|Individual Submission||J. Snell|
|Internet-Draft||December 6, 2011|
|Intended status: Informational|
|Expires: June 8, 2012|
Prefer Header for HTTP
This specification defines an HTTP header field that can be used by a user-agent to request that certain behaviors be implemented by a server while processing a request.
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This specification defines a new HTTP request header field that may be used by user-agents to request optional behaviors be applied by a server during the processing the request.
In this document, the key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" are to be interpreted as described in [RFC2119].
The Prefer request-header field is used to indicate that particular server behaviors are preferred by the user-agent, but not required for successful completion of the request. Prefer is similar in nature to the Expect header field defined by [I-D.ietf-httpbis-p2-semantics] Section 9.3 with the exception that servers are allowed to ignore stated preferences.
Prefer = "Prefer" ":" 1#preference preference = OWS preference-token OWS *prefer-params OWS preference-value = token / quoted-string preference-token = token OWS [ "=" OWS preference-value OWS ] prefer-params = ";" OWS preference-token
This header field is defined with an extensible syntax to allow for future values included in the Registry of Preferences (Section 10.1)). A server that does not recognize or is unable to comply with particular preference values in the Prefer header field of a request MUST ignore those values and MUST NOT stop processing or signal an error.
A preference token MAY specify a preference-value. Empty, or zero length preference-values on both the preference directive and parameters are equivalent to no value being specified at all. The following, then, are equivalent:
Prefer: foo; bar="" Prefer: foo=; bar Prefer: foo=""; bar=
An optional, arbitrary collection of preference parameters MAY be specified for any preference directive. The meaning and application of such parameters is dependent on the definition of each preference directive and the server's implementation thereof.
If a particular preference directive or parameter is specified multiple times, repeated occurrences MUST be ignored without signaling an error or otherwise altering the processing of the request.
Comparison of preference token names is case-insensitive while values are case-sensitive regardless of whether token or quoted-string values are used.
Note that the application of a preference by the server MAY affect the caching characteristics of the response. Specifically, should the application of a preference result in a variance to the representation returned by a cacheable response, a Vary header field MUST be included listing the Prefer header field as one of the selecting header fields.
The Prefer request header field MUST be forwarded by the proxy if the request is forwarded. In various situations, A proxy may determine that it is capable of honoring a preference independently of the server to which the request is directed. For instance, an intervening proxy may be capable of transparently providing asynchronous handling of a request using a 202 Accepted responses independently of the origin server. Such proxies could choose to honor the "return-accepted" preference. Individual preference directives MAY define their own requirements and restrictions as to whether and how proxies may apply the preference to a request independently of the origin server.
The "return-accepted" preference indicates that the user-agent prefers the server to respond with a 202 Accepted status in the case where the length of time it takes to generate a response will exceed some arbitrary threshold established by the server.
return-accepted = "return-accepted"
The key motivation for the "return-accepted" preference is to facilitate the operation of asynchronous request handling by allowing the user-agent to indicate to a server it's capability and preference for handling 202 Accepted responses.
The "return-representation" preference indicates that the user-agent prefers that the server include an entity representing the current state of the resource in the response to a successful request.
return-representation = "return-representation"
When honoring the "return-representation" preference, the server MUST include a Content-Location header field specifying the URI of the resource representation being returned. Per section 6.1 of [I-D.ietf-httpbis-p2-semantics], the presence of the Content-Location header field in the response asserts that the payload is a representation of the resource identified by the Content-Location URI.
The "return-representation" preference is intended primarily to provide a means of optimizing communication between the user-agent and server by eliminating the need for a subsequent GET request to retrieve the current representation of the resource following a modification.
Currently, after successfully processing a modification request such as a POST or PUT, a server may choose to return either an entity describing the status of the operation or a representation of the modified resource itself. While the selection of which type of entity to return, if any at all, is solely at the discretion of the server, the "return-representation" preference -- along with the "return-status" and "return-minimal" directives defined below -- allow the server to take the user-agent's preferences into consideration while constructing the response.
The "return-status" preference indicates that the user-agent prefers the server to include an entity describing the status of the request in the response as opposed to returning a representation of the current state of the resource.
return-status = "return-status"
When honoring the "return-status" preference, the server SHOULD NOT include a Content-Location header field in the response.
