Re: Comments on the HTTP/1.0 draft.

At 11:06 PM 12/9/94, Larry Masinter wrote:
>This would allow current servers to continue to send what they are
>sending, except that they'd need to label it differently
>The labelling can be upgraded gracefully (clients can be
>modified to Accept: application/html & application/text, and then
>servers can send things that way if they're asked for.)

Hold it. MIME types are associated to particular file types by a HUMAN in
some sort of configuration file on the server. MIME types are mapped to a
display mechanism on the client by a HUMAN. HTTP is simply a pipe to convey
that mapping from one end of the connection to the other. The server has NO
decision in this process. It is simply using definitions that a HUMAN
pre-defined to map some suffix, file type, or creator code into a MIME
type. The server has no knowledge of the semantics of the MIME type. It is
simply matching a string of characters with no knowledge of what they mean.

Everyone who is advocating the definition of a standard set of MIME types
for HTTP to use is missing the mark completely. HTTP doesn't care, doesn't
need to know, and doesn't need to manipulate MIME types. It simply needs to
match them up and pass them in association with some data from server to
client or vice versa. We are confusing decisions that people make regarding
assignment of MIME types to data types with a transaction-based protocol
that simply forwards data in a structured format from one computer to

If HTTP queries and responses have improper MIME types being conveyed in
them, it is because people on both ends of the HTTP connection decided
consciously to do it incorrectly by defining improper types in their
configuration files and mapping them to data types for transfer. That
doesn't make the protocol itself correct or incorrect. As long as the MIME
type matches the SYNTAX in the HTTP standard, why should a client or server
that implements the standard care one iota whether it is a registered type
or not?

Chuck Shotton                           "I am NOT here."

Received on Saturday, 10 December 1994 05:50:53 UTC