Network Working Group                                    E. Hammer-Lahav
Internet-Draft                                                    Yahoo!
Intended status: Informational                             March 3, 2010
Expires: September 4, 2010

             LRDD: Link-based Resource Descriptor Discovery


   LRDD (pronounced 'lard') provides a process for obtaining information
   about a resource identified by a URI.  The 'information about a
   resource' - a resource descriptor - provides machine-readable
   information that aims to increase interoperability and enhance
   interactions with the resource.  LRDD provides a narrow and well-
   defined set of rules for obtaining and processing link-based
   descriptors (found in multiple places such as HTTP headers, document
   markup, and resource descriptors) which are often required for
   security and consistent client behavior.

Editorial Note (to be removed by RFC Editor)

   Please discuss this draft on the [1] mailing

Status of this Memo

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

   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-

   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."

   The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at

   The list of Internet-Draft Shadow Directories can be accessed at

   This Internet-Draft will expire on September 4, 2010.

Hammer-Lahav            Expires September 4, 2010               [Page 1]

Internet-Draft                    LRDD                        March 2010

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2010 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
   ( 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
   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
     1.1.  Example  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
     1.2.  Notational Conventions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
   2.  Resource Descriptor  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
   3.  Discovery Process  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
     3.1.  Source Priority Order  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
     3.2.  Information Sources  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
   4.  Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
   5.  IANA Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
     5.1.  The 'lrdd' Relation Type . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
   Appendix A.  Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
   Appendix B.  Document History  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
   6.  References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
     6.1.  Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
     6.2.  Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
   Author's Address . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

Hammer-Lahav            Expires September 4, 2010               [Page 2]

Internet-Draft                    LRDD                        March 2010

1.  Introduction

   LRDD defines a simple process for locating resource descriptors for
   URI-identified resources.  Resource descriptors are machine-readable
   documents which provide information about resources (resource
   metadata) for the purpose of promoting interoperability and assist in
   interacting with unknown resources that support known interfaces.

   For example, a web page about an upcoming meeting can provide in its
   descriptor the location of the meeting organizer's free/busy
   information to potentially negotiate a different time.  A social
   network profile page descriptor can identify the location of the
   user's address book as well as accounts on other sites.  A web
   service implementing an API with optional components can advertise
   which of these are supported.

   Given the wide range of metadata needs, no single descriptor format
   or retrieval method can adequately accommodate every use case.  While
   there are many methods for obtaining resource descriptors (e.g.,
   links, HTTP headers, WebDAV's PROPFIND [RFC4918], HTTP OPTIONS,
   URIQA's MGET [URIQA]), LRDD utilizes the Web Linking framework
   defined in [I-D.nottingham-http-link-header].  LRDD defines a narrow
   profile of Web Linking for obtaining and processing link-based
   descriptors to accommodate the common discovery needs of many Web

   In LRDD, the resource descriptor is constructed by obtaining and
   aggregating links and descriptor documents from multiple sources
   (e.g.  HTTP headers, document markup, site-meta).  In most cases,
   clients do not need to construct a complete resource descriptor, but
   instead process the information in a specific order until the desired
   information is found.

1.1.  Example

   An article published by a website allows readers to post comments and
   provide the web address of their own blog.  The article page includes
   an avatar (a photo of the reader) when displaying comments, which is
   obtained by performing discovery on the web address provided by the
   reader (if supported by the reader's blog).

   After receiving a comment from Jane which has her own blog at
   "", the website perform LRDD discovery to
   try and obtain the Jane's photo.

Hammer-Lahav            Expires September 4, 2010               [Page 3]

Internet-Draft                    LRDD                        March 2010

   First, the website determines the source priority order for Jane's
   blog by fetching its host-meta document from

    <?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8'?>
    <XRD xmlns=''

        <Property type='' />

        <Link rel='lrdd' template='{uri}'>

   which indicates the blog is using Resource-priority (giving higher
   priority to links provided by the resource itself over those defined
   by the global policy).  Since Jane's blog uses Resource-priority, the
   website looks for "avatar" links in this order: <Link> elements, HTTP
   Link headers, and then host-meta link templates.

