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Versions: 00 01 02                                         Informational
Internet Engineering Task Force                              L. Masinter
Internet-Draft                                                     Adobe
Intended status: Informational                          January 11, 2011
Expires: July 15, 2011

                            MIME and the Web


   This document describes some of the ways in which parts of the MIME
   system, originally designed for electronic mail, have been used in
   the Web, and some of the ways in which those uses have resulted in
   difficulties.  Given this background and justification, this document
   then goes on to outline requirements for changes to MIME registries
   and practices for their use within W3C and IETF, in order to address
   those difficulties.  Within IETF, it is expected that a companion
   Best Current Practice document will make specific changes to the
   Internet Media Types and Charset registries, among others.

Status of this Memo

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

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

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

   This Internet-Draft will expire on July 15, 2011.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2011 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
   (http://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect

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   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 Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   2.  History  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
     2.1.  Origins of MIME  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
     2.2.  Introducing MIME into the Web  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
     2.3.  Distributed Extensibility  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
   3.  Problems with application to the Web . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
     3.1.  Lack of clarity  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
     3.2.  Differences between email and Web delivery . . . . . . . .  6
     3.3.  The Rules Weren't Quite Followed . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
     3.4.  Consequences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
     3.5.  The Down Side of Extensibility . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
   4.  Additional considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
     4.1.  There are related problems with charsets . . . . . . . . . 10
     4.2.  Embedded, downloaded, launch independent application . . . 10
     4.3.  Additional Use Cases: Polyglot and Multiview . . . . . . . 10
     4.4.  Evolution, Versioning, Forking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
     4.5.  Content Negotiation  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
     4.6.  Fragment identifiers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
   5.  Recommendations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
     5.1.  Internet Media Type registration . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
       5.1.1.  MIME registry magic numbers for sniffing . . . . . . . 13
       5.1.2.  Scripting and scriptable content safety  . . . . . . . 13
       5.1.3.  Fragment identifiers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
       5.1.4.  Application info . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
       5.1.5.  File extensions in registry  . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
     5.2.  Sniffing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
       5.2.1.  Sniffing uses Media Type magic number  . . . . . . . . 14
       5.2.2.  Sniffing when there are multiple different
               definitions  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
       5.2.3.  Sniffing charsets  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
       5.2.4.  Sniffing security uses scriptability info  . . . . . . 14
     5.3.  Changes to IANA processes for MIME registries  . . . . . . 15
     5.4.  FTP specification  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
     5.5.  Update some URI definitions  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
     5.6.  Changes to W3C findings, processes . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
   6.  Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
   7.  IANA Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
   8.  Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
   9.  Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
   Author's Address . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

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1.  Introduction

   This document was prompted by discussions about Web architecture and
   the difficulties surrounding evolution of the Web, Internet Media
   types, multiple specifications for a single media type, and related

   The document gives some of the history of MIME and its introduction
   and use in the Web Section 2.  It then describes some of the current
   difficulties with the use of MIME in the Web context Section 3.  This
   background and context is then followed by a description of changes
   which would reduce some of those difficulties; the changes involve
   specifications, practices, and registries within IETF and W3C
   Section 5.  In particular, changes to the registry and maintenance
   procedures for MIME-related registries maintained by IANA are

   Currently, discussion of this document is suggested on the mailing
   list www-tag@w3c.org (mailing list open for subscription to all),
   archives at http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-tag/.

2.  History

2.1.  Origins of MIME

   MIME ("Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions") was invented
   originally for email, based on general principles of "messaging" (a
   foundational architecture framework).  The role of MIME was to extend
   Internet email messaging from ASCII-only plain text, to include other
   character sets, images, rich documents, etc.)  [RFC1521], [RFC1522].
   The basic architecture of complex content messaging is:

   o  Message sent from A to B.

   o  Message includes some data.  Sender A includes standard 'headers'
      telling recipient B enough information that recipient B knows how
      sender A intends the message to be interpreted.

   o  Recipient B gets the message, interprets the headers for the data
      and uses it as information on how to interpret the data.

   MIME is a "tagging and bagging" specification:

   tagging:  How to label content so the intent of how the content
      should be interpreted is known.

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   bagging:  How to wrap the content so the label is clear, or, if there
      are multiple parts to a single message, how to combine them.

   "MIME types" (renamed "Internet Media Types" in later specs
   [RFC2046]) are part of the "tagging" -- a way to describe the content
   of a message so that it could be used to initiate interpretation of a
   message.  The "Internet Media Type registry" (MIME type registry) is
   where someone can tell the world what a particular label means, as
   far as the sender's intent of how recipients should process a message
   of that type, and the description of a recipients capability and
   ability for senders.

