QRZ Website Link Policy Update

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by AA7BQ, Aug 24, 2009.

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  1. AA7BQ

    AA7BQ Guest

    As QRZ approaches its 16th anniversary of continuous service online, it should come as no surprise that we've got a virtual three car garage full of old junk lying around that is in serious need of a cleanup. While we don't have any of our original 1993 software and files laying about, we do have plenty of files, links, and programs that no longer serve a useful purpose. Worse yet, there are some items which are still in limited use that really need to go away.

    This collection of junk files and links exist primarily because every time we've made a change or an upgrade, we kept a copy of the old files around, 'just in case'. There is something frightening about deleting old files because you never know when you might need them again, or, perhaps they contain some tidbit of information that you've forgotten about. Still, after several generations, there exists a growing collection of cruft that is undeniably deprecated and keeping it around actually becomes a liability.

    Getting rid of old programs and files is pretty easy. Getting rid of some of the older links, while easy to do, can cause some unexpected behavior that isn't immediately apparent.

    Case in point: Linking to Specific Callsign Pages on QRZ

    Over the years there have been several different web page links to reach personal callsign pages on QRZ. Starting with http://www.qrz.com/... and ending with a variety of names including, but not limited to: directory.cgi, cbook, call=, lookup, and many others. A few of years ago, we had a bright idea and configured our web server to recognize unqualified callsign lookups such as http://www.qrz.com/(your_callsign). This shortcut was very convenient but it caused a lot of trouble both in the foreground (user confusion) and in the background, behind the scenes on our server.

    In January 2009 we formally introduced QRZ 2.0 and it has been a great success. The web page address prefix for callsigns under QRZ 2.0 is /db/ as in


    We documented this link prefix when QRZ 2.0 was introduced at the Linking To QRZ page.

    One thing that the Linking to QRZ page does not describe is the older method of unqualified linking as described earlier. That's because we already knew back then that the unqualified links were technically a bad idea. After 9 months of successful operations under the new '/db/' qualifier, it's time to get serious about adopting the standard as a firm rule.

    So, effective immediately, direct, unqualified links to callsigns on QRZ.com will no longer be supported. Before you get angry about the change, note that it's only three more characters (e.g. 'db/') than doing it the 'lazy' way, and it improves the web site as a result.

    In the following paragraphs, I'll explain a bit more in technical detail about why this needs to be done.

    A web server can serve an unlimited number of pages, each having almost any conceivable name. Typically, when a user requests a specific page, the server locates the file for that page and sends it to the user. Some services, like QRZ, have so many possible pages that instead of storing a file for each page, the pages are generated dynamically, (on-the-fly) upon request.

    As our site became more complex, we developed a number of server programs to serve specific requests. Which program handles which request is governed, in part, by what appears in the part of the URL that follows http://www.qrz.com/... For example, if the next part after the URL is /db/, then it's a callsign database lookup. If it's /i/ then it's an include-page. /li/ is used for Login and /lo/ for logout, and so on.

    Each of these URL prefixes (or suffixes, if you will), creates a namespace within the server that starts to get quite complex. So, the question is, if the server action is determined by what follows the ..com/ in the address, then what do we do with something like ../ZZ1ZZZ (a callsign) ?

    Well, the server trick we used was to tell it, "in the absence of any defined prefix", or, "if a file by this name couldn't be found...", then "pass it to the /db/ lookup routine".

    While this works for properly formatted callsigns in our database, it leaves a trail of debris that can be truly confusing. The first thing we see is a message in our server Error Log that says "... file not found.. ZZ1ZZZ". Not just once, but literally thousands of times per day. Our server logs grow to astonishing sizes, hundreds of megabytes, in no time. Note, this isn't technically an error because subsequent processing did locate the callsign, but, there is still the issue of cleanup. This backdoor cross reference doesn't come cheap, either, as it increases the server load by 2X of what is should have been for the request.

    The second problem, which contributes to a user confusion and sometimes astonishment, is that a mistyped page name will give you completely unexpected results. An example of this might misspelling 'index.html' in the address. You type in http://www.qrz.com/indez.html and what you get is a message that 'INDEZ.HTML does not appear to be a valid callsign'! The same is true for virtually any mistyping whatsoever: I gets reinterpreted as a possible callsign, with results usually having no relevance whatsoever.

    So, with the negative performance implications along with the confusing and irrelevant error responses, it's a clear indication that we need to stop doing this for everybody's benefit.

    We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause our users. Whether it amounts to an update to your bookmarks, or, changing the content on your own web page, rest assured that at a minimum, QRZ will at the very least, will take you to our home page and/or other links that lead to what you're probably looking for.

    Please help us embrace the /db/ addressing scheme and many thanks to those of you who have already read the docs and have adopted the correct methodology.

    73, -fred

  2. KY5U

    KY5U Ham Member QRZ Page

    A no brainer, Fred. I know any programs use the old format and will require updates. But it's one of the hazards of writing software with hard links. My guess is that most would have already put your site root command name in the setup file allowing it to be changed if necessary. If not, shame on the.
  3. G1OEQ

    G1OEQ Ham Member QRZ Page



    That is a well-reasoned and quite reasonable request to impose upon users. All power to your elbow! Let it go forth and clean up! 73 Duncan, G1OEQ
  4. G8APZ

    G8APZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Quite right too! There are only so many things a programmer can do to help a dumbo user!
  5. KD0JBN

    KD0JBN Ham Member QRZ Page

    made the change on my page

    I made the change to my page, but made a slight change to the code Fred had provided on the "Linking To QRZ" page. I prefer that links to pages outside of my web page open in a new window. So, I made a slight change to the code.

    I adding the target="blank" tag after the URL in the code so that it will open them in a new page.

