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Versions: 00                                                            
                                             Bill Janssen, Xerox PARC
                                          Henrik Frystyk Nielsen, W3C
Internet Draft                             Mike Spreitzer, Xerox PARC
expires in six months                                   1 August 1998

                      HTTP-ng Architectural Model


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 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."

   To view the entire list of current Internet-Drafts, please check the
"1id-abstracts.txt" listing contained in the Internet-Drafts Shadow
Directories on ftp.is.co.za (Africa), ftp.nordu.net (Northern Europe),
ftp.nis.garr.it (Southern Europe), munnari.oz.au (Pacific Rim),
ftp.ietf.org (US East Coast), or ftp.isi.edu (US West Coast).

   This document has been produced as part of the W3C HTTP-ng Activity
(for current status, see
"http://www.w3.org/Protocols/HTTP-NG/Activity").  This is work in
progress and does not imply endorsement by, or the consensus of, either
W3C or members of the HTTP-ng Protocol Design Working Group. We expect
the document to evolve considerably as the project continues.

   Distribution of this document is unlimited. Please send comments to
the HTTP-NG mailing list at <www-http-ng-comments@w3.org>. Discussions
are archived at "http://www.w3.org/Protocols/HTTP-NG/".

   Please read the "HTTP-NG Short- and Longterm Goals" [HTTP-ng-goals]
for a discussion of goals and requirements of a potential new
generation of the HTTP protocol and how we intend to evaluate these


   This document defines the architectural model for a new HTTP
framework called HTTP-ng, along with a set of terms for referring to
parts of it.

Table Of Contents

1.  Introduction
2.  Overview of
3.  Architecture of an HTTP-ng-based Web
4.  The HTTP-ng Type System
4.1.  Type IDs
4.2.  Identifiers
4.3.  The Boolean Type
4.4.  Enumerated Types
4.5.  Numeric Types
4.5.1.  Fixed-point Types
4.5.2.  Floating-point Types
4.6.  String Types
4.7.  Sequence Types
4.8.  Array Types
4.9.  Record Types
4.10.  Union Types
4.11.  The Pickle Type
4.12.  Reference Types
4.13.  Object Types
4.13.1.  Supertypes and Inheritance
4.13.2.  Methods
4.13.3.  State
4.13.4.  The HTTP-ng.RemoteObjectBase Type
4.13.5.  Distributed Garbage Collection of Objects
4.14.  The HTTP-ng.TypeReference Type
5.  Application Program Architectures
6.  References
7.  Address of Authors

1.  Introduction

   This document describes a new architecture for HTTP, and the part of
the World Wide Web that is built on top of the HTTP infrastructure.
This work has been motivated by some observations about the current
HTTP 1.x infrastructure.

   HTTP began as a generic request-response protocol, designed to
accommodate a variety of applications ranging from document exchange
and management to searching and forms processing. As HTTP has
developed, though, the request for extensions and new features has
exploded; such extensions range from caching, distributed authoring and
content negotiation to various remote procedure call mechanisms. By not
having a modularized architecture, the price of new features has been
an overly complex and incomprehensible protocol with the following

   * Complexity
     Even though HTTP/1.1 provides a number of interesting features it
     does not provide a clean framework for defining their interaction.
     This has resulted in the large and complex HTTP specification.

   * Poor Extensibility
     Acknowledging a large number of proposed extensions as part of the
     core protocol has stretched HTTP/1.1. The interactions between the
     extensions are complex at best, often unspecified or even broken.

   * No Application Deployment Model
     Many applications and services are being deployed on the web that
     are not, in fact, retrieval of documents.  Some applications are
     tunnelled through HTTP but would be more appropriately deployed as
     applications of a distributed object systems.  Tunnelling itself
     is being done in a variety of different ways, which causes
     problems for firewalls and other filtering intermediaries.  The
     proliferation of application deployment schemes has increased
     developer confusion over how to use the Web.

   * Alternative Technologies
     Alternative distributed-application deployment technologies, such
     as DCOM, CORBA, and Java RMI, have proposed different models of
     application development which don't integrate well with the
     current HTTP.  As a result, these protocols have come to use HTTP
     and the Web either as a `initialization service', delivering some
     startup code and/or application which then uses a non-Web
     technology, or as an expensive, albeit widespread, reliable
     datagram delivery service.  These very similar distributed object
     systems tend to find different solutions to the same problems,
     which again increases overhead and decreases interoperability.

   * Poor Scalability
     At the time it was designed, the HTTP/1.0 protocol still
     represented a very low fraction of today's Internet traffic.
     Caching and connection management has improved HTTP/1.1 but recent
     measurements show that the protocol overhead can still be much
     improved in terms of CPU and network efficiency.

