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   Re: file: URIs and MS Windows

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  • From: James Clark <jjc@jclark.com>
  • To: Richard Tobin <richard@cogsci.ed.ac.uk>
  • Date: Tue, 02 May 2000 10:53:51 +0700

Richard Tobin wrote:
> Henrik Frystyk Nielsen <henrikn@microsoft.com> wrote:
> >The specification of file: is somewhat fuzzy - RFC 1738 has been replaced
> >with RFC 2396 which does allow the short format you have above (and which is
> >the one I like the best - it also works with "file:/c:/foo").
> Does it?  The only reference in 2396 I could find was this:
>   The URL host was defined as a fully-qualified domain name.  However,
>   many URLs are used without fully-qualified domain names (in contexts
>   for which the full qualification is not necessary), without any host
>   (as in some file URLs), or with a host of "localhost".
> which I take to be saying that "host" in "//host" can be empty, rather
> than that the // can be omitted too.

The relevant production is:

  hier_part     = ( net_path | abs_path ) [ "?" query ]

"/c:/foo" is a abs_path.

> There ought to be a separate (short!) RFC for file URLs.

Yes. Things are not at all well-defined.  There are several issues:

- absolute paths on windows can be either drive-based (eg c:\home\foo),
or UNC (eg \\server\share\a\b\c)

- relative paths on Windows work slightly differently from relative
URIs: for example, if the current directory is \\server\share\a\b\c then
a filename \x\y\z is interpreted as \\server\share\x\y\z; however, a
relative URI /x/y/z relative to a base URI file://server/share/a/b/c/
resolves to file://server/x/y/x which corresponds to the UNC filename

- Windows filenames can contain Unicode characters, but URIs are only
ASCII; a file URI handler needs to deal with this by unescaping %s and
doing a UTF-8 to UTF-16 conversion.


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