rfc - Dave's Blog


Tweet from David Risney

2016 Nov 3, 3:57
@FakeUnicode At least some of that is from https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc3986 . For unreserved characters (a-z0-9._-~) normal form is decoded.

Retweet of TheOnion

2015 Mar 9, 12:11
How Cable Companies Plan To Fight Cord Cutting http://onion.com/1aXT9RD  pic.twitter.com/1e2qYRFCMN

location.hash and location.search are bad and they should feel bad

2014 May 22, 9:25
The DOM location interface exposes the HTML document's URI parsed into its properties. However, it is ancient and has problems that bug me but otherwise rarely show up in the real world. Complaining about mostly theoretical issues is why blogging exists, so here goes:
  • The location object's search, hash, and protocol properties are all misnomers that lead to confusion about the correct terms:
    • The 'search' property returns the URI's query property. The query property isn't limited to containing search terms.
    • The 'hash' property returns the URI's fragment property. This one is just named after its delimiter. It should be called the fragment.
    • The 'protocol' property returns the URI's scheme property. A URI's scheme isn't necessarily a protocol. The http URI scheme of course uses the HTTP protocol, but the https URI scheme is the HTTP protocol over SSL/TLS - there is no HTTPS protocol. Similarly for something like mailto - there is no mailto wire protocol.
  • The 'hash' and 'search' location properties both return null in the case that their corresponding URI property doesn't exist or if its the empty string. A URI with no query property and a URI with an empty string query property that are otherwise the same, are not equal URIs and are allowed by HTTP to return different content. Similarly for the fragment. Unless the specific URI scheme defines otherwise, an empty query or hash isn't the same as no query or hash.
But like complaining about the number of minutes in an hour none of this can ever change without huge compat issues on the web. Accordingly I can only give my thanks to Anne van Kesteren and the awesome work on the URL standard moving towards a more sane (but still working practically within the constraints of compat) location object and URI parsing in the browser.

Considerate MessagePort Usage

2013 Aug 7, 7:14
Sharing by leezie5. Two squirrels sharing food hanging from a bird feeder. Used under Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic.When writing a JavaScript library that uses postMessage and the message event, I must be considerate of other JS code that will be running along side my library. I shouldn't assume I'm the only sender and receiver on a caller provided MessagePort object. This means obviously I should use addEventListener("message" rather than the onmessage property (see related What if two programs did this?). But considering the actual messages traveling over the message channel I have the issue of accidentally processing another libraries messages and having another library accidentally process my own message. I have a few options for playing nice in this regard:
Require a caller provided unique MessagePort
This solves the problem but puts a lot of work on the caller who may not notice nor follow this requirement.
Uniquely mark my messages
To ensure I'm acting upon my own messages and not messages that happen to have similar properties as my own, I place a 'type' property on my postMessage data with a value of a URN unique to me and my JS library. Usually because its easy I use a UUID URN. There's no way someone will coincidentally produce this same URN. With this I can be sure I'm not processing someone else's messages. Of course there's no way to modify my postMessage data to prevent another library from accidentally processing my messages as their own. I can only hope they take similar steps as this and see that my messages are not their own.
Use caller provided MessagePort only to upgrade to new unique MessagePort
I can also make my own unique MessagePort for which only my library will have the end points. This does still require the caller to provide an initial message channel over which I can communicate my new unique MessagePort which means I still have the problems above. However it clearly reduces the surface area of the problem since I only need once message to communicate the new MessagePort.
The best solution is likely all of the above.
Photo is Sharing by leezie5. Two squirrels sharing food hanging from a bird feeder. Used under Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic.
PermalinkCommentsDOM html javascript messagechannel postMessage programming technical

URI functions in Windows Store Applications

2013 Jul 25, 1:00PermalinkCommentsc# c++ javascript technical uri windows windows-runtime windows-store

draft-ietf-websec-framework-reqs-00 - Web Security Framework: Problem Statement and Requirements

2013 Feb 20, 2:48

Web Security Framework: Problem Statement and Requirements

PermalinkCommentstechnical rfc security web html

The "acct" URI Scheme

2012 Jun 30, 3:09

During formalization of the WebFinger protocol [I-D.jones-appsawg-webfinger], much discussion occurred regarding the appropriate URI scheme to include when specifying a user’s account as a web link [RFC5988].

acctURI      =  “acct:” userpart “@” domainpart

PermalinkCommentstechnical uri uri-scheme acct ietf

HTTP Compression Documentation Reference

2012 Jun 13, 3:08
There's a lot of name reuse in HTTP compression so I've made the following to help myself keep it straight.
HTTP Content Coding Token gzip deflate compress
An encoding format produced by the file compression program "gzip" (GNU zip) The "zlib" format as described in RFC 1950. The encoding format produced by the common UNIX file compression program "compress".
Data Format GZIP file format ZLIB Compressed Data Format The compress program's file format
Compression Method Deflate compression method LZW
Deflate consists of LZ77 and Huffman coding

Compress doesn't seem to be supported by popular current browsers, possibly due to its past with patents.