The "return-minimal" preference indicates that the user-agent wishes the server to return a minimal response to a successful request. Typically, such responses would utilize the 204 No Content status, but other codes MAY be used as appropriate, such as a 200 status with a zero-length response entity. The determination of what constitutes an appropriate minimal response is solely at the discretion of the server.
return-minimal = "return-minimal"
The "return-minimal" preference is intended to provide a means of optimizing communication between the user-agent and server by reducing the amount of data the server is required to return to the user-agent following a request. This can be particularly useful, for instance, when communicating with limited-bandwidth mobile devices or when the user-agent simply does not require any further information about the result of a request beyond knowing if it was successfully processed.
The "wait" preference can be used to establish an upper bound on the length of time, in seconds, the user-agent is willing to wait for a response, after which the user-agent may choose to abandon the request. In the case generating a response will take longer than the time specified, the server, or proxy, can choose to either return a 202 Accepted response, cancel processing, or continue attempting to complete the request.
wait = "wait" OWS "=" OWS delta-seconds
User-Agents specifying the "wait" Preference SHOULD also use the Date header field, as specified in [I-D.ietf-httpbis-p2-semantics] Section 9.2, within the request to establish the time at which the client began waiting for the completion of the request.
ED NOTE: This preference directive is currently exploratory in nature. I've added it to solicit feedback as to it's general utility. It is possible that I may pull this back out.
The "strict" and "lenient" preferences are mutually-exclusive directives indicating, at the servers discretion, how the user-agent wishes the server to handle potential error conditions that may arise in the processing of a request. For instance, if the payload of a request contains various minor syntactical or semantic errors, but the server is still capable of comprehending and successfully processing the request, a decision must be made to either reject the request with an appropriate 4xx error response or to go ahead with processing. The "strict" preference can be used by the user-agent to indicate that, in such conditions, it would prefer that the server reject the request, while the "lenient" preference indicates that the user-agent would prefer the server to attempt to process the request. The specific meaning and application of the "strict" and "lenient" directives is specific to each type of resource, the request method and the operation of the server.
handling = "strict" / "lenient"
Well-defined preferences can be registered for convenience and/or to promote reuse by other applications. This specification establishes an IANA registry of such relation types see Section Section 10.1.
Registered preference names MUST conform to the token rule, and MUST be compared character-by-character in a case-insensitive fashion. They SHOULD be appropriate to the specificity of the preference; i.e., if the semantics are highly specific to a particular application, the name should reflect that, so that more general names are available for less specific use.
Registered preferences MUST NOT constrain servers, user-agents or any intermediaries involved in the exchange and processing of a request to any behavior required for successful processing. The use and application of a preference within a given request MUST be optional on the part of all participants.
The 'Prefer' header field should be added to the permanent registry (see [RFC3864]).
Header field name: Prefer Applicable Protocol: HTTP Status: Author/Change controller: IETF Specification document: this specification
Preferences are registered on the advice of a Designated Expert (appointed by the IESG or their delegate), with a Specification Required (using terminology from [RFC5226]).
The requirements for registered preferences are described in Section 9
Registration requests consist of the completed registration template below, typically published in an RFC or Open Standard (in the sense described by [RFC2026], Section 7). However, to allow for the allocation of values prior to publication, the Designated Expert may approve registration once they are satisfied that a specification will be published.
Note that relation types can be registered by third parties, if the Designated Expert determines that an unregistered relation type is widely deployed and not likely to be registered in a timely manner.
The registration template is:
Registration requests should be sent to the email@example.com mailing list, marked clearly in the subject line (e.g., "NEW PREFERENCE - example" to register an "example" preference).
Within at most 14 days of the request, the Designated Expert(s) will either approve or deny the registration request, communicating this decision to the review list and IANA. Denials should include an explanation and, if applicable, suggestions as to how to make the request successful.
Decisions (or lack thereof) made by the Designated Expert can be first appealed to Application Area Directors (contactable using firstname.lastname@example.org email address or directly by looking up their email addresses on http://www.iesg.org/ website) and, if the appellant is not satisfied with the response, to the full IESG (using the email@example.com mailing list).
