An HTTP Extension Framework
draft-frystyk-http-extensions-03

Versions: 00 01 02 03 rfc2774                                           
       INTERNET-DRAFT                Mandatory       H. Frystyk Nielsen, W3C
       draft-frystyk-http-extensions-00                   P. Leach, Microsoft
                                              Scott Lawrence, Agranat Systems
       Expires: February 07, 1999                     Friday, August 07, 1998
       
                              HTTP Extension Framework
                                         for
                          Mandatory and Optional Extensions
       
       
       Status of this Document
       
       This document is an Internet-Draft. Internet-Drafts are working
       documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), its areas,
       and its working groups. Note that other groups may also distribute
       working documents as Internet-Drafts. Internet-Drafts are draft
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       To learn the current status of any Internet-Draft, please check the
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       Distribution of this document is unlimited. Please send comments to
       the <ietf-http-ext@w3.org> mailing list. This list is archived at
       "http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/ietf-http-ext/".
       
       The contribution of World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) staff is part of
       the W3C HTTP Activity (see "http://www.w3.org/Protocols/Activity").
       
       
       Abstract
       
       HTTP is used increasingly in applications that need more facilities
       than the standard version of the protocol provides, ranging from
       distributed authoring, collaboration, and printing, to various remote
       procedure call mechanisms. This document proposes the use of a
       mandatory extension mechanism designed to address the tension between
       private agreement and public specification and to accommodate
       extension of applications such as HTTP clients, servers, and proxies.
       The proposal associates each extension with a URI[2], and use a few
       new RFC 822[1] style header fields to carry the extension identifier
       and related information between the parties involved in an extended
       transaction.
       
       
       Table of Contents
       
       1. Introduction.....................................................2
       2. Notational Conventions...........................................3
       
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       3. Extension Declarations...........................................3
         3.1 Header Field Prefixes.........................................4
       4. Extension Header Fields..........................................4
         4.1 End-to-End Extensions.........................................5
         4.2 Hop-by-Hop Extensions.........................................5
       5. Mandatory HTTP Requests..........................................6
       6. Mandatory HTTP Responses.........................................7
       7. 102 Extended.....................................................7
       8. 510 Not Extended.................................................8
       9. Publishing an Extension..........................................8
       10. Security Considerations.........................................9
       11. References......................................................9
       12. Acknowledgements...............................................10
       13. Authors Addresses..............................................10
       14. Summary of Protocol Interactions...............................11
       15. Examples.......................................................11
         15.1 Client Requests Server to use an Extension..................12
         15.2 Server proposes the use of an Extension.....................12
       
       1. Introduction
       
       The mandatory proposal is designed to accommodate dynamic extension of
       HTTP clients and servers by software components; and to address the
       tension between private agreement and public specification. The kind
       of extensions capable of being introduced range from:
       
          o extending a single HTTP message;
          o introducing new encodings;
          o initiating HTTP-derived protocols for new applications; to...
          o switching to protocols which, once initiated, run independent of
            the original protocol stack.
       
       The  proposal is intended to be used as follows:
       
          o Some party designs and specifies an extension; the party assigns
            the extension an identifier, which is a URI, and makes one or
            more representations of the extension available at that address
            (see section 9).
          o An HTTP client, server, or proxy that implements the Mandatory
            extension mechanism (hereafter called an agent) declares the use
            of the extension by referencing its URI in an extension
            declaration in an HTTP message (see section 3).
          o The ultimate recipient of the extension declaration which can be
            the origin server, the user agent, or any intermediary in the
            request/response chain can based on the extension declaration
            deduce how to properly interpret the extended message.
       
       The proposal uses features in HTTP/1.1 but is compatible with both
       HTTP/1.0 and HTTP/1.1 applications in such a way that extended
       applications can coexist with existing HTTP applications.
       
       
       
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       By providing a more robust framework for describing extensions, this
       proposal supersedes several existing extension mechanisms like the
       HTTP/1.1 Expect and Upgrade header fields as well as avoids existing
       problems with non-compliant CGI scripts handling unknown HTTP methods.
       
       
       2. Notational Conventions
       
       This specification uses the same notational conventions and basic
       parsing constructs as RFC 2068[7]. In particular the BNF constructs
       "token", "quoted-string", "field-name", and "URI" in this document are
       to be interpreted as described in RFC 2068[7].
       
       The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
       "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this
       document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119[9].
       
       This proposal does not rely on particular features defined in URLs [3]
       that cannot potentially be expressed using URNs (see section 9).
       Therefore, the more generic term URI[2] is used throughout the
       specification.
       
