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If you are a software developer or an avid follower of tech news, you must have come across several acronyms that you feel are somehow confusing, especially those that are used interchangeably. Perfect examples of such acronyms are URIs and URLs. In this article, we’ll try to look at the subtle differences between URIs and URLs.
So, which are the main differences between URIs and URLs?
Although both URI and URL are related and are at times used synonymously, they refer to different things.
What is a URI?
A URI, which stands for Uniform Resource Identifier, is a sequence of characters that identifies a web resource by location, name, or both in the World Wide Web. It is a method that allows for the uniform identification of the resources. Basically, there are two types of URIs: URNs (Uniform Resource Names) and URLs (Uniform Resource Locators).
What is a URL?
On the other hand, a URL, which is a short form for Uniform Resource Locator, is a sequence of characters that identifies the network location of a resource. Besides identifying a resource, URLs help locate a resource by describing its primary access location. An URL starts with HTTP/https when the resource is web type data, mailto if the resource is an email address, or FTP if the resource is a file. The syntax of a URL is as follows: http://www.sites.com/file/filename.jpg.
In short, the main difference between a URI and a URL is that the former acts as a resource identify either by location name or both, while the latter acts as the location. Since a URL identifies a resource using one of the URI schemes, it is a subset of URI. As such, a URL is a non-persistent type of the URI.
Key Differences between URI and URL
- A URI is used to define a resource’s identity. Here, the word identifier means to distinguish one resource from the next regardless of the method used (location, name, or both). In contrast, a URL is used to link a program, a component of the webpage, or the webpage. With the aid of the accessing technique (protocols such as FTP, https, HTTP, mailto), it helps to retrieve the location of a resource.
- While URIs don’t concern themselves with protocol specifications, the URL specifies the kind of protocol to be used.
- Since URL uses a scheme of URI, it is a subset of the URI. Therefore, a URL can be a URI, but a URI can never be a URL.
|Resource identifier||Resource locator|
|Superset of URL||Type of URI|
|It is often utilized in XML and tag library files such as JSTL and XSLT to identify resources and binaries.||Often used to find webpages|
|Its primary purpose is to identify a resource and differentiate it from other resources either by using location, name or both||Its primary goal is to get the address or location of a resource|
|The scheme can be anything from protocol to designation and specification||The scheme is usually a protocol such as https, HTTP, FTP, and LDAP, among others|