QUIC Working Group                                             M. Bishop
Internet-Draft                                                    Akamai
Intended status: Standards Track                       December 14, 2017
Expires: June 17, 2018

                    Header Compression for HTTP/QUIC


   HTTP/2 [RFC7540] uses HPACK [RFC7541] for header compression.
   However, HPACK relies on the in-order message-based semantics of the
   HTTP/2 framing layer in order to function.  Messages can only be
   successfully decoded if processed by the decoder in the same order as
   generated by the encoder.  This draft refines HPACK to loosen the
   ordering requirements for use over QUIC [I-D.ietf-quic-transport].

Status of This Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF).  Note that other groups may also distribute
   working documents as Internet-Drafts.  The list of current Internet-
   Drafts is at https://datatracker.ietf.org/drafts/current/.

   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
   and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
   time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference
   material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

   This Internet-Draft will expire on June 17, 2018.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2017 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   (https://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.  Code Components extracted from this document must
   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of

Bishop                    Expires June 17, 2018                 [Page 1]

Internet-Draft                    QPACK                    December 2017

   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
     1.1.  Terminology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   2.  QPACK - Concepts  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     2.1.  Changes to Static and Dynamic Tables  . . . . . . . . . .   4
       2.1.1.  Dynamic Table State Synchronization . . . . . . . . .   4
     2.2.  Encoding Constraints  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
       2.2.1.  Permitted References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
       2.2.2.  Header Table Size . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   3.  Wire Format . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     3.1.  Feedback Stream . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
       3.1.1.  HEADERS_DONE  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
       3.1.2.  ACK_FLUSH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
       3.1.3.  DROP  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
       3.1.4.  ACK_DROP  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
     3.2.  Checkpoint Streams  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
       3.2.1.  INSERT  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
       3.2.2.  TOUCH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
     3.3.  Request Streams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
       3.3.1.  Indexed Header Field Representation . . . . . . . . .  13
       3.3.2.  Literal Header Field Representation . . . . . . . . .  13
   4.  Use in HTTP/QUIC  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
     4.1.  SETTING_QPACK_BLOCKING_PERMITTED  . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
     4.2.  SETTING_QPACK_INITIAL_CHECKPOINT  . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
   5.  Implementation trade-offs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
     5.1.  Compression Efficiency versus Blocking Avoidance  . . . .  16
     5.2.  Timely State Transitions versus Decoder Complexity  . . .  16
   6.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
   7.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
     7.1.  Settings  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
     7.2.  Errors  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
   8.  Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
   9.  References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
     9.1.  Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
     9.2.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19

1.  Introduction

   HPACK has a number of features that were intended to provide
   performance advantages to HTTP/2, but which don't live well in an
   out-of-order environment such as that provided by QUIC.

Bishop                    Expires June 17, 2018                 [Page 2]

Internet-Draft                    QPACK                    December 2017

   The largest challenge is the fact that elements are referenced by a
   very fluid index.  Not only is the index implicit when an item is
   added to the header table, the index will change without notice as
   other items are added to the header table.  Static entries occupy the
   first 61 values, followed by dynamic entries.  A newly-added dynamic
   entry would cause older dynamic entries to be evicted, and the
   retained items are then renumbered beginning with 62.  This means
   that, without processing all preceding header sets, no index into the
   dynamic table can be interpreted, and the index of a given entry
   cannot be predicted.

   Any solution to the above will almost certainly fall afoul of the
   memory constraints the decompressor imposes.  The automatic eviction
   of entries is done based on the compressor's declared dynamic table
   size, which MUST be less than the maximum permitted by the
   decompressor (and relayed using an HTTP/2 SETTINGS value).

   Further, streams in QUIC are lossy in the presence of stream resets.
   While HTTP/2 (via TCP) guarantees the delivery of all previously-sent
   data on a stream even if that stream is reset, QUIC does not
   retransmit lost frames if a stream has been reset, and may discard
   data which has not yet been delivered to the application.