   To obtain a markup representation of Jane's blog, the website makes
   an HTTP "GET" request to "":

    GET /blog HTTP/1.1
    Accept: text/html

   And receives back (HTML simplified for display purposes):

    HTTP/1.1 200 OK
    Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8
    Link: <>; rel="author"

        <link href='' rel='avatar' />
        <h1>Jane's Blog</h1>

Hammer-Lahav            Expires September 4, 2010               [Page 4]

Internet-Draft                    LRDD                        March 2010

   The HTML markup includes the desired link.  The website can fetch
   Jane's photo from "".

   Now that it has Jane's photo, the website is looking for a short
   description of Jane to include with her comment.  It performs another
   LRDD discovery, this time looking for an "about" link.  Repeating the
   same process, the website looks for qualified <Link> elements in
   Jane's blog HTML markup and finds none.  It then looks for a LRDD
   document - a descriptor document containing additional information
   about the resource - which uses the "lrdd" link relation.  It finds
   none in the HTML representation.

   In Resource-priority, the next source is HTTP header.  The HTTP
   header (shown above with the HTML response) includes a qualified link
   to Jane's author page.

   Before it can display Jane's photo and description, the website needs
   to find the copyright license used by Jane's blog.  It performs
   another LRDD discovery looking for a link with a "copyright" relation
   type.  It fails to find such link in the HTML markup as well as a
   link to a LRDD document.  It then tries and fails to find a
   "copyright" link in the HTTP header or a LRDD document linked from
   the header.

   The website then proceeds to the host-meta source, looking for link
   templates.  It fails to find a link to a copyright statement, but it
   does find a link to a LRDD document.  It obtains the LRDD document
   for Jane's blog by applying the blog's URI to the template:

   and obtains the LRDD document for Jane's blog:

    <?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8'?>
    <XRD xmlns=''>


        <Link rel='copyright' href=''>

   The LRDD document provided by the host-meta link template includes a
   link to the copyright statement.  The website now has all the
   information it needs to display Jane's comment along with her photo

Hammer-Lahav            Expires September 4, 2010               [Page 5]

Internet-Draft                    LRDD                        March 2010

   and description on the article page.

1.2.  Notational Conventions

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   document are to be interpreted as described in [RFC2119].

2.  Resource Descriptor

   The LRDD resource descriptor is the aggregation of links and
   descriptor documents obtained from four sources (when applicable and

   o  host-meta - links generated by applying the resource URI to the
      link templates provided by the host's host-meta document as
      defined in [I-D.hammer-hostmeta].

   o  HTTP Link headers - links included in the HTTP response header to
      an HTTP [RFC2616] "HEAD" or "GET" request for the resource.

   o  <Link> elements - links included in the resource representation

   o  LRDD documents - links and other metadata contained in XRD
      [OASIS.XRD-1.0] documents linked to from any of the previous three
      link sources using the "lrdd" relation type.

   LRDD clients usually look for a link with a specific relation type or
   other well-typed metadata.  In such cases, the client does not need
   to construct the entire resource descriptor, but instead, process the
   various sources in their prescribed order until the desired
   information is found.

3.  Discovery Process

   The LRDD process begins with the URI of the resource being discovered
   and the type of information being sought:

   o  Link of a given relation type - the client is looking for a link
      with a specific relation type and other link attributes such as
      media type or relation-specific attributes.

   o  Metadata contained within a LRDD-linked XRD document - the client
      is seeking information other than a link to another resource, such
      as resource properties or other structured metadata.

Hammer-Lahav            Expires September 4, 2010               [Page 6]

Internet-Draft                    LRDD                        March 2010

   The client MUST first determine the host source priority order as
   described in Section 3.1.  Once the order is determined, the client
   process each of the sources listed in Section 3.2 as follows:

   1.  If the information being sought is a link: find a link matching
       the desired criteria by processing the links in order.  If a
       qualified link is found, the process ends successfully.

