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In support of sending fragment IDs to the server (issue #43)

From: Bert Bos <bert@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 3 May 2010 14:26:31 +0200
To: ietf-http-wg@w3.org
Message-Id: <201005031426.31787.bert@w3.org>
I see that fragment IDs of URLs are actively being discussed[1], so this 
is just my vote in favor of letting clients send fragment IDs to the 
server.

One specific use case is this:

    Imagine that there used to be an HTML document on some site, let's
    call it http://example.com/all, that contained three small, related
    topics. Over time, the document grew and also the author noticed
    that most people referred to the fragments #one, #two and #three and
    very rarely to the document as a whole. So he split the document
    into three separate ones, http://example.com/{one,two,three}. That
    is good for new links, but what to do with the old
    http://example.com/all? You cannot replace it with a 301, because
    there are *three* documents to redirect to.

In the case of HTML, you can make a small document with three links. 
Then people have to make an extra click, but at least they will get 
there. Robots will have more trouble. And what it the document isn't 
HTML?

It seems that some way to let the client give the fragment ID to the 
server is required. It could be included right in the "request-target" 
(i.e., in the partial URL that follows the GET or HEAD), or as an extra 
request header. Maybe, for backwards compatibility, it should only be 
included in the client's second request, after the server responded 
with a specific Vary header.

The server could also return a translation table with the first 301 and 
let the client compute the full redirect itself. That may be enough for 
simple, enumerable fragment IDs, such as in the HTML example above, but 
it will be difficult for more complex ones, such 
as "#track=7,time=8.5", i.e., those where the (potential) number of 
fragment IDs is very large or infinite.

[1] http://trac.tools.ietf.org/wg/httpbis/trac/ticket/43



Bert

PS. I'm not subscribed to the list. If you respond and want me to see 
the response quickly, please CC me.

-- 
  Bert Bos                                ( W 3 C ) http://www.w3.org/
  http://www.w3.org/people/bos                               W3C/ERCIM
  bert@w3.org                             2004 Rt des Lucioles / BP 93
  +33 (0)4 92 38 76 92            06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France
Received on Monday, 3 May 2010 12:26:13 GMT

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