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What is XRI?

XRI (Extensible Resource Identifier) is a new digital identity addressing standard from OASIS (home of SAML, WS-Security, WS-Federation, ebXML, XACML, and many other XML standards). It has been under development since 2003 by over a dozen companies including AMD, AmSoft, Boeing, Booz Allen Hamilton, Cordance, ooTao, NeuStar, NRI, PlaNetwork, Visa International, and XDI.org.

How are XRIs different from URLs?

XRI is like “XML for identifiers”. Just as the Web is evolving from HTML to XML, web addresses will evolve from URLs to XRIs. XRIs can work almost anyplace URLs can, but they can do several things URLs can’t:

  • XRIs typically come in pairs – a human-friendly “i-name” and an unchanging “i-number”. The i-name can change over time without links breaking because they can use the permanent i-number.
  • XRIs are portable across domains, i.e., a user or a business can “take their XRI with them” to any site or application that uses XRIs – you don’t need to register a new username or address.
  • XRIs are “composable” – you can build XRIs from other XRIs like lego blocks (and human language). You can even build an XRI out of other identifiers like URLs, phone numbers, email addresses, etc.
  • XRIs are fully internationalized, so they work in all languages.

What problems does XRI solve for users?

Simplicity, portability, and privacy. A personal XRI like =drummond.reed (which can also be shown as a live link, i.e., =drummond.reed) is the first Internet identifier designed explicitly for personal digital addressing – to let people have a lifetime Internet address that's easy to remember and type, useable for all types of services on the net, portable across all types of sites and applications, and protected from spam, phishing, and data leakage.

What problems does XRI solve for businesses?

From a business point of view, XRIs are to URLs what fax numbers are to ordinary phone numbers. As digital data sharing protocols like OpenID, SAML, and XDI gain adoption, a business XRI like @cordance (and the underlying i-number) will become their universal “web services number” – one that keeps working no matter how often they move, change names, reorganize, merge, etc.

What problem does XRI solve for everyone?

XRI is the first digital addressing standard to explicitly include tags — generic identifiers like +budget, +home, or +apple that everyone can use to describe resources in a way both people and machines can understand. XRIs themselves can be tagged, e.g., =drummond.reed+home+phone, =drummond.reed+work+phone, @cordance+fax+phone, @cordance+email.

What software supports XRIs today?

XRI support is included in OpenID 2.0, specifically to solve the OpenID recycling problem (having someone take over your OpenID because you lost your username or domain name). The Higgins Project uses XRI for data addressing, and XRI is the basis for the OASIS XDI data sharing protocol. There are also three open source XRI resolver/server projects – OpenXRI (Java), Barx (Ruby), and MyXDI (C++).

Where can I go for more info?

The three best sources are:

Also feel free to contact members of the XRI community listed in the dev.xri.net directory.