Protocol-independent Content Negotiation Framework
RFC 2703

Document Type RFC - Informational (September 1999; No errata)
Last updated 2013-03-02
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Network Working Group                                         G. Klyne
Request for Comments: 2703                    5GM/Content Technologies
Category: Informational                                 September 1999

           Protocol-independent Content Negotiation Framework

Status of this Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
   not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of this
   memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1999).  All Rights Reserved.

Abstract

   A number of Internet application protocols have a need to provide
   content negotiation for the resources with which they interact.  MIME
   media types [1,2] provide a standard method for handling one major
   axis of variation, but resources also vary in ways which cannot be
   expressed using currently available MIME headers.

   This memo sets out terminology, an abstract framework and goals for
   protocol-independent content negotiation, and identifies some
   technical issues which may need to be addressed.

   The abstract framework does not attempt to specify the content
   negotiation process, but gives an indication of the anticipated scope
   and form of any such specification.  The goals set out the desired
   properties of a content negotiation mechanism.

Table of Contents

   1. Introduction.............................................2
     1.1 Structure of this document ...........................3
     1.2 Discussion of this document ..........................3
   2. Terminology and definitions..............................3
   3. Framework................................................7
     3.1 Abstract framework for content negotiation ...........8
        3.1.1 The negotiation process..........................9
     3.2 Abstract model for negotiation metadata .............10
     3.3 Text representation for negotiation metadata ........11
     3.4 ASN.1 description of negotiation metadata ...........11
     3.5 Protocol binding guidelines .........................11
   4. Goals...................................................12

Klyne                        Informational                      [Page 1]
RFC 2703        Protocol-independent Content Negotiation  September 1999

     4.1 Generic framework and metadata goals ................12
     4.2 Protocol-specific deployment goals ..................12
   5. Technical issues........................................14
     5.1 Non-message resource transfers ......................14
     5.2 End-to-end vs hop-by-hop negotiations ...............14
     5.3 Third-party negotiation .............................15
     5.4 Use of generic directory and resolution services ....15
     5.5 Billing issues ......................................15
     5.6 Performance considerations ..........................15
     5.7 Confidence levels in negotiated options .............16
   6. Security Considerations.................................16
     6.1 Privacy .............................................16
     6.2 Denial of service attacks ...........................17
     6.3 Mailing list interactions ...........................17
     6.4 Use of security services ............................17
     6.5 Disclosure of security weaknesses ...................18
        6.5.1 User agent identification.......................18
        6.5.2 Macro viruses...................................18
        6.5.3 Personal vulnerability..........................18
     6.6 Problems of negotiating security ....................18
   7. Acknowledgements........................................18
   8. References..............................................19
   9. Author's Address........................................19
   10. Full Copyright Statement...............................20

1. Introduction

   A number of Internet application protocols have a need to provide
   content negotiation for the resources with which they interact.
   While MIME media types [1, 2] provide a standard method for handling
   one major axis of variation, resources also vary in ways which cannot
   be expressed using currently available MIME headers.

   This memo sets out terminology, a framework and some goals for a
   protocol-independent content negotiation framework, and identifies
   some technical issues which may need to be addressed.

   The framework does not attempt to specify the content negotiation
   process; rather it gives an indication of the anticipated scope and
   form of any such specifications.

   The statement of goals is intended to set out the desired properties
   of a content negotiation framework, while trying to avoid any
   assumption of the form that framework may take.

Klyne                        Informational                      [Page 2]
RFC 2703        Protocol-independent Content Negotiation  September 1999

1.1 Structure of this document

   The main part of this memo addresses four main areas:
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