   2.  Find the first link with the "lrdd" relation type.  The link's
       media type attribute MUST be set to "application/xrd+xml" if
       present.  The link's target is the location of the LRDD document.
       Any "lrdd" links other than the first MUST be ignored.  If no
       qualified link is found, continue with the next source.

   3.  Obtain the LRDD document by following the scheme-specific rules
       for the LRDD document's URI.  If the document's URI scheme is
       "http" or "https", the document is obtained via an HTTP "GET"
       request to the identified URI.  The client MUST obey HTTP
       redirections (3xx).  The document is considered valid only if
       retrieved with a successful HTTP response status (2xx) and is a
       valid XRD document per [OASIS.XRD-1.0].  If no valid document is
       found, continue with the next source.

   4.  If the information being sought is a link: find a link matching
       the desired criteria by processing the LRDD document as defined
       by [OASIS.XRD-1.0] section 4.  If a qualified link is found, the
       process ends successfully.

   5.  If the information being sought is something other than a link:
       parse the LRDD document as defined by [OASIS.XRD-1.0], looking
       for the desired metadata.  If the desired information is found,
       the process ends successfully.

   6.  If the information being sought is not found, continue with the
       next source.  If all the sources have been exhausted, the process
       ends unsuccessfully.

3.1.  Source Priority Order

   LRDD descriptors include information contained or linked to from
   three sources: host-meta link templates, HTTP Link headers, and
   <Link> elements.  To ensure consistent client behavior and to enable
   hosts to set their own security policy with regard to metadata
   authority, LRDD provides two processing profiles:

   o  Host-priority - Priority is given to links set by the host policy
      (via host-meta and HTTP Link headers) over those set by each
      individual resources (via <Link> elements).  Clients MUST process

Hammer-Lahav            Expires September 4, 2010               [Page 7]

Internet-Draft                    LRDD                        March 2010

      the three sources in the following order: host-meta link
      templates, HTTP Link headers, and <Link> elements.

   o  Resource-priority - Priority is given to the individual resource
      over the policies of the host.  Clients MUST process the three
      sources in the following order: <Link> elements, HTTP Link
      headers, and host-meta link templates.

   Host-priority is the default source priority order.  Hosts that wish
   to use Resource-priority MUST declare it by setting the LRDD priority
   property in their host-meta document:
   "".  The priority property does not
   have a value.

   For example:

       <?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8'?>
       <XRD xmlns=''

           <Property type='' />

3.2.  Information Sources

   Each of the information sources supported by LRDD presents a
   different set of requirements and benefits.  The criteria used to
   determine which sources a server MAY support are based on a
   combination of factors:

   o  The ability to offer and obtain a representation of the resource
      by dereferencing its URI.

   o  The availability of a representation supporting <Link> markup
      compatible with [I-D.nottingham-http-link-header].

   o  The availability of an HTTP representation of the resource and the
      ability to provide and access link information in its response

3.2.1.  host-meta Link Templates

   The host-meta document source is available for any resource
   identified by a URI with an authority that supports the host-meta
   document as defined in [I-D.hammer-hostmeta].  This method does not

Hammer-Lahav            Expires September 4, 2010               [Page 8]

Internet-Draft                    LRDD                        March 2010

   require obtaining any representation of the resource, and operates
   solely using the resource URI.

   Links between the resource URI and other resources are expressed by
   link templates as defined by [I-D.hammer-hostmeta] section 3.2.  By
   applying the host-wide templates to an individual resource URI, a
   resource-specific link is constructed which can be used to express
   links without the need to access or provide a representation for the

   Clients MUST process the host-meta document, looking for link
   templates and applying the resource URI to produce a list of links to
   be used in the discovery process.  Clients MUST retain the order of
   the links as present in the host-meta document.  Any links contained
   in the host-meta document not using the "template" attribute MUST be
   ignored and excluded from LRDD processing, but are still valid for
   other purposes.

