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Re: proposed HTTP changes for charset

From: Ted Hardie <hardie@merlot.arc.nasa.gov>
Date: Fri, 5 Jul 1996 12:49:40 -0700 (PDT)
Message-Id: <199607051949.MAA24451@merlot.arc.nasa.gov>
To: Francois Yergeau <yergeau@alis.ca>
Cc: http-wg%cuckoo.hpl.hp.com@hplb.hpl.hp.com
Francois writes: 
> HTTP/1.1 is a new protocol, it mandates a number of new things like 
> Host:, persistent connections, etc. so that both servers and clients 
> will require updating.  Making charset mandatory is very minor, 
> especially since it was already there in 1.0 and hence (in principle 
> at least) understood by clients.

Francois,
	I think we have a terminology problem here.  HTTP/1.1 is not a
new protocol.  It is a new standard.  One of the main design goals for
HTTP/1.1 has been to maintain interoperability with HTTP/1.0, which is
an existing protocol, though not a standard.  The changes made to HTTP
aim to maintain interoperability even at the cost of some design
cruft; that's why there is a Host: header instead of a "simple" change
to using full URLs in all requests.
	We can all see that mandating a charset might be a good design
choice; as Steff pointed out in Montreal, encoding a value in a null
element has some serious design flaws.  We can all also see that
adding charsets would improve the interoperation of compliant clients
and servers.  We have to weigh that against the interoperability
between 1.1 and 1.0, especially in situations where there are caches
between the end-user client and the origin server.
	I was serious in my request that you write up your solution to
this problem in an Internet Draft; we would all like this to work.  We
are not trying to create something biased or broken.  We are trying to
create something which will work well in a world in which not all
clients, proxies, and servers are at the latest revision.  Sometimes
that means we have to take things in several steps; that doesn't mean
we don't intend to do them--it means we intend to do them carefullly.
			best regards,
				Ted Hardie
				NASA Science Internet
Received on Friday, 5 July 1996 12:52:56 EDT

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