   These concerns have driven the design of the HTTP-ng architecture.
The basic approach is to define a layered HTTP framework which provides
both a Web distributed-object system, and transport layers which
address the interaction with other Internet protocols.  The layering
allows modularization of the implementation framework, so that the
effect of changes in one part of the system have minimal impact on
other parts of the system.  The distributed-object system allows
application-specific interfaces to be defined, and provides an
application deployment model; it keeps different applications from
interfering with each other.  The distributed-object system itself
provides the core functionality of the distributed-object systems
defined by DCOM, CORBA, and Java RMI; the intent is to make it directly
usable by those technologies so that tunnelling becomes unnecessary.
Elements of this architecture have been drawn from HTTP 1.1 [RFC 2068],

2.  Overview of Distributed Object Systems

   Remote or distributed applications typically have a defined
interface; this consists of a set of operations which participants in
the application invoke on other participants.  These operations
typically are defined in terms of input parameters and output results;
sometimes exceptional results, or exceptions, are also specified for
the operation.  In standard Internet usage, an application such as
Telnet or FTP is described in a document which specifies an abstract
model of operation, and enumerates the operations by describing the
form of a message which conveys that operation when marshalled onto an
appropriate transport substrate.  Some Internet standards define an
application framework, which is a set of general information that
applies to a family of applications, related by all using that
framework.  The RFC 1831 for RPC is such a framework specification.
Finally, some specifications, such as HTTP, define both a framework,
and a particular application (the Web), which uses that framework.  It
does this by defining an extensible system of messages in a
request/response context, then defines several specific messages
(`GET', `HEAD', `POST', etc.) and the context of a distributed
application that uses them.

     +----------+                                     +----------+
     |          |  operation invocation               |          |
     |  Caller  |>----------------------------------->|  Server  |
     | (client) |<-----------------------------------<| (callee) |
     |          |                   operation result  |          |
     +----------+                                     +----------+

          Figure 2a.  Elements of a Distributed Application

   Though there may be many participants or threads of control in the
application, they conventionally engage in two-party interactions.
These two parties can be categorized as the caller or client, which is
the participant which invokes an operation, and the callee, or server,
which is the participant implementing or responding to the operation.
When there are many participants in the applications, the role each
plays may shift continuously.  These participants are said to reside in
different compatibility domains; the distributed application serves as
a bridge between these domains.  There is some essential element which
separates the domains; it is typically the fact that the participants
are on different computers, but it may also be other factors such as
that the two participants are operating under the aegis of different
security principals, or are implemented in different programming

   Distributed object systems are application frameworks that try to
simplify and optimize the definition and use of an application.  They
typically have an interface definition language (often called IDL),
which make it easier to talk about the components of an interface.
They often have standards for marshalling the parts of a message into
binary forms, or for discovering resources, or for recovering from
certain types of errors, or for exporting the interface defined in
their IDL to a particular programming language for use in a larger
program.  This separation of concerns allows each part of the
application framework to be small and cohesive, but allows the
development of large applications.  They allow the different
participants to interact with each other having only limited, but
precise, understanding of the other participants' capabilities.

   Some distributed object systems use the procedure call as a metaphor
of operation; these are called RPC systems.  Others use a messaging
model, and are typically called messaging systems.  Some modern
distributed object systems have support for both RPC and messaging.

   In a typical distributed-object system, an interface definition
consists of a set of inter-related types, exceptions, and methods.
Methods are packaged in object types, developed with a partitioning of
them according to object-oriented methodologies.  A callee is
represented by an instance of an object type.  Operations are invoked
on the callee by calling one of its methods.  If the caller of a method
and the callee of the method exist in different compatibility domains,
they are connected with a connection, which carries messages back and
forth between the compatibility domains, and has an associated protocol
and transport stack.  The message is the basic unit of communication;
the connection's protocol specifies the set of messages which can be
sent, and their syntax; the connection's transport stack, which
typically consists a series of individual transport elements, specifies
how the messages are carried between the two domains.  Most protocols
define two distinguished messages, a request message, which invokes a
service in the callee, and a response message, which provides a
response about an invocation back to the caller, along with some other
control messages used to synchronize state between the two domains.  We
typically distinguish between transport elements called transport
filters, which modify the bits of message passing through them
(encryption, compression, etc.)  and other elements transport
endpoints, which actually convey the message to a different
compatibility domain (TCP/IP, UDP/IP, etc.).

   An implementation of an object type is called a class.  An
implementation of one or more of the object types defined in an
interface, along with whatever additional code is necessary to perform
any ancillary tasks such as creating initial instances of a class, or
registering instances with a name service, is called a module. A
program typically consists of several modules, each of contains one or
more classes which implement object types, either by dispatching
messages to a module exported from another compatibility domain
(classes which do this are called surrogate classes), or by directly
performing the functionality of the object type (classes which do this
are called true classes).  Programs which tend to have many true
classes and relatively few surrogate classes are typically called
servers, and programs which have few true classes and relatively many
surrogate classes are typically called clients; these terms should be
used with caution, since they are only appropriate in a specific
context.  A server is typically made available by a publisher, which is
the principal responsible for the services encapsulated in the true
instances of object types provided by the module.  The principal
responsible for accessing the services provided by the publisher is
sometimes known as the user.

3. Architecture of an HTTP-ng-based Web

   In the HTTP-ng architecture, the Web is defined as an application on
top of the HTTP-ng framework.  A typical HTTP-ng application would be
layered as described in Section 2.  The lowest layer, the transport
layer, would typically (but not necessarily always) consist of a series
of transport elements.  A simple layering might consist of a MUX
[HTTP-ng-webmux] transport filter over a TCP/IP transport endpoint; a
more complicated transport layering might introduce layers concerned
with connection management, security, compression, or other issues.