   For example, the resource URI "" and the
   following host-meta link template:

       <Link rel='author' template="{uri}' />

   generates an "author" link between "" and

3.2.2.  HTTP Link Headers

   The HTTP Link header source is limited to resources for which an HTTP
   "GET" or "HEAD" request returns a 2xx, 3xx, or 4xx HTTP response per
   [RFC2616].  This method uses the Link header defined in
   [I-D.nottingham-http-link-header] and requires the retrieval of a
   resource representation header.

   For example:

     Link: <>;

   Clients obtain HTTP Link header links by making an HTTP (or HTTPS as
   required) "GET" or "HEAD" request to the resource URI to obtain a
   valid response header.  If the HTTP response carries a status code
   other than successful (2xx), redirection (3xx), or client error
   (4xx), the method fails.

Hammer-Lahav            Expires September 4, 2010               [Page 9]

Internet-Draft                    LRDD                        March 2010

   Link headers can include multiple relation types in a single "rel"
   attribute (for example "rel="license copyright"").  Clients MUST
   properly process such multiple relation "rel" attributes as defined
   by [I-D.nottingham-http-link-header].

3.2.3.  <Link> Elements

   The <Link> element source is limited to resources with an available
   markup representation that supports typed-relations using the <Link>
   element, such as HTML [W3C.REC-html401-19991224], XHTML
   [W3C.REC-xhtml1-20020801], and Atom [RFC4287].  Other markup formats
   are permitted as long as the semantics of their <Link> elements are
   fully compatible with the link framework defined in
   [I-D.nottingham-http-link-header].  This source requires the
   retrieval of a resource representation.  While HTTP is the most
   common transport for such documents, this source is transport

   For example:

     <LINK href=''

   Clients obtain <Link> element links by retrieving a representation of
   the resource using the applicable transport for that resource URI.
   If the markup document is obtained using HTTP, it MUST only be used
   by the client if the document is a valid representation of the
   resource identified by the HTTP request URI, typically received with
   a successful (2xx) response code.  If no such valid representation of
   the request URI is found, the source MUST NOT be used.

   The client MUST obey the document markup schema and ignore any
   invalid elements (such as <Link> elements outside the <Head> section
   of an HTML document).  This is done to avoid unintentional markup
   from other parts of the document to be used for discovery purposes,
   which can have vast impact on usability and security.

   Some <Link> elements allow multiple relation types in a single "rel"
   attribute (for example "rel='license copyright'").  Clients MUST
   properly process such multiple relation "rel" attributes as defined
   by the format specification.

4.  Security Considerations

   The methods used to perform discovery are not secure, private or

Hammer-Lahav            Expires September 4, 2010              [Page 10]

Internet-Draft                    LRDD                        March 2010

   integrity-guaranteed, and due caution should be exercised when using
   them.  Applications that perform LRDD SHOULD consider the attack
   vectors opened by automatically following, trusting, or otherwise
   using links gathered from <Link> elements, HTTP Link headers, or
   host-meta documents.

5.  IANA Considerations

5.1.  The 'lrdd' Relation Type

   This specification registers the "lrdd" relation type in the Link
   Relation Type Registry defined by [I-D.nottingham-http-link-header]:

   Relation Name:  lrdd

   Description:  Identifies a resource descriptor for the link's context
      used by the LRDD protocol.

   Reference:  [[ This specification ]]

Appendix A.  Acknowledgments

   Inspiration for this memo derived from previous work on a descriptor
   format called XRDS-Simple, which in turn derived from another
   descriptor format, XRDS.  Previous discovery workflows include Yadis
   which is currently used by the OpenID community.  While suffering
   from significant shortcomings, Yadis was a breakthrough approach to
   performing discovery using extremely restricted hosting environments,
   and this memo has strived to preserve as much of that spirit as

   The author wishes to thanks the OASIS XRI TC and WebFinger
   communities for their support, encouragement, and enthusiasm for this
   work.  Special thanks go to Phil Archer, Lisa Dusseault, Joseph
   Holsten, Mark Nottingham, John Panzer, Drummond Reed, and Jonathan
   Rees for their invaluable feedback.

