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Versions: 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 RFC 7232

HTTPbis Working Group                                   R. Fielding, Ed.
Internet-Draft                                              Day Software
Obsoletes: 2616 (if approved)                                  J. Gettys
Intended status: Standards Track                          Alcatel-Lucent
Expires: February 5, 2011                                       J. Mogul
                                                                      HP
                                                              H. Frystyk
                                                               Microsoft
                                                             L. Masinter
                                                           Adobe Systems
                                                                P. Leach
                                                               Microsoft
                                                          T. Berners-Lee
                                                                 W3C/MIT
                                                           Y. Lafon, Ed.
                                                                     W3C
                                                         J. Reschke, Ed.
                                                              greenbytes
                                                          August 4, 2010


                 HTTP/1.1, part 4: Conditional Requests
                  draft-ietf-httpbis-p4-conditional-11

Abstract

   The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is an application-level
   protocol for distributed, collaborative, hypermedia information
   systems.  HTTP has been in use by the World Wide Web global
   information initiative since 1990.  This document is Part 4 of the
   seven-part specification that defines the protocol referred to as
   "HTTP/1.1" and, taken together, obsoletes RFC 2616.  Part 4 defines
   request header fields for indicating conditional requests and the
   rules for constructing responses to those requests.

Editorial Note (To be removed by RFC Editor)

   Discussion of this draft should take place on the HTTPBIS working
   group mailing list (ietf-http-wg@w3.org).  The current issues list is
   at <http://tools.ietf.org/wg/httpbis/trac/report/3> and related
   documents (including fancy diffs) can be found at
   <http://tools.ietf.org/wg/httpbis/>.

   The changes in this draft are summarized in Appendix C.12.

Status of This Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the



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   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF).  Note that other groups may also distribute
   working documents as Internet-Drafts.  The list of current Internet-
   Drafts is at http://datatracker.ietf.org/drafts/current/.

   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
   and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
   time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference
   material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

   This Internet-Draft will expire on February 5, 2011.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2010 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   (http://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
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   This document may contain material from IETF Documents or IETF
   Contributions published or made publicly available before November
   10, 2008.  The person(s) controlling the copyright in some of this
   material may not have granted the IETF Trust the right to allow
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   Without obtaining an adequate license from the person(s) controlling
   the copyright in such materials, this document may not be modified
   outside the IETF Standards Process, and derivative works of it may
   not be created outside the IETF Standards Process, except to format
   it for publication as an RFC or to translate it into languages other
   than English.











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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
     1.1.  Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
     1.2.  Syntax Notation  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
       1.2.1.  Core Rules . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
       1.2.2.  ABNF Rules defined in other Parts of the
               Specification  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
   2.  Entity-Tags  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
     2.1.  Example: Entity-tags varying on Content-Negotiated
           Resources  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
   3.  Status Code Definitions  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
     3.1.  304 Not Modified . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
     3.2.  412 Precondition Failed  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
   4.  Weak and Strong Validators . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
   5.  Rules for When to Use Entity-tags and Last-Modified Dates  . . 10
   6.  Header Field Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
     6.1.  ETag . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
     6.2.  If-Match . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
     6.3.  If-Modified-Since  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
     6.4.  If-None-Match  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
     6.5.  If-Unmodified-Since  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
     6.6.  Last-Modified  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
   7.  IANA Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
     7.1.  Status Code Registration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
     7.2.  Header Field Registration  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
   8.  Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
   9.  Acknowledgments  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
   10. References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
     10.1. Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
     10.2. Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
   Appendix A.  Changes from RFC 2616 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
   Appendix B.  Collected ABNF  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
   Appendix C.  Change Log (to be removed by RFC Editor before
                publication)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
     C.1.  Since RFC2616  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
     C.2.  Since draft-ietf-httpbis-p4-conditional-00 . . . . . . . . 22
     C.3.  Since draft-ietf-httpbis-p4-conditional-01 . . . . . . . . 22
     C.4.  Since draft-ietf-httpbis-p4-conditional-02 . . . . . . . . 22
     C.5.  Since draft-ietf-httpbis-p4-conditional-03 . . . . . . . . 22
     C.6.  Since draft-ietf-httpbis-p4-conditional-04 . . . . . . . . 23
     C.7.  Since draft-ietf-httpbis-p4-conditional-05 . . . . . . . . 23
     C.8.  Since draft-ietf-httpbis-p4-conditional-06 . . . . . . . . 23
     C.9.  Since draft-ietf-httpbis-p4-conditional-07 . . . . . . . . 23
     C.10. Since draft-ietf-httpbis-p4-conditional-08 . . . . . . . . 23
     C.11. Since draft-ietf-httpbis-p4-conditional-09 . . . . . . . . 23
     C.12. Since draft-ietf-httpbis-p4-conditional-10 . . . . . . . . 24
   Index  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24



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1.  Introduction

   This document defines HTTP/1.1 response metadata for indicating
   potential changes to payload content, including modification time
   stamps and opaque entity-tags, and the HTTP conditional request
   mechanisms that allow preconditions to be placed on a request method.
   Conditional GET requests allow for efficient cache updates.  Other
   conditional request methods are used to protect against overwriting
   or misunderstanding the state of a resource that has been changed
   unbeknownst to the requesting client.

