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RE: HTTP/1.1 Issue: Returning metainformation on a 201 (Created) response

From: Yaron Goland <yarong@microsoft.com>
Date: Tue, 28 Jul 1998 19:57:49 -0700
Message-ID: <3FF8121C9B6DD111812100805F31FC0D02971726@red-msg-59.dns.microsoft.com>
To: "'Henrik Frystyk Nielsen'" <frystyk@w3.org>, w3c-dist-auth@w3.org
DAV doesn't really deal with this although its multi-status response format
could be trivially tasked to do so. Frankly, I think #4 is the most


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Henrik Frystyk Nielsen [mailto:frystyk@w3.org]
> Sent: Monday, July 27, 1998 10:02 AM
> To: w3c-dist-auth@w3.org
> Subject: HTTP/1.1 Issue: Returning metainformation on a 201 (Created)
> response
>  I was asked to send this mail to you guys to hear if you 
> have thought of
> this in WebDAV. I am sorry if you have already discussed this 
> to death!
> Henrik
> This was discussed between Paul Leech, Dave Kristol, and 
> myself in Friday's
> HTTP/1.1 teleconference.
> PROBLEM: When doing a PUT on a resource that already exists, 
> the server can
> send back a 200 or a 204 response. The 204 response allows 
> the server to
> send back an updated etag and other entity information about 
> the resource
> that has been affected by the PUT operation. This allows the 
> client to do
> the next PUT using the If-Match precondition to ensure that 
> edits are not
> lost.
> There were some discussion of whether the etag is the *only* piece of
> information that the client doesn't know (not included in the 
> request). The
> feeling was that in general this can not be assumed as the 
> operation may
> trigger server side dependencies that the server wants to 
> communicate back
> to the client.
> When doing a PUT for *the*first*time* the resource is created 
> on the server
> and a 201 response is sent back. The semantics of the 201 
> indicates that it
> can include an entity body. In section 9.5 (although this is in the
> description of POST), it is stated that 
> If a resource has been created on the origin server, the 
> response SHOULD be
> 201 (Created) and contain an entity which describes the status of the
> request and refers to the new resource, and a Location header 
> (see section
> 14.30).
> Hence, the server can not send information back on a newly 
> created resource
> using 201 as it can when updating an existing resource using 204.
> It was discussed whether anybody does include an entity in a 
> 201 response
> as it would be a challenge for the editor to deal with the 
> response entity
> (it would have to be displayed in a new window, for example).
> Four solutions were discussed:
> 1) When receiving a 201 response, the client can issue a HEAD 
> request to
> get the updated information. However, the cost of this is one 
> additional
> RTT and it may lead to race conditions if another client 
> comes in a does a
> PUT between the first PUT and the follow-up HEAD request. 
> This could cause
> the client to apply inconsistent metainformation to its version of the
> entity body.
> 2) Introduce a new status code which has the semantics of 204 
> except that
> it can only be used when a resource has been created. The 
> problem here is
> that existing editors will not understand this code and will 
> default to 200
> which is will not indicate that a resource has been created.
> 3) Do not allow entity bodies in a 201 response and say that all
> information included in the response is about the newly 
> created resource.
> The problem here is that we don't know if anyone already 
> sends back entity
> bodies in a 201 response.
> 4) Change the definition of 201 to distinguish between the 
> case when there
> is an entity body and when there isn't:
> If the response does not contain an entity-body but includes 
> new or updated
> metainformation in the form of entity-headers, then these 
> header fields
> SHOULD be associated with the created requested variant. If 
> an entity body
> is present in the response then all entity header fields apply to that
> entity body.
> Any 201 response can contain an etag indicating the current 
> value of the
> entity tag for the created requested variant, see [14.19].
> See [14.30] for use of the Location response header field in 
> a 201 response.
> The consensus among us, I believe, is to propose 4).
> Comments?
> Henrik
> --
> Henrik Frystyk Nielsen,
> World Wide Web Consortium
> http://www.w3.org/People/Frystyk
Received on Tuesday, 28 July 1998 22:57:33 GMT

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