faqs.org - Internet FAQ Archives

RFC 2483 - URI Resolution Services Necessary for URN Resolution


Or Display the document by number




Network Working Group                                      M. Mealling
Request for Comments: 2483                     Network Solutions, Inc.
Category: Experimental                                  R. Daniel, Jr.
                                        Los Alamos National Laboratory
                                                          January 1999

                        URI Resolution Services
                      Necessary for URN Resolution

Status of this Memo

   This memo defines an Experimental Protocol for the Internet
   community.  It does not specify an Internet standard of any kind.
   Discussion and suggestions for improvement are requested.
   Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1999).  All Rights Reserved.

Abstract

   Retrieving the resource identified by a Uniform Resource Identifier
   (URI) [1] is only one of the operations that can be performed on a
   URI.  One might also ask for and get a list of other identifiers that
   are aliases for the original URI or a bibliographic description of
   the resource the URI denotes, for example. This applies to both
   Uniform Resource Names (URNs) and Uniform Resource Locators (URLs).
   Uniform Resource Characteristics (URCs) are discussed in this
   document but only as descriptions of resources rather than
   identifiers.

   A service in the network providing access to a resource may provide
   one or some of these options, but it need not provide all of them.
   This memo specifies an initial set of these operations that can be
   used to describe the interactions provided by a given access service.
   It also suggests guidelines that should be adhered to when those
   operations are encoded in a protocol.

1. Introduction

   In the course of formulating current proposals [2] regarding URNs
   [3], it became apparent that requiring servers to manage all of the
   desired functions or requiring clients to process varied information
   returned by a server was unrealistic and a barrier to adoption. There
   needed to be some way for a client to be able to identify a server
   that specialized in the complex and another that specialized in the

   simple (but fast). Also, in subsequent conversations it became
   obvious that, in most cases, some of the operations were
   inappropriate or difficult for certain identifiers.

   The Problem

   In the process of learning about a resource in the Internet, there
   are a variety of possible functions that may be important and/or
   useful, such as discovery of locators, names, descriptions, and
   accessing the resource itself. A given service may support only a
   subset of these; hence, it is important to describe such an access
   service by the types of functions supported and the resources of
   which it has some knowledge. For example, in the framework for an RDS
   described in [5] the RDS itself may provide URLs [6][7], while the
   resolvers may provide descriptions, URLs, or even the resources
   themselves. The design of an RDS, as proposed in RFC 2168 [2], may be
   more generous and provide all of the above.

   This problem requires some well understood set of identifiers that
   specify those operations. But an exhaustive set would both be
   impossible and not very necessary. Thus, this document will list
   several operations, as well as, lay out requirements for specifying
   new operations.

   The purpose of this document is to define a list of such functions
   and short names for them and then use them in defining the interface
   to an access service. Previous versions of this document referred to
   services where the arguments were specific types of URIs such as URNs
   or URLs.  These services were called "N2L" and "L2L",for example.
   Their use has been changed in favor of the more general URI form.

   Design Criteria

   To meet these requirements a fairly simple design criteria was used.
   The need to identify the operation with some token such that its
   operands, algorithm, and errors were known proved sufficient to meet
   these requirements.

2. General Specification

   To provide a framework both for the specifications in this document
   and for future work to be written by others, the guidelines below are
   suggested for documents that seek to specify new operations. Any
   specification of a member of this set of operations should address
   these issues with respect to its operands, algorithm, output, and
   errors.

   Due to the small number of listed functions, a registration mechanism
   was dismissed as premature. If this list grows, a registration
   mechanism will probably be needed.

   Also, due to the experimental nature of this document and the systems
   that use its specifications, the use of words like MUST and SHALL are
   limited. Where used they reflect a case where this specification
   could cause harm to existing, non-experimental systems such as HTTP
   and URNs.  Thus, the key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED",
   "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY",
   and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in
   RFC 2119.

2.1 Operands

   Operands must contain the following pieces of information:

      * name of the operation
      * case insensitive mnemonic for the operation
      * number of operands
      * type of each operand
      * format of each operand

2.2 Algorithm

   The exact algorithm for the operation must either be specified
   completely or it must be considered opaque and defined by the server
   or application.

2.3 Output

   Output must specify one of the following:

      * there is no output
      * the output is undefined
      * the output itself and its content
      * the fact that the output is an object and the object's
        type and format
      * any non-protocol specific errors

2.4 Error Conditions

   All errors that are considered applicable across all implementations
   and application environments must be included. Errors that depend on
   the system conveying the service are not included. Thus, many of the
   expected errors such as service availability or operation syntax are
   not included in this document since they are implementation
   dependent.