   This document is currently disorganized in order to minimize the
   changes between drafts and enable reviewers to see the smaller errata
   changes.  The next draft will reorganize the sections to better
   reflect the content.  In particular, the sections on resource
   metadata will be discussed first and then followed by each
   conditional request-header, concluding with a definition of
   precedence and the expectation of ordering strong validator checks
   before weak validator checks.  It is likely that more content from
   [Part6] will migrate to this part, where appropriate.  The current
   mess reflects how widely dispersed these topics and associated
   requirements had become in [RFC2616].

1.1.  Requirements

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this
   document are to be interpreted as described in [RFC2119].

   An implementation is not compliant if it fails to satisfy one or more
   of the "MUST" or "REQUIRED" level requirements for the protocols it
   implements.  An implementation that satisfies all the "MUST" or
   "REQUIRED" level and all the "SHOULD" level requirements for its
   protocols is said to be "unconditionally compliant"; one that
   satisfies all the "MUST" level requirements but not all the "SHOULD"
   level requirements for its protocols is said to be "conditionally
   compliant".

1.2.  Syntax Notation

   This specification uses the ABNF syntax defined in Section 1.2 of
   [Part1] (which extends the syntax defined in [RFC5234] with a list
   rule).  Appendix B shows the collected ABNF, with the list rule
   expanded.

   The following core rules are included by reference, as defined in
   [RFC5234], Appendix B.1: ALPHA (letters), CR (carriage return), CRLF
   (CR LF), CTL (controls), DIGIT (decimal 0-9), DQUOTE (double quote),



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   HEXDIG (hexadecimal 0-9/A-F/a-f), LF (line feed), OCTET (any 8-bit
   sequence of data), SP (space), VCHAR (any visible USASCII character),
   and WSP (whitespace).

1.2.1.  Core Rules

   The core rules below are defined in Section 1.2.2 of [Part1]:

     quoted-string = <quoted-string, defined in [Part1], Section 1.2.2>
     OWS           = <OWS, defined in [Part1], Section 1.2.2>

1.2.2.  ABNF Rules defined in other Parts of the Specification

   The ABNF rules below are defined in other parts:

     HTTP-date     = <HTTP-date, defined in [Part1], Section 6.1>

2.  Entity-Tags

   Entity-tags are used for comparing two or more representations of the
   same resource.  HTTP/1.1 uses entity-tags in the ETag (Section 6.1),
   If-Match (Section 6.2), If-None-Match (Section 6.4), and If-Range
   (Section 5.3 of [Part5]) header fields.  The definition of how they
   are used and compared as cache validators is in Section 4.  An
   entity-tag consists of an opaque quoted string, possibly prefixed by
   a weakness indicator.

     entity-tag = [ weak ] opaque-tag
     weak       = %x57.2F ; "W/", case-sensitive
     opaque-tag = quoted-string

   A "strong entity-tag" MAY be shared by two representations of a
   resource only if they are equivalent by octet equality.

   A "weak entity-tag", indicated by the "W/" prefix, MAY be shared by
   two representations of a resource only if the representations are
   equivalent and could be substituted for each other with no
   significant change in semantics.  A weak entity-tag can only be used
   for weak comparison.

   An entity-tag MUST be unique across all versions of all
   representations associated with a particular resource.  A given
   entity-tag value MAY be used for representations obtained by requests
   on different URIs.  The use of the same entity-tag value in
   conjunction with representations obtained by requests on different
   URIs does not imply the equivalence of those representations.





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2.1.  Example: Entity-tags varying on Content-Negotiated Resources

   Consider a resource that is subject to content negotiation (Section 5
   of [Part3]), and where the representations returned upon a GET
   request vary based on the Accept-Encoding request header field
   (Section 6.3 of [Part3]):

   >> Request:

     GET /index HTTP/1.1
     Host: www.example.com
     Accept-Encoding: gzip


   In this case, the response might or might not use the gzip content
   coding.  If it does not, the response might look like:

   >> Response:

     HTTP/1.1 200 OK
     Date: Thu, 26 Mar 2010 00:05:00 GMT
     ETag: "123-a"
     Content-Length: 70
     Vary: Accept-Encoding
     Content-Type: text/plain

     Hello World!
     Hello World!
     Hello World!
     Hello World!
     Hello World!

   An alternative representation that does use gzip content coding would
   be:

   >> Response:

     HTTP/1.1 200 OK
     Date: Thu, 26 Mar 2010 00:05:00 GMT
     ETag: "123-b"
     Content-Length: 43
     Vary: Accept-Encoding
     Content-Type: text/plain
     Content-Encoding: gzip

     ...binary data...





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      Note: Content codings are a property of the representation, so
      therefore an entity-tag of an encoded representation must be
      distinct from an unencoded representation to prevent conflicts
      during cache updates and range requests.  In contrast, transfer
      codings (Section 6.2 of [Part1]) apply only during message
      transfer and do not require distinct entity-tags.

3.  Status Code Definitions

3.1.  304 Not Modified

   If the client has performed a conditional GET request and access is
   allowed, but the document has not been modified, the server SHOULD
   respond with this status code.  The 304 response MUST NOT contain a
   message-body, and thus is always terminated by the first empty line
   after the header fields.

   A 304 response MUST include a Date header field (Section 9.3 of
   [Part1]) unless its omission is required by Section 9.3.1 of [Part1].
   If a 200 response to the same request would have included any of the
   header fields Cache-Control, Content-Location, ETag, Expires, Last-
   Modified, or Vary, then those same header fields MUST be sent in a
   304 response.

