct the reader to "note" things, and whether Mac OSX file systems use UTR15 NFD.

I've added most of the comments and suggestions to the issue tracker on github, and hopefully version 10 (or possibly 11) will resolve them all, and I'll be able to take it back to the IETF with some confidence that it will move forward, more or less, towards consensus and maybe even eventual publication.

I'm feeling enthused! I want everyone to read it, and point out ways to improve it (the easier the better; pull requests will be appreciated), and help me keep it going and maintain this enthusiasm.

Together we can provide a spec that codifies what everyone's been doing for the past decade anyway, and I can get my name on a published RFC!

Incidentally, I almost wrote 'Osbolete' means 'Obsolete', which would have been amusing.

In unrelated news...

For those playing along at home, on the gaming scene, I've started playing Terraria. I've had it in my Steam library for quite a while, and tried it out very briefly once or twice. Mostly it was a freaky Zork sim where it kept getting dark and things would eat me.

However the other day I saw Nerd³'s video about Starbound, and he kept saying how it was rather similar to Terraria, but he kept doing strange things like opening menus and crafting stuff, and I realised that there's probably a bit more to the old game than I realised. So I fired it up and fumbled about until I worked out that Escape brings up a mega inventory menu thingy, and you can actually make stuff, and stuff. And on my second world I managed to trap that starting NPC guy in a hole in the ground, and build a house around him, and he hasn't been eaten by any slimes yet! And he's the one who told me I could use two lenses to make a pair of goggles (who'da thunk?) And there's also a merchant fellow who refuses to pay me for my clods of dirt. And I made a forge and a sawmill and a loom, and I'm going to unlock all the things! and power myself up and work out the deal with these "bosses" I keep hearing about, and... yeah, it's quite fun.

Steam tells me I've played about 10½ hours in the past week. And it's Monday. I guess that means my effort to rekindle my gamering love has worked.

Sorry family.

Matthew Kerwin

CC BY-SA 4.0
development, games, web

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