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Re: What is Content-Length?

From: John Franks <john@math.nwu.edu>
Date: Thu, 11 Dec 1997 20:45:33 -0600 (CST)
To: Jeffrey Mogul <mogul@pa.dec.com>
Cc: http-wg%cuckoo.hpl.hp.com@hplb.hpl.hp.com
Message-Id: <Pine.LNX.3.95.971211202148.8670A-100000@hopf.math.nwu.edu>
On Thu, 11 Dec 1997, Jeffrey Mogul wrote:

> 
> Here's a sketch of a specific proposal:
> 

This looks good

>    (1) The definition in 7.2.2:
> 	The length of an entity-body is the length of the message-body after
> 	any transfer codings have been removed.
>     should be retained.  At first I thought "maybe we should rename
>     this the 'entity-length'", but we already use that non-terminal (in
>     Content-Range) to mean something different.  Which maybe should be
>     changed to use "instance-length", since the "entity-length" used
>     with a Content-Range has nothing to do with the length of the
>     entity-body.  But I digress.

It would be good to do this renaming or at least name the length of
the entity-body something.  This is the number which Digest
authentication needs to use.  The current D-A spec uses
"Content-Length" and "content length" with the intended meaning of
length of the entity-body (the ambiguity of this is how we got into
this discussion).  Anyway, *some term* should be defined meaning
length of the entity-body and that term should replace "content
length" and "Content-Length" in the DA spec.

Interestingly, the D-A spec contains the sentence.

       "The HTTP/1.1 spec requires that content length is well defined
       in all messages, whether or not there is a Content-Length header."

Sounds like wishful thinking at this point, but I guess this sentence
should be removed if content length is replaced by entity-length.

John Franks
john@math.nwu.edu
Received on Thursday, 11 December 1997 18:50:29 EST

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