Re: describing browser capabilities (was: Content negotiation)

M. Hedlund (
Fri, 10 Nov 1995 14:32:12 -0700

At 3:13 PM 11/10/95, Shel Kaphan wrote:
>there should be replicated databases, indexed by
>HTTP_USER_AGENT string, that return *something* describing the
>browser. I agree that the DTD could and probably should be among
>those things, but see no reason why it must be limited to that.

Okay, I have no problem with that, and as Browser Caps and the Form Test
Suite have proven, there's no reason to change the spec in order to do

However, I want to point out again that what I want is a way to establish
commonality between browsers, not particularities among browsers. Only
with commonalities can we reduce the number of variations written for each
page. Buglists will be helpful, but they are particularities. If these
twenty browsers all use, say, the same DTD, our database of browser
capabilities has nineteen fewer keys than it did before. I'm not saying
"don't do the User-Agent database"; I am saying the DTD database could be
more efficient.

>I am not at all sure I believe style sheets have much of a part in
>this right now. The reason is that the installed base of browsers
>knows nothing about them. This is not to knock style sheets at all --
>it is just my view that a solution to this problem has to help in the
>present world, not just "the glorious future".

For right now, the server-based solution you describe probably is best. My
harping on style sheets is merely to point out that some of the solutions
sought in negotiation are probably better solved elsewhere.

M. Hedlund <>