Deflate isn't done correctly all the time. Some servers would send the deflate data format instead of the zlib data format and at least some versions of Internet Explorer expect deflate data format instead of zlib data format.

PermalinkCommentscompress compression deflate gzip http http-header technical zlib

A New HTTP Status Code for Legally-restricted Resources

2012 Jun 11, 2:00

451 Unavailable for Legal Reasons: The 451 status code is optional; clients cannot rely upon its use. It is imaginable that certain legal authorities may wish to avoid transparency, and not only forbid access to certain resources, but also disclosure that the restriction exists.

That was fast.

PermalinkCommentshttp internet web 451 law legal rfc ietf censorship technical

"Additional Media Type Structured Syntax Suffixes" - Tony Hansen

2012 Apr 26, 3:15

This document defines several Structured Syntax Suffixes for use with media type registrations. In particular, it defines and registers the “+json”, “+ber”, “+der”, “+fastinfoset”, “+wbxml” and “+zip” Structured Syntax Suffixes, and updates the “+xml” Structured Syntax Suffix registration.

PermalinkCommentstechnical json mime ietf rfc standard

Alternate IPv4 Forms - URI Host Syntax Notes

2012 Mar 14, 4:30

By the URI RFC there is only one way to represent a particular IPv4 address in the host of a URI. This is the standard dotted decimal notation of four bytes in decimal with no leading zeroes delimited by periods. And no leading zeros are allowed which means there's only one textual representation of a particular IPv4 address.

However as discussed in the URI RFC, there are other forms of IPv4 addresses that although not officially allowed are generally accepted. Many implementations used inet_aton to parse the address from the URI which accepts more than just dotted decimal. Instead of dotted decimal, each dot delimited part can be in decimal, octal (if preceded by a '0') or hex (if preceded by '0x' or '0X'). And that's each section individually - they don't have to match. And there need not be 4 parts: there can be between 1 and 4 (inclusive). In case of less than 4, the last part in the string represents all of the left over bytes, not just one.

For example the following are all equivalent:
Standard dotted decimal form
Fewer parts
All of the above

The bread and butter of URI related security issues is when one part of the system disagrees with another about the interpretation of the URI. So this non-standard, non-normal form syntax has been been a great source of security issues in the past. Its mostly well known now (CreateUri normalizes these non-normal forms to dotted decimal), but occasionally a good tool for bypassing naive URI blocking systems.

PermalinkCommentsurl inet_aton uri technical host programming ipv4

URI Percent Encoding Ignorance Level 2 - There is no Unencoded URI

2012 Feb 20, 4:00

As a professional URI aficionado I deal with various levels of ignorance on URI percent-encoding (aka URI encoding, or URL escaping).

Getting into the more subtle levels of URI percent-encoding ignorance, folks try to apply their knowledge of percent-encoding to URIs as a whole producing the concepts escaped URIs and unescaped URIs. However there are no such things - URIs themselves aren't percent-encoded or decoded but rather contain characters that are percent-encoded or decoded. Applying percent-encoding or decoding to a URI as a whole produces a new and non-equivalent URI.

Instead of lingering on the incorrect concepts we'll just cover the correct ones: there's raw unencoded data, non-normal form URIs and normal form URIs. For example:

  1. http://example.com/%74%68%65%3F%70%61%74%68?query
  2. http://example.com/the%3Fpath?query
  3. "http", "example.com", "the?path", "query"

In the above (A) is not an 'encoded URI' but rather a non-normal form URI. The characters of 'the' and 'path' are percent-encoded but as unreserved characters specific in the RFC should not be encoded. In the normal form of the URI (B) the characters are decoded. But (B) is not a 'decoded URI' -- it still has an encoded '?' in it because that's a reserved character which by the RFC holds different meaning when appearing decoded versus encoded. Specifically in this case, it appears encoded which means it is data -- a literal '?' that appears as part of the path segment. This is as opposed to the decoded '?' that appears in the URI which is not part of the path but rather the delimiter to the query.

Usually when developers talk about decoding the URI what they really want is the raw data from the URI. The raw decoded data is (C) above. The only thing to note beyond what's covered already is that to obtain the decoded data one must parse the URI before percent decoding all percent-encoded octets.

Of course the exception here is when a URI is the raw data. In this case you must percent-encode the URI to have it appear in another URI. More on percent-encoding while constructing URIs later.

PermalinkCommentsurl encoding uri technical percent-encoding

URI Percent Encoding Ignorance Level 0 - Existence

2012 Feb 10, 4:00

As a professional URI aficionado I deal with various levels of ignorance on URI percent-encoding (aka URI encoding, or URL escaping). The basest ignorance is with respect to the mere existence of percent-encoding. Percents in URIs are special: they always represent the start of a percent-encoded octet. That is to say, a percent is always followed by two hex digits that represents a value between 0 and 255 and doesn't show up in a URI otherwise.