   Early versions of QPACK were small deltas of HPACK to introduce
   order-resiliency.  Recent versions depart from HPACK more
   substantially to add resilience against reset message streams and
   reduce the impact of head-of-line blocking.

   In the following sections, this document proposes a successor to
   HPACK which makes different trade-offs, enabling partial out-of-order
   interpretation and bounded memory consumption with minimal head-of-
   line blocking.  None of the proposed improvements to HPACK (strongly-
   typed fields, binary compression of common header syntax) are
   currently included, but certainly could be.

1.1.  Terminology

   In this document, the key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED",
   and "OPTIONAL" are to be interpreted as described in BCP 14,
   [RFC2119] and indicate requirement levels for compliant

2.  QPACK - Concepts

   HPACK combines header table modification and message header emission
   in a single sequence of coded bytes.  QPACK bifurcates these into
   three channels:

Bishop                    Expires June 17, 2018                 [Page 3]

Internet-Draft                    QPACK                    December 2017

   o  Connection-wide sets of table update instructions sent on non-
      request streams

   o  Connection-wide feedback on stream and checkpoint state on a
      single non-request stream

   o  Non-modifying instructions which use the current header table
      state to encode message headers on request streams

   Because the per-message instructions introduce no changes to the
   header table state, no state is lost if these instructions are
   discarded due to a stream reset.  Because the updates to the header
   table supply their own order controls (the checkpoint logic), they
   can be processed in any order and therefore delivered as messages
   using unidirectional QUIC streams.

2.1.  Changes to Static and Dynamic Tables

   QPACK uses two tables for associating header fields to indexes.  The
   static table is unchanged from [RFC7541].  Unlike in [RFC7541], the
   tables are not concatenated, but are referenced separately.

   The dynamic table is a map from index to header field.  Indices are
   arbitrary numbers between 1 and 2^27.  Each insert instruction will
   specify the index being modified.  While any index MAY be chosen for
   a new entry, smaller numbers will yield better compression

   With decoder consent (see Section 4.1), it is possible for QPACK
   instructions to arrive which reference indices which have not yet
   been defined.  Such instructions MUST wait until the index definition
   has arrived.  In order to guard against malicious peers,
   implementations supporting blocking SHOULD impose a time limit and
   treat expiration of the timer as a decoding error.

2.1.1.  Dynamic Table State Synchronization

   In order to ensure table consistency, all modifications of the header
   table occur as separate messages rather than on request streams.
   Request streams contain only indexed and literal header entries.

   No entries are automatically evicted from the dynamic table.  Size
   management is purely the responsibility of the encoder, which MUST
   NOT exceed the declared memory size of the decoder.

   To simplify state management in the dynamic table, _checkpoints_ are
   introduced.  A checkpoint is used to track entries added to the
   dynamic table and streams that reference those entries, rather than

Bishop                    Expires June 17, 2018                 [Page 4]

Internet-Draft                    QPACK                    December 2017

   maintaining the full state of which streams reference which table

   Checkpoints are unordered and have an identifier which MUST be unique
   among checkpoints which have not been dropped.  Each checkpoint has a
   unidirectional stream which begins with its identifier and contains a
   series of updates associated with that checkpoint.  These updates
   SHOULD be processed as they arrive; it is not necessary (and might
   not be desirable) to wait for all instructions associated with a
   checkpoint to arrive before beginning to process it.

   The feedback stream is used to relay state transitions to the peer.
   For example, when a decoder is done processing a header block, it
   signals this using the HEADERS_DONE message.  The encoder uses this
   information to track which checkpoints can be dropped.  Checkpoint Lifecycle

   A checkpoint is created by opening a new checkpoint stream.  This
   places the checkpoint in the NEW state for both encoder and decoder.
   The encoder typically has at least one checkpoint in the NEW state.

