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Re: DRAFT Minutes, HTTP working group

From: Roy T. Fielding <fielding@liege.ICS.UCI.EDU>
Date: Wed, 26 Jun 1996 22:06:13 -0700
To: Larry Masinter <masinter@parc.xerox.com>
Cc: http-wg%cuckoo.hpl.hp.com@hplb.hpl.hp.com
Message-Id: <9606262206.aa11978@paris.ics.uci.edu>
> The issue of how to handle character sets was raised, in that the
> current draft's handling does not match the IAB workshop's general
> recommendation on character sets (though the workshop did include a
> "grandfather" clause for existing protocols).  After a great deal of
> discussion, it was agreed that a small group (Larry, Paul Leach,
> Francois) to generate new wording which requires a charset label on
> all text types, and which explicitly uses the "unknown" charset when it
> is not known.

No.  I will not support such a change.  I will not implement such a change
in any code associated with me.  One basic requirement of my 20 months
of work on the HTTP protocol is that HTTP/1.x MUST NOT be incompatible
with HTTP/1.0.  I will not allow that to be destroyed just because an
IAB workshop wants to improve the Internet for FUTURE protocols.

There is absolutely nothing in HTTP that prevents a site, if it so desires,
from tagging all text types with an appropriate charset parameter.
There is absolutely no need, nor any justification, to require all sites
to be incompatible with HTTP/1.0 user agents before they can use HTTP/1.1.
IF SUCH A THING IS EVER DESIRABLE, it should be done as part of the
requirements on Internet Hosts and NOT within the protocol.

This is not the time to make gratuitous changes to the protocol in order
to solve a problem that can only be solved by TIME -- the time necessary
to retire all applications that would break given that change. 
Furthermore, I don't see any way to deploy an "unknown" charset value in
either MIME or HTTP, and it cannot be used until it can be deployed.
We would be better off just declaring no charset parameter to mean "unknown"
for future (post-1.1) versions of HTTP and MIME.

The discussion at the WG meeting should have been declared out-of-scope
for HTTP/1.x.  It most certainly will not be in HTTP/1.1 servers, since
server developers regard their customers to be more important than the IETF.
Even if such a requirement were in the RFC, it would be ignored.  Please
do not waste our time by trying to add it.


 ...Roy T. Fielding
    Department of Information & Computer Science    (fielding@ics.uci.edu)
    University of California, Irvine, CA 92717-3425    fax:+1(714)824-4056
    http://www.ics.uci.edu/~fielding/
Received on Wednesday, 26 June 1996 22:18:57 EDT

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