   The MUX layer seems particularly useful; it is used to provide
multiple connections over a single TCP/IP connection, bi-directional use
of the TCP/IP connection for callbacks, and message-marking for the
higher layers.  We call the MUX connection a session to distinguish it
from TCP/IP connections.  Similarly, we call the MUX port (the thing to
which MUX connections are made, like a TCP/IP port), a channel, to
similarly distinguish it.  The set of MUX channels which can be
connected to over a TCP/IP connection to a particular IP host machine
is called a "MUX endpoint".  Typically, this endpoint identifies a
particular address space or process on an IP host.  Note that a single
MUX endpoint (and all the MUX channels at that endpoint) may be
available via a number of different TCP ports.  This means that the TCP
port used in the transport stack does not explicitly identify a set of
MUX channels; rather, the set of MUX channels are identified by the MUX

   The next layer, the operation invocation layer, would consist of the
object-oriented HTTP-ng messaging protocol, which maximizes use of
protocol features found to be successful in existing Internet protocols.
This layer is a generic messaging layer - it does not provide any
application-specific services like security or caching, or any other
application layer functionality. It does provide an extensible and
regular mechanism for forming and handling messages described by
application-level interfaces without knowledge of semantic information
that is application-specific.  It provides a standard type system for
defining application interfaces.  It provides a distributed
garbage-collection facility which can be used for automatic management
of application objects.  This layer also has associated machinery which
allows automated uses of interface descriptions written in an interface
description language, such as client-stub-code and
implementation-skeleton generation.  This layer may use a number of
different, but equivalent, protocols; we expect the major one will be
the efficient binary wire protocol [HTTP-ng-wire] defined in this suite
of documents, but any protocol that properly supports the HTTP-ng type
system can be used.

   Given this protocol framework, the Web application is defined at the
third and highest layer, the application layer.  This layer is
"application-specific", meaning that it varies from application to
application.  For example, "The Classic Web Application" (TCWA) would
have a different layer here than the WebDAV application (though they
might share some common part).  The HTTP-ng architecture allows
multiple applications to co-exist at this level, and provides a
mechanism to add new applications easily without disturbing existing
applications.  The Web application is defined both statically, in terms
of the type system at the second layer, and dynamically, in terms of
the transport elements of the first layer.  An associated document
provides an initial sketch of what the interface definition for the Web
application might look like [HTTP-ng-interfaces].

4.  The HTTP-ng Type System

   Interfaces for applications are defined with a "type system".  This
section describes the proposed type system for HTTP-ng.  It consists of
two kinds of types, "primitive types" and "constructed types".  Only
two primitive types, or pre-defined types, are included, boolean and
pickle.  All other types are constructed from parameters and other
types using "constructors", like sequence types and record types.  Note
that this type system provides support for both statically typed
interfaces, and, with the pickle type, dynamically typed interfaces.

   Note:  This section currently uses the interface specification
language ILU ISL [ISL]; it is not meant to be prescriptive.  Any other
interface language which captures this type system could be used
instead.  We expect that current widely used interface definition
languages, such as DCOM MIDL or OMG IDL, will be adapted for use with

4.1.  Type IDs

   All types have a single associated universally and globally unique
identifier, called the "type ID", which can be expressed as a URI.
Type IDs from different UUID spaces may be mixed.  An implementation of
the type system should allow explicit identification of type IDs with
types, but should also provide a default type ID for every type in a
consistent and predictable fashion. [ We need to define the algorithm
here. ]

4.2.  Identifiers

   The rules governing the syntax of identifiers are the same as for
Standard C; that is, uppercase and lowercase alphabetic characters and
digits from the ASCII character set, along with the underscore
character, may be used, and the first character of the identifier must
be an alphabetic character.  Case is significant.

4.3.  Boolean Types

   The single boolean type, the primitive type boolean, has exactly two
values, `True' and `False'.

4.4.  Enumerated Types

   An enumerated type is an abstract type the values of which are
explicitly specified.  It is specified with one parameter, a set of
values, specified as identifiers.  Enumerated types are not numeric
types, and the values of an enumerated type do not have intrinsic
numeric values associated with them; however, some programming
languages may use numeric types to represent enumerated types.

4.5.  Numeric Types

   The type system includes two different kinds of numeric types,
"fixed-point" and "floating-point".  All numeric types are constructed;
that is, there are no pre-defined "primitive" integer or floating-point

4.5.1.  Fixed-point Types

   A fixed-point type is defined with three parameters: a denominator, a
maximum numerator value, and a minimum numerator value.  These define a
series of rational values which make up the allowable values of that
fixed-point type.  The numerator and denominator are integer values;
the denominator is either a positive integer value greater than zero,
or the reciprocal of a positive integer value greater than zero.  Each
value of a fixed-point type abstractly exists as a rational number with
a numerator in the range specified for numerators, and a denominator of
the specified denominator value.  For example, one could define a
fixed-point type which would cover the 16-bit unsigned integer space
with a denominator of one (all integer types have denominators of one),
a maximum numerator of 65535 and a minimum numerator of zero.  One
could define a fixed-point type `dollars' for business purposes with a
denominator of 100 (two decimal places for `cents'), a maximum
numerator of 100000000 (1 million dollars) and a minimum numerator of
-100000000 (1 million dollars).  There are no limits on the sizes of
denominators, maximum numerators, or minimum numerators.

