Globally Unique Identifier

Kevin Richards richardsk at LANDCARERESEARCH.CO.NZ
Tue Sep 7 19:36:39 CEST 2004

I am a software developer at Landcare Research in New Zealand, where we are
developing a names taxonomic database and web service.  We are at present
deciding on a unique identifier that will identify a specific Name,
Specimen, Vernacular, Reference etc, and would like to add my comments.

We currently favour a GUID identifier for several reasons:

- it is guaranteed to be unique globally, and can be created anywhere,
anytime by any server or client machine
- it has no meaning as to where the data is physically located and will
there not confuse any user about this
- it is not as usable by the user as ids such as integers, and a meaningful
id can lead to confusion/errors
- most id mechanisms, especially URI/URN ids require a 'governing body' to
handle namespaces/urls to ensure every URN is unique, whereas a GUID is
always unique

I do think a URL of some kind would be useful for things such as global
searches of multiple databases, as this will allow the search to go
directly to the data source where the name, referene, etc comes from.  But
this should not be part of its ID.  Maybe a name/id should have several
foms, a GUID for an ID and a URL + a GUID for a fully specified name.

What are the current thoughts on these ideas?

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