   Flushing a checkpoint is a two-step operation.  First, the checkpoint
   stream is closed.  At that time, the encoder's NEW checkpoint becomes
   PENDING.  The decoder moves its NEW checkpoint directly to LIVE and
   responds with an ACK_FLUSH message on the feedback stream.  When the
   encoder receives this message, its PENDING checkpoint becomes LIVE.

   Unused entries are evicted indirectly, by dropping checkpoints.
   Before a checkpoint can be dropped, its state is changed to DYING.
   Changing a checkpoint's state to DYING allows the checkpoint to age
   out.  This is a strictly internal state on the encoder, and not
   visible to the decoder.  A DYING checkpoint can be returned to LIVE
   at the encoder's discretion if necessary.

   The encoder can change a DYING checkpoint to DEAD (sending a DROP
   instruction) when it is no longer referenced by any outstanding
   header blocks.  The encoder sends the DROP command to the decoder
   when it declares a checkpoint DEAD.

   To ensure consistency, the decoder drops the corresponding checkpoint
   and responds with an ACK_DROP message only when it has fully received
   all instructions the encoder has issued up to that point.  The
   encoder drops the DEAD checkpoint upon receipt of the ACK_DROP

Bishop                    Expires June 17, 2018                 [Page 5]

Internet-Draft                    QPACK                    December 2017

   When a checkpoint is dropped by encoder or decoder, the table entries
   it references are checked: if an entry is no longer referenced by any
   checkpoint, the entry is evicted.

   Dropping a checkpoint and the entries associated with it is not
   limited to just the oldest checkpoint; any DYING checkpoint - as long
   as state transition rules are followed - may be dropped.  This
   flexibility permits the encoder to use a number of strategies for
   entry eviction.

   As long as the maximum dynamic table size is observed, new
   checkpoints can be created; no upper limit on the number of
   checkpoints is specified.  A well-balanced spread of checkpoints
   permits the encoder to recycle entries effectively.

2.2.  Encoding Constraints

2.2.1.  Permitted References

   When encoding headers on a request stream, an encoder MAY reference
   any static table entry or any dynamic header table entry referenced
   by a LIVE checkpoint.  References to entries in NEW or PENDING
   checkpoints are permitted only if the client has set

   If a decoder receives a reference to an empty slot in the dynamic
   table but has not sent "SETTING_QPACK_BLOCKING_PERMITTED", this MUST
   be treated as a stream error of type "ERROR_QPACK_INVALID_REFERENCE"
   if on a request stream.  References to empty slots in the dynamic
   table on a checkpoint stream MUST be treated as a connection error of

   References to DYING checkpoints are possible by returning the
   checkpoint to LIVE, but this is usually inadvisable.  Table entries
   contained only in a DEAD checkpoint can never be referenced.

2.2.2.  Header Table Size

   As in HPACK, the dynamic table is constrained to the maximum size
   specified by the decoder.  An attempt to add a header to the dynamic
   table or to create a new checkpoint which causes it to exceed the
   maximum size MUST be treated as an error by a decoder.  To enable
   encoders to reclaim space, encoders can drop old checkpoints (see
   Section 2.1.1).

   The total table size is calculated as follows:

   o  The size of each entry is calculated as in HPACK

Bishop                    Expires June 17, 2018                 [Page 6]

Internet-Draft                    QPACK                    December 2017

   o  Each checkpoint that has not been removed, regardless of state,
      consumes 64 bytes  Table Size Changes

   HTTP/QUIC prohibits mid-stream changes of settings.  As a result,
   only one table size change is possible: From the value a client
   assumes during the 0-RTT flight to the actual value included in the
   server's SETTINGS frame.  The assumed value is required to be either
   a server's previous value or zero.  A server whose configuration has
   recently changed MAY overlook inadvertent violations of its maximum
   table size during the first round-trip.

   In the case that the value has increased, either from zero to a non-
   zero value or from the cached value to a higher value, no action is
   required by the client.  The encoder can simply begin using the
   additional space.  In the case that the value has decreased, the
   encoder MUST move checkpoints to the DYING state which, upon removal,
   would bring the table within the required size.

