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November 15, 2007

UniProt, URNs, PURLs

Stu Weibel - yes, that Stu Weibel, the notorious Facebook transgressor ;-) - made a post yesterday in which he responds to a comment questioning OCLC's motivation in providing the PURL service. What caught my attention, however, was Stu's mention of the fact that:

Evidence of success of the strategy may be found in the adoption of PURLs for the identification of some billion URI-based assertions about proteins in the UniProt database, an international database of proteins intended to support open research in the biological sciences. In the latest release of UniProt (11.3), all URIs of the form:


have been replaced with URLs of the form:


Some "live" examples:




I gather that this change by UniProt was announced some time ago, so it isn't really news, but it does look to me like a very nice example of an adoption of the approaches advocated in the draft W3C Technical Architecture Group finding URNs, Namespaces and Registries, which

addresses the questions "When should URNs or URIs with novel URI schemes be used to name information resources for the Web?" and "Should registries be provided for such identifiers?". The answers given are "Rarely if ever" and "Probably not". Common arguments in favor of such novel naming schemas are examined, and their properties compared with those of the existing http: URI scheme.

Three case studies are then presented, illustrating how the http: URI scheme can be used to achieve many of the stated requirements for new URI schemes.

Or as Andy paraphrased it a few months ago (actually, a year and a bit now - crikey, time flies): "New URI schemes: just say no" ;-)


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