The IPv6 textual syntax for scoped addresses uses the '%' to delimit the zone ID from the rest of the address. When it came time to define how to represent scoped IPv6 addresses in URIs there were two camps: Folks who wanted to use the IPv6 format as is in the URI, and those who wanted to encode or replace the '%' with a different character. The resulting thread was more lively than what shows up on the IETF URI discussion mailing list. Ultimately we went with a percent-encoded '%' which means the percent maintains its special status and singular purpose.

PermalinkCommentsencoding uri technical ietf percent-encoding ipv6

Indicating Character Encoding and Language for HTTP Header Field Parameters

2011 Nov 24, 7:45

From the document: ‘Appendix B. Implementation Report: The encoding defined in this document currently is used for two different HTTP header fields: “Content-Disposition”, defined in [RFC6266], and “Link”, defined in [RFC5988]. As the encoding is a profile/clarification of the one defined in [RFC2231] in 1997, many user agents already supported it for use in “Content-Disposition” when [RFC5987] got published.

Since the publication of [RFC5987], two more popular desktop user agents have added support for this encoding; see http://purl.org/
   NET/http/content-disposition-tests#encoding-2231-char for details. At this time, only one major desktop user agent (Safari) does not support it.

Note that the implementation in Internet Explorer 9 does not support the ISO-8859-1 encoding; this document revision acknowledges that UTF-8 is sufficient for expressing all code points, and removes the requirement to support ISO-8859-1.’

Yay for UTF-8!

PermalinkCommentstechnical http http-headers ie9 internationalization utf-8 encoding

URI Empty Path Segments Matter

2011 Nov 23, 11:00

Shortly after joining the Internet Explorer team I got a bug from a PM on a popular Microsoft web server product that I'll leave unnamed (from now on UWS). The bug said that IE was handling empty path segments incorrectly by not removing them before resolving dotted path segments. For example UWS would do the following:

A.1. http://example.com/a/b//../
A.2. http://example.com/a/b/../
A.3. http://example.com/a/
In step 1 they are given a URI with dotted path segment and an empty path segment. In step 2 they remove the empty path segment, and in step 3 they resolve the dotted path segment. Whereas, given the same initial URI, IE would do the following:
B.1. http://example.com/a/b//../
B.2. http://example.com/a/b/
IE simply resolves the dotted path segment against the empty path segment and removes them both. So, how did I resolve this bug? As "By Design" of course!

The URI RFC allows path segments of zero length and does not assign them any special meaning. So generic user agents that intend to work on the web must not treat an empty path segment any different from a path segment with some text in it. In the case above IE is doing the correct thing.

That's the case for generic user agents, however servers may decide that a URI with an empty path segment returns the same resource as a the same URI without that empty path segment. Essentially they can decide to ignore empty path segments. Both IIS and Apache work this way and thus return the same resource for the following URIs:

The issue for UWS is that it removes empty path segments before resolving dotted path segments. It must follow normal URI procedure before applying its own additional rules for empty path segments. Not doing that means they end up violating URI equivalency rules: URIs (A.1) and (B.2) are equivalent but UWS will not return the same resource for them.
PermalinkCommentsuser agent url ie uri technical web browser

Features of image type input tags in HTML

2011 Nov 21, 11:00

A bug came up the other day involving markup containing <input type="image" src="http://example.com/.... I knew that "image" was a valid input type but it wasn't until that moment that I realized I didn't know what it did. Looking it up I found that it displays the specified image and when the user clicks on the image, the form is submitted with an additional two name value pairs: the x and y positions of the point at which the user clicked the image.

Take for example the following HTML:

<form action="http://example.com/">
<input type="image" name="foo" src="http://deletethis.net/dave/images/davebefore.jpg">
If the user clicks on the image, the browser will submit the form with a URI like the following:http://example.com/?foo.x=145&foo.y=124.

This seemed like an incredibly specific feature to be built directly into the language when this could instead be done with javascript. I looked a bit further and saw that its been in HTML since at least HTML2, which of course makes much more sense. Javascript barely existed at that point and sending off the user's click location in a form may have been the only way to do something interesting with that action.

PermalinkCommentsuri technical form history html

Obscuring Location

2011 Jul 1, 10:17"A method for obscuring location information is described. Both static and changing location information can be obscured. A single distance measure is input to the process; this parameter controls the precision of location information that can be extracted by a recipient."PermalinkCommentsgeoloc geolocation technical rfc standard reference

The Canonical Link Relation

2011 Jul 1, 10:15"This specification defines the canonical link relation -- an element which designates the preferred version of content/URI from a set of duplicate or near duplicate pages."PermalinkCommentslink uri url html rel technical standard rfc canonical

Use of the "X-" Prefix in Application Protocols

2011 Jul 1, 10:12" Historically, protocol designers and implementers distinguished
between "standard" and "non-standard" parameters by prefixing the
latter with the string "X-". On balance, this "X-" convention has
more costs than benefits, although it can be appropriate in certain
circumstances."PermalinkCommentsprefix technical standrad rfc uri url x-

The ftp URI Scheme

2011 May 22, 10:38One step closer to completely deprecating the original URI spec by pulling out the ftp URI scheme specification into its own new updated spec!PermalinkCommentsuri url ftp uri-scheme ietf rfc reference technical
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