   Since the goal of a 304 response is to minimize information transfer
   when the recipient already has one or more cached representations,
   the response SHOULD NOT include representation metadata other than
   the above listed fields unless said metadata exists for the purpose
   of guiding cache updates (e.g., future HTTP extensions).

   If a 304 response includes an entity-tag that indicates a
   representation not currently cached, then the recipient MUST NOT use
   the 304 to update its own cache.  If that conditional request
   originated with an outbound client, such as a user agent with its own
   cache sending a conditional GET to a shared proxy, then the 304
   response MAY be forwarded to the outbound client.  Otherwise,
   disregard the response and repeat the request without the
   conditional.

   If a cache uses a received 304 response to update a cache entry, the
   cache MUST update the entry to reflect any new field values given in
   the response.

3.2.  412 Precondition Failed

   The precondition given in one or more of the request-header fields
   evaluated to false when it was tested on the server.  This response
   code allows the client to place preconditions on the current resource



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   metadata (header field data) and thus prevent the requested method
   from being applied to a resource other than the one intended.

4.  Weak and Strong Validators

   Since both origin servers and caches will compare two validators to
   decide if they represent the same or different representations, one
   normally would expect that if the representation (including both
   representation header fields and representation body) changes in any
   way, then the associated validator would change as well.  If this is
   true, then we call this validator a "strong validator".

   However, there might be cases when a server prefers to change the
   validator only on semantically significant changes, and not when
   insignificant aspects of the representation change.  A validator that
   does not always change when the representation changes is a "weak
   validator".

   An entity-tag is normally a strong validator, but the protocol
   provides a mechanism to tag an entity-tag as "weak".  One can think
   of a strong validator as one that changes whenever the sequence of
   bits in a representation changes, while a weak value changes whenever
   the meaning of a representation changes.  Alternatively, one can
   think of a strong validator as part of an identifier for a specific
   representation, whereas a weak validator is part of an identifier for
   a set of semantically equivalent representations.

      Note: One example of a strong validator is an integer that is
      incremented in stable storage every time a representation is
      changed.

      A representation's modification time, if defined with only one-
      second resolution, could be a weak validator, since it is possible
      that the representation might be modified twice during a single
      second.

      Support for weak validators is optional.  However, weak validators
      allow for more efficient caching of equivalent objects; for
      example, a hit counter on a site is probably good enough if it is
      updated every few days or weeks, and any value during that period
      is likely "good enough" to be equivalent.

   A "use" of a validator is either when a client generates a request
   and includes the validator in a validating header field, or when a
   server compares two validators.

   Strong validators are usable in any context.  Weak validators are
   only usable in contexts that do not depend on exact equality of a



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   representation.  For example, either kind is usable for a normal
   conditional GET.  However, only a strong validator is usable for a
   sub-range retrieval, since otherwise the client might end up with an
   internally inconsistent representation.

   Clients MUST NOT use weak validators in range requests ([Part5]).

   The only function that HTTP/1.1 defines on validators is comparison.
   There are two validator comparison functions, depending on whether
   the comparison context allows the use of weak validators or not:

   o  The strong comparison function: in order to be considered equal,
      both opaque-tags MUST be identical character-by-character, and
      both MUST NOT be weak.

   o  The weak comparison function: in order to be considered equal,
      both opaque-tags MUST be identical character-by-character, but
      either or both of them MAY be tagged as "weak" without affecting
      the result.

   The example below shows the results for a set of entity-tag pairs,
   and both the weak and strong comparison function results:

   +--------+--------+-------------------+-----------------+
   | ETag 1 | ETag 2 | Strong Comparison | Weak Comparison |
   +--------+--------+-------------------+-----------------+
   | W/"1"  | W/"1"  | no match          | match           |
   | W/"1"  | W/"2"  | no match          | no match        |
   | W/"1"  | "1"    | no match          | match           |
   | "1"    | "1"    | match             | match           |
   +--------+--------+-------------------+-----------------+

   An entity-tag is strong unless it is explicitly tagged as weak.
   Section 2 gives the syntax for entity-tags.

   A Last-Modified time, when used as a validator in a request, is
   implicitly weak unless it is possible to deduce that it is strong,
   using the following rules:

   o  The validator is being compared by an origin server to the actual
      current validator for the representation and,

   o  That origin server reliably knows that the associated
      representation did not change twice during the second covered by
      the presented validator.

   or




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   o  The validator is about to be used by a client in an If-Modified-
      Since or If-Unmodified-Since header, because the client has a
      cache entry for the associated representation, and

   o  That cache entry includes a Date value, which gives the time when
      the origin server sent the original response, and

   o  The presented Last-Modified time is at least 60 seconds before the
      Date value.

   or

   o  The validator is being compared by an intermediate cache to the
      validator stored in its cache entry for the representation, and

   o  That cache entry includes a Date value, which gives the time when
      the origin server sent the original response, and

   o  The presented Last-Modified time is at least 60 seconds before the
      Date value.

   This method relies on the fact that if two different responses were
   sent by the origin server during the same second, but both had the
   same Last-Modified time, then at least one of those responses would
   have a Date value equal to its Last-Modified time.  The arbitrary 60-
   second limit guards against the possibility that the Date and Last-
   Modified values are generated from different clocks, or at somewhat
   different times during the preparation of the response.  An
   implementation MAY use a value larger than 60 seconds, if it is
   believed that 60 seconds is too short.

   If a client wishes to perform a sub-range retrieval on a value for
   which it has only a Last-Modified time and no opaque validator, it
   MAY do this only if the Last-Modified time is strong in the sense
   described here.

