Sir Tim Berners-Lee: Sorry About the Slashes

web addressSir Tim Berners-Lee, the CERN scientist credited with inventing the World Wide Web, has apologized for the double slash (//) notation that appears at the beginning of every web address:

Really, if you think about it, it doesn’t need the double-slash. I could have designed it not to have the double-slash.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

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Sir Tim explained that he did not predict the hassle the double slashes would cause when he first devised the web addressing system. The problems identified include:

  • It looks too technical to novice web users.
  • Many users mistakenly refer to it as “backslash-backslash”.
  • It’s one of the biggest causes of URL syntax errors.
  • An unimaginable quantity of printer ink and paper has been wasted on the unnecessary characters.

Fortunately, the slashes have become less of a problem during the past few years since most browsers add “http://” to any address that’s not fully qualified.

However, I think we can all forgive Sir Tim. Perhaps he could have devised a simpler addressing system, but few of us would have jobs if it were not for his foresight and inventiveness almost 30 years ago.

Are the double slashes a problem? Do you have trouble explaining URL notations to your clients? Does Sir Tim really need to apologize?