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Re: proposed HTTP changes for charset

From: Roy T. Fielding <fielding@liege.ICS.UCI.EDU>
Date: Fri, 05 Jul 1996 17:25:38 -0700
To: Francois Yergeau <yergeau@alis.ca>
Cc: http-wg%cuckoo.hpl.hp.com@hplb.hpl.hp.com
Message-Id: <9607051725.aa26368@paris.ics.uci.edu>
I have already covered these questions ad-nauseum.

  1) HTTP has *always* used a default charset value of ISO-8859-1.
     All implementations to the contrary had KNOWN failure conditions
     and did not work as intended except within locally controlled
     environments.

  2) The HTTP version defines the communication capability of the
     immediately adjacent client or server -- it NEVER indicates that
     feature capabilities of the user agent.

  3) None of the issues you have raised involve a technical problem
     with the HTTP/1.1 protocol -- they are POLITICAL problems that
     are an artifact of historical reality, a reality which the IETF
     is not capable of changing.

  4) Labelling the charset with its real value if it is different than
     iso-8859-1 *always* works, both in old an new practice, because
     any user agent incapable of handling a charset value is also
     incapable of handling a charset other than iso-8859-1.  The only
     time problems occur is when iso-8859-1 data is labelled as such
     and then delivered to an older client.

  5) Whether or not a client is capable of understanding the charset
     parameter is NOT a function of the protocol version -- ALL HTTP/1.0
     clients MUST understand charset, even if HTTP/1.0 is not a "standard",
     because that is part of the HTTP/1.0 definition (see RFC 1945).

I see no point in continuing this discussion unless you can demonstrate
a real problem that needs to be solved and can be solved within the
constraints of HTTP/1.1.

 ...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 Friday, 5 July 1996 17:31:54 EDT

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