W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > August 2007

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

From: Sam Ruby <rubys@us.ibm.com>
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2007 13:14:16 -0400
Message-ID: <46C9CBE8.7020800@us.ibm.com>
To: Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>
CC: "public-html@w3.org WG" <public-html@w3.org>

Lachlan Hunt wrote:
> Sam Ruby wrote:
>> On this subject, I have a request.  I'll phrase it as a mild rant, but 
>> I fully understand why firefox made the change that it did.
>> The following is a test case:
>> http://feedvalidator.org/testcases/atom/1.1/brief-noerror.xml
>> The response contains the content type of application/xml as I wanted 
>> to view the data in an XML parse tree.  Even though what I sent was 
>> per spec, and used to work, firefox decided that the need to emulate 
>> IE's broken behavior was more important than respecting my expressed 
>> wishes.
> I don't understand the grounds upon which you are claiming that 
> Firefox's and IE's behaviour is broken.  Both choose to process the 
> feeds and present the content in a more useful way to the user.  I 
> understand why you, as a developer, might wish to see the XML tree, but 
> that's not at all useful to a typical user.

It would be helpful if you were to look at my testcase, linked above.

It is not only a use case (for respecting the indicated MIME types), but 
also is a test case (a test case for a feed validator).

The intended audience for THIS SPECIFIC DOCUMENT is developers.  It is 
not something that I expect anybody to subscribe to.  It is not 
something that changes.  Its existence predated the change introduced in 

> Would you consider it a bug for Firefox to render XHTML, SVG or MathML 
> that is served as application/xml, instead of showing the XML tree? What 
> makes a feed special in this regard?  The various forms of RSS and Atom 
> are just documents with defined semantics, and the browser is just using 
> those semantics to interpret and render the document appropriately.
>> While I don't expect this to be fixed, I would like to request that 
>> there be some parameter (like, "application/xml; damnit") which 
>> indicates that I think I know what I'm doing and would appreciate 
>> being treated like an adult.
> I think the solution would be for you, as a user, to configure your own 
> browser to display the content in the most appropriate way for you.  In 
> this case, I'm not sure if Firefox, IE or any other browsers do provide 
> a way to achieve what you want, but that decision is really up to the 
> browser vendors.

Again, I think you are missing my point.

Random Joe user puts a feed up, and the host serves it as text/html.  It 
happens more often than you might think[1].  The current behavior of IE7 
and Firefox and others is to sniff the content and display it as a feed. 
   I have no problem with that.

Meanwhile, I put a test case up, and serve it intentionally as 

Given these two diverse use cases, how can I configure my own browser to 
display the content "in the most appropriate way for me" if there is no 
way for me to distinguish these two cases?

All I am asking for is for an architected way to serve selected content 
in a way that "opts out" of content sniffing for that specific request, 
and have my wishes respected in a large percentage of the browsers 
deployed a decade from now.

- Sam Ruby

[1] http://intertwingly.net/blog/2006/03/13/Common-Feed-Errors
Received on Monday, 20 August 2007 17:14:29 UTC

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