mnot’s blog

Design depends largely on constraints.” — Charles Eames

Friday, 25 July 2003


Profiling HTTP

Mark Pilgrim is starting to think about issues surrounding the transport, transfer and general moving around of the Format Formerly Known as Echo (nee Pie).

This feels suspiciously like a profile of HTTP. We tried that a little bit in the Basic Profile, and I’m still undecided as to whether it was worthwhile or not.

That having been said, some thoughts and suggestions:


Mark said:

re: “Move away from RFC2119 language (MUST, SHOULD, MAY and friends)” I disagree strongly. “Friendly” specs with loose advisory language is one of the reasons we’re in this mess to begin with.

And it’s all well and good to say that “HTTP is well-specified”, but you should see my logs sometime. Obviously the message isn’t getting through to the developers of pretty much an entire class of applications. What’s wrong with taking general rules (like RFC 2616) and creating specific rules/tests targeting one particular class of (misbehaving) applications?

Sunday, July 27 2003 at 12:27 PM

Mark said:

A similar point applies to terminology. The root of the flare-up about robots.txt support was that Kevin didn’t feel that NewsMonster qualified as a crawler (despite the fact that it was following links and downloading resources recursively). RFC 2616 is written to be as specific as possible, to cover everyone in the known universe who wants to do anything over HTTP. That’s not the kind of spec I’m writing.

Sunday, July 27 2003 at 12:31 PM

Mark said:

Of course I meant to say “RFC 2616 is written to be as general as possible”…

Sunday, July 27 2003 at 12:31 PM