   A cache or origin server receiving a conditional range request
   ([Part5]) MUST use the strong comparison function to evaluate the
   condition.

   These rules allow HTTP/1.1 caches and clients to safely perform sub-
   range retrievals on values that have been obtained from HTTP/1.0
   servers.

5.  Rules for When to Use Entity-tags and Last-Modified Dates

   We adopt a set of rules and recommendations for origin servers,
   clients, and caches regarding when various validator types ought to



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   be used, and for what purposes.

   HTTP/1.1 origin servers:

   o  SHOULD send an entity-tag validator unless it is not feasible to
      generate one.

   o  MAY send a weak entity-tag instead of a strong entity-tag, if
      performance considerations support the use of weak entity-tags, or
      if it is unfeasible to send a strong entity-tag.

   o  SHOULD send a Last-Modified value if it is feasible to send one,
      unless the risk of a breakdown in semantic transparency that could
      result from using this date in an If-Modified-Since header would
      lead to serious problems.

   In other words, the preferred behavior for an HTTP/1.1 origin server
   is to send both a strong entity-tag and a Last-Modified value.

   In order to be legal, a strong entity-tag MUST change whenever the
   associated representation changes in any way.  A weak entity-tag
   SHOULD change whenever the associated representation changes in a
   semantically significant way.

      Note: In order to provide semantically transparent caching, an
      origin server must avoid reusing a specific strong entity-tag
      value for two different representations, or reusing a specific
      weak entity-tag value for two semantically different
      representations.  Cache entries might persist for arbitrarily long
      periods, regardless of expiration times, so it might be
      inappropriate to expect that a cache will never again attempt to
      validate an entry using a validator that it obtained at some point
      in the past.

   HTTP/1.1 clients:

   o  MUST use that entity-tag in any cache-conditional request (using
      If-Match or If-None-Match) if an entity-tag has been provided by
      the origin server.

   o  SHOULD use the Last-Modified value in non-subrange cache-
      conditional requests (using If-Modified-Since) if only a Last-
      Modified value has been provided by the origin server.

   o  MAY use the Last-Modified value in subrange cache-conditional
      requests (using If-Unmodified-Since) if only a Last-Modified value
      has been provided by an HTTP/1.0 origin server.  The user agent
      SHOULD provide a way to disable this, in case of difficulty.



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   o  SHOULD use both validators in cache-conditional requests if both
      an entity-tag and a Last-Modified value have been provided by the
      origin server.  This allows both HTTP/1.0 and HTTP/1.1 caches to
      respond appropriately.

   An HTTP/1.1 origin server, upon receiving a conditional request that
   includes both a Last-Modified date (e.g., in an If-Modified-Since or
   If-Unmodified-Since header field) and one or more entity-tags (e.g.,
   in an If-Match, If-None-Match, or If-Range header field) as cache
   validators, MUST NOT return a response status code of 304 (Not
   Modified) unless doing so is consistent with all of the conditional
   header fields in the request.

   An HTTP/1.1 caching proxy, upon receiving a conditional request that
   includes both a Last-Modified date and one or more entity-tags as
   cache validators, MUST NOT return a locally cached response to the
   client unless that cached response is consistent with all of the
   conditional header fields in the request.

      Note: The general principle behind these rules is that HTTP/1.1
      servers and clients ought to transmit as much non-redundant
      information as is available in their responses and requests.
      HTTP/1.1 systems receiving this information will make the most
      conservative assumptions about the validators they receive.

      HTTP/1.0 clients and caches will ignore entity-tags.  Generally,
      last-modified values received or used by these systems will
      support transparent and efficient caching, and so HTTP/1.1 origin
      servers should provide Last-Modified values.  In those rare cases
      where the use of a Last-Modified value as a validator by an
      HTTP/1.0 system could result in a serious problem, then HTTP/1.1
      origin servers should not provide one.

6.  Header Field Definitions

   This section defines the syntax and semantics of HTTP/1.1 header
   fields related to conditional requests.

6.1.  ETag

   The "ETag" response-header field provides the current value of the
   entity-tag (see Section 2) for one representation of the target
   resource.  An entity-tag is intended for use as a resource-local
   identifier for differentiating between representations of the same
   resource that vary over time or via content negotiation (see
   Section 4).

     ETag   = "ETag" ":" OWS ETag-v



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     ETag-v = entity-tag

   Examples:

     ETag: "xyzzy"
     ETag: W/"xyzzy"
     ETag: ""

   An entity-tag provides an "opaque" cache validator that allows for
   more reliable validation than modification dates in situations where
   it is inconvenient to store modification dates, where the one-second
   resolution of HTTP date values is not sufficient, or where the origin
   server wishes to avoid certain paradoxes that might arise from the
   use of modification dates.

   The principle behind entity-tags is that only the service author
   knows the semantics of a resource well enough to select an
   appropriate cache validation mechanism, and the specification of any
   validator comparison function more complex than byte-equality would
   open up a can of worms.  Thus, comparisons of any other headers
   (except Last-Modified, for compatibility with HTTP/1.0) are never
   used for purposes of validating a cache entry.

6.2.  If-Match

   The "If-Match" request-header field is used to make a request method
   conditional.  A client that has one or more representations
   previously obtained from the resource can verify that one of those
   representations is current by including a list of their associated
   entity-tags in the If-Match header field.

