Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 6th Sep 2018 23:34 UTC

"People have a really hard time understanding URLs," says Adrienne Porter Felt, Chrome's engineering manager. "They're hard to read, it's hard to know which part of them is supposed to be trusted, and in general I don't think URLs are working as a good way to convey site identity. So we want to move toward a place where web identity is understandable by everyone - they know who they're talking to when they're using a website and they can reason about whether they can trust them. But this will mean big changes in how and when Chrome displays URLs. We want to challenge how URLs should be displayed and question it as we're figuring out the right way to convey identity."

Judging by the reactions across the web to this news, I'm going to have the minority opinion by saying that I'm actually a proponent of looking at what's wrong with the status quo so we can try to improve it. Computing is actually an incredibly conservative industry, and far too often the reaction to "can we do this better?" is "no, because it's always been that way".

That being said, I'm not a fan of such an undertaking in this specific case being done by a for-profit, closed entity such as Google. I know the Chromium project is open source, but it's effectively a Google project and what they decide goes - an important effort such as modernizing the URL scheme should be an industry-wide effort.

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RE[4]: Conservative
by Alfman on Sat 8th Sep 2018 00:43 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Conservative"
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Agreed, but the OP also makes a valid point. Yes, if we redesigned email right now, we could eliminate much of the complexity we see while meeting today's requirements. But that word, today, is the key. Decades down the line as we are with email right now, you would find a similar hodgepodge of complexity as new requirements that were not foreseen at the start come to be necessary. After all, email started out simple, too.

You make a valid point, but it doesn't seem like the same point that Serafean was making due to one critical word that he used:
But expose all the problems it has to solve, and suddenly you find out that you'd end up with something similarly complex.

He was implying that the goals of email are intrinsically complex and anyone who develops it will "suddenly end up with something similarly complex" and that's the point I disagree with for the reasons stated earlier. If we replace "suddenly" with "eventually", then it does change the meaning to match your point:

But expose all the problems it has to solve, and eventually you find out that you'd end up with something similarly complex.

And it's true complexity does arise over time, yet a big difference between now and then is that when SMTP was published by a man in 1982, there was very little experience in digital mail systems, certainly not on a wide scale. Not only do we have tons more knowledge and experience today, but email is also more mature.

Taking the unicode example again:
ASCII, or the "American Standard Code for Information Interchange" had shortcomings with internationalization. This was bound to cause problems later on. Are there similar assumptions that unicode authors will have failed to consider for the next several decades? Perhaps, but due to maturity and hindsight I do think it's fair to say that unicode is more future-proof than ASCII was. In a similar vein, I think there are things we could do with email that would help with long term stability. But of course the big problem is actually moving the world to that point without breaking compatibility with existing legacy software.

Edited 2018-09-08 01:01 UTC

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