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Case sensitivity of URLs

Softpanorama site uses case sensitive URLs; Junk bots written for Windows which present URL in low case have problem

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Domain names are case insensitive according to RFC 4343. The rest of URL is sent to the server via the GET method. This may be case sensitive or not. Sites that are hosted on Windows tend to be case insensitive as the underlying file system is case insensitive. Sites hosted on Unix type systems tend to be case sensitive as their underlying file systems are typically case sensitive. The host name part of the URL is always case insensitive, it's the rest of the path that varies.

Traditionally Web sites which use apache server have case sensitive URLs. In such sites there may be URLs, or parts of URLs, where case doesn't matter (that can be achieved via softlinks), but identifying these may not be easy. Users should always consider that URLs are case-sensitive. Looks like starting around Apache 2.1/2.2, there is a directive  "CheckCaseOnly on" was introduced could turn off the "spelling" feature and leave only the case feature active.  A side effect is this could possibly help us do #1 by detecting those URL's that are bad, assuming it logs those cases where it got activated.

This W3 guideline is reasonable. It simply states that one shouldn't make an assumption on how the server handles the URL you are submitting. It is up to the server how to handle the request URL. Most of web servers are unix/linux and that means most of web servers are case sensitive.  You can mount you Web site a SAMBA share.  Since SAMBA files are case-insensitive, a request from Apache for a file would succeed regardless of the case.

You can however to implement case insensitivity in Apache by using 'CheckSpelling On' from mod_speling. It is also possible  to convert URL to lower case via mod rewrite:

RewriteEngine on
rewritemap lowercase int:tolower
RewriteCond $1 [A-Z]
RewriteRule ^/(.*)$ /${lowercase:$1} [R=301,L] 

On the other hand, Wikipedia is case sensitive except the first character of the title. The URLs  and  leads to the same article, but returns 404.

Universal Resource Locators (URLs)

Every resource available on the Web --- HTML document, image, video clip, program, etc. --- has an address that may be encoded by a Universal Resource Locator, or "URL" (defined in [RFC1738]).

URLs typically consist of three pieces:

  1. The name of the protocol used to transfer the resource over the Web.
  2. The name of the machine hosting the resource.
  3. The name of the resource itself, given as a path.

Consider the URL that designates the current HTML specification:

This URL may be read as follows: Use the HTTP protocol to transfer the data residing on the machine in the file /TR/WD-html4/cover.html

URLs in general are case-sensitive (with the exception of machine names). There may be URLs, or parts of URLs, where case doesn't matter, but identifying these may not be easy. Users should always consider that URLs are case-sensitive. /u

The character set of URLs that appear in HTML is specified in [RFC1738].

Fragment URLs

The URL specification en vigeur at the writing of this document ([RFC1738]) offers a mechanism to refer to a resource, but not to a location within a resource. The Web community has adopted a convention called "fragment URLs" to refer to anchors within an HTML document. A fragment URL ends with "#" followed by an anchor identifier. For instance, here is a fragment URL pointing to an anchor named section_2:

Relative URLs

A relative URL (defined in [RFC1808]) doesn't contain any protocol or machine information, and its path generally refers to an HTML document on the same machine as the current document. Relative URLs may contain relative path components (".." means the parent location) and may be fragment URLs.

Relative URLs may be resolved to full URLs, for example when the user attempts to follow a link from one document to another. [RFC1808] defines the normative algorithm for resolving relative URLs. The following description is for convenience only.

Briefly, a full URL is derived from a relative URL by attaching a "base" part to the relative URL. The base part is a URL that may come from any or all of the following sources:

[RFC1808] specifies the precedence among multiple sources of base information. For the purposes of this explanation, the last piece of base information takes precedence over the others and HTTP headers are considered to occur earlier than the document HEAD.

If no explicit base information accompanies the document, the base URL is that which designates the location of the current document.

Given a base URL and a relative URL (that does not begin with a slash), a full URL is derived as follows:


In HTML, URLs play a role in these situations:

In each case, authors may use a full URL, a fragment URL, or a relative URL. Please consult the section on anchors for more information about links and URLs.


In addition to HTTP URLs, authors might want to include MAILTO URLs (see [RFC1738]) in their documents. MAILTO URLs cause email to be sent to some email address. For instance, the author might create a link that, when activated, causes the user agent to open a mail program with the destination address in the "To:" field.

MAILTO URLs have the following syntax:


User agents may support MAILTO URL extensions that are not yet Internet standards (e.g., appending subject information to a URL with the syntax "?Subject=my%20subject" where any space characters are replaced by "%20").

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... section 2.7.3

The scheme and host are case-insensitive and normally provided in lowercase; all other components are compared in a case-sensitive manner.



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