       
       3. Extension Declarations
       
       An extension declaration can be used to indicate that an extension has
       been applied to a message and possibly to reserve a part of the header
       namespace identified by a header field prefix (see 3.1).
       
       This specification does not define any ramifications of applying an
       extension to a message nor whether two extensions can or cannot
       logically coexist within the same message. It is strictly a framework
       for describing which extensions have been applied and what the
       ultimate recipient either must or may do in order to properly
       interpret any extension declarations within that message.
       
       The grammar for an extension declaration is as follows:
       
           ext-decl        = <"> URI <"> ";" namespace [ ext-params ]
           ext-params      = *( ext-extension )
       
           namespace       = "ns" "=" header-prefix
           header-prefix   = 2*DIGIT "-"
           ext-extension   = ";" token [ "=" ( token | quoted-string ) ]
       
       An extension is identified by a URI. Extension identifier URIs can be
       either relative or absolute. Relative extension identifiers MUST
       specify header-fields defined in an IETF RFC (see RFC 1808[4]).
       Examples of extension declarations are
       
           "Content-FooBar"
           "New-Registered-Header"
           "http://www.temporary.com/extension"; ns=33-
       
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       An extension declaration can be extended through the use of one or
       more ext-extension parameters. Unrecognized ext-extension parameters
       SHOULD be ignored and MUST NOT be removed by proxies when forwarding
       the extension declaration.
       
       
       3.1 Header Field Prefixes
       
       The header-prefix are dynamically generated header field prefix
       strings that can be used to indicate that all header fields in the
       message matching the header-prefix value using string prefix-matching
       are introduced by this extension instance. This allows an extension
       instance to dynamically reserve a subspace of the header space in a
       protocol message in order to prevent header field name clashes.
       
       Linear white space (LWS) MUST NOT be used between the digits and the
       "-". The format of the prefix using a combination of digits and the
       dash "-" guarantees that no extension declaration can reserve the
       whole header field name space.
       
       Prefixes are primarily intended to avoid header field name conflicts
       and to allow multiple instances of a single extension using its own
       header fields to be applied to the same message without conflicting
       with each other.
       
       Agents SHOULD NOT reuse header-prefix values in the same message
       unless explicitly allowed by the extension (see section 4.1 for a
       discussion of the ultimate recipient of an extension declaration).
       
       Examples of header-prefix values are
       
           1234-
           546-
           234345653-
       
       Old applications may introduce header fields independent of this
       extension mechanism, potentially conflicting with header fields
       introduced by the prefix mechanism. In order to minimize this risk,
       prefixes MUST contain at least 2 digits.
       
       
       4. Extension Header Fields
       
       This proposal introduces two types of extension declaration strength:
       mandatory and optional, and two types of extension declaration scope:
       hop-by-hop and end-to-end (see section 4.1 and 4.2).
       
       A mandatory extension declaration indicates that the ultimate
       recipient MUST consult and adhere to the rules given by the extension
       when processing the message or report an error (see section 5 and 8).
       
       
       
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       An optional extension declaration indicates that the ultimate
       recipient of the extension MAY consult and adhere to the rules given
       by the extension when processing the message, or ignore the extension
       declaration completely. An agent may not be able to distinguish
       whether the ultimate recipient does not understand an extension
       referred to by an optional extension or simply ignores the extension
       declaration.
       
       The combination of the declaration strength and scope defines a 2x2
       matrix which is distinguished by four new general HTTP header fields:
       Man, Opt, C-Man, and C-Opt. (See section 4.1 and 4.2, and appendix 14
       for a table of interactions with origin servers and proxies.)
       
       The header fields are general header fields as they describe which
       extensions actually are applied to an  HTTP message. Optional
       declarations MAY be applied to any HTTP message without any change to
       existing HTTP semantics. Mandatory declarations MUST be applied to a
       request message as described in section 5 and to a response message as
       described in section 6.
       
       
       4.1 End-to-End Extensions
       
       End-to-end declarations MUST be transmitted to the ultimate recipient
       of the declaration. The Man and the Opt general header fields are end-
       to-end header fields and are defined as follows:
       
           mandatory       = "Man" ":" 1#ext-decl
           optional        = "Opt" ":" 1#ext-decl
       
       For example
       
           HTTP/1.1 200 OK
           Content-Length: 421
           Opt: "http://www.digest.org/Digest"; ns=55-
           55-digest: "snfksjgor2tsajkt52"
           ...
       
       If a proxy is the ultimate recipient of a mandatory end-to-end
       extension declaration then it MUST handle that extension declaration
       as described in section 5. The proxy SHOULD remove all parts of the
       extension declaration from the message before forwarding it.
       