2.5 Security Considerations

   Any security considerations relating to the service provided must be
   specified. This does NOT include considerations dealing with the
   protocol used to convey the service or to those that normally
   accompany the results of the service. For example, a service that
   returned a single URL would need to discuss the situation where
   someone maliciously inserts an incorrect URL into the resolver but
   NOT the case where someone sends personal information across the
   Internet to the resource identified by the correct URL.

3. Encoding The Operations

   To be useful, these operations have to be used within some system or
   protocol. In many cases, these systems and protocols will place
   restrictions on which operations make sense and how those that do are
   syntactically represented. It is sufficient for those protocols to
   define new operations within their own protocol specification
   documents but care should be taken to make this fact well known.

   Also, a given system or protocol will have its own output
   specifications that may restrict the output formats of a given
   operation.  Additionally, a given protocol may have better solution
   for output than the ones given here. For example, the result of an
   operation that converts a URI to more than one URL may be encoded in
   a protocol-specific manner that conveys information about the
   closeness of each resource on the network.

   Thus, the requirements on encoding these operations within a given
   system are as follows:

      * which subset of the operations are allowed
      * how the operator is encoded
      * how the operands are encoded
      * how the error codes are returned

   The text/uri-list MIME Media Type is specified in Section 5. This
   Media Type is merely a suggestion for experimental systems that need
   a simple implementation. It is included here merely as an example to
   show completeness (however simple it may be).

4. The Incomplete Set

4.1 I2L (URI to URL)

      * Name: URI to URL
      * Mnemonic: I2L
      * Number of Operands: 1
      * Type of Each Operand: First operand is a URI.
      * Format of Each Operand: First operand is encoded as a URI.
      * Algorithm: Opaque
      * Output: One and only one URL
      * Errors Conditions:
           o Malformed URI
           o URI is syntactically valid but does not exist in any form.
           o URI exists but there is no available output from this
             operation.
           o URI existed in the past but nothing is currently known
             about it.
           o Access denied

      * Security Considerations:
           o Malicious Redirection
             One of the fundamental dangers related to any service such
             as this is that a malicious entry in a resolver's database
             will cause clients to resolve the URI into the wrong URL.
             The possible intent may be to cause the client to retrieve
             a resource containing fraudulent or damaging material.
           o Denial of Service
             By removing the URL to which the URI maps, a malicious
             intruder may remove the client's ability to retrieve the
             resource.

   This operation is used to map a single URI to a single URL. It is
   used by lightweight clients that do not have the ability to select
   from a list of URLs or understand a URC. The algorithm for this
   mapping is dependent on the URI scheme.

4.2 I2Ls (URI to URLs)

      * Name: URI to URLs
      * Mnemonic: I2LS
      * Number of Operands: 1
      * Type of Each Operand: First operand is a URI.
      * Format of Each Operand: First operand is encoded as a URI.
      * Algorithm: Opaque
      * Output: A list of zero or more URLs
      * Errors:
           o Malformed URI

           o URI is syntactically valid but does not exist in any form.
           o URI exists but there is no available output from this
             operation.
           o URI existed in the past but nothing is currently known
             about it.
           o Access denied
      * Security Considerations:
           o Malicious Redirection (see I2L)
           o Denial of Service (see I2L)

   This operation is used to map a single URI to 0 or more URLs. It is
   used by a client that can pick from a list of URLs based on some
   criteria that are important to the client. The client should not make
   any assumptions about the order of the URLs returned. No matter what
   the particular media type, the result should be a list of the URLs
   that may be used to obtain an instance of the resource identified by
   the URI. All URIs shall be encoded according to the URL [7] and URN
   [3] specifications.

4.3 I2R (URI to Resource)

      * Name: URI to Resource
      * Mnemonic: I2R
      * Number of Operands: 1
      * Type of Each Operand: First operand is a URI.
      * Format of Each Operand: First operand is encoded as a URI.
      * Algorithm: Opaque
      * Output: An instance of the resource named by the URI.
      * Errors:
           o Malformed URI
           o URI is syntactically valid but does not exist in any form.
           o URI exists but there is no available output from this
             operation.
           o URI existed in the past but nothing is currently known
             about it.
           o Access denied
      * Security Considerations:
           o Malicious Redirection (see I2L)
           o Denial of Service (see I2L)

   This operation is used to return a single instance of the resource
   that is named by the URI. The format of the output is dependent on
   the resource itself.

