Re: "Content negotiation"

Kee Hinckley (
Tue, 7 Nov 1995 12:20:36 -0500

At 11:13 AM 11/7/95, William F. Hammond wrote:
>Does this mean that you will ignore me if my user-agent is not in your
>BND ("browser- negotiation database") OR if my request has no user-agent
>header line. What if I'm HTTP/0.9 ?

You won't be ignored, you'll just get the lowest-common denominator HTML.
Given the choice of sending something which might work, but which more
likely will screw up your display, or sending you something which will look
reasonable, but not ideal, we choose the latter. This doesn't mean we
don't use tables when we can make them look reasonable even in browsers
that don't support them. It's just for those cases where the result would
be unreadable. (Of course, even that falls apart sometimes. Try sending a
table with a percentage width to Netcom's 2.0 browser. You get a column
about 8 characters wide. When Netcom released 2.0 with table support, all
of a sudden we started getting messages about unreadable pages from Netcom
users. Sigh.)

>Have I missed something? Is "user-agent" *required*?
Certainly not.

>And have patience with those who do not live in a GUI. (I live in
>a GUI only about half the time.)

If we know you are using a text-based browser, and using "alt" tags would
really result in a mess, we'll give you a text-based page.

As I've said, if browsers would advertise their features, we'd stop looking
at User-Agent field.

Kee Hinckley Utopia Inc. - Cyberspace Architects=81 617.768.5500

I'm not sure which upsets me more: that people are so unwilling to accept
responsibility for their own actions, or that they are so eager to regulate
everyone else's.