       
       4.2 Hop-by-Hop Extensions
       
       Hop-by-hop extension declarations are meaningful only for a single
       transport-level connection. The C-Man and the C-Opt general header
       field are hop-by-hop header fields and MUST NOT be communicated by
       proxies over further connections. The two headers have the following
       grammar:
       
           c-mandatory     = "C-Man" ":" 1#ext-decl
           c-optional      = "C-Opt" ":" 1#ext-decl
       
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       For example
       
           GET / HTTP/1.1
           Host: some.host
           C-Man: "http://www.digest.org/ProxyAuth";
       Credentials="g5gj262jdw@4df"
           Connection: C-Man
       
       In HTTP/1.1, the C-Man and the C-Opt header field MUST be protected by
       a Connection header. That is, the header fields are to be included  as
       Connection header directives (see section [7], section 14.10).
       
       An agent MUST NOT send the C-Man or the C-Opt header field to an
       HTTP/1.0 proxy as it does not obey the HTTP/1.1 rules for parsing the
       Connection header field (see [7]).
       
       
       5. Mandatory HTTP Requests
       
       An HTTP request is called a mandatory request if it includes at least
       one mandatory extension declaration (using the Man or the C-Man header
       fields). The method name of a mandatory request MUST be prefixed by
       "M-". For example, a client might express the binding rights-
       management constraints in an HTTP PUT request as follows:
       
           M-PUT /a-resource HTTP/1.1
           Man: "http://www.copyright.org/rights-management"; ns=43-
           43-copyright: http://www.copyright.org/COPYRIGHT.html
           43-contributions: http://www.copyright.org/PATCHES.html
           Host: www.w3.org
           Content-Length: 1203
           Content-Type: text/html
       
           <!doctype html ...
       
       An HTTP server MUST NOT return a 2xx status-code without understanding
       and obeying all mandatory extension declaration(s) in a mandatory
       request. A mandatory HTTP request invalidates cached entries as
       described in [7], section 13.10.
       
       The ultimate recipient of a mandatory HTTP request with the "M-"
       prefix on the method name MUST process the request by performing the
       following actions in the order they are listed below:
       
          1.  Identify all mandatory extension declarations (both hop-by-hop
              and end-to-end); the server MAY ignore optional declarations
              without affecting the result of the transaction;
          2.  If one or more mandatory extension declarations are present and
              the following is not true then respond with a 505 (HTTP Version
              Not Supported):
               o The request MUST NOT come from a HTTP/1.0 client; and
               o The request MUST NOT have any HTTP/1.0 clients indicated by
                 the HTTP/1.1 Via header field.
       
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          3.  If 2) is fulfilled then evaluate and process the extensions
              identified in 1) or if the extension declarations do not match
              the policy for accessing the resource then respond with a 510
              (Not Extended) status-code (see section 8);
          4.  If the evaluation in 3) is successful (not resulting in a 510
              (Not Extended) status code) then strip the "M-" prefix from the
              method name and process the reminder of the request according
              to the semantics of the existing HTTP/1.1 method name as
              defined in [7].
          5.  If one or more mandatory extension declarations were present in
              the original request and the evaluation in 3) was successful
              then the server MUST reply by sending a 102 (Extended) followed
              by a HTTP/1.1 response containing the appropriate HTTP header
              fields.
       
       An "M-" aware proxy  that does not act as the ultimate recipient of a
       mandatory extension declaration MUST NOT remove the declaration or the
       "M-" method name prefix when forwarding the message.
       
       An agent receiving an HTTP/1.0 (or lower-version) message that
       includes a Connection header MUST, for each connection-token in this
       field, remove and ignore any header field(s) from the message with the
       same name as the connection-token. Any "M-" method name prefix
       introduced as a result of  discarded hop-by-hop extensions MUST be
       ignored and removed by a proxy when forwarding the message.
       
       HTTP proxies that do not understand the "M-" method name prefix SHOULD
       return 501 (Not Implemented) or turn themselves into a tunnel ([7]) in
       which case they do not take any part in the communication.
       
       The "M-" prefix is reserved by this proposal and MUST NOT be used by
       other HTTP extensions.
       
       
       6. Mandatory HTTP Responses
       
       A server SHOULD NOT include mandatory extension declarations in an
       HTTP response unless it is responding to a mandatory HTTP request. A
       server MAY include optional extension declarations in any HTTP
       response (see section 4).
       
