HTTP Working GroupJ. Reschke
Intended status: Standards TrackA. Malhotra
Expires: January 5, 2023J. Snell
July 4, 2022



This specification defines a new HTTP method, QUERY, as a safe, idempotent request method that can carry request content.

Editorial Note

This note is to be removed before publishing as an RFC.

Discussion of this draft takes place on the HTTP working group mailing list (, which is archived at

Working Group information can be found at; source code and issues list for this draft can be found at

The changes in this draft are summarized in Appendix A.3.

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1. Introduction

This specification defines the HTTP QUERY request method as a means of making a safe, idempotent request that contains content.

Most often, this is desirable when the data conveyed in a request is too voluminous to be encoded into the request's URI. For example, while this is an common and interoperable query:

GET /feed?q=foo&limit=10&sort=-published HTTP/1.1

if the query parameters extend to several kilobytes or more of data it may not be, because many implementations place limits on their size. Often these limits are not known or discoverable ahead of time, because a request can pass through many uncoordinated systems. Additionally, expressing some data in the target URI is inefficient, because it needs to be encoded to be a valid URI.

Encoding query parameters directly into the request URI also effectively casts every possible combination of query inputs as distinct resources. Depending on the application, that may not be desirable.

As an alternative to using GET, many implementations make use of the HTTP POST method to perform queries, as illustrated in the example below. In this case, the input parameters to the search operation are passed along within the request content as opposed to using the request URI.

A typical use of HTTP POST for requesting a search

POST /feed HTTP/1.1
Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded


This variation, however, suffers from the same basic limitation as GET in that it is not readily apparent -- absent specific knowledge of the resource and server to which the request is being sent -- that a safe, idempotent query is being performed.

The QUERY method provides a solution that spans the gap between the use of GET and POST. As with POST, the input to the query operation is passed along within the content of the request rather than as part of the request URI. Unlike POST, however, the method is explicitly safe and idempotent, allowing functions like caching and automatic retries to operate.

The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "NOT RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in BCP 14 [RFC2119] [RFC8174] when, and only when, they appear in all capitals, as shown here.

3. The "Accept-Query" Header Field

The "Accept-Query" response header field MAY be used by a server to directly signal support for the QUERY method while identifying the specific query format media type(s) that may be used.

Accept-Query = 1#media-type

The Accept-Query header field specifies a comma-separated listing of media types (with optional parameters) as defined by Section 8.3.1 of [HTTP].

The order of types listed by the Accept-Query header field is not significant.

4. Examples

The non-normative examples in this section make use of a simple, hypothetical plain-text based query syntax based on SQL with results returned as comma-separated values. This is done for illustration purposes only. Implementations are free to use any format they wish on both the request and response.

4.1. Simple QUERY with a Direct Response

A simple query with a direct response:

QUERY /contacts HTTP/1.1
Content-Type: example/query
Accept: text/csv

select surname, givenname, email limit 10


HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Type: text/csv

surname, givenname, email
Smith, John,
Jones, Sally,
Dubois, Camille,

4.2. Simple QUERY with indirect response (303 See Other)

A simple query with an Indirect Response (303 See Other):

QUERY /contacts HTTP/1.1
Content-Type: example/query
Accept: text/csv

select surname, givenname, email limit 10


HTTP/1.1 303 See Other

Fetch Query Response:

GET /contacts/query123 HTTP/1.1


HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Type: text/csv

surname, givenname, email
Smith, John,
Jones, Sally,
Dubois, Camille,

5. Security Considerations

The QUERY method is subject to the same general security considerations as all HTTP methods as described in [HTTP].

6. IANA Considerations

IANA is requested to add QUERY method in the permanent registry at <> (see Section 16.1.1 of [HTTP]).

Table 1
Method NameSafeIdempotentSpecification
QUERYYesYesSection 2

7. Normative References

Fielding, R., Ed., Nottingham, M., Ed., and J. Reschke, Ed., “HTTP Semantics”, STD 97, RFC 9110, DOI 10.17487/RFC9110, June 2022, <>.
Fielding, R., Ed., Nottingham, M., Ed., and J. Reschke, Ed., “HTTP Caching”, STD 98, RFC 9111, DOI 10.17487/RFC9111, June 2022, <>.
Bradner, S., “Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels”, BCP 14, RFC 2119, DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997, <>.
Leiba, B., “Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC 2119 Key Words”, BCP 14, RFC 8174, DOI 10.17487/RFC8174, May 2017, <>.

Appendix A. Change Log

This section is to be removed before publishing as an RFC.

A.1. Since draft-ietf-httpbis-safe-method-w-body-00 📄 🔍

A.2. Since draft-ietf-httpbis-safe-method-w-body-01 📄 🔍

A.3. Since draft-ietf-httpbis-safe-method-w-body-02 📄 🔍

Authors' Addresses

Julian Reschke
greenbytes GmbH
Hafenweg 16
Münster, 48155
Ashok Malhotra
James M Snell