   We use this approach, instead of specifying a procrustean flock of
predefined integer types as in DCOM or CORBA, to simplify the underlying
system in several ways.
  1. Small applications can handle all fixed-point values of a
     particular type as `bignum' value (the numerator), and not have to
     have any special-case code for any primitive integer types.
     However, any primitive integer types they care about can be
     special-cased and handled efficiently.

  2. This approach also supports the CORBA `fixed' data type, but does
     so more effectively by additionally providing for non-decimal
     fixed-point fractional types:  types such as sixteenths can also
     be defined directly for stock market applications by using a
     denominator of 16, while egg producers can also deal in dozens by
     specifying a denominator of 1/12.

  3. Programming language mappings of this type system can special-case
     those integer types they support internally directly, and handle
     all other fixed-point types in a generic fashion.  This eliminates
     the need to `shoehorn' some numeric types into language types not
     quite right for them, such as the representation of CORBA
     `unsigned' types in the Java programming language.

4.5.2.  Floating-point Types

   Floating-point types are specified with eight parameters:
   * the size in bits of the significand,

   * the base of the exponent,

   * the maximum exponent value,

   * the minimum exponent value,

   * whether they support a distinguished value for `Not-A-Number',

   * whether they support a distinguished value for `Infinity',

   * whether denormalized values are allowed, and

   * whether the zero value is signed (whether they can have both +0
     and -0).  For instance, the floating point type usually described
as IEEE 32-bit floating-point has the parameters significand-size=24,
exponent-base=2, maximum-exponent-value=127,
minimum-exponent-value=-126, has-Not-A-Number=TRUE, has-Infinity=TRUE,
denormalized-values-allowed=TRUE, and has-signed-zero=TRUE; the
floating point type usually described as IEEE 64-bit floating-point has
the parameters significand-size=53, exponent-base=2,
maximum-exponent-value=1023, minimum-exponent-value=-1022,
has-Not-A-Number=TRUE, has-Infinity=TRUE,
denormalized-values-allowed=TRUE, and has-signed-zero=TRUE.  We expect
that interface description languages for the HTTP-ng type system will
provide shorthand notation for certain floating-point type patterns,
such as those corresponding to IEEE single and double precision
floating point.

   We use this approach because CORBA and similar systems have a
problem in that they have no way to represent the variety of floating
point numbers available, particularly the different variants of IEEE
`extended'.  In addition, this system allows representation of older
floating-point types still in wide circulation, such as IBM, VAX, and
CRAY floating-point, in an simple fashion.

4.6.  String Types

   "String" types are defined with two parameters:  the maximum length
in bytes of the string values, and the language [RFC2277] used in the
string.  If no language is specified, the language defaults to the
Internet default language `"i-default"'.  The maximum length must be
less than or equal to 0x7FFFFFFE, or it may also be omitted, in which
case a maximum length of 0x7FFFFFFE (2^31-2) is used.  The character
set (or sets) used in the string is that identified by the string's
language.  The codeset used in representations of the string is not
specified at this level.  This type system does not have any
representation for individual characters or character codes; integer
types should be used for that purpose.

   [ Note that there is no such thing as a "NULL string", as occurs in
C or C++.  However, a similar type can be constructed with the optional
type constructor, using a string type as the base type. ]

4.7.  Sequence Types

   Sequence types are variable-length one-dimensional arrays of some
other type.  They are defined with two parameters: the "base" type of
the sequence, and optionally a maximum number of values in the
sequence, which must be a value less than or equal to `0x7FFFFFFE'.  If
no maximum length is specified, a default maximum length of
`0x7FFFFFFE' is assumed.

4.8.  Array Types

   Array types are fixed-length multi-dimensional arrays of some other
type.  They are defined with two parameters: the "base" type of the
sequence, and a sequence of dimensions, each of which is an integer
value less than or equal to `0x7FFFFFFE'.  Arrays are in row-major

4.9.  Record Types

   A record type is defined with a single parameter, a sequence of
fields.  Each field is specified with an identifier, unique within the
scope of the record type, and a type.

4.10.  Union Types

   Union types are defined with a single parameter, a set of fields.
Each field is specified with an identifier, unique within the scope of
the union type, and a type for the field.  The same type may be used
multiple times for different fields of the union.  The value of a union
type with N fields consists of a single value of the type of one of the
fields, and an unsigned integer value in the range [0..N-1] identifying
which field is represented.

4.11.  Pickle Type

   A special type that can hold a value of any other type is known as
the pickle type.  This type essentially provides an escape mechanism
from the static typing of the HTTP-ng type system; every pickle value
is dynamically typed.  A value stored in a pickle has a standard
representation as a sequence of octet values; this representation of
the value of the pickle may be accessed as used as an externalized form
of the value.  Pickles are opaque, by which we mean that the value
stored in a pickle cannot be manipulated directly, but only through a
procedural interface.

