Re: Working Group Last Call: draft-ietf-httpbis-content-disp-02

* Adam Barth wrote:
>Insulting an important constituency is unlikely to generate consensus
>by win that constituency over to your point of view.

There is a popular german short story by Peter Bichsel, "Ein Tisch ist
ein Tisch" (a desk is a desk). He tells of an old man who is trapped in
his daily routine, everything the same all day. One day he takes a walk
and for no particular reason he realizes he likes many thing about it.
He thinks that now everything will change, but when he comes home there
is still the same desk and still the chairs, the same bed, and he hates

"Always the same desk", he says, "always the same chairs." And he starts
wondering why a desk is called "desk" and the chairs called "chairs". He
wonders why the bed isn't called "ball" and is amused by the thought.
"Now everything is going to change!", and from now on he calls the bed
"ball". "I am tired and want to go to ball."

Next day he ponders what to call the other things in his room; his desk
becomes "carpet", his chair "clock", his clock "photo album" and so on.
So in the morning he lays in his ball and around nine the photo album
rings. He is greatly amused and continues renaming things and replaces
the verbs also. He now had a language all for himself.

Eventually he started having trouble translating between his language
and the language the people around him use, to a point where he became
afraid to talk to them and started laughing when he heard others talk.
He stopped talking.

Meaningful communication requires that sender and recipient agree on the
meaning of what is being exchanged, otherwise they will fail to communi-
cate. Saying that the specification of a communication protocol is only
for "servers" is the equivalent of the old man telling you what words he
is using, but not telling you how you are to understand them. Since the
old man and you are using the same words, you would learn nothing from
that. A specification only for servers would at best make any sense at
all if there already was a higher-level specification that actually de-
fines the protocol, and the other specification is just a subset. This
is not the case here. This specification defines "If you send this, you
can expected it to be understood in this way"; "If you receive this, you
should understand it in this way." It addresses senders and receivers
alike. The idea that a communication protocol specification is only for
"servers" is silly.

What you rather want the specification to say is that there is a con-
siderable amount of content that does work in major implementation in
a specific way, but whose meaning is not defined by the specification,
and that that is a severe problem implementers will be interested in
addressing and be reasonably able to do so. So far you have provided
no evidence of that being the case, and my rudimentary tests suggest
you are mistaken.

If you can come up with something that works in all of IE6, Firefox,
and an independent third browser of your choosing, and demonstrate this
issue comes up for let's say 1 in 10,000 downloads with a content-
disposition header, where falling back to heuristics for the filename
would have substantial impact on the user experience, then I'd be more
than happy to talk about that. In my data I see only unquoted spaces
that do not work across major browsers, and headers that specify only
the filename (most of which are no problem because the filename they
specify is redundant with the typical heuristics) that occur at a
frequency worth mentioning. You are also more than welcome to propose
alternate metrics alongside your evidence. Vague suggestions that the
specification is inadequate are not helpful.
Björn Höhrmann · ·
Am Badedeich 7 · Telefon: +49(0)160/4415681 ·
25899 Dagebüll · PGP Pub. KeyID: 0xA4357E78 · 

Received on Sunday, 3 October 2010 01:00:21 UTC