4.4 I2Rs (URI to Resources)

      * Name: URI to Resources
      * Mnemonic: I2Rs
      * Number of Operands: 1
      * Type of Each Operand: First operand is a URI.
      * Format of Each Operand: First operand is encoded as a URI.
      * Algorithm: Opaque
      * Output: Zero or more instances of the resource named by the URI.
      * Errors:
           o Malformed URI
           o URI is syntactically valid but does not exist in any form.
           o URI exists but there is no available output from this
             operation.
           o URI existed in the past but nothing is currently known
             about it.
           o Access denied
      * Security Considerations:
           o Malicious Redirection (see I2L)
           o Denial of Service (see I2L)

   This operation is used to return multiple instances of a resource,
   for example, GIF and JPEG versions of an image. The judgment about
   the resources being "the same" resides with the naming authority that
   issued the URI.

   The output shall be a MIME multipart/alternative [4] message with the
   alternative versions of the resource in separate body parts. If there
   is only one version of the resource identified by the URN, it MAY be
   returned without the multipart/alternative wrapper.

4.5 I2C (URI to URC)

      * Name: URI to URC * Mnemonic: I2C * Number of Operands: 1 * Type
      of Each Operand: First operand is a URI.  * Format of Each
      Operand: First operand is encoded as a URI.  * Algorithm: Opaque *
      Output: A URC * Errors:
           o Malformed URI
           o URI is syntactically valid but does not exist in any form.
           o URI exists but there is no available output from this
             operation.
           o URI existed in the past but nothing is currently known
             about it.
           o Access denied * Security Considerations:
           o Malicious Redirection (see I2L)
           o Denial of Service (see I2L)

   Uniform Resource Characteristics are descriptions of resources. This
   request allows the client to obtain a description of the resource
   identified by a URI, as opposed to the resource itself or simply the
   resource's URLs. The description might be a bibliographic citation, a
   digital signature, or a revision history. This memo does not specify
   the content of any response to a URC request. That content is
   expected to vary from one server to another.

4.6 I2CS (URI to URCs)

      * Name: URI to URCs
      * Mnemonic: I2CS
      * Number of Operands: 1
      * Type of Each Operand: First operand is a URI.
      * Format of Each Operand: First operand is encoded as a URI.
      * Algorithm: Opaque
      * Output: Zero or more URCs
      * Errors:
           o Malformed URI
           o URI is syntactically valid but does not exist in any form.
           o URI exists but there is no available output from this
             operation.
           o URI existed in the past but nothing is currently known
             about it.
           o Access denied
      * Security Considerations:
           o Malicious Redirection (see I2L)
           o Denial of Service (see I2L)

   URCs can come in different formats and types. This operation returns
   zero or more URCs that are appropriate for the given URI.

4.7 I2N (URI to URN)

      * Name: URI to URN
      * Mnemonic: I2N
      * Number of Operands: 1
      * Type of Each Operand: First operand is a URN.
      * Format of Each Operand: First operand is encoded as a URI.
      * Algorithm: Opaque
      * Output: One and only one URN
      * Errors:
           o Malformed URI
           o URI is syntactically valid but does not exist in any form.
           o URI exists but there is no available output from this
             operation.
           o URI existed in the past but nothing is currently known
             about it.

           o Access denied
      * Security Considerations:
           o Malicious Redirection (see I2L)
           o Denial of Service (see I2L)

   While URNs are supposed to identify one and only one resource, that
   does not mean that a resource may have one and only one URN. For
   example, consider a resource that one organization wishes to name
   'foo'; another organization, in agreement with the first, wants to
   call the resource 'bar'. Both organizations can agree that both names
   'name' the same resource and that the URNs 'foo' and 'bar' are
   equivalent.

   The result is a URN, known to the server, that identifies the same
   resource as the input URN.

   Extreme care should be taken with this service as it toys with the
   idea of equality with respect to URNs. As mentioned in several URN
   documents, the idea of equality is very domain specific. For example,
   a URN pointing to a weather map for a particular day and a URN
   pointing to the map as it changes from day to day would NOT be
   returned in this example because they point to do different
   resources. Some other concept of temporary equivalence is at work.
   This service instead deals with resources that have two different
   names where there is a binding between the names that is agreed by
   both name assigners. I.e., both namespaces MUST have agreed that the
   each name can be used in place of the other and the meaning does not
   change.

