Difference between URI, URL and URN

Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) is a string of characters used to identify a name or a resource on the Internet

A URI identifies a resource either by location, or a name, or both. A URI has two specializations known as URL and URN.

A Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is a subset of the Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) that specifies where an identified resource is available and the mechanism for retrieving it.URL defines how the resource can be obtained. It does not have to be HTTP URL (http://), a URL can also be (ftp://) or (smb://)

A Uniform Resource Name (URN) is a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) that uses the URN scheme, and does not imply availability of the identified resource. Both URNs (names) and URLs (locators) are URIs, and a particular URI may be both a name and a locator at the same time.

So this is true –

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The URNs are part of a larger Internet information architecture which is composed of URNs, URCs and URLs.

bar.html is not a URN. A URN is similar to a person’s name, while a URL is like a street address. The URN defines something’s identity, while the URL provides a location. Essentially, “what” vs. “where”. A URN has to be of this form <URN> ::= "urn:" <NID> ":" <NSS> where <NID> is the Namespace Identifier, and <NSS> is the Namespace Specific String.

To put it differently:

  • A URL is a URI that identifies a resource and also provides the means of locating the resource by describing the way to access it
  • A URL is a URI
  • A URI is not necessarily a URL

I’d say the only thing left to make it 100% clear would be to have an example of an URI that is not an URL. We can use the examples in the RFC3986:

URL: ftp://ftp.is.co.za/rfc/rfc1808.txt
URL: http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2396.txt
URL: ldap://[2001:db8::7]/c=GB?objectClass?one
URL: mailto:John.Doe@example.com
URL: news:comp.infosystems.www.servers.unix
URL: telnet://192.0.2.16:80/
URN (not URL): urn:oasis:names:specification:docbook:dtd:xml:4.1.2
URN (not URL): tel:+1-816-555-1212 (?)

Communication Networks:Fundamental Concepts And Key Architectures,Leon Garcia (English) 2nd Edition

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2 thoughts on “Difference between URI, URL and URN

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  2. Pingback: URI, URL ve URN Nedir? - ceaksan

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