   [ This is similar to the `any' type in CORBA, but also provides a
standard externalization form for values.  The opacity of the pickle
also provides important marshalling efficiency gains over the `any'. ]

4.12.  Reference Types

   Reference types are specifically designed to support recursion
through the type system, and must be mapped to a pointer type of some
type in those programming languages which distinguish between value
types and pointer types.  Each use of a reference type constructor adds
another level of indirection.  Reference types are defined with a
parameter, another type, called the base type of the reference type,
and two optional modifiers optional and aliased.  Thus it's possible to
have non-aliased non-optional reference types, optional non-aliased
reference types, non-optional aliased reference types, and optional
aliased reference types.

   If the reference type is declared optional, a value of the reference
type may be either NIL or a value of its base type.  This type allows
the description of data structures like binary trees.

   If the reference type is declared aliased, the reference type is
distinguished in that multiple references to the same value of an
aliased type in a single `scope' will be passed between compatibility
domains as a single value.  This avoids the problem in some type
systems of converting graph data structures to trees when transferring
them between compatibility domains.

   The scope of an aliased type varies depending on its use.  When a
value of an aliased type is being sent as an input or output parameter
in a method call, the scope of the type is the whole message in which
the value is being sent; that is, the invocation or result of the
method call.  When it is being pickled, the scope of the value type is
the pickle.

   [ These types effectively cover the practical uses of reference
types in the CORBA objects-by-value spec, the Java RMI spec, and the
DCE RPC / DCOM system. ]

4.13.  Object Types

   In the HTTP-ng type system, operations are modeled as method calls
on an instance of an object type which supports that method.  There are
two kinds of object types, "local" and "remote".  Instances of remote
object types have a global identity, and are always passed between
compatibility domains by reference; the original object value is called
the "true instance", and references to that true instance are called
"surrogate instances".  Passed instances of any remote object type are
always surrogate instances, except in the compatibility domain of the
true instance, where it will be the true instance.  Instances of local
object types have no global identity, and are always passed between
compatibility domains by copying the "state" of the local instance to
the new compatibility domain, where a new instance of that object type
(or a subtype of the object type) is created from the state.  A local
instance in one compatibility domain and copy of that local instance in
a different compatibility domain have no explicit association after the
copy has been made.  The behavior of a local object type must be
provided locally, but it may be provided statically at link time, or
dynamically at runtime via dynamic loading of class code, as is done in
Java RMI.  The HTTP-ng system does not define any particular system for
dynamic loading of behavior.

   Both local and remote object types are defined by specifying three
parameters: a sequence of supertypes, a sequence of methods, and the
state of the object type.  Note that the ordering of the elements of
each of these parameters is significant.  Any of these parameters may be

   [ Note that there is no such thing as a "NIL object", as occurs in
the CORBA system.  However, an equivalent construct may be obtained
where necessary by using the optional type constructor, using an object
type as the base type. ]

4.13.1.  Supertypes and Inheritance

   Each object type may have one or more object types as supertypes.
An object type with supertypes is said to "inherit" the methods and
state of its supertypes, which means that it provides all of the
methods provided by any of its supertypes, and any of their supertypes,
and so forth.  An object type may occur more than once in the supertype
inheritance graph of an object type.  Note that the inheritance
provided in this model is that of interface inheritance.  In
particular, it does not guarantee or prohibit polymorphic dispatching
of methods.

   Object types may be "sealed".  A sealed object type may not be used
as a supertype for another object type.

4.13.2.  Methods

   A "method" is a way of invoking an operation on an instance of an
object type.  Each HTTP-ng method has a three required parameters:  a
synchronization attribute which may either be "synchronous" or
"asynchronous"; an identifier, unique within the scope of the object
type, called the "method name"; and an "invocation", which is specified
as a sequence of named and typed input parameters.  Synchronous methods
may also have additional parameters:  a "normal result", which is
specified as a sequence of named and typed output parameters, and zero
or more "exceptional results", each specified as a sequence of named
and typed output parameters.  Exceptional results should only be used
to describe results that occur infrequently, as the overhead of
handling exceptional results in most programming languages that support
them is higher than the overhead of handling a normal result.  Input
parameters and output parameters are each specified with an identifier,
unique within the scope of the method, and a type.  [ Note additional
restriction on the names of exception parameters. ]

   Asynchronous methods transfer the invocation parameters to the
compatibility domain of the true instance, and invoke the operation.
The caller-side control flow for an asynchronous method returns to the
caller of an asynchronous method after the message has been handed to a
reliable transport mechanism for transfer to the compatibility domain
of the true instance; the remote method itself may not be executed for
an arbitrary length of time after that return.  Asynchronous methods
may be thought of as "messages".

   Synchronous methods transfer the invocation parameters of the method
to the compatibility domain of the true instance, where the method is
invoked as a local method on that instance.  The result from that
invocation, normal or exceptional, is transferred back to the caller's
compatibility domain, if different, and returned as the result of the

   [ Do we need some set of `standard' exceptions?  If so, what are
they?  A small starting list might be:
   * communications failure - underlying failure in the message
     transport subsystem

   * no such object - server can't identify instance on which the
     method was invoked

   * bad type - object doesn't have type specified in operation

   * no such type - type specified in operation identifier unknown at

   * internal local before - something in the middleware system failed
     in this compatibility domain, before the invocation was attempted

   * internal local after - something in the middleware system failed
     in this compatibility domain, after a result was received

   * internal remote before - something in the middleware system failed
     in the remote compatibility domain, before the invocation was

   * internal remote after - something in the middleware system failed
     in the remote compatibility domain, after the invocation of the
     true method had begun ]

4.13.3.  State

   Each object type may have state associated with it.  The state of an
object type is specified as a sequence of attributes, where each
attribute has an identifier unique within the scope of the object type,
and an associated type.  When an instance of this object type is passed
between compatibility domains, the values of these attributes are
passed.  This is the normal way of passing the state of a local object
type.  [ TBD - for remote object types, the state may act as the
initial values for surrogate instance caching of remote object state,
or as a way of passing immutable metadata about the instance with the
object reference.]

