URL Length and Complexity Issues
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URL Wrapping and Delimiting Issues
For humans, long and complex URLs are hard to remember and use. In addition to the sheer difficulty of remembering all those characters, there is the issue of URL wrapping, which occurs when they are presented in certain forms. Most programs can only display 78 or 80 characters in a single line. If a URL is longer than this, the characters of the URL will wrap onto multiple lines; when you read that Google example just above, you probably noticed that.
URL wrapping can lead to mistakes when copying a URL from one form to another, such as if you copied it from this document into your Web browser. If a URL is 81 characters long and 80 are on the first line and the last character on the second line, many users may not realize that the URL has wrapped at all. I have seen URLs that are hundreds of characters long, requiring several manual copy and paste operations to get the URL to work.
Perhaps surprisingly, some software may not handle this wrapping properly either. While this is not a problem when a hyperlink is used in something like an HTML document, it can be troublesome when links are included in an e-mail message or Usenet article.
Another issue is delimiting where a URL starts and ends when it appears. A URL begins with a scheme name that could in theory be used in other contexts that are not URLs. Without a clear way of labeling a URL as being a URL, a software program might not recognize it. Consider discussion of a URL in a document like this one; if I say Please visit http://www.thissite.com; you will see the information you need there, then we all know the semicolon is part of the sentence and not part of the URL, but a computer program might not be so sure. And again, this problem is worse when a URL is long and complex and wraps on to multiple lines of textflhow does the program recognize the end of the URL?
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Version 3.0 - Version Date: September 20, 2005
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