       If a client receives an HTTP response which contains a Mandatory
       extension declaration which it does not understand or does not want to
       use, it SHOULD treat it as if the message was of type
       "application/octet-stream".
       
       
       7. 102 Extended
       
       The server understands and is willing to comply with the client’s
       extended request using mandatory extension declarations (section 4).
       The 102 (Extended) response is followed by a normal HTTP/1.1 style
       
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       response indicating the final status code and parameters of the
       response.
       
       The 102 (Extended) status code prevents that existing HTTP/1.1 servers
       using non-conformant CGI scripts mistakenly give the false impression
       that the extended request was fulfilled by responding with a 200 (Ok)
       response.
       
       
       8. 510 Not Extended
       
       The policy for accessing the resource has not been met in the request.
       The server SHOULD send back all the information necessary for the
       client to issue an extended request. It is outside the scope of this
       specification to specify how the extensions inform the client.
       
       If the 510 response contains information about extensions that were
       not present in the initial request then the client MAY repeat the
       request if it has reason to believe it can fulfill the extension
       policy by modifying the request according to the information provided
       in the 510 response. Otherwise the client MAY present any entity
       included in the 510 response to the user, since that entity may
       include relevant diagnostic information.
       
       
       
       
       
       
       9. Publishing an Extension
       
       While the protocol extension definition should be published at the
       address of the extension identifier, this is not a requirement of this
       specification. The only absolute requirement is that extension
       identifiers MUST be globally unique identifiers and that distinct
       names be used for distinct semantics. For example, one way to achieve
       this is to use a mid, cid[8], or uuid[12] URI.
       
       Likewise, applications are not required to attempt resolving extension
       identifiers included in extension declarations. The only absolute
       requirement is that an application MUST NOT claim conformance with an
       extension that it does not recognize regardless of whether it has
       tried to resolve the extension identifier or not. This document does
       not provide any policy for how long or how often an application should
       attempt to resolve an extension identifier.
       
       The association between the extension identifier and the specification
       might be made by distributing a specification, which references the
       extension identifier.
       
       
       
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       It is strongly recommended that the integrity and persistence of the
       extension identifier be maintained and kept unquestioned throughout
       the lifetime of the extension. Care should be taken not to distribute
       conflicting specifications that reference the same name. Even when an
       extension specification is made available at the address of the URI,
       care must be taken that the specification made available at that
       address does not change significantly over time. One agent may
       associate the identifier with the old semantics, and another might
       associate it with the new semantics.
       
       The extension definition may be made available in different
       representations ranging from
       
          o a human-readable specification defining the extension semantics,
          o downloadable code which implements the semantics defined by the
            extension,
          o a formal interface description provided by the extension, to
          o a machine-readable specification defining the extension
            semantics.
       
       For example, a software component that implements the specification
       may reside at the same address as a human-readable specification
       (distinguished by content negotiation). The human-readable
       representation serves to document the extension and encourage
       deployment, while the software component allows clients and servers to
       be dynamically extended.
       
       
       10. Security Considerations
       
          o Dynamic installation of extension facilities as described in the
            introduction involves software written by one party (the provider
            of the implementation) to be executed under the authority of
            another (the party operating the host software). This opens the
            host party to a variety of "Trojan horse" attacks by the
            provider, or a malicious third party that forges implementations
            under a provider's name. See, for example RFC2046[6], section
            4.5.2 for a discussion of these risks.
       
       11. References
       
       [1]  D. H. Crocker. "Standard for the Format of ARPA Internet Text
            Messages", STD 11, RFC 822, UDEL, August 1982
       [2]  T. Berners-Lee, "Universal Resource Identifiers in WWW. A
            Unifying Syntax for the Expression of Names and Addresses of
            Objects on the Network as used in the World-Wide Web", RFC 1630,
            CERN, June 1994.
       [3]  T. Berners-Lee, L. Masinter, M. McCahill. "Uniform Resource
            Locators (URL)" RFC 1738, CERN, Xerox PARC, University of
            Minnesota, December 1994.
       [4]  R. Fielding, "Relative Uniform Resource Locators", RFC 1808, UC
            Irvine, June 1995.
       
