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Issue: TRAILER_FIELDS and Transfer Encodings once again

From: Henrik Frystyk Nielsen <frystyk@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 19 Nov 1997 14:43:08 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: mogul@pa.dec.com, fielding@kiwi.ics.uci.edu, Larry Masinter <masinter@parc.xerox.com>
Cc: http-wg%cuckoo.hpl.hp.com@hplb.hpl.hp.com
X-Mailing-List: <http-wg@cuckoo.hpl.hp.com> archive/latest/4739

This is a write-up of the proposed changes to rev-00 regarding
Accept-transfer (now Accept-TE) and Transfer-Encoding. It takes into
account the following

	- introduces transfer-encoding parameters
	- prevents chunked from having any parameters in Transfer-Encoding
	- prevents chunked from having q=0 in Accept-TE
	- prevents CL from being in a trailer

Larry, I know this is kind of late, but the trailer field issue and
transfer encodings are relatively new issues. However, we are using a lot
of existing mechanisms already defined in HTTP/1.1 and hence the new stuff
boils down to the header names.




3.6 Transfer Codings

Transfer coding values are used to indicate an encoding transformation that
has been, can be, or may need to be applied to an entity-body in order to
ensure "safe transport" through the network. This differs from a content
coding in that the transfer coding is a property of the message, not of the
original entity. Therefore, transfer codings only apply to the immediate

       transfer-coding         = "chunked" | transfer-extension
       transfer-extension      = token *( ";" parameter )

Parameters may be in the form of attribute/value pairs.

       parameter               = attribute "=" value
       attribute               = token
       value                   = token | quoted-string

[[Jim, parameter is already defined in 3.7. As it should only be in one
place, it can either be here or in section 3.7. In the latter case, there
should be a forward reference here]]

All transfer-coding values are case-insensitive. HTTP/1.1 uses transfer
coding values in the Accept-TE header field (section 14.Y) and the
Transfer-Encoding header field (section 14.40).

Transfer codings are analogous to the Content-Transfer-Encoding values of
MIME [7], which were designed to enable safe transport of binary data over
a 7-bit transport service. However, safe transport has a different focus
for an 8bit-clean transfer protocol. In HTTP, the only unsafe
characteristic of message-bodies is the difficulty in determining the exact
body length (section 7.2.2), or the desire to encrypt data over a shared

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) acts as a registry for
transfer-coding value tokens. Initially, the registry contains the
following tokens: "chunked" (section 3.6.1), "identity" (section 3.6.2),
"gzip" (section 3.5), "compress" (section 3.5), and "deflate" (section 3.5).

New transfer-coding value tokens should be registered in the same way as
new content-coding value tokens (section 3.5).

A server which receives an entity-body with a transfer-coding it does not
understand SHOULD return 501 (Unimplemented), and close the connection. A
server MUST NOT send transfer-codings to an HTTP/1.0 client.

3.6.1 Chunked Transfer Coding

The chunked encoding modifies the body of a message in order to transfer it
as a series of chunks, each with its own size indicator, followed by an
optional trailer containing entity-header fields. This allows
dynamically-produced content to be transferred along with the information
necessary for the recipient to verify that it has received the full message.

       Chunked-Body   = *chunk
       chunk          = chunk-size [ chunk-extension ] CRLF
                        chunk-data CRLF
       chunk-size     = 1*HEX 
       last-chunk     = 1*("0") [ chunk-extension ] CRLF

       chunk-extension= *( ";" chunk-ext-name [ "=" chunk-ext-value ] ) 
       chunk-ext-name = token
       chunk-ext-value= token | quoted-string
       chunk-data     = chunk-size(OCTET)
       trailer        = *entity-header

The chunk-size field is a string of hex digits indicating the size of the
chunk. The chunked encoding is ended by any chunk whose size is zero,
followed by the trailer, which is terminated by an empty line.

The trailer allows the sender to include additional HTTP header fields at
the end of the message. The Trailer header field can be used to indicate
which header fields are included in a trailer (see section 14.Y).

A server using chunked transfer-coding in a response MUST NOT use the
trailer for other header fields than Content-MD5 and Authentication-Info
unless the "chunked" transfer-coding is present in the request as an
accepted transfer-coding in the Accept-TE field (section 14.X).

An example process for decoding a Chunked-Body is presented in appendix

All HTTP/1.1 applications MUST be able to receive and decode the "chunked"
transfer coding, and MUST ignore chunk-extension extensions they do not

3.6.2 Identity Transfer Coding

The identity transfer-encoding is the default (identity) encoding; the use
of no transformation whatsoever. This transfer-coding is used only in the
Accept-TE header, and SHOULD NOT be used in any Transfer-Encoding header.

14.X Accept-TE

The Accept-TE request-header field is similar to Accept-Encoding, but
restricts the transfer-codings (section 3.6) that are acceptable in the

       Accept-TE        = "Accept-TE" ":"
                          #( t-codings )
	t-codings        = "chunked" | ( transfer-extension [ accept-params ] )

Examples of its use are:

       Accept-TE: deflate
       Accept-TE: chunk=1.0; deflate=0.5

The Accept-TE header field only applies to the immediate connection.
Therefore, the accept-te keyword MUST be supplied within a Connection
header field (section 14.10) whenever Accept-TE is present in an HTTP/1.1

A server tests whether a transfer-coding is acceptable, according to an
Accept-TE field, using these rules:

1. If the transfer-coding is one of the transfer-codings listed in the
Accept-TE field, then it is acceptable, unless it is accompanied by a
qvalue of 0.  (As defined in section 3.9, a qvalue of 0 means "not

2. If multiple transfer-codings are acceptable, then the acceptable
transfer-coding with the highest non-zero qvalue is preferred.

3. The "identity" transfer-coding is always acceptable, unless specifically
refused because the Accept-TE field includes "identity;q=0", or because the
field includes "*;q=0" and does not explictly include the "identity"
transfer-coding.  If the Accept-TE field-value is empty, then only the
"identity" encoding is acceptable.

4. The "chunked" transfer-coding is always acceptable. The Trailer header
field (section 14.Y) can be used to indicate the set of header fields
included in the trailer.

If an Accept-TE field is present in a request, and if a server cannot send
a response which is acceptable according to the Accept-TE header, then the
server SHOULD send an error response with the 406 (Not Acceptable) status

If no Accept-TE field is present, the sender MAY assume that the recipient
will accept the "identity" and "chunked" transfer-codings.

A server using chunked transfer-coding in a response MUST NOT use the
trailer for other header fields than Content-MD5 and Authentication-Info
unless the "chunked" transfer-coding is present in the request as an
accepted transfer-coding in the Accept-TE field.

14.Y Trailer

The Trailer general field value indicates that the given set of header
fields are present in the trailer of a message encoded with chunked

       Trailer  = "Trailer" ":" 1#field-name

An HTTP/1.1 sender MAY include a Trailer header field in a message using
chunked transfer-coding with a non-empty trailer. Doing so allows the
recipient to know which header fields to expect in the trailer.

If no Trailer header field is present, the trailer SHOULD NOT include any
other header fields than Content-MD5 and Authentication-Info.

A server MUST NOT include any other header fields unless the "chunked"
transfer-coding is present in the request as an accepted transfer-coding in
the Accept-TE field.

Message headers listed in the Trailer header field MUST NOT include the
following header fields:

Received on Wednesday, 19 November 1997 11:51:40 UTC

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