IE5.0 does not conform to RFC2376

Chris Lilley chris at
Mon Apr 5 02:49:18 BST 1999

David Brownell wrote:
> Chris Lilley wrote:
> >
> > David Brownell wrote:
> > > Chris Lilley wrote:
> > > >
> > > > What this RFC appears to do is remove author control over correctly
> > > > labelling the encoding, and ensure that most if not all XML documents
> > > > get incorrectly labelled as US-ASCII.
> > >
> > > Not at all.  The best default MIME content type for all web
> > > servers is "application/xml".
> >
> > Why? Do you consider anything not written in US-ASCII as a text
> > document? I think the Unicode Consortium would disagree with you there.
> No, and that's not what I said:

But it is the implication of your argument.

> For a single world-wide default; that's easily understood by overworked,
> underpaid, often untrained sysadmins; and hence is NOT error prone (!!),
> there's a simple answer that's guaranteed to work right everywhere that
> pays more than lip service to industry standards), and hence is "best".
> Namely, that servers report XML documents as "application/xml".

I discussed this in my earlier mail and showed, in particular, that this
is no more or less robust than text/xml; the client still gets given a
label and still either knows what that label is or does not.

> You seem to want to argue about the MIME definition of text as being
> ASCII, if otherwise unqualified. 

No, I am arguing specifically about the default for text/xml - the
registration can choose what that default is. 

> True, it's dated -- but it really
> does nobody any good to try imposing incompatible changes on such a
> foundational standard.  The Web doesn't need that sort of confusion.

Agreed, but that was not what I said.

> > ... in fact, autodetection
> > is a bad thing. I was not suggesting autodetection, quite the converse.
> This seems like a new tangent:  "autodetection is a bad thing".
> Are you proposing that the XML specification be revised to eliminate
> the several kinds of autodetection it's got? 

No, I was using autodetection in a different sense here, and it was
valuable of Tim Bray to point this out. What the XML spec refers to as
autodetection is not really autodetection. Its just reading a textual
label, the same as reading a MIME charset label.

> > Rather, in the absence of an explicit MIME charset parameter, it should
> > use the encoding declaration. [else default to UTF-8/UTF-16 per spec]
> That is _exactly_ the behavior specified for "application/xml"; now,


> what exactly is your reason for thinking it's not the best default for
> most everyone to use??

Because text files should be transmissible as text; XML is a format for
marked up text.


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