2.2.  Introducing MIME into the Web

   The original World Wide Web (the 0.9 version of HTTP, see [RFC1945])
   didn't have "tagging and bagging" -- everything sent via HTTP was
   assumed to be HTML.  However, at the time (early 1990's) other
   distributed information access systems, including Gopher (distributed
   menu system) and WAIS (remote access to document databases) were
   adding capabilities for accessing many things other text and
   hypertext and the WWW folks were considering type tagging.  It was
   agreed that HTTP should use MIME as the vocabulary for talking about
   file types and character sets.  The result was that HTTP 1.0 added
   the "content-type" header, following (more or less) MIME.  Later, for
   content negotiation, additional uses of this technology (in 'Accept'
   headers) were also added.

   The differences between the use of Internet Media Types between email
   and HTTP have minor:

   o  default charset: HTTP originally specified ISO-8859-1 as the
      default character set, not US-ASCII ((NEED REF TO HTTP ISSUE see
      http://trac.tools.ietf.org/wg/httpbis/trac/ticket/20; the text
      that it refers to currently is here: http://greenbytes.de/tech/
      webdav/draft-ietf-httpbis-p3-payload-11.html#rfc.section.2.3.1 ))

   o  requirement for CRLF in plain text: in practice, Web clients
      didn't restrict content to use CRLF in text/* MIME bodies.

   These minor differences have caused a lot of trouble.

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2.3.  Distributed Extensibility

     The real advantage of using Internet Media Types to label content
   meant that the Web was no longer restricted to a single format.  This
       one addition meant expanding from Global Hypertext to Global
          Hypermedia (as suggested in a 1992 email [connolly92])

   | The Internet currently serves as the backbone for a global        |
   | hypertext.  FTP and email provided a good start, and the gopher,  |
   | WWW, or WAIS clients and servers make wide area information       |
   | browsing simple.  These systems even interoperate, with email     |
   | servers talking to FTP servers, WWW clients talking to gopher     |
   | servers, on and on.                                               |
   | This currently works quite well for text.  But what should WWW    |
   | clients do as Gopher and WAIS servers begin to serve up pictures, |
   | sounds, movies, spreadsheet templates, postscript files, etc.?    |
   | It would be a shame for each to adopt its own multimedia typing   |
   | system.                                                           |
   | If they all adopt the MIME typing system (and as many other       |
   | features from MIME as are appropriate), we can step from global   |
   | hypertext to global hypermedia that much easier.                  |

   The fact that HTTP could reliably transport images of different
   formats, for example, allowed NCSA to add <img> to HTML.  MIME
   allowed other document formats (Word, PDF, Postscript) and other
   kinds of hypermedia, as well as other applications, to be part of the
   Web. MIME was arguably the most important extensibility mechanism in
   the Web.

3.  Problems with application to the Web

   Unfortunately, while the use of Internet Media Types for the Web
   added incredible power, a number of problems have arisen.

3.1.  Lack of clarity

   Many people are confused about the purpose of MIME in the Web, its
   uses, the meaning of Internet Media Types.  Many W3C specifications
   TAG findings and Internet Media Type registrations make what are
   incorrect assumptions about the meaning and purposes of a Internet
   Media Type registration.

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3.2.  Differences between email and Web delivery

   Some of the differences between the application contexts of email and
   Web delivery determine different requirements:

   o  In the Web, the transfer of data is initiated differently than in
      email: the "messages" with labeled content are usually HTTP
      responses to a specific (GET) request (although the request is
      itself a message, GET has no content).  In the most common case,
      then, the receiver knows more about the data before it has been

   o  Clients would like to know more about the content before they
      retrieve it.  The "tagging" is often not sufficient to know, for
      example, "can I interpret this if I retrieve it", because of
      versioning, capabilities, or dependencies on things like screen
      size or interaction capabilities of the recipient.

   o  Some content isn't delivered over the HTTP (files on local file
      system), or there is no opportunity for tagging (data delivered
      over FTP) and in those cases, some other ways are needed for
      determining file type.

