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Re: Connection Header

From: Ari Luotonen <luotonen@neon.mcom.com>
Date: Sat, 17 Dec 1994 17:10:27 -0800 (PST)
Message-Id: <199412180110.RAA25830@neon.mcom.com>
To: Rob McCool <robm@neon.mcom.com>
Cc: frystyk@www0.cern.ch, http-wg%cuckoo.hpl.hp.com@hplb.hpl.hp.com

>  * The MGET causes an extra roundtrip time as many servers will think:
>  *
>  * 	"Gee - nobody has told me about this method. I simply refuse
>  * to do anything about it"
> It seems to me that this could be alleviated by having regular GET
> methods on MGET-capable servers return
> Allow: MGET

MGET is definitely more realistic approach than the keep-connection
proposal.  MGET is clean and fully backword compatible.

If I'm not totally lost in space, keep-connection will not even work
with all TCP implementations.  There is no way to know beforehand that
the remote really supports keep-connection and that the connection
really will stay up, without making an assumption that it will, and
send the second request to try it out.  You can't even wait until the
entire document has been transferred and see if the connection stays
up, because with a congested network or loaded remote server we may
see the connection staying up for a while before it actually closes.
Same may happen also with CGI scripts that do some cleanup after the
document has already been fully returned.  This is a fact with current
servers out there, which are the ones *not* supporting MGET, and with
which the problems I'll now explain, would happen.

As we are parsing the HTML doc and come accross an inlined image we
issue a new request to the socket.  If we do that while we are still
reading the data, and if the remote doesn't support keep-connection,
we will receive ECONNRESET (?) and all pending incoming data will be
discarded.  The same thing sometimes happened with HTTP0/HTTP1 (which
was supposed to be fully backword compatible, but wasn't really), NCSA
Mosaic did another connection, other clients simply failed, or
displayed partial data.  This was fully dynamic depending on the state
and speed of the network, sometimes you would end up with the entire
document, sometimes with a truncated one, and sometimes with an empty
page or client-generated error message when no data was returned.
This was when the HTTP1 header write was still going on while the
remote had actually sent all the data and closed the connection.  Data
was streaming in from the remote TCP kernel buffers, and when the
write failed on client side all pending data was lost.

I don't see any other way to do this in a backword compatible way than
with MGET and accept the fact that we make two connections (which
would still be a huge improvement to the current situation).

Ari Luotonen				http://home.mcom.com/people/ari/
Netscape Communications Corp.
650 Castro Street, Suite 500
Mountain View, CA 94041, USA
Received on Saturday, 17 December 1994 17:11:15 EST

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