   This allows efficient updates of cached information with a minimum
   amount of transaction overhead.  It is also used when updating
   resources, to prevent inadvertent modification of the wrong version
   of a resource.  As a special case, the value "*" matches any current
   representation of the resource.

     If-Match   = "If-Match" ":" OWS If-Match-v
     If-Match-v = "*" / 1#entity-tag

   If any of the entity-tags match the entity-tag of the representation
   that would have been returned in the response to a similar GET
   request (without the If-Match header) on that resource, or if "*" is
   given and any current representation exists for that resource, then
   the server MAY perform the requested method as if the If-Match header
   field did not exist.

   If none of the entity-tags match, or if "*" is given and no current



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   representation exists, the server MUST NOT perform the requested
   method, and MUST return a 412 (Precondition Failed) response.  This
   behavior is most useful when the client wants to prevent an updating
   method, such as PUT, from modifying a resource that has changed since
   the client last retrieved it.

   If the request would, without the If-Match header field, result in
   anything other than a 2xx or 412 status code, then the If-Match
   header MUST be ignored.

   The meaning of "If-Match: *" is that the method SHOULD be performed
   if the representation selected by the origin server (or by a cache,
   possibly using the Vary mechanism, see Section 3.5 of [Part6])
   exists, and MUST NOT be performed if the representation does not
   exist.

   A request intended to update a resource (e.g., a PUT) MAY include an
   If-Match header field to signal that the request method MUST NOT be
   applied if the representation corresponding to the If-Match value (a
   single entity-tag) is no longer a representation of that resource.
   This allows the user to indicate that they do not wish the request to
   be successful if the resource has been changed without their
   knowledge.  Examples:

     If-Match: "xyzzy"
     If-Match: "xyzzy", "r2d2xxxx", "c3piozzzz"
     If-Match: *

   The result of a request having both an If-Match header field and
   either an If-None-Match or an If-Modified-Since header fields is
   undefined by this specification.

6.3.  If-Modified-Since

   The "If-Modified-Since" request-header field is used to make a
   request method conditional by date: if the representation that would
   have been transferred in a 200 response to a GET request has not been
   modified since the time specified in this field, then do not perform
   the method; instead, respond as detailed below.

     If-Modified-Since   = "If-Modified-Since" ":" OWS
                           If-Modified-Since-v
     If-Modified-Since-v = HTTP-date

   An example of the field is:

     If-Modified-Since: Sat, 29 Oct 1994 19:43:31 GMT




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   A GET method with an If-Modified-Since header and no Range header
   requests that the representation be transferred only if it has been
   modified since the date given by the If-Modified-Since header.  The
   algorithm for determining this includes the following cases:

   1.  If the request would normally result in anything other than a 200
       (OK) status code, or if the passed If-Modified-Since date is
       invalid, the response is exactly the same as for a normal GET.  A
       date which is later than the server's current time is invalid.

   2.  If the representation has been modified since the If-Modified-
       Since date, the response is exactly the same as for a normal GET.

   3.  If the representation has not been modified since a valid If-
       Modified-Since date, the server SHOULD return a 304 (Not
       Modified) response.

   The purpose of this feature is to allow efficient updates of cached
   information with a minimum amount of transaction overhead.

      Note: The Range request-header field modifies the meaning of If-
      Modified-Since; see Section 5.4 of [Part5] for full details.

      Note: If-Modified-Since times are interpreted by the server, whose
      clock might not be synchronized with the client.

      Note: When handling an If-Modified-Since header field, some
      servers will use an exact date comparison function, rather than a
      less-than function, for deciding whether to send a 304 (Not
      Modified) response.  To get best results when sending an If-
      Modified-Since header field for cache validation, clients are
      advised to use the exact date string received in a previous Last-
      Modified header field whenever possible.

      Note: If a client uses an arbitrary date in the If-Modified-Since
      header instead of a date taken from the Last-Modified header for
      the same request, the client needs to be aware that this date is
      interpreted in the server's understanding of time.  Unsynchronized
      clocks and rounding problems, due to the different encodings of
      time between the client and server, are concerns.  This includes
      the possibility of race conditions if the document has changed
      between the time it was first requested and the If-Modified-Since
      date of a subsequent request, and the possibility of clock-skew-
      related problems if the If-Modified-Since date is derived from the
      client's clock without correction to the server's clock.
      Corrections for different time bases between client and server are
      at best approximate due to network latency.




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   The result of a request having both an If-Modified-Since header field
   and either an If-Match or an If-Unmodified-Since header fields is
   undefined by this specification.

6.4.  If-None-Match

   The "If-None-Match" request-header field is used to make a request
   method conditional.  A client that has one or more representations
   previously obtained from the resource can verify that none of those
   representations is current by including a list of their associated
   entity-tags in the If-None-Match header field.

   This allows efficient updates of cached information with a minimum
   amount of transaction overhead.  It is also used to prevent a method
   (e.g., PUT) from inadvertently modifying an existing resource when
   the client believes that the resource does not exist.

   As a special case, the value "*" matches any current representation
   of the resource.

     If-None-Match   = "If-None-Match" ":" OWS If-None-Match-v
     If-None-Match-v = "*" / 1#entity-tag

   If any of the entity-tags match the entity-tag of the representation
   that would have been returned in the response to a similar GET
   request (without the If-None-Match header) on that resource, or if
   "*" is given and any current representation exists for that resource,
   then the server MUST NOT perform the requested method, unless
   required to do so because the resource's modification date fails to
   match that supplied in an If-Modified-Since header field in the
   request.  Instead, if the request method was GET or HEAD, the server
   SHOULD respond with a 304 (Not Modified) response, including the
   cache-related header fields (particularly ETag) of one of the
   representations that matched.  For all other request methods, the
   server MUST respond with a 412 (Precondition Failed) status code.