    It took about 5 minutes to change - most of that time was spent uploading the html file to my server.

    I tried to actually show the code that I used, but it kept interpreting the code and putting it how it would display rather than the text of the code.


    Don - KDØJBN
  6. N5JDL

    N5JDL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ham Radio Deluxe

    I guess that's why my logbook entries in HRD do not work when entering a station call sign and hitting QRZ for information. It looks like Simon Brown will have to modify his program (s) again.
  7. K0SPN

    K0SPN Ham Member QRZ Page

    It's already fixed, in both the 4.x and 5.x versions.
    Just get the newest updates and you're set.
  8. E74EE

    E74EE Ham Member QRZ Page


    Dear All,

    I am using a DXLAB LOUNCHER about one year... I find it very nice and easy to use.
    Especialy I like options that offers PATHFINDER. Yesterday I use this option regularely, but today I can not. I do not know why, but I simply can not take data from QRZ.com in to my LOG. In a top of frame I have a call sign I am looking for, but on a second frame there is no call sign I looking for.
    Message I received every time is CALL SIGN WAS NOT FOUND. When I go to QRZ web site i can find that call sign normaly.

    Please, If someone can tell me how I can solv my problem???
    Thank you very much!!!

    Anela - E74EE
  9. K2DSL

    K2DSL Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Seems other URLs not mentioned in the original post above were also deprecated. I think the 2 below were good candidates for being redirected and wouldn't suffer from the same issues described in the main post:



    Maybe Fred could add the 2 above examples to his original post for those that don't read all the follow-up posts.

    Besides HRD which is now patched, other utilities/programs could have been impacted. I've used what was posted at http://www.kg4zow.us/qrz.shtml to provide a QRZ callsign search from the search box in my browser and that needed to be changed as well.

    David - K2DSL
  10. E74EE

    E74EE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Still have a problem

    I tried many variations on EDX LAB Pathfinder config, but still no succsses.
    Still can not take the data from CBA option.

    I kindly ask for help...

    Thank you very much!

    Best 73 de Anela - e74ee
  11. KK1W

    KK1W XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Pathfinder Fix

    For those looking to fix the Pathfinder lookup with QRZ please follow the instructions below copied from the DXlabs Yahoo Group:

    Re: Pathfinder QRZ Stopped Working

    >>> AA6YQ comments below

    >>>QRZ.com has changed the URL used for free (with advertising) access to
    callbook information. I don't know whether this change was intentional or
    unintentional, or is permanent or temporary. For now, here's how to get it going

    1. to enable DXKeeper to use QRZ.com as a callbook via Pathfinder (free with
    advertisements), open Pathfinder's Config window and in the "Online Callbook
    URLs panel change the QRZ.com URL to


    2. to updated Pathfinder's button-initiated QRZ search,

    2a. depress the CTRL key while clicking the QRZ button to display the
    "Pathfinder search" window

    2b. in the "Pathfinder search" window, change the URL to


    2c. click the Save... button, and save to the file QRZ.txt in Pathfinder's
    Searches folder

    If this stops working at some point, please let me know.

    Direct access to QRZ.com for data subscribers was not affected by the change and
    continues to work correctly.


    Dave, AA6YQ

    Hope this helps,
    Jim, KK1W
  12. K2DBK

    K2DBK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Looks like I'm going to need to go and edit a bunch of my older blog entries, which used the now deprecated form of http://qrz.com/{callsign}. (Hmm, maybe I should just leave them and see if anyone notices. Probably not. :(

    I certainly agree that this makes lots of sense.
  13. K7IVC

    K7IVC Ham Member QRZ Page


    I did it and updated my book mark or favorite or whatever you call it and I gotta tell ya people that 'it was so easy even a cave man could do it'. I don't understand it but then again I don't understand a lot of this cyber space stuff but it's done! :rolleyes: :cool: :D
  14. K7IVC

    K7IVC Ham Member QRZ Page


  15. MM3YEQ

    MM3YEQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    At the moment, your "Page Not Found" page returns a 200 OK response, when if it really is a "Not Found" it should be returning 404.

    What would be a better way would be to throw a 301 Moved Permanently response, with a redirect. That way, caching proxies and search engines will pick up on the new path and use that in future. This is good for your Google pagerank...

    So - I request http://www.qrz.com/2M0YEQ or http://www.qrz.com/details/2M0YEQ or whatever, and get bounced to http://www.qrz.com/db/2M0YEQ instead.

    This is the "standard" way to handle big reorganisations of content. Of course, not many people do it properly, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't set a good example ;-)
  16. 9H1LO

    9H1LO Ham Member QRZ Page

    DXMySQL for DXSpider has been updated for this change.

    Contact me for details/help.

    A new version should also be available shortly.


    Stan 9H1LO
  17. K6TEP

    K6TEP Subscriber QRZ Page

    Another help would be to put some of the info from the first post in this thread into the site's "404 not found" page.

    That way any old deprecated links would get the usual 404 error code, but with human readable text that "if you're looking for a callsign, do this..."
  18. K7IVC

    K7IVC Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have absolutely no idea what you are talkikng about.:confused:
  19. M3HIM

    M3HIM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Correcting legacy links to deprecated QRZ.com URLs

    I agree. Given my experience with a few APRS tracking sites yesterday, I believe that these are the most common legacy URLs in use as links, in addition to the www.qrz.com/callsign/{callsign} URL which still appears to work.

    I also agree with the "301 Moved Permanently response, with a redirect" suggestion which would aid in the correction of legacy URLs in links from other webservers.

    :rolleyes: I suspect that QRZ.com is running on a Microsoft Windows server because if it was running on a Linux or Unix server, much of this could have been resolved with a few symbolic links. :rolleyes:
  20. K2DSL

    K2DSL Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

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