Uniform Resource Names, Revised
Uniform Resource Names, Revised WG
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* * * Problem Statement * * *
Uniform Resource Names (URNs) are location-independent, persistent
identifiers for information resources.
The RFCs defining URNs were published in 1997-2001. They rely on old
(or even provisional) basic documents on the concepts of URI and URL. At
that time there was almost no URN implementation experience.
Since then, the URN system has gained significant popularity, and
roughly 40 formal URN Namespaces have been defined and registered with
IANA. Hundreds of millions of resources have been assigned URNs; this
enables searching of and persistent linking to these documents,
artifacts, and other objects. However, the URN system lacks a
foundation that is consistent in terminology and formal description with
present (Full) Internet Standards.
The core URN RFCs -- RFC 2141 (URN Syntax), RFC 3406 (Namespace
Definition Mechanisms) -- are based on outdated framework documents and
understanding of digital archiving. All references in RFC 2141 point to
"work in progress" or documents that have been superseded at least once.
The lack of a standard definition of the 'urn' URI scheme fosters
recurring discussions on what URNs are and IETF commitment to them.
There is a need to clarify that URNs are specific URIs (namely those
using the 'urn' URI scheme) and hence all general URI rules apply to URNs.
There also is a need to update some namespace registrations for at least
two reasons: the standards specifying the relevant underlying namespaces
(such as International Standard Book Number (ISBN)) have been
amended/expanded since the original specification of the related URN
namespace and the WG's update of the basic URN-related RFCs might
introduce or identify inconsistencies.
* * * Objectives for the Working Group * * *
This working group is chartered to update the key RFCs describing the
URN system, including RFC 2141 (URN Syntax), RFC 3406 (Namespace
Definition Mechanisms), and review and update selected URN namespace
specifications including those for ISBN, National Bibliography Numbers
(NBN) and International Serial Standard Number (ISSN).
For all document revisions, backward compatibility with previous
URN-related RFCs will be retained.
The WG will produce an updated set of URN-related RFCs. All documents
will be on the Standards-Track or BCP. These updates will provide a
normative foundation for URNs and assure uniformity of the URN
assignment and resolution concepts and procedures at the abstract level.
Details and tasks (the WG will approach these tasks in roughly this order):
a) Core URN specifications
For RFC 2141, this revision will include in particular:
- an update of the formal syntax specification in the light of the
URI Standard (STD 66, RFC 3986) using the ABNF from STD 68
- a formal IANA registration for the 'urn' URI scheme using the
current template from BCP 35 (RFC 4395);
- a revised set of URN examples and
- an update of the sections describing how URNs are resolved
in the Internet, based on the current practices.
RFC 3406 (BCP 33) will be aligned with the current IANA procedures
and terminology as defined in BCP 26 (RFC 5226).
b) URN Namespace specifications
The WG will focus on updating the RFCs related to the key
bibliographic identifier systems:
- RFC 3187 (URN Namespace for International Standard Book Numbers),
- RFC 3188 (URN Namespace for National Bibliography Numbers), and
- RFC 3044 (URN Namespace for International Serial Standard Number).
All these identifier systems have been updated since these RFCs were
written in a way that makes revision of the namespace registration
c) Further work
The WG will support the current registrants of URN namespaces. It
will review the legacy URN namespace definition documents and if
needed, provide advice to their registrants on how to bring these
registrations in line with the upcoming URN-related RFCs.
However any work on updating such specifications beyond giving an
advice would require rechartering of the WG.
Revision of RFC 2141 based on draft-ah-rfc2141bis-urn
Revision of RFC 3406
Revision of RFC 3187 based on draft-hakala-rfc3187bis-isbn-urn
Revision of RFC 3188 based on draft-hakala-rfc3188bis-nbn-urn
Revision of RFC 3044