   Regardless of changes to header table size, the encoder MUST NOT
   create new checkpoints or add entries to the table which would result
   in a size greater than the maximum permitted.  This can imply that no
   additions are permitted while waiting for old checkpoints to

3.  Wire Format

   QPACK instructions occur on three stream types, each of which uses a
   separate instruction space.

   The feedback stream is a bidirectional server-initiated stream used
   for acknowledgement of actions and checkpoint state management.
   Checkpoint streams are unidirectional streams from encoder to
   decoder.  Both types of streams consist of a series of QPACK
   instructions with no message boundaries, preceded by a stream header
   for checkpoint streams.

   Finally, the contents of HEADERS and PUSH_PROMISE frames on request
   streams reference the QPACK table state.

   This section describes the instructions which are possible on each
   stream type.

Bishop                    Expires June 17, 2018                 [Page 7]

Internet-Draft                    QPACK                    December 2017

3.1.  Feedback Stream

   Stream 1, the first server-initiated bidirectional stream, is used as
   the feedback stream, since the client does not need to begin sending
   data on this stream until it has received data from the server.

   This stream is critical to the HTTP/QUIC connection, and carries a
   stream of the instructions defined in this section.  Data on this
   stream SHOULD be processed as soon as it arrives.


   When the decoder has processed a frame containing header emission
   instructions (Section 3.3, HEADERS or PUSH_PROMISE frames) on a
   stream, it MUST emit a HEADERS_DONE message on the feedback stream.
   The same Stream ID can be identified multiple times, as multiple
   header-containing blocks can be sent on a single stream in the case
   of intermediate responses, trailers, pushed requests, etc.

   Since header frames on a request stream are received and processed in
   order, this gives the encoder precise feedback on which header blocks
   within a stream have been fully processed.  This information can then
   be used to correctly track outstanding stream references to

     0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7
   | 1 |       Stream ID (7+)      |

                         HEADERS_DONE instruction

3.1.2.  ACK_FLUSH

   When the decoder has finished processing all instructions that make
   up a checkpoint, it MUST indicate successful processing to the
   encoder by emitting an ACK_FLUSH instruction on the feedback stream.

   Upon emitting an ACK_FLUSH, the checkpoint transitions from NEW to
   LIVE on the decoder.  Upon receipt of an ACK_FLUSH, the checkpoint
   transitions from PENDING to LIVE on the encoder.

     0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7
   | 0 | 1 | 0 | Checkpoint ID (5+)|

                           ACK_FLUSH instruction

Bishop                    Expires June 17, 2018                 [Page 8]

Internet-Draft                    QPACK                    December 2017

3.1.3.  DROP

   When an encoder has received sufficient HEADERS_DONE messages to know
   that a DYING checkpoint has no outstanding references, it emits a
   DROP instruction to inform the decoder that the checkpoint can be
   removed.  Upon sending a DROP instruction, a DYING checkpoint becomes
   DEAD.  The DROP instruction also includes the IDs of any PENDING or
   NEW checkpoints which reference entries contained in the checkpoint
   being dropped.  The "L" bit in each byte indicates whether another
   checkpoint ID follows (L=0) or this is the final byte of the DROP
   instruction (L=1).

   Upon receiving a DROP instruction, if all listed checkpoints have
   been fully processed (transitioned from NEW to LIVE), the identified
   LIVE checkpoint is immediately removed from the decoder state and an
   ACK_DROP instruction is emitted.  Otherwise, the decoder saves the
   DROP instruction until other checkpoints become LIVE.

     0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7
   | 0 | 0 | L | Checkpoint ID (5+)|
   | L |      Checkpoint (7+)      |
   | L |      Checkpoint (7+)      |
   |              ...              |

                             DROP instruction

3.1.4.  ACK_DROP

   When a decoder receives a DROP instruction, it removes the referenced
   checkpoint from its state and clears any table entries which were
   referenced only by that checkpoint.  It then emits an ACK_DROP
   instruction.  When an encoder receives an ACK_DROP instruction, it
   removes the corresponding DEAD checkpoint from its state and clears
   any table entries which were referenced only by that checkpoint.

