“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.
I was against it, until this pun.
Just like email it is the most basic form of digital communication at the user level. Killing the URL will give browser manufacturers full control of what users can or cannot read. Welcome to the walled wide web
The history seems to repeat itself. Before open web was this popular, there were closed systems, like AOL and Compuserve. They not only had proprietery systems, but there was the “keyword”.
At that time the Internet was marketed similar to an appliance, and most of the population not having prior computer interactions, this seemed like a natural choice.
Then we had a long run of computer literate people who used their desktops for most stuff. At this point almost everyone knew what a URL was.
Now we are back to the point where main interaction with the Internet is thru specialized applications. Mobile ones have no URLs, they just talk directly to cloud services. Web based ones try to hide the URL, and only a few have proper back/fw navigation or bookmarkability.
We still have OSnews and others which have URLs for URI (resource identification). News sites, amazon product pages etc usually fall into this category. Nevertheless there is also a large body of web content where URL no longer works properly.
I’m not sure what the solution is. However at least in the short to middle term I would prefer keeping the URLs as is.
Edited 2018-09-07 02:44 UTC