   Attribures may also be marked as "public" or "private".  This has no
effect on their handling at the lower levels of the system, but may
influence the way in which mappings to programming languages deal with
them.  For example, a programming language object type might provide
public accessors for public attributes, but not for private attributes.

4.13.4.  The HTTP-ng.RemoteObjectBase Type

   All remote object types must inherit directly or indirectly from the
object type HTTP-ng.RemoteObjectBase.

     INTERFACE HTTP-ng BRAND "http-ng.w3.org";
     TYPE UUIDString = STRING LANGUAGE "i-default"
       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/UUIDString";

     TYPE TypeIDTreeNode = RECORD
       type-id : UUIDString,
       "supertypes" : InheritanceHierarchy
     END TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/TypeIDTreeNode";

     TYPE TypeIDTreeNodeRef = ALIASED REFERENCE TypeIDTreeNode
       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/TypeIDTreeNodeRef";
     TYPE InheritanceHierarchy = SEQUENCE OF TypeIDTreeNodeRef
       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/InheritanceHierarchy";

     TYPE RemoteObjectBase = OBJECT
       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/RemoteObjectBase"
         GetTypeHierarchy () : TypeIDTreeNodeRef
           "Returns the type ID hierarchy for the object, rooted
            at the most-derived type of the object"

4.13.5.  Distributed Garbage Collection of Objects

   A simple form of garbage collection is defined for HTTP-ng objects.
If an object type inherits from HTTP-ng.GCCollectibleObjectBase, a
module that implements objects of that type expects clients holding
surrogate instances to register with it, passing an instance of a
callback object.  When a client finishes with the surrogate, the client
unregisters itself.  Thus the server may maintain a list of clients
that hold surrogate instances.  If no client is registered for an
object, and the object has been dormant (had no methods called on it by
a client from a different compatibility domain) for a period of time
T1, the module may feel free to garbage collect the true instance.  T1
is determined both by human concerns and network performance:  T1 is
set long enough to allow useful debugging of a client, and longer than
the typical transmission delay between all participants in a program.

   To deal with possible failure of a client process, we introduce
another time-out parameter.  If an instance with registered clients has
been dormant for a period of time T2, the server uses the callback
instance associated with each client to see if the client still exists.
If the client cannot be contacted for the callback, the server may
remove it from the list of registered clients for that instance.

   Object types which participate in distributed garbage collection
must inherit from HTTP-ng.GCCollectibleObjectBase.

     INTERFACE HTTP-ng BRAND "http-ng.w3.org";
       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/Seconds";

     TYPE GCCallBackObject = OBJECT SUPERTYPES RemoteObjectBase END
       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/GCCallBackObject"
         StillInterested (obj : GCCollectibleObjectBase) : BOOLEAN
           "Should return TRUE if the callback object is still interested in
            using the remote object 'obj', FALSE otherwise.  An error return
            is counted as a FALSE return."

     TYPE GCCollectibleObjectBase = OBJECT SUPERTYPES RemoteObjectBase END
       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/GCCollectibleObjectBase"
         RegisterGCInterest (user : GCCallBackObject)
           "Indicates that the caller, indicated by the 'user' parameter, is
            interested in using the object, and should be considered a reference
            for the purposes of distributed garbage collection.  This may be
            called multiple times with the same 'user' parameter, but only one
            reference per distinct 'user' parameter will be registered.",
         UnregisterGCInterest (user : GCCallBackObject)
            "Indicates that the caller, indicated by the 'user' parameter, is
             no longer interested in using the object, and should no longer be
             considered a reference for the purposes of distributed garbage
             collection.  It is not an error to call this for objects which have
             not previously registered interest.",
         GetTimeoutParameters(OUT t1 : Seconds, OUT t2 : Seconds)
            "Returns the T1 and T2 garbage collection parameters used by the
           "Can be used by surrogate users of the instance to refresh the T1
            timeout of the instance, and prevent server-side outcalls to the
            callback object."