   If none of the entity-tags match, then the server MAY perform the
   requested method as if the If-None-Match header field did not exist,
   but MUST also ignore any If-Modified-Since header field(s) in the
   request.  That is, if no entity-tags match, then the server MUST NOT
   return a 304 (Not Modified) response.

   If the request would, without the If-None-Match header field, result
   in anything other than a 2xx or 304 status code, then the If-None-
   Match header MUST be ignored.  (See Section 5 for a discussion of
   server behavior when both If-Modified-Since and If-None-Match appear
   in the same request.)




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   The meaning of "If-None-Match: *" is that the method MUST NOT be
   performed if the representation selected by the origin server (or by
   a cache, possibly using the Vary mechanism, see Section 3.5 of
   [Part6]) exists, and SHOULD be performed if the representation does
   not exist.  This feature is intended to be useful in preventing races
   between PUT operations.

   Examples:

     If-None-Match: "xyzzy"
     If-None-Match: W/"xyzzy"
     If-None-Match: "xyzzy", "r2d2xxxx", "c3piozzzz"
     If-None-Match: W/"xyzzy", W/"r2d2xxxx", W/"c3piozzzz"
     If-None-Match: *

   The result of a request having both an If-None-Match header field and
   either an If-Match or an If-Unmodified-Since header fields is
   undefined by this specification.

6.5.  If-Unmodified-Since

   The "If-Unmodified-Since" request-header field is used to make a
   request method conditional.  If the representation that would have
   been transferred in a 200 response to a GET request on the same
   resource has not been modified since the time specified in this
   field, the server SHOULD perform the requested operation as if the
   If-Unmodified-Since header were not present.

   If the representation has been modified since the specified time, the
   server MUST NOT perform the requested operation, and MUST return a
   412 (Precondition Failed).

     If-Unmodified-Since   = "If-Unmodified-Since" ":" OWS
                             If-Unmodified-Since-v
     If-Unmodified-Since-v = HTTP-date

   An example of the field is:

     If-Unmodified-Since: Sat, 29 Oct 1994 19:43:31 GMT

   If the request normally (i.e., without the If-Unmodified-Since
   header) would result in anything other than a 2xx or 412 status code,
   the If-Unmodified-Since header SHOULD be ignored.

   If the specified date is invalid, the header is ignored.

   The result of a request having both an If-Unmodified-Since header
   field and either an If-None-Match or an If-Modified-Since header



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   fields is undefined by this specification.

6.6.  Last-Modified

   The "Last-Modified" header field indicates the date and time at which
   the origin server believes the representation was last modified.

     Last-Modified   = "Last-Modified" ":" OWS Last-Modified-v
     Last-Modified-v = HTTP-date

   An example of its use is

     Last-Modified: Tue, 15 Nov 1994 12:45:26 GMT

   The exact meaning of this header field depends on the implementation
   of the origin server and the nature of the original resource.  For
   files, it might be just the file system last-modified time.  For
   representations with dynamically included parts, it might be the most
   recent of the set of last-modify times for its component parts.  For
   database gateways, it might be the last-update time stamp of the
   record.  For virtual objects, it might be the last time the internal
   state changed.

   An origin server MUST NOT send a Last-Modified date which is later
   than the server's time of message origination.  In such cases, where
   the resource's last modification would indicate some time in the
   future, the server MUST replace that date with the message
   origination date.

   An origin server SHOULD obtain the Last-Modified value of the
   representation as close as possible to the time that it generates the
   Date value of its response.  This allows a recipient to make an
   accurate assessment of the representation's modification time,
   especially if the representation changes near the time that the
   response is generated.

   HTTP/1.1 servers SHOULD send Last-Modified whenever feasible.

   The Last-Modified header field value is often used as a cache
   validator.  In simple terms, a cache entry is considered to be valid
   if the representation has not been modified since the Last-Modified
   value.

7.  IANA Considerations







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7.1.  Status Code Registration

   The HTTP Status Code Registry located at
   <http://www.iana.org/assignments/http-status-codes> shall be updated
   with the registrations below:

   +-------+---------------------+-------------+
   | Value | Description         | Reference   |
   +-------+---------------------+-------------+
   | 304   | Not Modified        | Section 3.1 |
   | 412   | Precondition Failed | Section 3.2 |
   +-------+---------------------+-------------+

7.2.  Header Field Registration

   The Message Header Field Registry located at <http://www.iana.org/
   assignments/message-headers/message-header-index.html> shall be
   updated with the permanent registrations below (see [RFC3864]):

   +---------------------+----------+----------+-------------+
   | Header Field Name   | Protocol | Status   | Reference   |
   +---------------------+----------+----------+-------------+
   | ETag                | http     | standard | Section 6.1 |
   | If-Match            | http     | standard | Section 6.2 |
   | If-Modified-Since   | http     | standard | Section 6.3 |
   | If-None-Match       | http     | standard | Section 6.4 |
   | If-Unmodified-Since | http     | standard | Section 6.5 |
   | Last-Modified       | http     | standard | Section 6.6 |
   +---------------------+----------+----------+-------------+

   The change controller is: "IETF (iesg@ietf.org) - Internet
   Engineering Task Force".

