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Re: Dissemination of HTTP-NG info [was: hmmm]

From: Marc Slemko <marcs@znep.com>
Date: Wed, 11 Mar 1998 23:23:18 -0700 (MST)
To: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>
cc: www-talk@w3.org, frystyk@w3.org, jg@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.BSF.3.95.980311223826.15492v-100000@alive.znep.com>
On Wed, 11 Mar 1998, Dan Connolly wrote:

> Marc Slemko wrote:

> > There are plans for things like HTTP/1.2 (relatively minor) and HTTP-NG
> > work is underway that addresses a lot more.  But you can't find out
> > anything about HTTP-NG except for the very limited info available at W3C
> > unless you are special.  While you may be, I'm not.
> It's important to me that the community believes W3C is
> running HTTP-NG in a reasonable way. I infer from your
> comments that you think we're not. So I'll take the opportunity
> to try to convince you.

I don't think that the development of HTTP-NG is not being done in a
reasonable way (note the double negative); I can't think that because I
have nothing to base such a viewpoint on.  In the absence of more
information, and knowing who is involved, I can only guess that it is more
or less reasonable. 

I do have concerns about the interaction between this process and the rest
of the world.

There is almost no information available at
http://www.w3.org/Protocols/HTTP-NG/ regarding it, and it is not clear if
any of the information that is there is valid or is just leftover from
some ancient history (eg. the other month, the IETF working group site was
suggesting 1.2 would be submitted to the IEST  in October 96).  (well, the
information there does appear to have been improved a bit since I last
looked a month or so ago.)

Sometimes, protocols get stalled and never end up working out properly. 
eg. SNMPv2.  What I have heard about an object oriented architecture for
HTTP-NG makes me concerned that the same thing is possible.  From my
network perspective, that is bad.  There are serious issues with
HTTP/1.1 <-> network interactions, etc. that need to be dealt with in a
reasonable timeframe.

I went through this whole thing with Henrik a month or so ago and will not
go into the full details again because there is no point.  He was upset
that a total of around a dozen lines of information saying that yes,
HTTP-NG did exist and was being worked on, and a very short outline of the
overall concept, were posted to the Apache development mailing list.

Let me be very clear that I fully understand the issues involved with
working on such a project and that a closed development environment may
well be the best solution.  There may also well not be anything to make
public yet.  But I don't know that.  I am not suggesting that all
development should be open or even that there is any detailed information
to be made available at this piont.

Henrik's guideline is that someone should be willing to spend 50% or more
of their time on HTTP-NG work to be considered.  That effectively
completely cuts out anyone deeply involved with current real-world
webservers, and anyone not part of a company willing to fund the
development of HTTP-NG.  I am concerned about what sort of direction that
could lead to.  By the time a draft is released, it is far too late to go
changing basic design issues that may be broken.  No insult intended to
the people that are involved and I have great respect for their knowledge
and abilities, but I am concerned about the lack of room for early
feedback and viewpoints both from current HTTP implementors or to them.  I
am not up to the design of HTTP-NG, but I would like to think I have a
little experience with HTTP and a little idea of what my concerns are. 

He also mentioned some mytical "HTTP-NG Interest Group" that others could
participate in, but I could never get any more information about it.

For example, it is completely impractical for the current Apache server to
implement multiplexing.  We are in the process of designing a framework
for 2.0 that will change this and probably perhaps maybe (since I can't
even guess at what HTTP-NG will do) make HTTP-NG drop in, but if we
weren't it would certainly lead to a very large lag time before Apache
would ever properly implement HTTP-NG at more than a trivial level.

The complete lack of information on nearly everything related to HTTP-NG
means that a complete redesign or extensive changes may be required to
implement it after the Apache 2.0 framework is established.  That would be
unfortunate since it certainly would delay Apache's implementation.  While
I suspect it is nonsense to be talking implementation at this time, when
looking at designs for the Apache design, and no one knows if HTTP-NG will
actually make it that far, I don't care about the protocol details just
the concepts.

For example, I'm trying to figure out the issue of just how you plan to
allow for efficient server-side implementations of multiplexing without
embedding SMUX (or whatever is used) in the kernel.  Apache 2.0 will
improve performance with numerous optimizations using more advanced IO
models; but then when you add in multiplexing you throw many of them out
the window again. 

To summarize, I have nothing to complain about regarding the direction the
HTTP-NG protocol is going and that is the problem.  You can either take it
from the perspective that I just like complaining or that I have concerns
about the future of HTTP and the current information available on HTTP-NG
does nothing to allay them. 

     Marc Slemko     | Apache Group member
     marcs@znep.com  | marc@apache.org
Received on Thursday, 12 March 1998 01:28:20 UTC

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