4.14.  The `HTTP-ng.TypeReference' Type

   It's often useful to have a standard data representation for the
description of a type.  CORBA, for example, defines the pseudo-type
`Typecode', which is defined to be a type which makes various
attributes of the description of another type available to the
application program.  Rather than defining a pseudo-type, the HTTP-ng
interface simply defines a representation of a type description in the
type system itself.  Many other possible ways of representing the type
description are also possible; the type `HTTP-ng.TypeReference' is
defined as a convenience.
     INTERFACE HTTP-ng BRAND "http-ng.w3.org";
     TYPE Identifier = STRING LANGUAGE "i-default"
       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/Identifier";

     TYPE PrimitiveTypeDescription = ENUMERATION "boolean", "pickle" END
       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/PrimitiveTypeDescription";

     TYPE EnumeratedTypeDescription = SEQUENCE OF Identifier
       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/EnumeratedTypeDescription";

       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/IntegerLiteral";
       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/NonNegativeNonZeroIntegerLiteral";
     TYPE OptionalNonNegativeNonZeroIntegerLiteral = OPTIONAL NonNegativeNonZeroIntegerLiteral
       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/OptionalNonNegativeNonZeroIntegerLiteral";

     TYPE FixedPointTypeDescription = RECORD
       "denominator" : NonNegativeNonZeroIntegerLiteral,
       denominator-reciprocal : BOOLEAN,
       "min-numerator" : OptionalNonNegativeNonZeroIntegerLiteral,
       "max-numerator" : OptionalNonNegativeNonZeroIntegerLiteral
     END TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/FixedPointTypeDescription";

     TYPE FloatingPointTypeDescription = RECORD
       significand-size : NonNegativeNonZeroIntegerLiteral,
       exponent-base : NonNegativeNonZeroIntegerLiteral,
       min-exponent : IntegerLiteral,
       max-exponent : IntegerLiteral,
       has-Not-A-Number : BOOLEAN,
       has-Infinity : BOOLEAN,
       denormalized-values-allowed : BOOLEAN,
       has-signed-zero : BOOLEAN
     END TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/FloatingPointTypeDescription";

       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/LimitInteger";
     TYPE StringLanguage = STRING LANGUAGE "i-default"
       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/StringLanguage";

     TYPE StringTypeDescription = RECORD
       "limit" : LimitInteger,
       "language" : StringLanguage
     END TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/StringTypeDescription";

     TYPE SequenceTypeDescription = RECORD
       "limit" : LimitInteger,
       base-type : TypeReference
     END TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/SequenceTypeDescription";

     TYPE ArrayDimensions = SEQUENCE OF LimitInteger
       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/ArrayDimensions";

     TYPE ArrayTypeDescription = RECORD
       dimensions : ArrayDimensions,
       base-type : TypeReference
     END TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/ArrayTypeDescription";

     TYPE RecordOrUnionField = RECORD
       name : Identifier,
       "type" : TypeReference
     END TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/RecordOrUnionField";

     TYPE RecordTypeDescription = SEQUENCE OF RecordOrUnionField
       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ngRecordTypeDescription/";

     TYPE UnionTypeDescription = SEQUENCE OF RecordOrUnionField
       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/UnionTypeDescription";

     TYPE ReferenceTypeDescription = RECORD
       "optional" : BOOLEAN,
       "aliased" : BOOLEAN,
       base-type : TypeReference
       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/ReferenceTypeDescription";

     TYPE ObjectSupertypeSequence = SEQUENCE OF TypeReference
       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/ObjectSupertypeSequence";
     TYPE ObjectStateField = RECORD
       name : Identifier,
       "type" : TypeReference,
       "private" : BOOLEAN
     END TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/ObjectStateField";
     TYPE ObjectState = SEQUENCE OF ObjectStateField
       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/ObjectState";

     TYPE MethodSynchronization = ENUMERATION "synchronous", "asynchronous" END
       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/MethodSynchronization";

     TYPE ParameterDescription = RECORD
       name : Identifier,
       "type" : TypeReference
     END TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/ParameterDescription";

     TYPE MethodInvocationParameterDescriptions = SEQUENCE OF ParameterDescription
       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/MethodInvocationParameterDescriptions";

     TYPE MethodResultParameterDescriptions = SEQUENCE OF ParameterDescription
       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/MethodResultParameterDescriptions";

     TYPE MethodResultDescriptions = SEQUENCE OF MethodResultParameterDescriptions
       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/MethodResultDescriptions";

     TYPE MethodOptionalResultDescriptions = OPTIONAL REFERENCE MethodResultDescriptions
       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/MethodOptionalResultDescriptions";

     TYPE MethodDescription = RECORD
       name : Identifier,
       synchronization : MethodSynchronization,
       invocation : MethodInvocationParameterDescriptions,
       results : MethodOptionalResultDescriptions
     END TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/MethodDescription";

     TYPE ObjectMethodSequence = SEQUENCE OF MethodDescription
       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/ObjectMethodSequence";

     TYPE ObjectTypeDescription = RECORD
       "local" : BOOLEAN,
       "sealed" : BOOLEAN,
       "supertypes" : ObjectSupertypeSequence,
       "state" : ObjectState,
       "methods" : ObjectMethodSequence
     END TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/ObjectTypeDescription";

     TYPE ConstructedTypeDescription = UNION
       "enumerated" : EnumeratedTypeDescription,
       "fixedpoint" : FixedPointTypeDescription,
       "floatingpoint" : FloatingPointTypeDescription,
       "string" : StringTypeDescription,
       "sequence" : SequenceTypeDescription,
       "array" : ArrayTypeDescription,
       "record" : RecordTypeDescription,
       "union" : UnionTypeDescription,
       "reference" : ReferenceTypeDescription,
       "object" : ObjectTypeDescription
     END TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/ConstructedTypeDescription";

