Case matters on the web

When you use a Macintosh, you’re used to things being relatively straightforward and simple. The web, unfortunately, is based in the Unix world, where Occam’s razor is a bloody and dull weapon. They do things differently over there.

Get this, for instance: in Unix, there’s a difference between “file” and “File”! Unix doesn’t check the case, and that “f” in “file” is a completely different character from the “F” in “File”. They're different filenames. Unix people can have, in the same folder (they call ’em directories), files with those two names, and they won’t conflict, even though, to a human being, they’re the same damn word.

Before you start feeling haughty and snooty, remember that this affects you: web browsers can’t tell what system you’re using, so they pretty much have to assume you’re using Unix. And if you refer to a file with different variations on upper and lower case, the browser is going to assume that they’re different files, and ask for them all over again, wasting your bandwidth.

So, unless you’ve got bandwidth to spare, make sure that all of your links use the same combinations of upper and lower case. If you refer to it as “Cerebus.gif” in one place, make sure you refer to it that way everywhere else. Otherwise, the browsers are going to go ahead and ask for it, even though they’ve already got it cached, wasting your time and making you look slower than you really are.