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Re: Comments on the new cookie draft

From: Dave Kristol <dmk@bell-labs.com>
Date: Fri, 21 Feb 1997 14:54:13 -0500
Message-Id: <330DFD65.2D857063@bell-labs.com>
To: Yaron Goland <yarong@microsoft.com>
Cc: http-wg@cuckoo.hpl.hp.com
Yaron Goland wrote:
> 
> >I disagree that these are "illegally formatted cookies".  (To be precise
> here,
> >we're talking about Set-Cookie headers, not Cookie headers or "cookies".)  We
> >are talking about Set-Cookie headers that contain unrecognized
> attribute-value
> >pairs.
> 
> Netscape's drafts allowed for ONE unrecognized attribute-value pair.

Could you please cite a line or phrase that says that?  I don't intend to defend
Netscape's specification, which heaven knows lacks gobs of detail, but I don't see
any mention of unrecognized a-v pairs, or what to do with them, as you imply.  I do
see that NAME=VALUE is the only required attribute, and there's (IMO) a subtle
suggestion, by virtue of its being described first and used first in all of the
examples, that it's the first a-v pair.

> This unrecognized attribute-value pair was to be the value of the
> cookie. Therefore a cookie with multiple unrecognized attribute-value

That's one possible interpretation of their vague spec., though, as I say, I find no
mention of unrecognized a-v pairs.

> pairs is illegal and an implementer is free to handle them anyway they
> want to. A draft which depends upon how implementers handle an illegal
> situation for which the specifications provided no guidance is, IMHO,
> broken.

[sore tongue]

> 
> >Almost a year ago we discussed introducing a new header for "new
> >cookies" but decided against it.  I believe the main reason we decided
> >against it was that servers would have to send both flavors for an
> >indeterminate length of time.  Or they would take the easy way out and
> >continue to send "old cookies", and we would never be able to accrue
> >the privacy and anti-spoofing benefits of "new cookies".
> 
> Alas this is the fortune reaped by the wide spread acceptance of a
> proprietary standard. At least with two headers the load on server

[sorer tongue]

> processing is reduced versus having to sniff for UAs in order to
> determine how to format the cookie. Given that the crux of the issue is
> the server vendor's needs, it would seem appropriate for them to
> comment. Would they rather sniff UA strings to determine how to properly
> format their cookies or would they rather be able to always send out two
> headers and know things will work?

If you send two headers out (and it's usually not the server *vendors* who do the
sending, but the *service authors*, I think, so there are many more of them), you
may get either one back.  So you have to be prepared to process either one and
handle it appropriately.  That sounds like twice the development work to me.

Also, keep in mind the additional network traffic incurred by sending two headers
instead of one.

Dave Kristol
Received on Friday, 21 February 1997 12:00:22 EST

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