8.  Security Considerations

   No additional security considerations have been identified beyond
   those applicable to HTTP in general [Part1].

9.  Acknowledgments

10.  References

10.1.  Normative References

   [Part1]    Fielding, R., Ed., Gettys, J., Mogul, J., Frystyk, H.,
              Masinter, L., Leach, P., Berners-Lee, T., Lafon, Y., Ed.,
              and J. Reschke, Ed., "HTTP/1.1, part 1: URIs, Connections,
              and Message Parsing", draft-ietf-httpbis-p1-messaging-11



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              (work in progress), August 2010.

   [Part3]    Fielding, R., Ed., Gettys, J., Mogul, J., Frystyk, H.,
              Masinter, L., Leach, P., Berners-Lee, T., Lafon, Y., Ed.,
              and J. Reschke, Ed., "HTTP/1.1, part 3: Message Payload
              and Content Negotiation", draft-ietf-httpbis-p3-payload-11
              (work in progress), August 2010.

   [Part5]    Fielding, R., Ed., Gettys, J., Mogul, J., Frystyk, H.,
              Masinter, L., Leach, P., Berners-Lee, T., Lafon, Y., Ed.,
              and J. Reschke, Ed., "HTTP/1.1, part 5: Range Requests and
              Partial Responses", draft-ietf-httpbis-p5-range-11 (work
              in progress), August 2010.

   [Part6]    Fielding, R., Ed., Gettys, J., Mogul, J., Frystyk, H.,
              Masinter, L., Leach, P., Berners-Lee, T., Lafon, Y., Ed.,
              Nottingham, M., Ed., and J. Reschke, Ed., "HTTP/1.1, part
              6: Caching", draft-ietf-httpbis-p6-cache-11 (work in
              progress), August 2010.

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.

   [RFC5234]  Crocker, D., Ed. and P. Overell, "Augmented BNF for Syntax
              Specifications: ABNF", STD 68, RFC 5234, January 2008.

10.2.  Informative References

   [RFC2616]  Fielding, R., Gettys, J., Mogul, J., Frystyk, H.,
              Masinter, L., Leach, P., and T. Berners-Lee, "Hypertext
              Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1", RFC 2616, June 1999.

   [RFC3864]  Klyne, G., Nottingham, M., and J. Mogul, "Registration
              Procedures for Message Header Fields", BCP 90, RFC 3864,
              September 2004.

Appendix A.  Changes from RFC 2616

   Allow weak entity-tags in all requests except range requests
   (Sections 4 and 6.4).











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Appendix B.  Collected ABNF

   ETag = "ETag:" OWS ETag-v
   ETag-v = entity-tag

   HTTP-date = <HTTP-date, defined in [Part1], Section 6.1>

   If-Match = "If-Match:" OWS If-Match-v
   If-Match-v = "*" / ( *( "," OWS ) entity-tag *( OWS "," [ OWS
    entity-tag ] ) )
   If-Modified-Since = "If-Modified-Since:" OWS If-Modified-Since-v
   If-Modified-Since-v = HTTP-date
   If-None-Match = "If-None-Match:" OWS If-None-Match-v
   If-None-Match-v = "*" / ( *( "," OWS ) entity-tag *( OWS "," [ OWS
    entity-tag ] ) )
   If-Unmodified-Since = "If-Unmodified-Since:" OWS
    If-Unmodified-Since-v
   If-Unmodified-Since-v = HTTP-date

   Last-Modified = "Last-Modified:" OWS Last-Modified-v
   Last-Modified-v = HTTP-date

   OWS = <OWS, defined in [Part1], Section 1.2.2>

   entity-tag = [ weak ] opaque-tag

   opaque-tag = quoted-string

   quoted-string = <quoted-string, defined in [Part1], Section 1.2.2>

   weak = %x57.2F ; W/

   ABNF diagnostics:

   ; ETag defined but not used
   ; If-Match defined but not used
   ; If-Modified-Since defined but not used
   ; If-None-Match defined but not used
   ; If-Unmodified-Since defined but not used
   ; Last-Modified defined but not used

Appendix C.  Change Log (to be removed by RFC Editor before publication)

C.1.  Since RFC2616

   Extracted relevant partitions from [RFC2616].





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C.2.  Since draft-ietf-httpbis-p4-conditional-00

   Closed issues:

   o  <http://tools.ietf.org/wg/httpbis/trac/ticket/35>: "Normative and
      Informative references"

   Other changes:

   o  Move definitions of 304 and 412 condition codes from Part2.

C.3.  Since draft-ietf-httpbis-p4-conditional-01

   Ongoing work on ABNF conversion
   (<http://tools.ietf.org/wg/httpbis/trac/ticket/36>):

   o  Add explicit references to BNF syntax and rules imported from
      other parts of the specification.

C.4.  Since draft-ietf-httpbis-p4-conditional-02

   Closed issues:

   o  <http://tools.ietf.org/wg/httpbis/trac/ticket/116>: "Weak ETags on
      non-GET requests"

   Ongoing work on IANA Message Header Registration
   (<http://tools.ietf.org/wg/httpbis/trac/ticket/40>):

   o  Reference RFC 3984, and update header registrations for headers
      defined in this document.