     0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7
   | 0 | 1 | 1 | Checkpoint ID (5+)|

                           ACK_DROP instruction

Bishop                    Expires June 17, 2018                 [Page 9]

Internet-Draft                    QPACK                    December 2017

3.2.  Checkpoint Streams

   Each checkpoint stream indicates the creation and content of a NEW
   checkpoint.  Each checkpoint has an ID; these IDs are chosen
   arbitrarily by the encoder, though lower values SHOULD be preferred.
   IDs of checkpoints which have been dropped MAY be reused for future
   NEW checkpoints.

   When the encoder has finished writing all data on the stream, it
   changes the checkpoint to PENDING.  When the decoder has received and
   processed all data on the stream, it changes the checkpoint to LIVE
   and generates an ACK_FLUSH.

   Unidirectional streams in HTTP/QUIC begin with a stream header
   indicating the nature of the stream content; the identifier for QPACK
   checkpoints is 0x4B.

      *Note to readers:* This header does not currently exist in the
      main draft, but has manifested in several PRs, and would need to
      be resurrected.

   Following the stream header, a checkpoint stream contains its
   checkpoint ID as an 8-bit prefix integer.  The remainder of the
   stream's data consists of the instructions defined in this section.

   Data on checkpoint streams SHOULD be processed as soon as it arrives.
   If multiple checkpoint streams are received at once, a decoder SHOULD
   process data on each as it arrives if it has sent
   "SETTINGS_QPACK_BLOCKING_PERMITTED", but MAY process checkpoint
   streams one at a time.

3.2.1.  INSERT

   An addition to the dynamic table starts with the '1' one-bit pattern,
   followed by the new index of the header represented as an integer
   with a 7-bit prefix.  The decoder adds the supplied header to the
   checkpoint currently being processed, which is in the NEW state.

   If the header field name matches the header field name of an entry
   stored in the static table or the dynamic table, the header field
   name can be represented using the index of that entry.  In this case,
   the "S" bit indicates whether the reference is to the static (S=1) or
   dynamic (S=0) table and the index of the entry is represented as an
   integer with an 7-bit prefix (see Section 5.1 of [RFC7541]).  This
   value is always non-zero.

   If an INSERT instruction uses an existing dynamic table entry for the
   name of an entry being added to the NEW checkpoint, both the existing

Bishop                    Expires June 17, 2018                [Page 10]

Internet-Draft                    QPACK                    December 2017

   entry and the new entry are referenced by the NEW checkpoint.  INSERT
   instructions which reference the dynamic table MUST reference only
   entries which are already included in a LIVE checkpoint.  This avoids
   the possibility of one checkpoint stream blocking on a different

        0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7
      | 1 |       New Index (7+)      |
      | S |       Name Index (7+)     |
      | H |     Value Length (7+)     |
      | Value String (Length octets)  |

                    INSERT instruction -- Indexed Name

   Otherwise, the header field name is represented as a string literal
   (see Section 5.2 of [RFC7541]).  A value 0 is used in place of the
   table reference, followed by the header field name.

        0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7
      | 1 |       New Index (7+)      |
      |               0               |
      | H |     Name Length (7+)      |
      |  Name String (Length octets)  |
      | H |     Value Length (7+)     |
      | Value String (Length octets)  |

                      INSERT instruction -- New Name

   Either form of header field name representation is followed by the
   header field value represented as a string literal (see Section 5.2
   of [RFC7541]).

   An encoder MUST NOT attempt to place a value at an index not known to
   be vacant.  A decoder MUST treat the attempt to insert into an
   occupied slot or reference a name in a vacant slot as a fatal error.

