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Re: review of content type rules by IETF/HTTP community

From: Sam Ruby <rubys@us.ibm.com>
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2007 11:31:30 -0400
Message-ID: <46C9B3D2.8020408@us.ibm.com>
To: Julian Reschke <julian.reschke@gmx.de>
CC: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>, "public-html@w3.org WG" <public-html@w3.org>

Julian Reschke wrote:
> Dan Connolly wrote:
>> Indeed, early review feedback[Fielding07] suggests I
>> should cite/excerpt more of the background that I had in mind
>> before sending this out for wider review.
>> ...
> I think it's clear that this is a point where theory and current 
> practice do not match. Also, the situation might be much better if at 
> least some of the browsers would allow the user to opt-out of content 
> sniffing, as RoyF suggested multiple times.


A friend of mine once remarked that "It's almost like all the W3C specs 
were authored by people who had root authority on the web servers that 
they administered".

At the moment, the spec with respect to sniffing of feeds reflects a 
relatively recent and relatively incomplete approach implemented by 
MSIE7.  One that doesn't handle utf-16.  One that doesn't handle the 
content type recommended for RSS 1.0.  One that doesn't handle Atom 1.0 
when using namespace prefixes.  I can go on and on.

Meanwhile, the back and forth of "I'm authoritative", "No *I'M* 
authoritative" will never end.  The last time I checked, Firefox's 
implementation differed from IE's in that it respected the mime type 
recommended for RSS 1.0 feeds.  When I reported that to Mozilla, the 
response I got wasn't "oh, dear, we're incompatible", it was "great! 
We're better!"

This leads one to conclude that, failing an explicit indication to the 
contrary, HTML5 specification can describe how content-types SHOULD be 
interpreted, but not how type MUST be interpreted.

Content-Type needs a css like !important qualifier.  If it can be 
designed in a way that is ignored by IE6, and implemented by IE8(*), 
then everything else will follow.  And I personally have no problem with 
the default being that the content type is a hint.

- Sam Ruby

(*) This begs the question: will those who are in a position to 
influence IE8 actually participate in this discussion?  Or is this 
merely an Ecma-376 like activity, without the benefit of Microsoft's 
Received on Monday, 20 August 2007 15:31:55 UTC

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