Archive for June, 2010

“geo:” and vCards

June 10th, 2010

vCard – the first spec to use “geo:”?

The first specification that is using the “geo:” scheme seems to be the revision of the vCard format. vCards are “virtual business cards”, and contain a multitude of contact information about a person or an organization.

vCard GEO property

The geographic location of a person’s office is of course one of those properties – even the original specification of vCard (RFC 2426) contained an “GEO” property (defined in Section 3.4.2). That property has a range of shortcomings:

  • There’s no way to specify altitude
  • the Coordinate Reference System is not defined (see here [PDF] why you should care)
  • Recommends to always use six decimal places (roughly one meter) rather than allowing for uncertainty values

New revision of vCard includes “geo:” URI

The current revision of the vCard specification (currently worked on in the IETF’s VCARDDAV working group) has changed the format of the “GEO” property. The new definition requires a URI rather than the lat/lon tupel as value, and notes in an example that the “geo:” URI scheme is “particularly well-suited”, although other URI schemes are allowed too. A example vCard using the “geo:” URI looks like this (edited for brevity):

FN:Simon Perreault

As outlined above, the structure of vCards allows to supply parameters for properties – in the example above, the GEO property is specified for the “work” location of the contact.

vCard applications become geo: aware

The integration of the URI scheme into the very popular vCard format means that very likely future revisions of vCard applications will be able to parse and use “geo:” URIs. Looking at the list of applications that support vCards, it looks like a bright future for our newly-born URI scheme.

RFC 5870: “A Uniform Resource Identifier for Geographic Locations”

June 7th, 2010

It’s Done.

RFC 5870 (“A Uniform Resource Identifier for Geographic Locations”) has finally been published by the Internet Engineering Task Force as “Proposed Standard”. The RFC contains the final, stable and approved IETF specification of the “geo” URI scheme – the 23 pages document is the result of 3 years of hard work, several presentations at IETF meetings, hundreds of email conversations about protocol details, discussing the proposal again and again, and – finally – interacting with not just one, but two sets of Area Directors in the IESG (Approval was perfectly timed with the end of the term of several Area Directors, so it had to be reviewed by the incoming IESG members as well).

Now that the “blueprint” part of the URI scheme is done, we’re looking forward to applications actually using the “geo” scheme (besides the ones we know of already). The URI scheme will also very likely see adoption in other IETF documents. If you know of an application that you think should support the “geo” URI scheme – let us know.