Quick – what’s a URL? Most of you would point to that string of text at the top of your browser that defines the location for this page. But URLs represent a lot of things: references to pages, pointers to content, and the foundations of links. They’re the fiber of the web, and the entire notion of HTTP is about pages pointing to pages using URLs.
However, a new approach to building websites is threatening to turn this notion of URLs on its head. Two simple characters – #! (called either a hashbang or a shebang) – are creating more trouble than anything seen in years. Adding those to a URL makes it something else entirely, but to understand why we need to first go over a couple of web fundamentals.
Of course, many of the upcoming changes in HTML5 may make this all irrelevant anyway. Only time will tell.