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Re: Connection Header

From: John Franks <john@math.nwu.edu>
Date: Mon, 19 Dec 1994 14:39:33 -0600 (CST)
Message-Id: <9412192039.AA01409@hopf.math.nwu.edu>
To: "Roy T. Fielding" <fielding@blanche.ICS.UCI.EDU>
Cc: http-wg%cuckoo.hpl.hp.com@hplb.hpl.hp.com
According to Roy T. Fielding:
> 8) There is no such thing as a bloody MGET proposal, because no one
>    has ever attempted to specify it beyond some vague notion, let alone
>    actually implement the sucker.  I don't want to hear any more arguments
>    about how much *more* efficient this method is until someone gets up
>    the gumption to specify exactly what the beastie will entail. 

Here is a proposal I circulated a month or two ago.  It was on
www-talk.  I have made a one minor addition reflecting the recent
discussions here.  This is far from a careful specification, but it is
more than I have seen concerning SESSION and Connection: headers.

Proposal for an HTTP MGET Method
   A much discussed pressing need for HTTP is a mechanism for the client
   to request and the server to deliver multiple files in a single
   transaction. The primary (but not sole) motivation is the need to
   improve efficiency of downloading an HTML file and multiple inline
   images for that file. Here is a concrete proposal for the addition of
   an MGET method to HTTP to meet this need.
   _Design Objectives_

    1. The number of transactions to download an HTML file with inline
       images should be minimized.
    2. The client should have the option of downloading all, some or none
       of the inline images. It should be able to request some or all
       files with an "If-Modified-Since:" header.
    3. Additions to the protocol should be simple to implement for
       servers and browsers.
    4. The statelessness of the server should be preserved.
    5. New client / old server and old client / new server transactions
       should work as should new client / old proxy etc.
    6. The server must be able to transmit the multiple files "on the
       fly" without knowing their size in advance and without making a
       copy of the whole package before transmission.
    7. The server must have the option of returning some of the requested
       files while denying access or reporting an error for others. In
       particular, it must return a separate status header for each
       requested file.
   In order to achieve the second objective above a minimum of two
   transactions will be required. In the first transaction the client
   receives the base HTML document (this is a GET transaction and should
   be identical to HTTP/1.0). The client is then in a position to decide
   which inline images to request. It may want all, some, or none, as it
   may have some cached or it may be incapable of displaying images.
   The second transaction is an MGET transaction. The client lists the
   URIs it wants each followed by an "Accepts:" header applicable to that
   URI alone. The client can also provide an "If-Modified-Since:" header
   for any of the requested files which should work like it does in
   HTTP/1.0 The server returns the files with a packet transfer-content
   encoding beginning each packet with the exact number (in ASCII) of
   bytes in that packet and an empty packet (size -1) to indicate end of
   file. Here is an example of a client server exchange.

        C: GET /foo.html HTTP/2.0<CRLF>
           Accept: text/html, text/plain<CRLF>
        S: HTTP/2.0 200 Success<CRLF>
           Content-Type: text/html<CRLF>
	   Accept: GET, MGET, POST, HEAD, MHEAD		<-- see note (*) below
           ...<other headers>
           <sends file>
           < closes connection>

  [This was a GET request, identical to HTTP/1.0 except for the additional
  header line "Accept: MGET..." from the server.  The second request uses

        C: MGET HTTP/2.0<CRLF>
           URI: /images/bar1.gif<CRLF>
           If-Modified-Since: Saturday, 29-Oct-94 20:04:01 GMT
           Accept: image/gif, image/x-xbm<CRLF>
           URI: /images/bar2.gif<CRLF>
           If-Modified-Since: Saturday, 29-Oct-94 20:04:01 GMT
           Accept: image/gif, image/x-xbm<CRLF>
           URI: /images/bar3.gif<CRLF>
           Accept: image/gif, image/x-xbm<CRLF>
           URI: /images/bar4.gif<CRLF>
           Accept: image/gif, image/x-xbm<CRLF>

        S: HTTP/2.0 200 Success<CRLF>
           URI: /images/bar1.gif<CRLF>
           Content-Type: image/gif<CRLF>
           Content-Transfer-Encoding: packet<CRLF>
           ... 8000 bytes of image data first packet...
           ... 2235 bytes of image data completing file...
           HTTP/2.0 304 Not Modified<CRLF>
           URI: /images/bar2.gif<CRLF>
           Expires: Saturday, 29-Oct-95 20:04:01 GMT
           HTTP/2.0 403 Forbidden
           URI: /images/bar3.gif<CRLF>
           HTTP/2.0 200 Success<CRLF>
           URI: /images/bar4.gif<CRLF>
           Content-Type: image/gif<CRLF>
           Content-Transfer-Encoding: packet<CRLF>
           ... 150213 bytes of image data (complete file)...
         S: <closes connection>

   This seems to me to meet all the objectives listed above. Comments are

   Note (*):  This line was added as a result of recent discussions on
   the http-wg mailing list.  The presence of MGET notifies the client
   that the server will accept the MGET method.  This should be ignored
   if the client is communicating with a proxy, because the proxy might
   not be MGET capable.  Perhaps a new proxy should add an additional
   header like "Proxy-Allow: MGET etc..." if it wishes to allow the
   client to use MGET.

John Franks 	Dept of Math. Northwestern University
Received on Monday, 19 December 1994 12:42:55 UTC

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