   Operating systems use (and continued to evolve) different systems to
   determine the 'type' of something, different from the MIME tagging
   and bagging:

   o  'magic numbers': in many contexts, file types can be guessed by
      looking for some unique string, number or pattern, which only
      appears in files of that type.  In circumstances where this was a
      unique number, it was called a "magic number", although this
      concept has been extended to other textual patterns.

   o  Originally MAC OS had a 4 character 'file type' and another 4
      character 'creator code' for file types.

   o  Windows evolved to use the "file extension" -- 3 letters (and then
      more) at the end of the file name -- as the initial determination
      of the oveall type of a file.  This practice has now extended to
      other systems.

   Information about these other ways of determining type (rather than
   by the content-type label) were gathered for the Internet Media Type
   registry; those registering types are encouraged to also describe
   'magic numbers', Mac file type, common file extensions.  However,
   since there was no formal use of that information, the quality of
   that information in the registry is haphazard.

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   Finally, there was the fact that tagging and bagging might be OK for
   unilaterally initiated (one-way) messaging, you might want to know
   whether you could handle the data before reading it in and
   interpreting it, but the Internet Media Types weren't enough to tell.

3.3.  The Rules Weren't Quite Followed

   The behavior of the community when the Internet Media Type registry
   was designed hasn't matched expectations:

   o  Lots of file types aren't registered (no entry in IANA for file

   o  For many file types that are registration, the registration is
      incomplete or incorrect (people doing registration didn't
      understand 'magic number' or other fields).

   o  The actual content deployed or created by deployed software
      doesn't match the registration.

   These problems arise for various reason, for example:

   o  The benefit of registration to the organization that designed the
      file type is unclear compared to the overhead of sheperding the
      registration through the process.

   o  Registration requires announcing product plans in advance of
      product release.

   o  Orgnaizations are unaware of the registration process or

   In particular, Web implementations of Internet Media Types diverged
   from expected behavior:

   o  Browser implementors would be liberal in what they accepted, and
      use what looked like a file extension in the URL and/or magic
      number or other "sniffing" techniques to decide file type, without
      assuming content-label was authoritative.  This was necessary
      anyway for files that weren't delivered by HTTP.

   o  HTTP server implementors and administrators didn't supply ways of
      easily associating the 'intended' file type label with the file,
      resulting in files frequently being delivered with a label other
      than the one they would have chosen if they'd thought about it,
      and if browsers *had* assumed content-type was authoritative.
      Some popular servers had default configuration files that treated
      any unknown type as "text/plain" (plain ext in ASCII).  Since it

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      didn't matter (the browsers worked anyway), it was hard to get
      this fixed.

   Thus, in many situations, because of poor control over server
   administration or weak file-type detection in popular web server
   technology, receivers might find that 'magic number' scanning was
   more reliable than the actual labeled content-type.

   Incorrect senders coupled with liberal readers wind up feeding a
   negative feedback loop based on the robustness principle
   ([WikiRobust], [RFC3117]).

   In addition, since the "magic number" technology is heuristic, it is
   possible to have different formats all with the same "magic number"
   or more generally, more than one different format that might be
   reasonably "sniffed".

   For example, there are cases where the reuse of one file type's magic
   number for another file type is intentional -- deliberate "puns",
   attempts to usurp ownership of another vendor, group, or standards
   organization's control over a file format, for example.

   Secondly, there are cases where a single file might match more than
   one 'magic number' or recognition pattern, and different recievers
   apply heuristics differently.

   Finally, there are simple cases where the labeled type (text/plain,
   application/octet-stream) is more general and could reasonably be
   used with content which might otherwise match other patterns.

   For example, the sniffing that's done by some web browsers text/
   plain.  If you serve it the perfectly valid text file with the

   <?xml version="1.0"?>

   the browser will not display it (there are intentionally mismatched
   tags on the 3rd line).  Something like this might come up, for
   example, if you had a bug database, with links to the text of
   documents that caused problems.  This buggy XML, served as text/
   plain, should render, but it does not in browsers that incorrectly
   guess "application/xml".

   The "<?xml" is treated as a "magic number", and the wrong thing is

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   happening.  The browser thinks "surely it's XML"; the bug tracking
   app knows "on the contrary, I'm serving it as text precisely because
   I know it's not".

3.4.  Consequences

   The result, alas, is that increased unreliability, in that

   o  servers sending responses to browsers don't have a good guarantee
      that the browser won't "sniff" the content and decide to do
      something other than treat it as it is labeled

   o  browsers receiving content don't have a good guarantee that the
      content isn't mis-labeled

   o  intermediaries (gateways, proxies, caches, and other pieces of the
      Web infrastructure) don't have a good way of telling what the
      conversation means.

