Re: Byte ranges -- formal spec proposal

John Franks (
Thu, 18 May 1995 03:55:33 +0500

According to Chuck Shotton:
> >Description of the byterange URL Parameter
> >
> > * The byte range request is attached to the end of the URL,
> > separated by a semi-colon.
> Why not use the already supported "?" separator? Many file systems use the
> semi-colon character to represent version numbers and overloading this
> character could cause difficulties. In effect, you are asking the server to
> "search" for a specific byte range in a document anyway, so it's not too
> big of a stretch to adopt the "?" safe character instead of risking
> possible conflicts with ";".

I see a potential problem with using '?' because it is already used
for forms. What happens if someone has a form with a field named
"byterange"? We are better off having the name space for form fields
separate from that of URL parameters.

> Please. Let's not expand on this. It forces servers to have a much more
> intimate knowledge of the content they serve than is necessary. Let's
> define how byte ranges work and leave the nasty WWW object model for
> another day and another syntax.

I generally agree with this, though I might not have put it so strongly.
On the other hand it is fine for servers to implement server specific
parameters with special meaning for that server. There are a number of
such in the server that I wrote. If, as in the case of byterange, it
turns out that several implementors want the same functionality it makes
sense to try to standardize.

John Franks