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Re: HTTP/1.1 : Chunking

From: Adrien de Croy <adrien@qbik.com>
Date: Fri, 30 Jan 1998 19:36:56 +1200
Message-Id: <>
To: Ben Laurie <ben@algroup.co.uk>
Cc: http-wg@cuckoo.hpl.hp.com

At 22:42 29/01/98 +0000, Ben Laurie wrote:
>Adrien de Croy wrote:
>> I would have thought that in a random data stream, the chances of any
>> particular 4 byte sequence would have been 1 in 4 Billion, but we are only
>> looking at the last 4 bytes before a close.  So, given there is only one
>> close per session, there is only one inspected 4 byte sequence, hence the
>> chance of any one file causing confusion over an OEF marker is 1 in 4
>Sorry, my mistake, I was taking into account the below, which means
>you'd have to check every byte.

I see - that would make this method extremely inefficient :)

Basically my reasoning for raising this, is as part of ongoing development
of WinGate, we are looking at implementing HTTP/1.1 support in our HTTP proxy.

We originally considered HTTP/1.0 to be relatively complex for a proxy, but
HTTP/1.1 seems an order of magnitude more complex.  I seem to remember a
couple of my engineering lecturers reiterating the old KISS maxim, and since
this is still a proposed standard, I thought "why not" see if some redundant
complexity could be removed from the spec.

With the reasons given, I have removed chunking from my list of redundant
(?) complexities in HTTP/1.1 (which I am still building, although I will
raise a couple here).

First one.

4.2 Message headers

The allowing of multiple headers if their values form a single list seems a
redundant complexity.  Unless you are catering for people debugging by hand
with telnet,  There is no reason why any client or server software should
ever NEED to split a field value over multiple lines.

Support for multiple fields of the same name is actually quite complex in a
client (including a proxy) however, since the fields can no longer be stored
in a map structure indexed by field name, and so field lookups get slower -
you also have to then assume that there could be another one there.

Personally I would remove allowing this from the spec.  I don't believe any
client software would implement it (unless they are programming in Pascal or
something with a string length limitation - UGH!).

Next one

2.2 Basic rules - Folding

Same goes for folding of header fields - just adds complexity to a parser.
One can no longer use the CLRF as an end of line marker, because the next
line may start with LWS.  What's the point? Manual telnet debugging support?

Sub-entity negotiation.

This is a whole can of worms for caching proxies.  All of a sudden a URL is
not unique any more, and caches need to index on Accept header fields as
well.  Also, a caching proxy may make a different decision about what
resource is acceptable to a client or not.  I would have thought that there
would be VERY few implementations of this, if any server needed to send a
different entity due to some Accept-x field (say language) it could do it
with a redirect to another URI.  This would also be much more manageable by
the content provider, and MUCH easier to implement and manage in a server.
There needs to be something to uniquely identify every entity in the system,
a URL is not a bad one.  Would multi-entity resources be treated by all
intermediaries (proxies gateways etc) as a single resource indexed to the
URI that requested it?

Proxy Authentication.

There are some problems with the proposed method where it relates to chained
proxies, or a "use proxy" response.  Basically it may be necessary for a
client to include many Proxy-Authorization fields in a request, since it is
possible that only the client holds the credentials of the proxies involved.
Otherwise ALL agents in the chain (including the end server) MUST support
persistent connections.

If it needs multiple authorisation fields, how can each proxy tell which one
is intended for it.  It would have to try them all for a match, strip it
out, and pass the request on.

Multiple byte-range requests?  

Normally I guess these would only be made by caches, as clients would
generally always need the end of a file, rather than chunks out of the
middle of it.  Are overlapping byte ranges meant to be condensed by the
server? or supplied as requested.

The only general thing I would say is that in the main, the new HTTP/1.1
adds a whole bunch of useful stuff, especially wrt caching, validating
cached files, and efficiency improvements.  However, there are some aspects
that would be quite complex to code, and therefore cause problems for
software developers, which in the end affects the lives of the software
users - who the protocol was developed for.  With the content negotiation
concept, the concept of a file on a disk seems to have been lost.  I don't
see any unique identifier for this, which is what is required for efficient
caching, and serving of files.  Since the protocol is changing, why not make
it REAL easy to validate cache files by assigning every cachable resource a
globally unique identifier which changes with modifications to the resource.
Then a validation would simply involve sending the identifier
Say in the form of URL: File Version, or system file time.  This would
completely remove the complexity of validation with servers, and caches
could still use freshness concepts for efficiency.  It would also remove the
dependency on synchronised clocks etc.

Anyway, just a few thoughts.


Adrien de Croy

>> However, as pointed out by John Franks, this method would not, and cannot
>> allow for multiple transactions per connection, since it relies on the close
>> event being a signal as well.
>> However, reflecting more on that issue, the chances of a client requiring
>> multiple created entitities (i.e those where the server cannot know a priori
>> the size) in a single connection is rather low, at least at the moment.
>> Multiple normal requests per connection would still be possible, and
>> unaffected by this proposal.
>It'd have to server the created entity last, which seems unlikely.
>Ben Laurie            |Phone: +44 (181) 735 0686|Apache Group member
>Freelance Consultant  |Fax:   +44 (181) 735 0689|http://www.apache.org
>and Technical Director|Email: ben@algroup.co.uk |Apache-SSL author
>A.L. Digital Ltd,     |http://www.algroup.co.uk/Apache-SSL
>London, England.      |"Apache: TDG" http://www.ora.com/catalog/apache
Adrien de Croy - adrien@qbik.com.  Qbik New Zealand Limited, Auckland, New
                 See our pages and learn about WinGate at http://www.qbik.com/
Received on Thursday, 29 January 1998 22:58:17 EST

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