W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > ietf-http-wg-old@w3.org > January to April 1996

Re: Round 3: moving HTTP 1.0 to informational

From: <yergeau@alis.ca>
Date: Sun, 11 Feb 1996 21:34:04 +0000
Message-Id: <199602121536.KAA04833@genstar.alis.ca>
To: http-wg%cuckoo.hpl.hp.com@hplb.hpl.hp.com
> Date:          Fri, 09 Feb 1996 02:09:45 -0800
> From:          "Roy T. Fielding" <fielding@avron.ICS.UCI.EDU>
> >>   In addition, if the text media is represented in a character
> >>   set which does not use octets 13 and 10 for CR and LF respectively, as
> >>   is the case for some multi-byte character sets, HTTP allows...
> I consider removing it to be more controversial, as it unnecessarily
> restricts current practice if we follow the new MIME drafts.  However,
> I'll let it go if the others don't care -- my primary concern was that
> people could not see what was being removed.

I agree with Roy that it shouldn't go.  Whichever way things are 
phrased, BCP or whatever, HTTP/1.0 will be a stake in the ground and 
taken as some sort of standard - the *only* standard for HTTP for a 
while.  And with MIME specifically forbidding UCS-2, and HTTP/1.0 
silent about it, the result would be that it would effectively be 
forbidden, perhaps for good, and for no good technical reasons.  This 
is unacceptable, and the language should remain in HTTP/1.0.

> I don't see how.  All WWW software defaults to ISO-8859-1 as per the
> original design of the Web.

Not true.  Most current servers default to *nothing*, throwing out 
the bytes regardless of the character encoding and without any 
indication of the latter.  And most clients default to whatever is 
the character encoding of the platform they're running on.  If you 
run Mosaic on Russian Windows, it defaults to Microsoft's version of 
a cyrillic code page, without even the possibility of displaying 
ISO-8859-1.  This is current practice.

> Only recently (within
> the past six months) have people started adding config options, and
> even those default to ISO-8859-1.  It has been in the HTTP spec since
> TimBL's original version.

Not true again. Mosaic-L10N has had this "feature" for much longer 
than six months.  And given current server practice (no charset), 
such config options are a necessity for basic operation outside of 
the Western world, not mere disregard for the spec.

The ISO-8859-1 default today is a fiction, an idealistic stipulation 
out of a not-yet-existing standard.  It has no use whatsoever, except 
to let one part of the Web community continue to ignore the issue of 
world-wide interoperability and leave the burden of conformance on 
the rest of the world.

The bottom line is that in current practice there is no default, and 
IMHO recommended practice should be the same: no default, charset 

> Because the default is ISO-8859-1 -- there is no "guessing" involved.

See above.  This is fiction.

> The purpose of the spec is still to define the HTTP/1.0 protocol, even if it
> isn't to be a standard.

Hear! Hear!  Let's not push UCS-2 transmission out the window "for 
now" then.  These "for now" have a way of lasting forever.

Francois Yergeau <yergeau@alis.com>
Alis Technologies Inc., Montreal
Tel : +1 (514) 747-2547
Fax : +1 (514) 747-2561
Received on Monday, 12 February 1996 07:42:58 UTC

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