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From Paul Ausbeck <pa...@alumni.cse.ucsc.edu>
Subject Compression via content negotiation
Date Mon, 30 Nov 1998 22:46:21 GMT
PR 3447 describes a shortcoming in how apache handles content
negotiation and compression. What's the chance of getting the patch
suggested there or something like it into 1.3.4?

This issue is becoming very important in that transparent decompression
has been available in both of the commercially important browsers for 6+
months.

I have looked at some of the issues involved and I think that the four
most important outstanding issues are:

1) Apache currently does not place Vary response-headers on content
negotiated responses. This could mess up some installations where agents
that handle compression and agents that do not both use a common proxy
cache.

2) It may be useful to add some compression specific configuration
options.

3) A better negotiation algorithm than proposed in PR 3447 may exist.

4) It may be better to handle compression via a separate compression
specific mechanism similar to Microsoft's Internet Information Server or
the apache compression project at mozilla.org. In a compression specific
scheme, compression can be applied to a non-ambiguous url. For example,
a request for foo.html returns the equivalent of foo.html.gz. In the
proposal of PR3447, given a request for foo.html, if foo.html exists it
would be returned even if foo.html.gz also existed. Only a request for
foo would get foo.html.gz. Of course, this could be changed...


My feeling is that a simple change to mod_negotiation would be fairly
safe, benefit far more people than not, and wouldn't complicate any
future compression efforts. Unless I'm missing something, it seems
better to get something out there sooner rather than later.

Paul Ausbeck


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