Bishop                    Expires June 17, 2018                [Page 11]

Internet-Draft                    QPACK                    December 2017

3.2.2.  TOUCH

   This instruction is emitted to link a NEW checkpoint to an existing
   header table entry created by a previous checkpoint.  This causes the
   entry not to be removed from the table so long as the current
   checkpoint is alive.

     0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7
   | 0 |         Index (7+)        |

                           Indexed Header Field

   The encoder SHOULD NOT issue multiple TOUCH commands for the same
   entry in the context of the same NEW checkpoint.  If a non-existent
   index is specified, the decoder MUST treat is as an error.

3.3.  Request Streams

   Frames which carry HTTP message headers begin with an optional
   preface indicating potentially-blocking references in the frame.  If
   present, this preface indicates that the request depends on one or
   more checkpoints which were NEW or PENDING for the encoder when the
   frame was generated.  If these checkpoints are not LIVE on the
   decoder, it MAY delay reading the remainder of the frame until they
   are.  (If any of these checkpoints have already been dropped, this
   must be treated as a stream error of type

   The preface is formatted as follows:

        0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7
      | L |      Checkpoint (7+)      |
      | L |      Checkpoint (7+)      |
      |              ...              |

                               QPACK preface

   The "L" bit indicates that this checkpoint is the last checkpoint in
   the preface; if the bit is unset (0), then another checkpoint

Bishop                    Expires June 17, 2018                [Page 12]

Internet-Draft                    QPACK                    December 2017

3.3.1.  Indexed Header Field Representation

   An indexed header field representation identifies an entry in either
   the static table or the dynamic table and causes that header field to
   be added to the decoded header list, as described in Section 3.2 of

     0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7
   | 1 | S |      Index (6+)       |

                           Indexed Header Field

   An indexed header field starts with the '1' 1-bit pattern, followed
   by the "S" bit indicating whether the reference is into the static
   (S=1) or dynamic (S=0) table.  Finally, the index of the matching
   header field is represented as an integer with a 6-bit prefix (see
   Section 5.1 of [RFC7541]).

   The index value of 0 is not used.  It MUST be treated as a decoding
   error if found in an indexed header field representation.

3.3.2.  Literal Header Field Representation

   A literal header field representation starts with the '0' 1-bit
   pattern and causes a header field to be added the decoded header

   The second bit, 'N', indicates whether an intermediary is permitted
   to add this header to the dynamic header table on subsequent hops.
   When the 'N' bit is set, the encoded header MUST always be encoded
   with this specific literal representation.  In particular, when a
   peer sends a header field that it received represented as a literal
   header field with the 'N' bit set, it MUST use the same
   representation to forward this header field.  This bit is intended
   for protecting header field values that are not to be put at risk by
   compressing them (see Section 7.1 of [RFC7541] for more details).

   If the header field name matches the header field name of an entry
   stored in the static table or the dynamic table, the header field
   name can be represented using the index of that entry.  In this case,
   the "S" bit indicates whether the reference is to the static (S=1) or
   dynamic (S=0) table and the index of the entry is represented as an
   integer with an 5-bit prefix (see Section 5.1 of [RFC7541]).  This
   value is always non-zero.

Bishop                    Expires June 17, 2018                [Page 13]

Internet-Draft                    QPACK                    December 2017

        0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7
      | 0 | N | S |  Name Index (5+)  |
      | H |     Value Length (7+)     |
      | Value String (Length octets)  |

                   Literal Header Field -- Indexed Name

   Otherwise, the header field name is represented as a string literal
   (see Section 5.2 of [RFC7541]).  A value 0 is used in place of the
   6-bit index, followed by the header field name.

        0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7
      | 0 | N |           0           |
      | H |     Name Length (7+)      |
      |  Name String (Length octets)  |
      | H |     Value Length (7+)     |
      | Value String (Length octets)  |

                   Literal Header Field -- Literal Name

   Either form of header field name representation is followed by the
   header field value represented as a string literal (see Section 5.2
   of [RFC7541]).

