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new editorial issue: redundancy in 3.7.2 (Multipart Types)

From: Jeffrey Mogul <mogul@pa.dec.com>
Date: Mon, 30 Mar 98 15:59:45 PST
Message-Id: <9803302359.AA16254@acetes.pa.dec.com>
To: http-wg@cuckoo.hpl.hp.com
Section 3.7.2 includes these two paragraphs:
  In general, HTTP treats a multipart message-body no differently than any
  other media type: strictly as payload. The one exception is the
  "multipart/byteranges" type (appendix 19.2) when it appears in a 206
  (Partial Content) response, which will be interpreted by some HTTP
  caching mechanisms as described in sections 13.5.4 and 14.16. In all
  other cases, an HTTP user agent SHOULD follow the same or similar
  behavior as a MIME user agent would upon receipt of a multipart type. If
  an application receives an unrecognized multipart subtype, the
  application MUST treat it as being equivalent to "multipart/mixed". The
  MIME header fields within each body-part of a multipart message-body do
  not have any significance to HTTP beyond that defined by their MIME
  semantics.

  In general, an HTTP user agent SHOULD follow the same or similar
  behavior as a MIME user agent would upon receipt of a multipart type. If
  an application receives an unrecognized multipart subtype, the
  application MUST treat it as being equivalent to "multipart/mixed".

The phrase "an HTTP user agent SHOULD follow the same or similar
behavior as a MIME user agent would upon receipt of a multipart type"
appears twice here, once in each sentence.  The first occurrence
is qualified by (in effect) "except for 'multipart/byteranges'";
the second occurrence has no specific exceptions, but just says
"in general".

It seems confusing to have two such similar statements, with
slightly different qualifications.  It also seems odd to use
the normative term "SHOULD" in connection with an "in general".

So I propose changing the second paragraph cited above by removing
the first sentence, so that it reads simply:

  If an application receives an unrecognized multipart subtype, the
  application MUST treat it as being equivalent to "multipart/mixed".

-Jeff
Received on Monday, 30 March 1998 16:01:37 EST

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