aitch-tee-tee-pee colon slash slash

It’s lovely to see someone stand up and take the blame for a mistake they’ve made. I’m not talking about the Government (obviously), I’m talking Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World-Wide Web. He’s come out and apologised for the redundant slashes that appear in every web address (url).

Good man. But what of the rest? The “www.” that was so unpronounceable is already obsolete, and personally I think twitter can take credit for popularising the contemporary non-dubbed url form. Boffins in lab coats has worked tirelessly to make memory ubiquitous and cheap, but we’ve just stuck some character limits in there to be fashionable or something. Hey ho. But the “www” is gone.

Can anyone tell me why there’s a huhtetep, “http:”, still shown in my address bar? What’s it for? What does it tell me? I don’t actually have to type it in these days, but it appears there anyway. Why?

Is it to show that I’m looking at a document provided by HyperText Transfer Protocol? I don’t care about that!

Is it to show that I *could* be looking at an FTP site, using the same browser? Ok, fair call, but that’s so rare to do so, that you could default to not showing “http:”, and then only show “ftp:” when FTP sites are used. It’s not like every browser has a built-in FTP client anyway. Same goes for local files.

Is it to show the “s” when I look at an “https” page, meaning that the connection between my browser and the website is encrypted? Well, ok, but what was wrong with the padlock? Why is there such a strong connection between certificates and https anyway? They mean completely different things. I don’t need a certificate to know is Google. Equally, a certificate costs about 20 bucks and has so few checks that I’m hardly reassured when dealing with a new site by the presence of the certificate. What I want to see is a padlock. Drop the “https” and show me a padlock.

Is it for future extensibility, to enable a future Internet to use new and unusual protocols? Like “about:”? Again, it would be simple enough to recognise a default of http. If you go to about:config, then display the protocol. Why is this hard? If a new protocol came along to overtake http, then I think a bigger browser update would be needed anyway.

I think browser manufacturers should take treat it like the port. Every web page is served by a port, and for most of the web, that’s port 80. You could look at this website by typing But mostly, the 80 is assumed. You only ever type in a port if you’re not using port 80, such as for local development. If you type “:80” into a web browser like Chrome, it disappears. Let’s do that for “http://” as well. if you’re thinking there might be confusion between ports and protocols, you’re wrong. Protocols are letters-only, Internet domains need at least one dot, and ports are only numeric.

I’m using Chrome version 5, the latest in a long history of browsers. Surely it’s long past time to kill off the http://. And if you look closely, you’ll see the iPhone already has.