4.8 I2Ns (URI to URNs)

      * Name: URI to URNs
      * Mnemonic: I2NS
      * Number of Operands: 1
      * Type of Each Operand: First operand is a URI.
      * Format of Each Operand: First operand is encoded as a URI.
      * Algorithm: Opaque
      * Output: A list of URNs
      * Errors:
           o Malformed URI
           o URI is syntactically valid but does not exist in any form.
           o URI exists but there is no available output from this
             operation.
           o URI existed in the past but nothing is currently known
             about it.
           o Access denied
      * Security Considerations:
           o Malicious Redirection (see I2L)

           o Denial of Service (see I2L)

   This operation simply returns zero or more URNs following the same
   criteria and cautions as the I2N operation.

4.9 I=I (Is URI equal to URI):

      * Name: URI = URI
      * Mnemonic: I=I
      * Number of Operands: 2
      * Type of Each Operand: Both operands are URIs.
      * Format of Each Operand: Both operands are encoded as a URIs.
      * Algorithm: Opaque
      * Output: TRUE or FALSE
      * Errors:
           o Malformed URIs
           o URIs are syntactically valid but do not exist in any form.
           o URIs exist but there is no available output from this
             operation.
           o URIs existed in the past but nothing is currently known
             about them.
           o Access denied
      * Security Considerations:
           o Malicious Redirection (see I2L)
           o Denial of Service (see I2L)

   This operation is used to determine whether two given URIs are
   considered to be equal by the server being asked the question. The
   algorithm used to determine equality is opaque. No assertions are
   made about whether or not the URIs exhibits characteristics of URNs
   or URLs.

5. The text/uri-list Internet Media Type

   Several of the resolution service requests, such as I2Ls, I2Ns,
   result in a list of URIs being returned to the client. The text/uri-
   list Internet Media Type is defined to provide a simple format for
   the automatic processing of such lists of URIs.

   This is a copy of the IANA registration of the text/uri-list Media
   Type.

    Date: Fri, 18 Apr 97 08:36:07 PDT
    From: Ron Daniel Jr. <rdaniel@lanl.gov>
    To: iana@iana.org, rdaniel@lanl.gov
    Subject: Request for MIME media type Text/IETF Tree - uri-list

    Name : Ron Daniel Jr.

    E-mail : rdaniel@lanl.gov

    MIME media type name : Text

    MIME subtype name : IETF Tree -uri-list

    Required parameters : none

    Optional parameters : charset

    Currently, URIs can be represented using US-ASCII. However, there
    are many non-standard URIs which use special character sets.
    Discussion of how to best achieve internationalization of URIs is
    underway. This registration will be updated with a discussion of the
    URI charsets once that discussion has concluded.

    Encoding considerations : Some transfer protocols, such as SMTP,
    place limits on the length of lines. Very long URIs might exceed
    those limits. Systems must therefore be prepared to use a suitable
    content transfer encoding. This is anticipated to be a rare
    occurance.

    Security considerations : Client software should be aware of the
    security considerations of URIs.  For example, accessing some URIs
    can result in sending a death threat to a head of state, frequently
    prompting a visit from the relevant protective service.  Accessing
    other URIs may result in financial obligations, or access to
    resources considered inappropriate by one's employer.

    While the legitimate provider of a uri-list could exploit these
    properties for good or ill, it is more likely that uri-lists will be
    falsified in order to exploit such characteristics of URIs.

    Additionally, the lookup and reverse lookup potential of the uri-
    list may be attractive to traffic analysts. URI lists may also
    reveal confidential information, such as the location of sensitive
    information.

    Because of these considerations, external confidentiality measures
    should be available to protect uri-list responses when appropriate.

    Interoperability considerations : none known

    Published specification : Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) and
    Uniform Resource Names (URNs) are two instances of the more general
    class of identifiers known as Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs).
    URN resolution methods frequently wish to return lists of URLs for a
    resource so that fault-tolerance and load balancing can be achieved.
    The text/uri-list format is intended to be a very simple format for
    communicating such lists of URLs (and URNs) in a form suitable for
    automatic processing.

    The format of text/uri-list resources is:

    1) Any lines beginning with the '#' character are comment lines
        and are ignored during processing. (Note that URIs may contain
        the '#' character, so it is only a comment character when it is
        the first character on a line.)

    2) The remaining non-comment lines shall be URIs (URNs or URLs),
        encoded according to the URL or URN specifications (RFC2141,
        RFC1738 and RFC2396). Each URI shall appear on one and only one
        line. Very long URIs are not broken in the text/uri-list format.
        Content-transfer-encodings may be used to enforce line length
        limitations.

    3) As for all text/* formats, lines are terminated with a CRLF pair.

    In applications where one URI has been mapped to a list of URIs, the
    first line of the text/uri-list response SHOULD be a comment giving
    the original URI.

