Re: Content negotiation

Kee Hinckley (
Tue, 7 Nov 1995 13:20:52 -0500

At 11:17 AM 11/7/95, Eric W. Sink wrote:

>Why? Most content providers seem to live in one of a couple of
>worlds. Either they want their info to be viewable by a wide variety
>of people, or they want their info to be as cool as possible under
>one browser. What is it about your world that makes it a hybrid of
>the two?

Why would you want it to be as cool as possible under one browser when you
can make it as cool as possible under all browsers? Consider Netscape. We
see that browser in about 60% of our hits. But closer examination shows
that 30-40% of those, even in the past few months, are from 1.0 versions of
Netscape. So that means that we can't even assume that just because it's
Netscape we can use tables. Are you saying you _don't_ want me to make our
sites look as good as possible to Spyglass users? Because if I'm only
going to make them cool for one browser, it's going to be the one with the
biggest market share.

>> What really gets me
>> though is trying to figure out whether I need to send a RealAudio file, a
>> WAV file, an AU file or an AIFF file. Why the !@#$% aren't the major
>> browser manufacturors sending that helper-application information?
>Because no one wants to send 1K of Accept headers on every request.
>I'm not trying to defend the choice, but I think that's the !@#$%
>reason. Why not just send an AU file every time?

Because J. Random User coming in from AOL or Compuserve or whereever
probably has no idea how to view an AU file. And furthermore, there's
quite a difference in what I'm going to send someone who has can only hear
AU compared to what I'll send someone who has RealAudio.

>Content negotiation via the User-Agent field is irresponsible.

The current alternative is no content-negotiation at all. I've updated our
database with the 2.1 Spyglass extensions, but I confess to be confused by
your User-Agent field.

Spyglass_Mosaic/2.10 Win32 Open Text/1
PATHWORKS Mosaic/1.0 libwww/2.15_Spyglass
Mosaic/1.0 libwww/2.15_Spyglass
Enhanced_Mosaic/2.00 Win32 FTP Software/Spyglass/3

You've got a few too many version numbers floating around. Which indicates
the level of HTML supported?

10% parseversion 'PATHWORKS Mosaic/1.0 libwww/2.15_Spyglass'
Type: Spyglass PATHWORKS Mosaic Plat: Windows Vers: 1.0

11% parseversion 'Mosaic/1.0 libwww/2.15_Spyglass'
Type: Spyglass Mosaic Plat: Windows Vers: 1.0

12% parseversion 'Enhanced_Mosaic/2.00 Win32 FTP Software/Spyglass/3'
Type: Spyglass Enhanced_Mosaic Plat: Windows Vers: 2.00

13% parseversion 'Spyglass_Mosaic/2.10 Win32 Open Text/1'
Type: Spyglass_Mosaic Plat: Windows Vers: 2.10 FormTables, ImageTab=
SideAlign, FontSize, Background, Center, Tables,

Now you see why I'd like to see more standard User-Agent fields.

You can consider it irresponsible, and certainly keeping our database
up-to-date requires work. But the alternative is to not do the best job
possible for either the web site owners or their customers. As a content
developer, the most I hope for is that companies like Spyglass try and make
the task easier, not harder.

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.