Addresses are messy. In most parts of the world (even the "western world"), addresses are hopelessly ambiguous and much of the world cannot nearly as nicely be divided into a neatly hierarchical addressing system as this example suggests.
Real-world addresses are ambiguous, confusing and messy. Pretty much the opposites of qualities that make for a good URL scheme.
How do you deal with multiple places with the same name, or one place that is known by many names? Disambiguation pages and 304 redirects to a single canonical name (which might piss a lot of people off if it's a disputed area)?
Most civilised parts of the world have developed more precise, less ambiguous addressing systems over time, using post codes and other systematic approaches, but even those are not always watertight, often volatile and only work for places where some body issued them (good luck in the desert or ocean).
Geocoding is hard, and reverse geocoding (from a place to a name) is even harder, but fortunately we already have a clear, concise and unambiguous way to address places on earth: the Geographic Coordinate System. Every place on earth can be addressed using a simple latitude/longitude coordinate pair. It's not pretty or user friendly, but at least it's fool-proof.
Why not take a much simpler approach, similar to how many blogging platforms generate pretty urls from post titles?
The URL in the example could then be:
Multiple places with the same name are also much less of a problem this way:
And yet, astonishingly, you get your mail. If the mail can find its way to the right point, so can this type of URL.
Your counter examples are interesting but not what this example is showing: a nice URL for a physical mailing address. Presumably one would fall back to lat/lon if one is trying to do something other than find an address.
> just as conveniently
Contrary to the OPs example, having to look up lat/lon first in order to pinpoint an address on a map seems not convenient at all.
Yes, mail can find its way to the right point precisely because most countries have added a post code to the addressing system in order to deal with ambiguity.
Furthermore, mail is routed by machines, but ultimately delivered by people. And not always flawlessly too (especially with "weird" addresses. I used to live in a house with "28 1/3" as a number, which lead to massive problems). URLs are expected to work without human intervention, so more precision is required.
> Your counter examples are interesting but not what this example is showing: a nice URL for a physical mailing address.
No, the title of this post is "I made an example app to show how Google map URLs should look". And who types URLs anyway. If you are on HN, you probably belong to the tiny group of people who occasionally types "google.com?q=myquery" into your address bar, but I'm pretty sure you did not get to the page you are currently on by typing https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5624287
URLs are not the best form of user input, and even if they were, typing searching for "199 valencia st sf" is a lot more efficient (and less sensitive to errors) than typing the full URL of this example (http://nice-map-urls.herokuapp.com/united-states/california/...).
So, the URL is not short enough to be useful for direct user input and not precise enough to serve as a reliable permalink to a specific location, so what exactly is it good for?
My example also sucks for direct user input (for reasons you mentioned: lat/long coordinates are not user friendly), but at least they're better permalinks. I'm not sure if a solution exists that does both well, and even then, I'm not sure if it can beat search (hell, people already search for "facebook" on Google rather than typing "facebook.com" into their address bar, so how are we going to get people to use this?).
Hey guys come to the launch party for my new startup! 9pm Saturday, at the Mumblefrotz office: http://maps.google.com/united-states/california/san-francisc...
(Note: no actual party Saturday, and that's the example URL the post pointed to.)
In real world usage people will very often just cut and paste URLs directly into text, rather than figure out how to turn it into a link. Would you rather have this kind of link dumped in as plaintext, or would you rather have a lengthy machine-friendly link full of raw lat/long data, view choices, dbrefs, and whatnot?
Sure, fall back to a geolocation URL if it's not a point on a street grid. But I suspect that a huge percentage of the map URLs that people pass around are on street grids.
Then you probably live in the US. Most of the world is not so neatly gridded as the US.
URLs should first and foremost point to the resource (in this case a maps page) that you expect them to. This URL scheme cannot guarantee that, so it's a bad idea. It could work if you include a post code, but a post code is only marginally less ugly than a lat/long pair.
Friendly URLs help people understand the hierarchy of information and orient themselves within it. Friendly URLs serve as a kind of breadcrumb navigation. Friendly URLs are "hackable" by normals.
> not precise enough to serve as a reliable permalink to a specific location
If delivering mail is solvable, and considering the miracle of Street View exists, surely giving each address its own human-friendly URL is solvable too.
> And who types URLs anyway.
Everyone who uses the web.
Some times for example you are not actually linking to an address or a building for example, and you want precise coordinates. Just very randomly:
You, and the parent you're agreeing with, seem to have overlooked I'd already made that point:
> Presumably one would fall back to lat/lon if one is trying to do something other than find an address.
There are many places (where people live) that you can’t send a letter to. Instead you’ll have to send it to a mail drop where the intended receiver will have to pick it up.
What in the world do those things have in common with each other? Mail gets "resolved" over a period of days and involves a small army of people, many with local knowledge. It also frequently fails and needs updated (postal codes change, street names change, etc).
> having to look up lat/lon first in order to pinpoint an address on a map seems not convenient at all
Who has to look up anything? We're talking about a URL--the software does the lookup and the user just sees the correct map.
On the contrary, we're talking about friendly URLs, comprehensible to normals. A human can compose a URL of the format proposed by the example, and have it point to the correct map. With lat:lon URLs, the human would have to geocode their address into lat:lon then compose the URL.
However, to agree with one part of your point, software manages to accomplish that today: put in an exact mailing address, and get a pin on a map. Therefore, one can obviously parse an address from a URL, and get the same pin on a map. Best of both worlds: human friendly URLs, while supporting lat:lon for any non-address POI.
I'm sure if one were to try hard enough, they could find issues with this scheme in the US as well.
The idea of a human usable URL would be that they'd compose the hierarchy of address URL using local addressing standards and end up with a pin at the right spot.
My understanding is this is one eventual goal of Street View database: to be able to use image recognition (street names, street numbers, buildings, landmarks, etc) to more correctly locate pins.
They're now using reCAPTCHA to assist with that: http://techcrunch.com/2012/03/29/google-now-using-recaptcha-...