   This ambiguity and 'sniffing' also applies to the W3C developed
   Widget Packaging and Configuration [Widgets] (a kind of 'bagging'
   using ZIP rather than MIME multipart).

3.5.  The Down Side of Extensibility

   Extensibility adds great power, and allows the Web to evolve without
   committee approval of every extension.  For some (those who want to
   extend and their clients who want those extensions), this is power!
   For others (those who are building Web components or infrastructure),
   extensibility is a drawback -- it adds to the unreliability and
   difference of the Web experience.  When senders use extensions
   recipients aren't aware of, implement incorrectly or incompletely,
   then communication often fails.  With messaging, this is a serious
   problem, although most 'rich text' documents are still delivered in
   multiple forms (using multipart/alternative).

   If your job is to support users of a popular browser, however, where
   each user has installed a different configuration of file handlers
   and extensibility mechanisms, MIME may appear to add unnecessary
   complexity and variable experience for users of all but the most
   popular types.

4.  Additional considerations

   This section notes some additional considerations.

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4.1.  There are related problems with charsets

   MIME includes provisions not only for file 'types', but also,
   importantly the "character encoding" used by text types: for example,
   simple US ASCII, Western European ISO-8859-1, Unicode UTF8.  A
   similar vicious cycle also happened with character set labels:
   mislabeled content happily processed correctly by liberal browsers
   encouraged more and more sites to proliferate text with mis-labeled
   character sets, to the point where browsers feel they *have* to guess
   the wrong label.  (NEEDS EXPANSION)

   There are sites that intentionally label content as iso-2022-jp or
   euc-jp when it is in fact one of the Microsoft extension charsets
   (e.g., for access to circled digits.  This is an intentional misuse
   of the definitions of the charsets themselves -- definitions which
   originated at the national standards body level.

4.2.  Embedded, downloaded, launch independent application

   The type of a document might be determined not only for entire
   documents "HTML" vs "Word" vs "PDF", but also to embedded components
   of documents, "JPEG image" vs. "PNG image".  However, the use cases,
   requirements and likely operational impact of MIME handling is likely
   different for those use cases.

4.3.  Additional Use Cases: Polyglot and Multiview

   There are some interesting additional use cases which add to the
   design requirements:

   o  "Polyglot" documents: A 'polyglot' document is one which is some
      data which can be treated as two different Internet Media Types,
      in the case where the meaning of the data is the same.  This is
      part of a transition strategy to allow content providers (senders)
      to manage, produce, store, deliver the same data, but with two
      different labels, and have it work equivalently with two different
      kinds of receivers (one of which knows one Internet Media Type,
      and another which knows a second one.)  This use case was part of
      the transition strategy from HTML to an XML-based XHTML, and also
      as a way of a single service offering both HTML-based and XML-
      based processing (e.g., same content useful for news articles and
      Web pages.

   o  "Multiview" documents: This use case seems similar but it's quite
      different.  In this case, the same data has very different meaning
      when served as two different content-types, but that difference is
      intentional; for example, the same data served as text/html is a
      document, and served as an RDFa type is some specific data.

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4.4.  Evolution, Versioning, Forking

   The subject of format/language/type evolution is complex; this
   section is a litle terse.

   Formats and their specifications evolve over time.  There are several
   reasons for the evolution: innovation, compatibility with other
   implementations, attempts to gain control.

   Some times new evolutions are "compatible", although compatibility
   has several variations.  It is part of the responsibility of the
   designer of a new version of a file type to try to insure both
   forward and backward compatibility: new documents work reasonably
   (with some fallback) with old viewers and that old documents work
   reasonably with new viewers.  In some cases this is accomplished,
   others not; in some cases, "works reasonably" is softened to "either
   works reasonably or gives clear warning about nature of problem
   (version mismatch)."

   In MIME, the 'tag', the Internet Media Type, corresponds to the
   versioned series.  Internet Media Types do not identify a particular
   version of a file format.  Rather, the general idea is that the
   Internet Media Type identifies the family, and also how you're
   supposed to otherwise find version information on a per-format basis.
   Many (most) file formats have an internal version indicator, with the
   idea that you only need a new Internet Media Type to designate a
   completely incompatible format.  The notion of an "Internet Media
   Type" is very course-grained.  The general approach to this has been
   that the actual Media Type includes provisions for version
   indicator(s) embedded in the content itself to determine more
   precisely the nature of how the data is to be interpreted.  That is,
   the message itself contains further information.

