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From James Sutherland <>
Subject Re: Language Negotiation: "No Acceptable Variant"
Date Mon, 29 Jan 2001 09:18:10 GMT
On Sun, 28 Jan 2001, Joshua Slive wrote:

> A quick look at the error logs on shows almost 500 "No
> Acceptable Variant" errors so far today.  Many of these errors are caused
> by people with misconfigured browsers trying to deal with our new
> language-negotiated manual.  (I am defining "misconfigured" as not
> including "en" for english in their browser language preferences, although
> that is an admittedly english-centric view of things.)

Sounds fair: much of the WWW will turn out an English language page by
default, or even regardless of preferences.

> We discussed this once before, and concluded that there was nothing we
> could do about.  However, I now believe that this is not true.  If there
> is a file with with no language attribute associated with it, then Apache
> will serve that file in preference to the "No Acceptable Variant" error.
> So, for example, if we include a page called "index.html.html", then since
> this page has no language, it will be served as a "default" page.

Could we have an explicit "default language" - .default? Or a
DefaultLanguage config directive, saying "If we don't have a page in the
language they asked for, use this one"?

That way, companies which e.g. use for English, for German etc., could use negotiation on both sites where
possible, but have .com fall back to English, .de fall back to German?

> So, I see three options:
> 1. Leave things as they are and hope that people with misconfigured
> browsers fix them.

Perhaps; what's on the "No Acceptable Variant" error page ATM?? Does it
include instructions to check your browser config? Alternatively, just
list the variants available?

> 2. Put a page in index.html.html describing how to configure content
> negotiation (as in

Hrmm... maybe...

> 3. Just symlink (can that be done in cvs?) index.html.html to
> index.html.en to make english the default page.  This could be done for
> every page where we add a translation.
> I am leaning towards 3, but would like input on how this could be done in
> cvs.

3 is probably best, but an explicit directive DefaultLanguage would be
best; then companies could direct you to, etc.

> In the future, as we get more translations, we should also do something
> more akin to the Debian model where each page lists all the translations
> available and a link to a "language help page".
> Opinions?

Having a list of translations available on the front page would be nice,
which would send you to a directory with "Properly configured! You can now
browse this site in Foobarish" in Foobarish, and "Oops - your browser says
you prefer language Bar." in the others? A simple CGI to check if the
preferred language matches the one selected would do...


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