IANA should only accept registry updates from the Designated Expert(s), and should direct all requests for registration to the review mailing list.
The Preferences Registry's initial contents are:
Specific preferences requested by a client can introduce security considerations and concerns beyond those discussed in HTTP/1.1 Parts 1 [I-D.ietf-httpbis-p1-messaging], 2 [I-D.ietf-httpbis-p2-semantics], 3 [I-D.ietf-httpbis-p3-payload], 4 [I-D.ietf-httpbis-p4-conditional], 5 [I-D.ietf-httpbis-p5-range], 6 [I-D.ietf-httpbis-p6-cache], and 7 [I-D.ietf-httpbis-p7-auth]. Implementors must refer to the specifications and descriptions of each preference to determine the security considerations relevant to each.
|[I-D.ietf-httpbis-p1-messaging]||Fielding, R., Gettys, J., Mogul, J., Nielsen, H., Masinter, L., Leach, P., Berners-Lee, T., Lafon, Y., and J. Reschke, “HTTP/1.1, part 1: URIs, Connections, and Message Parsing”, Internet-Draft draft-ietf-httpbis-p1-messaging-17 (work in progress), October 2011.|
|[I-D.ietf-httpbis-p2-semantics]||Fielding, R., Gettys, J., Mogul, J., Nielsen, H., Masinter, L., Leach, P., Berners-Lee, T., Lafon, Y., and J. Reschke, “HTTP/1.1, part 2: Message Semantics”, Internet-Draft draft-ietf-httpbis-p2-semantics-17 (work in progress), October 2011.|
|[I-D.ietf-httpbis-p3-payload]||Fielding, R., Gettys, J., Mogul, J., Nielsen, H., Masinter, L., Leach, P., Berners-Lee, T., Lafon, Y., and J. Reschke, “HTTP/1.1, part 3: Message Payload and Content Negotiation”, Internet-Draft draft-ietf-httpbis-p3-payload-17 (work in progress), October 2011.|
|[I-D.ietf-httpbis-p4-conditional]||Fielding, R., Gettys, J., Mogul, J., Nielsen, H., Masinter, L., Leach, P., Berners-Lee, T., Lafon, Y., and J. Reschke, “HTTP/1.1, part 4: Conditional Requests”, Internet-Draft draft-ietf-httpbis-p4-conditional-17 (work in progress), October 2011.|
|[I-D.ietf-httpbis-p5-range]||Fielding, R., Gettys, J., Mogul, J., Nielsen, H., Masinter, L., Leach, P., Berners-Lee, T., Lafon, Y., and J. Reschke, “HTTP/1.1, part 5: Range Requests and Partial Responses”, Internet-Draft draft-ietf-httpbis-p5-range-17 (work in progress), October 2011.|
|[I-D.ietf-httpbis-p6-cache]||Fielding, R., Gettys, J., Mogul, J., Nielsen, H., Masinter, L., Leach, P., Berners-Lee, T., Lafon, Y., Nottingham, M., and J. Reschke, “HTTP/1.1, part 6: Caching”, Internet-Draft draft-ietf-httpbis-p6-cache-17 (work in progress), October 2011.|
|[I-D.ietf-httpbis-p7-auth]||Fielding, R., Gettys, J., Mogul, J., Nielsen, H., Masinter, L., Leach, P., Berners-Lee, T., Lafon, Y., and J. Reschke, “HTTP/1.1, part 7: Authentication”, Internet-Draft draft-ietf-httpbis-p7-auth-17 (work in progress), October 2011.|
|[RFC2026]||Bradner, S., “The Internet Standards Process -- Revision 3”, BCP 9, RFC 2026, October 1996.|
|[RFC2119]||Bradner, S., “Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels”, BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.|
|[RFC2434]||Narten, T. and H. Alvestrand, “Guidelines for Writing an IANA Considerations Section in RFCs”, BCP 26, RFC 2434, October 1998.|
|[RFC3864]||Klyne, G., Nottingham, M., and J. Mogul, “Registration Procedures for Message Header Fields”, BCP 90, RFC 3864, September 2004.|
|[RFC5226]||Narten, T. and H. Alvestrand, “Guidelines for Writing an IANA Considerations Section in RFCs”, BCP 26, RFC 5226, May 2008.|