   Unfortunately, lots has gone wrong in this scenario as well --
   processors ignoring version indicators encouraging content creators
   to not be careful to supply correct version indicators, leading to
   lots of content with wrong version indicators.

   Those updating an existing Internet Media Type registration to
   account for new versions are admonished to not make previously
   conforming documents non-conforming.  This is harder to enforce than
   would seem, because the previous specifications are not always
   accurate to what the Internet Media Type was used for in practice.

   In addition, there are situations where there are simultaneously
   multiple, different specifications which all claim to authoritatively
   define the same internet media type; one might be couched as 'newer'
   or 'better', or the specifications might be 'forked'.

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4.5.  Content Negotiation

   The general idea of content negotiation is when party A communicates
   to party B, and the message can be delivered in more than one format
   (or version, or configuration), there can be some way of allowing
   some negotiation, some way for A to communication to B the available
   options, and for B to be able to accept or indicate preferences.

   Content negotiation happens all over.  When one fax machine twirps to
   another when initially connecting, they are negotiating resolution,
   compression methods and so forth.  In Internet mail, which is a one-
   way communication, the "negotiation" consists of the sender preparing
   and sending multiple versions of the message, one in text/html, one
   in text/plain, for example, in sender-preference order.  The
   recipient then chooses the first version it can understand.

   HTTP added "Accept" and "Accept-language" to allow content
   negotiation in HTTP GET, based on Internet Media Types, and there are
   other methods explained in the HTTP spec.

4.6.  Fragment identifiers

   The Web added the notion of being able to address part of a content
   and not the whole content by adding a 'fragment identifier' to the
   URL that addressed the data.  Of course, this originally made sense
   for the original Web with just HTML, but how would it apply to other
   content.  The URL spec glibly noted that "the definition of the
   fragment identifier meaning depends on the Internet Media Type", but
   unfortunately, few of the Internet Media Type definitions included
   this information, and practices diverged greatly.

   If the interpretation of fragment identifiers depends on the MIME
   type, though, this really crimps the style of using fragment
   identifiers differently if content negotiation is wanted.

5.  Recommendations

   This section outlines the kinds of changes needed to bring the MIME
   system in line with current practice and to address the problems
   outlined above.  The purpose of this text is not to specify the exact
   details of how changes can be accomplished, but rather to find broad

   We need a clear direction on how to make the Web more reliable, not
   less.  We need a realistic transition plan from the unreliable Web to
   the more reliable one.  Part of this is to encourage senders (Web
   servers) to mean what they say, and encourage recipients (browsers)

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   to give preference to what the senders are sending.

   We should try to create specifications for protocols and best
   practices that will lead the Web to more reliable and secure
   communication.  To this end, we give an overall architectural
   approach to use of MIME, and then specific specifications, for HTTP
   clients and servers, Web Browsers in general, proxies and
   intermediaries, which encourage behavior which, on the one hand,
   continues to work with the already deployed infrastructure (of
   servers, browsers, and intermediaries), but which advice, if
   followed, also improves the operability, reliability and security of
   the Web.

   This section outlines requirements for standards and practices
   intended to address some of the difficulties.  This is an early
   version, which mainly contains "strawman" proposals for changes.  It
   is intended to stimulate discussion -- however, the hope is that we
   can get agreement about the nature of the problems and current
   situation before focusing in detail about possible solutions.
   However, having at least strawman proposals seems to be helpful.  For
   some problems, additional changes to IETF and W3C specifications are
   also be advisable; the expectations are briefly outlined here.

5.1.  Internet Media Type registration

   Update the Internet Media Type registry and registration process.

5.1.1.  MIME registry magic numbers for sniffing

   Be clearer about relationship of 'magic numbers' to sniffing; review
   Internet Media Types already registered and update.

5.1.2.  Scripting and scriptable content safety

   Be clearer about requiring Security Considerations to address risks
   of sniffing

5.1.3.  Fragment identifiers

   Problem: MIME type definitions don't talk about fragment identifiers.

   require definition of fragment identifier applicability; add fragID

5.1.4.  Application info

   Problem: Most often, the original conception of MIME for email
   "attachments" was that each content body was really a separate

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   communication; however some Internet Media Types do not have that

   Could the 'applications that use this type' section to be clearer
   about whether the media type is intended to be piece of self-
   contained content (it is sensible to store the MIME data as a file
   and later launch a separate application to view or interact with it)
   or whether it is (always, most often, not really appropriate) to do
   so, and instead this content is intended or embedding or processing
   as a part of a larger context or application.  Of course there may be
   situations where either holds with the same media type.

