Content negotiation: a suggestion

Koen Holtman (
Thu, 9 Nov 1995 18:18:03 +0100 (MET)

I just finished reading all new messages in the content negotiation
thread. I have (so far!) resisted the urge to add my share of
replies, because I want to make a meta-statement about the whole
thread first:

I fear that this thread is getting a bit too chaotic to be really

The thread contains both statements on _what_ to negotiate on and on
_how_ to do it efficiently, usually intertwined in the same message.

I suggest that we separate these two topics as much as possible:

1) if you are discussing something to negotiate on, like
- mime types
- HTML rendering capabilities
- browser bugs
- ...
do _not_ at the same time propose a mechanism to implement such
negotiation efficiently.

2) if you are discussing a content negotiation mechanism that is more
efficient than 'send 10K of headers every time', like
- reactive negotiation
- sending a pointer to a database of browser capabilities
- <a href=... type=audio/*>...</a>
- ...
or if you are discussing something like
- negotiation vs. caching
- extensibility of the negotiation mechanism
- ...
do _not_ at the same time discuss a particular thing to negotiate on.

In my opinion, issues 1) and 2) could both be resolved a lot more
quickly if kept separate.

Also, I suggest that Subject lines are edited more often, if only for
the sake of the mailing list archives.

One last observation: most of the issues in 2) above really belong on
the http-wg mailing list, not www-talk. The problem with making an
efficient negotiation mechanism is not a lack of good ideas, the
problem is to take some minimal set of good ideas and put them
together in a clean and unambiguous way.