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http-range-14 303 issue, request for reopening the discussion

From: Giovanni Tummarello <g.tummarello@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 12 Jul 2007 11:27:07 +0100
To: www-tag@w3.org
Cc: Eyal Oren <eyal.oren@deri.org>
Message-id: <469601FB.5010900@gmail.com>

Greetings,

these days a discussion broke out on the Linking Open Data on the 
Semantic Web mailing list (community project of the SWEO internet group) 
about the perceived need to revise the http-range-14 outcome. Chris 
suggested that we refer to this group be contacted.

The issue we see is that 303 is an unfortunate return code for semantic 
web URIs as the HTTP specs state that such responses MUST NOT be cache. 
This can be easily seen as having very negative consequences on 
implementations (e.g. the only way to speed up processing of rdf files 
would be to patch web proxies and/or browsers to violate the standard).

It appears to some that there could be alternative solutions which do 
not have this problem and, most of all in my opinion, do not use 
redirection.

Redirection has in fact very confusing side effects; as we expect the 
semantic web to work seamlessly with the web, it is very odd that a 
semantic web uri cannot be copy pasted to a browser without seeing it 
change to something that is not the same as before.

This is highly confusing and can lead to errors.. e.g. copy pasting it 
from the browser to send it for reference in a email or IM or to a 
semantic web client would result in the wrong URI be used (when instead 
the right one was previously pasted in the browser).

Alternative solutions that have been proposed include codes in both the 
20x series and 40x,
in particular code 203 "non authoritative" clarifies that the 
information that is being served does not necessarely correspond to the 
original resource, might be a subset or a superset.  For a human this is 
ok, a machine could clarify that it is in fact a non informative 
semantic web resource by asking for an RDF version via content 
negotiation. An appropriate 40x code would be even more explicit in this 
sense.

Some related mails with more details [1][2] [3]

To conclude, the semantic web of http retrievable data is now really 
happening, but we are absolutely still in time to correct this issues 
early so they don't bite back in term of architectural problems (the 
caching issue) and serious complexity/confusion for the end users (the 
rewrite).

Sincerely
Giovanni

[1] Eyal Oren "caching HTTP 303 responses" 
http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/semantic-web/2007Jul/0078.html
[2] Giovanni Tummarello "203,400, 406 as alternative to 303 ?" 
http://simile.mit.edu/mail/ReadMsg?listName=Linking%20Open%20Data&msgId=18630
[3] Fred Giasson "Eurostat data about countries and regions " 
http://simile.mit.edu/mail/ReadMsg?listName=Linking%20Open%20Data&msgId=18194
 
Received on Thursday, 12 July 2007 10:27:13 GMT

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