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From Paul Richards <>
Subject Re: Apache problem (fwd)
Date Tue, 14 May 1996 16:38:21 GMT
In reply to Rob Hartill who said
> However, Apache is right to send back the 403, and the browsers would
> appear to be broken if they don't recognise it properly. Without the
> ErrorDocument directive, a 403 response would have been sent back anyway...
> but maybe with a different status string which the broken browsers are
> incapable of dealing with.

That doesn't make sense. The clients aren't required to do anything
with the status string, their behaviour for a 403 response seems
reasonable to me (except Netscape as it happens since it seems to
ignore it).

> Apache is correct. NCSA's behaviour looks dubious and the browsers
> inability to deal with valid responses is sign of broken browsers.

The problem though is that the browser's are hard coded to do certain
things when they get a 403 response e.g. explorer pops up a window and
apparently ignores the page.

The whole point of using ErrorDocument in this circumstance is to
provide an alternative behaviour that's determined by the web author.

I'm not convinced either way, I'm not clear on whether anything governs
what browsers are expected to do in these situations. I'm not sure I'm
clear on what ErrorDocument is meant to achieve in terms of the spec.
Is it just a method of providing an user-defined entity that
accompanies the standard response code or is it a more powerful
configuration tool that allows the web author to trap certain codes and
map them to others so the user does not see errors such as missing
pages or gets a "normal" response to a mistyped URL that hits your

  Paul Richards. Originative Solutions Ltd.  (Netcraft Ltd. contractor)
  Elsevier Science TIS online journal project.
  Phone: 0370 462071 (Mobile), +44 (0)1865 843155

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