Slashes

How long did it take you to become comfortable typing the prefix “http://”? Even as a pianist, it took me a while for my hands to memorize that sequence.

I’m sure you’re aware that the “http” is the name of the protocol used, just as “ftp” or “https” is used.  After the prefix, you should see a fully-qualified domain name, followed by the path to the file you need.  So what is this “://”?

It’s a separator.  That’s all it is.  I’ve had people ask to explain the deep, dark meaning of those three characters, but there really isn’t one.  Tim Berners-Lee just needed a set of characters that would be unique that could separate the protocol from the URL.  At the time, the double slash was a convention used in programming, so why not use it?

Last fall, he apologized for the slashes.  After all, how was he to know how popular the World Wide Web would become?  And that his syntax would stay with it?

[from New York Times]

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