C.5.  Since draft-ietf-httpbis-p4-conditional-03

   Closed issues:

   o  <http://tools.ietf.org/wg/httpbis/trac/ticket/71>: "Examples for
      ETag matching"

   o  <http://tools.ietf.org/wg/httpbis/trac/ticket/124>: "'entity
      value' undefined"

   o  <http://tools.ietf.org/wg/httpbis/trac/ticket/126>: "bogus 2068
      Date header reference"







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C.6.  Since draft-ietf-httpbis-p4-conditional-04

   Ongoing work on ABNF conversion
   (<http://tools.ietf.org/wg/httpbis/trac/ticket/36>):

   o  Use "/" instead of "|" for alternatives.

   o  Introduce new ABNF rules for "bad" whitespace ("BWS"), optional
      whitespace ("OWS") and required whitespace ("RWS").

   o  Rewrite ABNFs to spell out whitespace rules, factor out header
      value format definitions.

C.7.  Since draft-ietf-httpbis-p4-conditional-05

   Final work on ABNF conversion
   (<http://tools.ietf.org/wg/httpbis/trac/ticket/36>):

   o  Add appendix containing collected and expanded ABNF, reorganize
      ABNF introduction.

C.8.  Since draft-ietf-httpbis-p4-conditional-06

   Closed issues:

   o  <http://tools.ietf.org/wg/httpbis/trac/ticket/153>: "case-
      sensitivity of etag weakness indicator"

C.9.  Since draft-ietf-httpbis-p4-conditional-07

   Closed issues:

   o  <http://tools.ietf.org/wg/httpbis/trac/ticket/116>: "Weak ETags on
      non-GET requests" (If-Match still was defined to require strong
      matching)

   o  <http://tools.ietf.org/wg/httpbis/trac/ticket/198>: "move IANA
      registrations for optional status codes"

C.10.  Since draft-ietf-httpbis-p4-conditional-08

   No significant changes.

C.11.  Since draft-ietf-httpbis-p4-conditional-09

   No significant changes.





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C.12.  Since draft-ietf-httpbis-p4-conditional-10

   Closed issues:

   o  <http://tools.ietf.org/wg/httpbis/trac/ticket/69>: "Clarify
      'Requested Variant'"

   o  <http://tools.ietf.org/wg/httpbis/trac/ticket/109>: "Clarify
      entity / representation / variant terminology"

   o  <http://tools.ietf.org/wg/httpbis/trac/ticket/220>: "consider
      removing the 'changes from 2068' sections"

Index

   3
      304 Not Modified (status code)  7

   4
      412 Precondition Failed (status code)  7

   E
      ETag header  12

   G
      Grammar
         entity-tag  5
         ETag  12
         ETag-v  12
         If-Match  13
         If-Match-v  13
         If-Modified-Since  14
         If-Modified-Since-v  14
         If-None-Match  16
         If-None-Match-v  16
         If-Unmodified-Since  17
         If-Unmodified-Since-v  17
         Last-Modified  18
         Last-Modified-v  18
         opaque-tag  5
         weak  5

   H
      Headers
         ETag  12
         If-Match  13
         If-Modified-Since  14
         If-None-Match  16



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         If-Unmodified-Since  17
         Last-Modified  18

   I
      If-Match header  13
      If-Modified-Since header  14
      If-None-Match header  16
      If-Unmodified-Since header  17

   L
      Last-Modified header  18

   S
      Status Codes
         304 Not Modified  7
         412 Precondition Failed  7

Authors' Addresses

   Roy T. Fielding (editor)
   Day Software
   23 Corporate Plaza DR, Suite 280
   Newport Beach, CA  92660
   USA

   Phone: +1-949-706-5300
   Fax:   +1-949-706-5305
   EMail: fielding@gbiv.com
   URI:   http://roy.gbiv.com/


   Jim Gettys
   Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs
   21 Oak Knoll Road
   Carlisle, MA  01741
   USA

   EMail: jg@freedesktop.org
   URI:   http://gettys.wordpress.com/












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   Jeffrey C. Mogul
   Hewlett-Packard Company
   HP Labs, Large Scale Systems Group
   1501 Page Mill Road, MS 1177
   Palo Alto, CA  94304
   USA

   EMail: JeffMogul@acm.org


   Henrik Frystyk Nielsen
   Microsoft Corporation
   1 Microsoft Way
   Redmond, WA  98052
   USA

   EMail: henrikn@microsoft.com


   Larry Masinter
   Adobe Systems, Incorporated
   345 Park Ave
   San Jose, CA  95110
   USA

   EMail: LMM@acm.org
   URI:   http://larry.masinter.net/


   Paul J. Leach
   Microsoft Corporation
   1 Microsoft Way
   Redmond, WA  98052

   EMail: paulle@microsoft.com


   Tim Berners-Lee
   World Wide Web Consortium
   MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
   The Stata Center, Building 32
   32 Vassar Street
   Cambridge, MA  02139
   USA

   EMail: timbl@w3.org
   URI:   http://www.w3.org/People/Berners-Lee/




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   Yves Lafon (editor)
   World Wide Web Consortium
   W3C / ERCIM
   2004, rte des Lucioles
   Sophia-Antipolis, AM  06902
   France

   EMail: ylafon@w3.org
   URI:   http://www.raubacapeu.net/people/yves/


   Julian F. Reschke (editor)
   greenbytes GmbH
   Hafenweg 16
   Muenster, NW  48155
   Germany

   Phone: +49 251 2807760
   Fax:   +49 251 2807761
   EMail: julian.reschke@greenbytes.de
   URI:   http://greenbytes.de/tech/webdav/






























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