5.1.5.  File extensions in registry

   Problem: Sniffing needs to use file extensions too; signify which
   file extensions are useful for sniffing.

   Be clearer about file extension use and relationship of file
   extensions to MIME handlers

5.2.  Sniffing

   Various new specifications discuss, promote or mandate the use of
   'sniffing' -- using the content of the data to supplement or even
   override the declared content-type or charset.  Update these

5.2.1.  Sniffing uses Media Type magic number

   Update the proposed Media Type sniffing document ([mime-sniff]) so
   that sniffing uses MIME registry for 'magic numbers.

5.2.2.  Sniffing when there are multiple different definitions

   Address issue of sniffing when there are multiple independent
   definitions of the same MIME type.

5.2.3.  Sniffing charsets

   Update sniffing of charsets in HTML5 ([HTML5-charset] to use the
   charset reference info.

5.2.4.  Sniffing security uses scriptability info

   If the Internet Media Type registry is more explicit about which
   kinds of content contain what kind of scriptability access, then the
   specifications for sniffing can reference the Internet Media Type
   registry to determine what kinds of sniffing constitute a 'privelege

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   Note that all sniffing can be a priviledge upgrade, if there is a
   buggy recipient, although bugs can be fixed, but spec violations are
   a problem.

5.3.  Changes to IANA processes for MIME registries

   Problem: Internet Media Type registries are hard to update, and there
   can be different definitions of the same MIME type.

   STRAWMAN: Allow commenting or easier update; not all Internet Media
   Type owners need or have all the information the internet needs.
   Wiki for Internet Media Types as well as formal registry?  Ability to
   add comments about deployed senders, deployed content, deployed

5.4.  FTP specification

   Do FTP clients also change rules about guessing file types based on
   OS of FTP server?

5.5.  Update some URI definitions

   ftp, file, need sniffing, http sometimes does; data defaults to text/
   plain rather than sniffing.  Should this info be in the URI

5.6.  Changes to W3C findings, processes

   Update Tag finding on authoritative metadata: is it possible to
   remove 'authority'?

   new: MIME and Internet Media Type section to WebArch, referencing
   this memo

   New: Add a W3C Web architecture material on MIME in HTML to W3C site,
   referencing this memo

   Reconsider other extensibility mechanisms (namespaces, for example):
   should they use MIME or something like it?

6.  Acknowledgements

   This document is the result of discussions among many individuals in
   the IETF and W3C. Special thanks to Alexey Melnikov, Noah Mendelsohn.

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7.  IANA Considerations

   This document includes no specific changes to IANA registries or
   processes.  However, it outlines several considerations for future
   explicit recommendations to IANA, to change Internet Media Type and
   Charset registries and the processes around their maintenance.  IANA
   evaluation of the feasibility of these changed processes is required.

8.  Security Considerations

   This document discusses some of the security issues resulting from
   use (and mis-use) of MIME content types in the Web.

9.  Informative References

              Hickson, I., "HTML5: A vocabulary and associated APIs for
              HTML and XHTML ( Determining the character
              encoding)", <http://www.w3.org/TR/html5/

   [RFC1521]  Borenstein, N. and N. Freed, "MIME (Multipurpose Internet
              Mail Extensions) Part One: Mechanisms for Specifying and
              Describing the Format of Internet Message Bodies",
              RFC 1521, <http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc5521>.

   [RFC1522]  Moore, K., "MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions)
              Part Two: Message Header Extensions for Non-ASCII Text",
              RFC 1522, September 1993,

   [RFC1945]  Berners-Lee, T., Fielding, R., and H. Nielsen, "Hypertext
              Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.0", RFC 1945, May 1996,

   [RFC2046]  Freed, N. and N. Borenstein, "Multipurpose Internet Mail
              Extensions (MIME) Part Two: Media Types", RFC 2046,
              November 1996, <http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc2046>.

   [RFC3117]  Rose, M., "On the Design of Application Protocols",
              RFC 3117, November 2001,

   [Widgets]  Caceres, M., "Widget Packaging and Configuration",

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              "Robustness principle", 2010,

              Connolly, D., "Global Hypermedia", Oct 1992, <http://

              Barth, A. and I. Hickson, "Media Type Sniffing",
              December 2010,

Author's Address

   Larry Masinter
   345 Park Ave.
   San Jose,   95110

   Phone: +1 408 536 3024
   Email: masinter@adobe.com
   URI:   http://larry.masinter.net

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