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Re: for GET, does the request-target identify information?

From: Julian Reschke <julian.reschke@gmx.de>
Date: Fri, 04 Dec 2009 18:14:35 +0100
Message-ID: <4B19437B.3070308@gmx.de>
To: Jonathan Rees <jar@creativecommons.org>
CC: HTTP Working Group <ietf-http-wg@w3.org>
Hi Jonathan,

sorry for the late reply.

As you have noticed, the method definitions are still waiting for attention.

That being said:

Jonathan Rees wrote:
> There is some confusion as to whether the request-target identifies
> information or identifies a resource (or both). The description of GET
> ("The GET method means retrieve whatever information (in the form of
> an entity) is identified by the request-target") says the former,
> while other parts of the draft suggest the latter.
> 
> The difference, as you know, is that you can get different information
> from (or "corresponding to") a single resource at different times. The
> resource is like a mutable file or a communication channel, not like
> an entity or "information" (except in very special situations).
> 
> I recommend you change the description of GET.  May I propose "the
> {entity/variant/representation} corresponding to the resource", which
> is the language used in semantics/8.2.1 ("an entity corresponding to
> the requested resource is sent in the response").  7.3 then becomes
> 
>    the GET method means retrieve whatever information (in the form of an
>    entity) corresponds [or currently corresponds] to the resource
> identified by the request-target.
> 
> or
> 
>    the GET method means retrieve an entity corresponding to the
> resource identified by the request-target.
> 
> neither of which is particularly beautiful - but I know from the
> wonderful job you did on 2.6.1 that you can come up with much better
> wording than I can. The word "currently" or some other qualifier might
> help (or not, I don't know).

I'm adding

    the GET method means retrieve whatever information (in the form of an
    entity) currently corresponds to the resource
    identified by the request-target.

for now.

> semantics/7.3 also says:
> 
>    If the request-target
>    refers to a data-producing process, it is the produced data which
>    shall be returned as the entity in the response and not the source
>    text of the process, unless that text happens to be the output of the
>    process.
> 
> I'm not sure why this is "refers to" instead of "identifies" - I
> recommend switching to "identifies" for consistency, since there is no
> reason to introduce an additional term "refers" that does not
> obviously mean the same thing.

+1

> The section could stand an overhaul of the sort you did for the http
> URI scheme. Perhaps you can come up with some clever rhetorical device
> that lets you sidestep all questions about the nature of the resource
> (information vs. changeable thing vs. data-producing process, etc.),
> which are both unimportant and distracting.
> 
> Best
> Jonathan

As I do not expect this to be controversial, I've gone ahead and applied 
this with <http://tools.ietf.org/wg/httpbis/trac/changeset/731>. The 
introduction now says:

7.3.  GET

    The GET method means retrieve whatever information (in the form of an
    entity) currently corresponds to the resource identified by the
    request-target.

    If the request-target identifies a data-producing process, it is the
    produced data which shall be returned as the entity in the response
    and not the source text of the process, unless that text happens to
    be the output of the process.

Best regards, Julian
Received on Friday, 4 December 2009 17:15:20 GMT

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