    An example of the format is given below:

      # urn:isbn:0-201-08372-8
      http://www.huh.org/books/foo.html
      http://www.huh.org/books/foo.pdf
      ftp://ftp.foo.org/books/foo.txt

    Applications which use this media : URN resolvers are the initial
    applications. Web clients and proxies are applications that are
    likely to support this format in the future.

    Additional information :

    1. Magic number(s) : none at this time
    2. File extension(s) : .uris or .uri recommended
    3. Macintosh file type code : URIs recommended

    This media type is the product of the URN working group of the IETF.

    Person to contact for further information :

    1. Name : Ron Daniel Jr.
    2. E-mail : rdaniel@lanl.gov

    Intended usage : Limited Use
    The text/uri-list media type is intended for use in applications
    which utilize URIs for replicated resources.

    Author/Change controller : Ron Daniel Jr.
    Los Alamos National Laboratory
    rdaniel@lanl.gov

   In applications where one URI has been mapped to a list of URIs, such
   as in response to the I2Ls request, the first line of the text/uri-
   list response SHOULD be a comment giving the original URI. An example
   of such a result for the I2L request is shown below in Figure 1.

6. Security Considerations

   Communications with a server may be of a sensitive nature. Some
   servers will hold information that should only be released to
   authorized users. The results from servers may be the target of
   spoofing, especially once electronic commerce transactions are common
   and there is money to be made by directing users to pirate
   repositories rather than repositories that pay royalties to rights-
   holders. Server requests may be of interest to traffic analysts. The
   requests may also be subject to spoofing.

   The "Access denied" error message assumes a system within which the
   operation is being performed that can convey an authenticated concept
   of access control. Thus, the "Access denied" message should only be
   returned by systems that have an appropriate method of determining
   access control.

7. References

   [1] Berners-Lee, T., "Universal Resource Identifiers in WWW: A
       Unifying Syntax for the Expression of Names and Addresses of
       Objects on the Network as Used in the World-Wide Web", RFC 1630,
       June 1994.

   [2] Daniel, R., and Mealling, M., "Resolution of Uniform Resource
       Identifiers using the Domain Name System", RFC 2168, February
       1997.

   [3] Moats, R., "URN Syntax", RFC 2141, January 1997.

   [4] Freed, N. and N. Borenstein, "Multipurpose Internet Mail
       Extensions (MIME) Part One: Format of Internet Message Bodies",
       RFC 2045, November 1996.

   [5] Sollins, K., "Architectural Principles of Uniform Resource Name
       Resolution", RFC 2276, January 1998.

   [6] Kunze, J., "Functional Recommendations for Internet Resource
       Locators", RFC 1736, February 1995.

   [7] Berners-Lee, T., Masinter, L. and M. McCahill, "Uniform Resource
       Locators (URL)", RFC 1738, December 1994.

8. Authors' Addresses

   Michael Mealling
   Network Solutions
   505 Huntmar Park Drive
   Herndon, VA 22070

   Phone: (703) 742-0400
   Fax:   (703) 742-9552
   EMail: michaelm@rwhois.net

   Ron Daniel
   Advanced Computing Lab, MS B287
   Los Alamos National Laboratory
   Los Alamos, NM, USA, 87545

   Phone: (505) 665-0597
   Fax:   (505) 665-4939
   EMail: rdaniel@lanl.gov

9.  Full Copyright Statement

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1999).  All Rights Reserved.

   This document and translations of it may be copied and furnished to
   others, and derivative works that comment on or otherwise explain it
   or assist in its implementation may be prepared, copied, published
   and distributed, in whole or in part, without restriction of any
   kind, provided that the above copyright notice and this paragraph are
   included on all such copies and derivative works.  However, this
   document itself may not be modified in any way, such as by removing
   the copyright notice or references to the Internet Society or other
   Internet organizations, except as needed for the purpose of
   developing Internet standards in which case the procedures for
   copyrights defined in the Internet Standards process must be
   followed, or as required to translate it into languages other than
   English.

   The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be
   revoked by the Internet Society or its successors or assigns.

   This document and the information contained herein is provided on an
   "AS IS" basis and THE INTERNET SOCIETY AND THE INTERNET ENGINEERING
   TASK FORCE DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING
   BUT NOT LIMITED TO ANY WARRANTY THAT THE USE OF THE INFORMATION
   HEREIN WILL NOT INFRINGE ANY RIGHTS OR ANY IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF
   MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.

 

User Contributions:

Comment about this RFC, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

CAPTCHA