     TYPE TypeDescription = UNION
       primitive : PrimitiveTypeDescription,
       constructed : ConstructedTypeDescription
     END TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/TypeDescription";

     TYPE UnaliasedTypeReference = RECORD
       uuid : UUIDString,
       description : TypeDescription
     END TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/UnaliasedTypeReference";

     TYPE TypeReference = ALIASED REFERENCE UnaliasedTypeReference
       TYPEID "http-ng-typeid://http-ng.w3.org/HTTP-ng/TypeReference";

5. Program Architectures

   Figure 5a illustrates the general arrangement of layers an
HTTP-ng-enabled program.  Each application would contain
application-specific code to use the classes of interfaces it imports,
and to provide the functionality of classes it exports.  Any number of
different applications can be supported on a common base.  Note that
multiple protocols (message formats) can co-exist simultaneously; note
that several different transport chains can share a single TCP/IP port
or connection by using the MUX protocol; note that additional
processing of messages, such as compression, can be performed by using
an appropriate transport chain in the transport layer.

                     |        |         |        |            |
     Applications    |        |         |        |            |
       layer  ------>|  TCWA  | Banking | WebDAV | (other app |
                     |   Ifc  |   Ifc   |  Ifc   |   Ifcs...) |
                     |        |         |        |            |
     Messaging       |                                        |
       layer  ------>| HTTP 1.1 protocol    w3ng 1.0 protocol |
                     |                                        |
                     | Compression |                          |
                     +-------------+                          |
     Transport       |                WebMUX                  |
       layer  ------>|                  +---------------------+
                     |                  |        SSL          |
                     |                 TCP                    |

               Figure 5a.  Layers of a Sample Program

   In an application like the Web, there would be at least two programs
involved in an interaction: a web browsers, and one or more web servers
and/or proxies.  At the gross level, the programs would appear similar,
as each has this layered architecture.  With a more detailed
inspection, differences corresponding to the essential client-like
behavior of the browser and server-like behavior of the web server
appear.  For instance, the browser tends to have more surrogate classes
for the object types defined in the Web interface, and the server tends
to have more true classes.  The server may also have more different
kinds of protocols and transport elements, in order to cope with a
wider variety of possible clients.

   For example, a server might speak both HTTP and w3ng; the browser
might speak only w3ng.  The server might support HTTP-ng messages over
transports other than TCP/IP, while the browser might expect every
server to have both webmux and TCP capability.  Each might be capable of
handling digitally signed documents.  Both client and server might be
able to use a compression transport filter on their message streams.
Many other possible combinations of transport filters and protocols are
possible on both sides.  Some programs, such as proxy servers, might
combine all the attributes of clients and servers, and add others, such
as special interface extensions for caching.

6.  References

[CORBA]  CORBA/IIOP 2.2 Specification; Object Management Group, 1998.
(See `http://www.omg.org/corba/corbiiop.htm'.)

[DCOM]  Distributed Component Object Model; Microsoft, 1998.  (See

[HTTP-ng-goals]:  HTTP-ng Short- and Long-term Goals.  (See

[HTTP-ng-interfaces]  HTTP-ng Web Interfaces.  (See

[HTTP-ng-webmux]  HTTP-ng WEBMUX Protocol Specification.  (See

[HTTP-ng-wire]  w3ng:  Binary Wire Protocol for HTTP-ng.  (See

[ILU]  ILU Reference Manual, W. Janssen, M. Spreitzer, 1998.  (See

[ISL]  ILU Reference Manual, Chapter 2:  "The ISL Interface
Specification Language", W. Janssen, M. Spreitzer, 1998.  (See

[Java RMI]  RMI - Remote Method Invocation; Sun Microsystems, 1997.
(See `http://java.sun.com/products/jdk/1.1/docs/guide/rmi/index.html'.)

[RFC 2277]  RFC 2277, IETF Policy on Character Sets and Languages; H.
Alvestrand, January 1998. (See

[RFC 2068]  RFC 2068, Hypertext Transfer Protocol - HTTP/1.1; R.
Fielding et. al., January 1997.  (See

[PEP]  PEP - An Extension Mechanism for HTTP; W3C, 1998.  (See

7.  Address of Authors

Bill Janssen
Mail:   Xerox Palo Alto Research Center
        3333 Coyote Hill Rd
        Palo Alto, CA  94304
Phone:  (650) 812-4763
FAX:    (650) 812-4777
Email:  janssen@parc.xerox.com
HTTP:   `http://www.parc.xerox.com/istl/members/janssen/'

Henrik Frystyk Nielsen
Mail:   World Wide Web Consortium
        MIT/LCS NE43-348
        545 Technology Square
        Cambridge, MA  02139
Phone:  + 1.617.258.8143
FAX:    + 1.617.258.5999
Email:  frystyk@w3.org
HTTP:   `http://www.w3.org/People/Frystyk/'

Mike Spreitzer
Mail:   Xerox Palo Alto Research Center
        3333 Coyote Hill Rd
        Palo Alto, CA  94304
Phone:  (650) 812-4833
FAX:    (650) 812-4471
Email:  mike-spreitzer@acm.org
HTTP:   `http://www.parc.xerox.com/csl/members/spreitze/'