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Re: Worries about content-length

From: Larry Masinter <masinter@parc.xerox.com>
Date: Mon, 8 May 1995 06:53:27 PDT
To: http-wg%cuckoo.hpl.hp.com@hplb.hpl.hp.com
Message-Id: <95May8.065341pdt.2761@golden.parc.xerox.com>
The boundary-marker method used by MIME multipart is the only way I've
seen of getting (nearly) reliable determination of the end of the data
without using content-length.

I wonder if there might be some way to employ this method in HTTP for
single-part data being sent back over HTTP when content-length can't
be easily precomputed (CGI or what have you).

Implementation is easy: the server would compute a random string,
include it in the HTTP header; at the end of the transmission (e.g.,
when the CGI returns without error) it would add the terminating

The client would have to scan the incoming data for the terminating
delimiter; while this adds a bit of extra overhead, it's relatively
small compared with the amount of work necessary to parse or display
the data. For proxy caching servers, this adds a critical reliability
step toward keeping incomplete transmissions out of the cache.

Of course, one might hope this would become moot with HTTP-ng, but I'm
not sure.
Received on Monday, 8 May 1995 06:55:48 UTC

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