Using URIs to connect to local apps

, Jul 1, 2003

Jon Udell writes about the TAG's The Architecture of the World Wide Web document, and while the article itself is - as always - very interesting, there is a small paragraph that introduces a great concept in passing:

If you're an IE user, you can try it here, after visiting Tools -> Internet Options -> Security -> Internet -> Custom Level -> Miscellaneous -> Access data sources across domains (shouldn't there be URLs for these things?)

I think the answer is: Yes, there should be a URL. It's such a common thing to point others to a particular dialog or setting in some application that it would be great to have this opportunity. I can think of two ways to do this:

  1. Have the application act as a server that listens on some defined port, and open the setting if an HTTP get request is sent according to the URI requested,
  2. Introduce a new scheme, turning the URI into something like "myapp://settings/whatever/", that would fire up the appropriate dialog (I think this is the way Notes does it)

Both approaches have disadvantages - having to implement an (albeit small) HTTP listening taks in the first case, and violating one of the principles in the TAG document in the other.