4.  Use in HTTP/QUIC

   HTTP/QUIC [I-D.ietf-quic-http] currently retains the HPACK encoder/
   decoder from HTTP/2, but restricts the size of the dynamic table to
   zero.  Using QPACK instead would entail the following changes:

   o  Header Blocks consist of QPACK data instead of HPACK data

   o  HEADERS and PUSH_PROMISE frames define a flag indicating the
      presence of a preface.

   o  Just as unidirectional push streams have a stream header
      identifying their Push ID, a header will need to be added to
      differentiate checkpoint streams from pushes

Bishop                    Expires June 17, 2018                [Page 14]

Internet-Draft                    QPACK                    December 2017

   o  Stream 2 is reserved for the Feedback Stream

   A HEADERS or PUSH_PROMISE frame MAY contain an arbitrary number of
   QPACK instructions.  A partial HEADERS or PUSH_PROMISE frame MAY be
   processed upon arrival and the resulting partial header set emitted
   or buffered according to implementation requirements.


   An HTTP/QUIC implementation can trade off the complexity of its QPACK
   decoder against compression efficiency by permitting the peer's
   compressor to reference unacknowledged entries.  In the case of loss
   on a checkpoint stream, such references might cause the processing of
   request streams to block, waiting for the arrival of missing data.

   If the decoder permits the encoder to make blocking references, it
   zero value.  The encoder receiving this setting MAY encode up to this
   number of potentially-blocking references at a time.

   Sending this setting with no value indicates that a decoder is
   willing to tolerate blocking references bounded only by the allowed
   number of streams.  If a decoder does not send this setting or sends
   this setting with a value of zero, the encoder MUST NOT encode a
   header using a reference that might block.


   An HTTP/QUIC implementation MAY include the
   containing the full serialization of an initial checkpoint stream's
   data.  If present, this setting MUST be fully processed by the peer
   before decoding any checkpoint streams or header frames on request

   The checkpoint defined by this setting is considered LIVE by both the
   encoder and the decoder from the beginning of the connection.  The
   decoder does not need to send an ACK_FLUSH message confirming receipt
   of this setting.

5.  Implementation trade-offs

   This document specifies a means for the encoder to express the
   choices it made while encoding, but intentionally does not mandate
   what those choices should be.  In this section, potential areas for
   implementation tuning are explored.

Bishop                    Expires June 17, 2018                [Page 15]

Internet-Draft                    QPACK                    December 2017

5.1.  Compression Efficiency versus Blocking Avoidance

   If blocking references are permitted, they will block if the frame
   containing the entry definition is lost or delayed.  Encoders MAY
   choose to trade off compression efficiency and avoid blocking by
   using literal instructions rather than referencing the dynamic table
   until the insertion is believed to be complete.

   The most efficient compression algorithm will reference a table entry
   whenever it exists in the table, but risks blocking when subject to
   packet loss or reordering.  The most conservative algorithm will
   always emit literals to guarantee that no blocking will ever occur.
   Most implementations will choose a balance between these two

   Better efficiency while being similarly conservative can be achieved
   by permitting references to table entries only once these entries are
   confirmed to be present in the table.  More optimization can be
   achieved when the reference is known to be in the same packet as the

   Increases in efficiency can be achieved by assuming greater risk of
   blocking - implementations might choose a particular balance, or
   adjust their aggressiveness based on observed network

   Since it is possible to insert header values without emitting them on
   a stream, an encoder MAY also proactively insert header values which
   it believes will be needed on future requests, at the cost of reduced
   compression efficiency for incorrect predictions.

   The ability to split updates to the header table into discrete
   checkpoints reduces the possibility for head-of-line blocking within
   the checkpoint streams.  Implementations SHOULD limit the size of
   checkpoints to avoid head-of-line blocking within these messages.

