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Re: MHTML/HTTP 1.1 Conflicts

From: Jim Gettys <jg@pa.dec.com>
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 1998 14:35:11 -0800
Message-Id: <9801262235.AA07213@pachyderm.pa.dec.com>
To: Stef@nma.com
Cc: Jim Gettys <jg@pa.dec.com>, IETF working group on HTML in e-mail <mhtml@segate.sunet.se>, http-wg@cuckoo.hpl.hp.com
X-Mailing-List: <http-wg@cuckoo.hpl.hp.com> archive/latest/5284

>  Sender: stef@nma.com
>  From: Einar Stefferud <Stef@nma.com>
>  Date: Mon, 26 Jan 1998 13:13:40 -0800
>  To: Jim Gettys <jg@pa.dec.com>
>  Cc: IETF working group on HTML in e-mail <mhtml@segate.sunet.se>,
>          http-wg@cuckoo.hpl.hp.com
>  Subject: Re: MHTML/HTTP 1.1 Conflicts 
>  I understand that we are dealing with a legacy of bad HTTP choices
>  back when there was no IETF involvement, adn the people developing
>  ythe "standard" understood tha the way to set standards was to "just
>  do what you wnat to do" adn get it over with.

BTW, this is a bit unfair and an overstatement...  The folks who designed 
HTTP have/had different goals than mail, and different expertise than networks. 
Part of the Web's success was that it allowed existing and future content 
to be transported (including MHTML). Demanding all text files be converted 
before being served by a web server would not likely have helped the Web 
take off, for example, so it seems to me it was a perfectly pragmatic decision, 
in that case.

Adopting the MIME type registry was clearly a win.  

You can question whether modelling the HTTP protocol after MIME was a good 
idea; I think history is showing it wasn't, that the accumulated baggage 
since 822 is causing serious confusion.  Systems also age, and RFC822's 
decendents are showing serious signs of senesence. 

But things might have been even worse had they (TimBL, et. al. etc.) gone 
off completely on their own.  There are relatively few people who've designed 
even one protocol at all well. I know in my background it took several 
redesigns to design one (the X protocol) even partially right for long term 
stability (and I certainly know of many problems with that protocol).  Given 
the speed with which the Web took off, it is unlikely Tim et. al. would 
have had the luxury we did of fixing the worst mistakes we made in early
versions of X.

So you're beating up on people with 20-20 hindsight.  Things might be much 
worse.  All in all, I think they did a pretty decent job for a first try.
Where were we when the Web should have been invented (arguably, all the
pieces to invent it have been around since around 1986).
				- Jim Gettys

Jim Gettys
Industry Standards and Consortia
Digital Equipment Corporation
Visting Scientist, World Wide Web Consortium, M.I.T.
jg@w3.org, jg@pa.dec.com
Received on Monday, 26 January 1998 14:37:07 UTC

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