Really deep linking: Url + regex

Here's today's boil the ocean scheme idea — and it's not a new idea by any means. I'm sure it has occurred to many people at many times, I've just never seen it written down. (links to further reading welcome)

Just say you want to bookmark a particular paragraph on a particular web document.

Perhaps you want to perform the electronic equivalent of using a highlighter pen to point out a particular fragment of a document in its original context.

You can give the uri of the page, but you can't give a specific link to the actual paragraph you are interested in.

(Sure, if the author of the document provided a named anchor tag for the paragraph then you are in luck. But only semantic web fanboys and egomaniacs go to this kind of extreme)

What I'm thinking is that, instead, you could provide a little extra bit of regex-goodness in the url. Say for example you said:

href=' --highlight "Say for example you said:"'

...then this could act as a pair of instructions to the browser: the first one is "get from '' and the second instruction is "highlight the text that matches this regex: "Say for example you said:" (excluding the quotes). The instructions are separated by spaces, qualified by quotes and so on. Click on the link and the page is shown, with the relevant text highlighted.

Okay — i'm thinking four different things at once here:

  1. Why stop at highlight? what other commands could the new commandline accept?
  2. "Major security flaws waiting to happen"
  3. Some people, when confronted with a problem, think "I know, I'll use regular expressions." (etc...)
  4. Subtle differences in implementations between browsers.... NO!!!1!

And of course, as always, I'm hearing the voice of some strange ever-present character in my head (who sounds a lot like comic-book-store-guy from the simpsons) and he alternates between:

  • You can already do that in firefox with addins/greasemonkey, idiot. And
  • 'course, there'a an emacs command to do that

Thoughts? Additions? Subtractions? Jakob?


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