5.2.  Timely State Transitions versus Decoder Complexity

   Anything which prevent checkpoints from transitioning from DYING to
   DEAD can prevent the encoder from adding any new entries due to the
   maximum table size.  This does not block the encoder from continuing
   to make requests, but could sharply limit compression performance.
   Encoders would be well-served to begin moving checkpoint to DYING in
   advance of encountering the table maximum.  Decoders SHOULD be prompt
   about emitting STREAM_DONE and ACK_DROP instructions to enable the
   encoder to recover the table space.

Bishop                    Expires June 17, 2018                [Page 16]

Internet-Draft                    QPACK                    December 2017

   Similarly, for decoders which prohibit blocking references, delaying
   the transition of a checkpoint from PENDING to LIVE will degrade
   compression performance.  Decoders SHOULD consume checkpoint data and
   emit ACK_FLUSH frames as promptly as possible.

   Since decoders cannot safely drop old checkpoints until they have
   fully processed any checkpoints which might have been open
   concurrently, a long-lived checkpoint can delay the completion of an
   ACK_DROP.  Encoders SHOULD flush all NEW checkpoints as soon as
   feasible after issuing a DROP instruction.

6.  Security Considerations

   A malicious encoder might attempt to consume a large amount of space
   on the decoder, but as each decoder chooses how much memory to allow
   the peer to consume, this state is bounded.

   A malicious encoder might also send blocking references to entries
   which will never actually be defined.  This attack is comparable to a
   "slow loris" attack in which a request is delivered very slowly in an
   attempt to consume resources on the server.  Similar mitigations
   (request timers, etc.)  SHOULD be employed to guard against such

7.  IANA Considerations

   This document registers two settings and one error code with the
   corresponding HTTP/QUIC registries.

7.1.  Settings

   This document registers two entries in the "HTTP/QUIC Settings"
   registry established by [I-D.ietf-quic-http].


   Code:  0xSETTING-TBD1

   Specification:  Section 4.1



   Code:  0xSETTING-TBD2

   Specification:  Section 4.2

Bishop                    Expires June 17, 2018                [Page 17]

Internet-Draft                    QPACK                    December 2017

7.2.  Errors

   This document registers one error code in the "HTTP/QUIC Error Code"
   registry established by [I-D.ietf-quic-http].


   Code:  0xERROR-TBD

   Description:  A blocking reference was received by a decoder which
      did not permit it

   Specification:  Section 2.2.1

8.  Acknowledgements

   This draft draws heavily on the text of [RFC7541], and adopts (with
   adaptation) the checkpoint model from [QMIN].  The direct and
   indirect input of those authors is gratefully acknowledged, as well
   as ideas gleefully stolen from:

   o  Jana Iyengar

   o  Patrick McManus

   o  Martin Thomson

   o  Charles 'Buck' Krasic

   o  Kyle Rose

   o  Alan Frindell

   A substantial portion of Mike's work on this draft was supported by
   Microsoft during his employment there.

9.  References

9.1.  Normative References

              Bishop, M., "Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) over
              QUIC", draft-ietf-quic-http-07 (work in progress), October

Bishop                    Expires June 17, 2018                [Page 18]

Internet-Draft                    QPACK                    December 2017

              Iyengar, J. and M. Thomson, "QUIC: A UDP-Based Multiplexed
              and Secure Transport", draft-ietf-quic-transport-07 (work
              in progress), October 2017.

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997,

   [RFC7540]  Belshe, M., Peon, R., and M. Thomson, Ed., "Hypertext
              Transfer Protocol Version 2 (HTTP/2)", RFC 7540,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC7540, May 2015,

   [RFC7541]  Peon, R. and H. Ruellan, "HPACK: Header Compression for
              HTTP/2", RFC 7541, DOI 10.17487/RFC7541, May 2015,

9.2.  Informative References

   [QMIN]     Tikhonov, D., "QMIN: Header Compression for QUIC", draft-
              tikhonov-quic-qmin-00 (work in progress), November 2017.

Author's Address

   Mike Bishop

   Email: mbishop@evequefou.be

Bishop                    Expires June 17, 2018                [Page 19]