Appendix B.  Document History

   [[ to be removed by the RFC editor before publication as an RFC ]]


   o  Changed focus to a narrow and well-defined discovery process.

Hammer-Lahav            Expires September 4, 2010              [Page 11]

Internet-Draft                    LRDD                        March 2010

   o  Removed analysis appendix and discussion of discovery types and
      removed informative references.

   o  Expanded the descriptor definition to include links as well as
      LRDD documents, moving away from the single-document approach.

   o  Moved the Link-Pattern field and template syntax to new host-meta

   o  Updated references.

   o  Added example.


   o  Added protocol name LRDD (pronounced 'lard').

   o  Fixed Link-Pattern examples to include missing semicolons.


   o  Changed focus from an HTTP-based process to Link-based process.

   o  Completely revised and restructured document for better clarity.

   o  Realigned the methods to produce consistent results and changed
      the way redirections and client-errors are handled.

   o  Updated to use newer version of site-meta, now called host-meta,
      including a new plaintext-based format to replace the previous XML

   o  Renamed Link-Template to Link-Pattern to avoid future conflict
      with a previously proposed Link-Template HTTP header.

   o  Removed support for the "scheme" Link-Template parameter.

   o  Replaced restrictions with interoperability recommendations.

   o  Added IANA considerations per new host-meta registry requirements.


   o  Rename 'resource discovery' to 'descriptor discovery'.

   o  Added informative reference to Metalink.

Hammer-Lahav            Expires September 4, 2010              [Page 12]

Internet-Draft                    LRDD                        March 2010

   o  Clarified that the resource descriptor URI can use any URI scheme,
      not just "http" or "https".

   o  Removed comment regarding redirects when using <Link> Elements.

   o  Clarified that HTTPS must be used with "https" URIs for both Link
      headers and host-meta retrieval.

   o  Removed DNS verification step for host-meta with schemes other
      then "http" and "https".  Replaced with a general discussion of
      authority and a security consideration comment.

   o  Organized host-meta section into another sub-section level.

   o  Enlarged the template vocabulary from a single "uri" variable to
      include smaller URI components.

   o  Added informative reference to RFC 2295 in analysis appendix.


   o  Initial draft.

6.  References

6.1.  Normative References

              Hammer-Lahav, E., "host-meta: Web Host Metadata",
              draft-hammer-hostmeta-05 (work in progress),
              November 2009.

              Nottingham, M., "Web Linking",
              draft-nottingham-http-link-header-08 (work in progress),
              March 2010.

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

   [RFC2616]  Fielding, R., Gettys, J., Mogul, J., Frystyk, H.,
              Masinter, L., Leach, P., and T. Berners-Lee, "Hypertext
              Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1", RFC 2616, June 1999.

   [RFC4287]  Nottingham, M., Ed. and R. Sayre, Ed., "The Atom
              Syndication Format", RFC 4287, December 2005.

Hammer-Lahav            Expires September 4, 2010              [Page 13]

Internet-Draft                    LRDD                        March 2010

              Hors, A., Jacobs, I., and D. Raggett, "HTML 4.01
              Specification", World Wide Web Consortium
              Recommendation REC-html401-19991224, December 1999,

              Pemberton, S., "XHTML[TM] 1.0 The Extensible HyperText
              Markup Language (Second Edition)", World Wide Web
              Consortium Recommendation REC-xhtml1-20020801,
              August 2002,

6.2.  Informative References

              Hammer-Lahav, E. and W. Norris, "Extensible Resource
              Descriptor (XRD) Version 1.0 (work in progress)", <http://

   [RFC4918]  Dusseault, L., "HTTP Extensions for Web Distributed
              Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV)", RFC 4918, June 2007.

   [URIQA]    Nokia, "The URI Query Agent Model",


   [1]  <>

Author's Address

   Eran Hammer-Lahav


Hammer-Lahav            Expires September 4, 2010              [Page 14]