       
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       [5]  T. Berners-Lee, R. Fielding, H. Frystyk, "Hypertext Transfer
            Protocol -- HTTP/1.0", RFC 1945, W3C/MIT, UC Irvine, W3C/MIT, May
            1996.
       [6]  N. Freed, N. Borenstein, "Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions
            (MIME) Part Two: Media Types", RFC 2046, Innosoft, First Virtual,
            November 1996.
       [7]  R. Fielding, J. Gettys, J. C. Mogul, H. Frystyk, T. Berners-Lee,
            "Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1", RFC 2068, U.C. Irvine,
            DEC W3C/MIT, DEC, W3C/MIT, W3C/MIT, January 1997
       [8]  E. Levinson, "Content-ID and Message-ID Uniform Resource
            Locators", RFC 2111, March 1997
       [9]  S. Bradner, "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement
            Levels", RFC 2119, Harvard University, March 1997
       [10] Y. Y. Goland et al, "Extensions for Distributed Authoring and
            Versioning", Internet Draft, draft-jensen-webdav-ext-01, 26 March
            1997. This is work in progress.
       [11] H. F. Nielsen, D. Connolly, R. Khare, "PEP - an extension
            mechanism for HTTP", draft-http-pep-05.txt, November 21, 1997
       [12] Charlie Kindel, "The uuid: URI scheme", draft-kindel-uuid-uri-
            00.txt, November, 24 1997. This is work in progress
       
       12. Acknowledgements
       
       Rohit Khare deserves special recognition for his efforts in commenting
       in the design phase of the protocol. Also thanks to Josh Cohen, Ross
       Patterson, Jim Gettys and all the people who have been involved in
       PEP.
       
       
       13. Authors Addresses
       
       Henrik Frystyk Nielsen
       Technical Staff, World Wide Web Consortium
       MIT Laboratory for Computer Science
       545 Technology Square
       Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
       Email: frystyk@w3.org
       
       Paul J. Leach
       Microsoft Corporation
       1 Microsoft Way
       Redmond, WA 98052, USA
       Email: paulle@microsoft.com
       
       Scott Lawrence
       Agranat Systems, Inc.
       1345 Main Street
       Waltham, MA 02154, USA
       Email: lawrence@agranat.com
       
       
       
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       Appendices
       
       
       14. Summary of Protocol Interactions
       
       The following tables summarize the outcome of strength and scope rules
       of the mandatory proposal of compliant and non-compliant HTTP proxies
       and origin servers. The summary is intended as a guide and index to
       the text, but is necessarily cryptic and incomplete. This summary
       should never be used or referenced separately from the complete
       specification.
       
       
                               Table 1: Origin Server
       
            Scope            Hop-by-hop               End-to-end
       
           Strength     Optional    Required    Optional    Required
                          (may)       (must)       (may)       (must)
       
        Mandatory    Standard    501 (Not    Standard    501 (Not
        unsupported  processing  Implemented)processing  Implemented)
       
        Extension    Standard    510 (Not    Standard    510 (Not
        unsupported  processing  Extended)   processing  Extended)
       
        Extension    Extended    Extended    Extended    Extended
        supported    processing  processing  processing  processing
       
       
                                Table 2: Proxy Server
       
            Scope            Hop-by-hop               End-to-end
       
           Strength     Optional    Required    Optional    Required
                          (may)       (must)       (may)       (must)
       
        Mandatory    Strip       501 (Not    Forward     501 (Not
        unsupported  extension   Implemented)extension   Implemented)
                                   or tunnel                or tunnel
       
        Extension    Strip       510 (Not    Forward     Forward
        unsupported  extension   Extended)   extension   extension
       
        Extension    Extended    Extended    Extended    Extended
        supported    processing  processing  processing, processing,
                      and strip   and strip   may strip   may strip
       
       
       15. Examples
       
       The following examples show various scenarios using mandatory in
       HTTP/1.1 requests and responses. Information not essential for
       illustrating the examples is left out (referred to as "…")
       
       
       
       
       
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       15.1 Client Requests Server to use an Extension
       
       In this example, the client requires that the server supports and uses
       the extension identified by the URI "
       http://www.distributed.org/some.extension". By making the request
       mandatory (see section 5), the client forces the server to process the
       extension declaration and obey the extension or report an error.
       
           M-GET /some.url HTTP/1.1
           Host: some.host
           Man: "http://www.distributed.org/some.extension"
           ...
       
           HTTP/1.1 102 Extended
       
           HTTP/1.1 200 OK
           ...
       
       The response shows that the server does understand the requested
       extension.
       
       
       15.2 Server proposes the use of an Extension
       
       By including an optional extension declaration in the response, the
       server indicates that the response has been extended but that it is OK
       if the client ignores the extension:
       
           GET /Index HTTP/1.1
           Host: some.host
       
           HTTP/1.1 200 OK
           Opt: "http://www.cache.com/cache-index", ns=23-
           23-index: "http://some.host/index"
           ...
       
       The server has no direct mechanism of knowing whether the client
       accepted and used the optional extension declaration.
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
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