Universal Resource Identifier


URI Stands for “Uniform Resource Identifier.” A URI identifies the name and location of a file or resource in a uniform format. It includes a string of characters for the filename and may also contain the path to the directory of the file. URIs provide a standard way for resources to be accessed by other computers across a network or over the World Wide Web. They are used by software programs such as Web browsers and P2P file-sharing programs to locate and download files.

Internet space is inhabited by many points of content. A URI (Uniform Resource Identifier; is the way you identify any of those points of content, whether it be a page of text, a video or sound clip, a still or animated image, or a program. The most common form of URI is the Web page address, which is a particular form or subset of URI called a Uniform Resource Locator (URL). A URI typically describes:

  • The mechanism used to access the resource
  • The specific computer that the resource is housed in
  • The specific name of the resource (a file name) on the computer

For example, this URI:


identifies a file that can be accessed using the Web protocol application, Hypertext Transfer Protocol, (“http:”) that is housed on a computer named “www.w3.org” (which can be mapped to a unique Internet address). In the computer’s directory structure, the file is located at the pathname of “/Icons/WWW/w3c_main.gif.” Character strings that identify File Transfer Protocol FTP addresses and e-mail addresses are also URIs (and, like the HTTP address, are also the specific subset of URI called a URL).


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