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Re: Conventions for Sharing User Agent Profiles

From: Maurizio Codogno <mau@beatles.cselt.stet.it>
Date: Mon, 12 Aug 1996 11:32:22 +0200
Message-Id: <199608120932.LAA29562@beatles.cselt.stet.it>
To: dsr@w3.org, hallam@etna.ai.mit.edu
Cc: http-wg%cuckoo.hpl.hp.com@hplb.hpl.hp.com
X-Mailing-List: <http-wg@cuckoo.hpl.hp.com> archive/latest/1302
Dave Raggett:
% What if we could define a simple file format for describing the
% feature set for a given user agent, in analogy to the way robots.txt
% emerged as a useful convention? 
% It may also be useful for vendors to say that their user agent
% emulates, let's say Netscape Navigator 2.0. It would be a win if
% the browser could send this as an additional HTTP header in the
% request, e.g. "UA-Emulates:". This would reduce the size of the
% UA profile database and reduce the hit taken by the first visitor
% with the this ua.


: I see version number on MIME types as a part of a solution to this
: problem. This allows a "low watermark" to be established in a cheap
: and convenient manner. If a browser advertises text/html; version=3.2
: then it had better comply with the standard. The version numbering
: scheme could even be extended to provide for beta drafts etc, for
: example text/html; version=3.2b24 would refer to W3 Consortium 
: draft number 24. Support for 3.2b24 would imply that all features of
: 3.1 were supported, but not that features of 3.2b23 were necessarily
: present - allowing specs to loose features rather than simply
: accumulate them.
: Rather than dribble
: them out there would be an interest in collecting together a
: reasonable package of enhancements and deliver them as a collection
: rather than the current trend of "dribbling" them out.

Probably the best thing, at least in a perfect world, is that vendors
freeze every now and then - probably more "then" than "now", in order 
not to have too many versions... their extension, so that people can
exploit them in a UA-Emulate: header, something like

UA-Emulate: Netscape 3.0a, MSIE 3.0, W3C HTML 3.2

If the emulation is not perfect, the server should not care :-) It's up
to the browser to let the user modify the Emulate string.

This would leave the User-Agent a pure informational header line, and
allow people to write "browser-enhanced" pages if they want to.

But of course this would mean that specifications are to be released (not
necessarily through a DTD, but anyway in a usable way)

ciao, .mau.
Received on Monday, 12 August 1996 02:42:03 UTC

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