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Versions: 00 01 02 03 04 05 RFC 5785

Network Working Group                                      M. Nottingham
Internet-Draft                                           E. Hammer-Lahav
Intended status: Informational                          October 16, 2008
Expires: April 19, 2009



                     draft-nottingham-site-meta-00

Status of this Memo

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Abstract

   This memo describes a method for locating site-wide metadata for Web
   sites.













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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   2.  Notational Conventions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   3.  the site-meta File Format  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
     3.1.  Site Metadata Entries  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
   4.  Discovering site-meta Files  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
   5.  Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
   6.  IANA Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
     6.1.  application/site-meta+xml media type registration  . . . .  5
   7.  References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
     7.1.  Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
     7.2.  Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
   Appendix A.  Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
   Appendix B.  Frequently Asked Questions  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
     B.1.  Is this mechanism appropriate for all kinds of
           metadata?  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
     B.2.  Why not use OPTIONS * with content negotiation to
           discover different types of metadata directly? . . . . . .  7
     B.3.  Why not use a META tag or microformat in the root
           resource?  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
     B.4.  Why not use response headers on the root resource, and
           have clients use HEAD? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
     B.5.  Why scope metadata to be site-wide?  . . . . . . . . . . .  8
     B.6.  Why /site-meta?  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
     B.7.  Aren't you concerned about pre-empting an authority's
           URI namespace? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
     B.8.  Why use link relations instead of media types to
           identify kinds of metadata?  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
     B.9.  What impact does this have on existing mechanisms,
           such as P3P and robots.txt?  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
     B.10. Why not (insert existing similar mechanism here)?  . . . .  8
   Authors' Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
   Intellectual Property and Copyright Statements . . . . . . . . . . 10

















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1.  Introduction

   It is increasingly common for Web-based protocols to require the
   discovery of policy or metadata about a site before communicating
   with it.  For example, the Robots Exclusion Protocol specifies a way
   for automated processes to obtain permission to access resources;
   likewise, the Platform for Privacy Preferences [W3C.REC-P3P-20020416]
   tells user-agents how to discover privacy policy beforehand.

   While there are several ways to access per-resource metadata (e.g.,
   HTTP headers, WebDAV's PROPFIND [RFC4918]), the overhead associated
   with them often precludes their use in these scenarios.

   When this happens, it is common to designate a "well-known location"
   for site metadata, so that it can be easily located.  However, this
   approach has the drawback of risking collisions, both with other such
   designated "well-known locations" and with pre-existing resources.

   To address this, this memo proposes a single (and hopefully last)
   "well-known location", /site-meta, which acts as a directory to the
   interesting metadata about that site.  Future mechanisms that require
   site-wide metadata can easily include an entry in the site-meta
   directory, thereby making their metadata cheaply available (indeed,
   because the site directory can be cached, the more mechanisms that
   use it, the more efficient it becomes) without impinging on sites'
   URI space.

   The directory format allows different types of site metadata to be
   referenced by URI or included inline.

   Please discuss this draft on the www-talk@w3.org [1] mailing list.


2.  Notational Conventions

   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 RFC 2119 [RFC2119].


3.  the site-meta File Format

   The site-meta file format is an extremely simple XML-based language
   [W3C.REC-xml] that allows an authority (in the URI sense) to indicate
   where metadata about its resources is located.

   The root element is the "metadata" element, which may contain any
   number of "meta" elements.



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  <metadata>
    <meta href="/robots.txt" rel="robots"/>
    <meta rel="privacy" type="application/p3p.xml" href="/w3c/p3p.xml"/>
    <meta type="application/example+xml" rel="http://example.com/rel"
          href="http://other.example.net/example">
      <example-root xmlns="http://www.example.com">
        <!-- some metadata here -->
      </example-root>
    </meta>
    <meta type="text/example">
  foo = bar
  baz = bat
  </meta>
  </metadata>

   Unrecognised elements and attributes SHOULD be silently ignored when
   parsing the format, unless specified otherwise.  Likewise, unless
   otherwise specified ordering of sibling elements SHOULD be ignored.

3.1.  Site Metadata Entries

   Each "meta" element represents a kind of site metadata that is
   available.  It MUST have a "rel" attribute containing a link relation
   [ref TBD].  It SHOULD have a "type" attribute whose content MUST be
   an internet media type [RFC4288], hinting its format.

   The actual metadata content may be inlined as the content of the
   "meta" element, and/or referred to using the "href" attribute.  The
   metadata MUST be made available by at least one of these methods.

   If the "href" attribute is present, its content MUST be a URI-
   Reference [RFC3986] that locates the metadata.  Relative URIs MUST be
   evaluated with the site root URI as the base URI.

   If the metadata content is included inline, it MUST appear as a child
   of the "meta" element.  If the metadata format is XML-based, the root
   element of the metadata will thus be the first (and only) child
   element of the "meta" element.  If the metadata format is textual, it
   will be the text content of the "meta" element (appropriately
   escaped, with CDATA section(s) and/or entities).

   the "meta" element MUST NOT contain any children other than inlined
   metadata content.


4.  Discovering site-meta Files

   The site-wide metadata for a given authority can be discovered by



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   dereferencing the path /site-meta.  For example, in HTTP the
   following request would obtain site metadata for the authority
   "www.example.com";

       GET /site-meta HTTP/1.1
       Host: www.example.com

   If the resource is not available or existent (in HTTP, the 404 or 410
   status code), the client SHOULD infer that site metadata is not
   available via this mechanism.  If a representation is successfully
   obtained, but is not in the format described above, clients SHOULD
   infer that the site is using this URI for other purposes, and not
   process it as a site-meta file.

   To aid in this process, sites using this mechanism SHOULD correctly
   label site-meta responses with the "application/site-meta+xml"
   internet media type.


5.  Security Considerations


6.  IANA Considerations

6.1.  application/site-meta+xml media type registration

   The site-meta format, when serialized as XML 1.0, can be identified
   with the following media type:

   MIME media type name:  application
   MIME subtype name:  site-meta+xml
   Mandatory parameters:  None.
   Optional parameters:
      "charset":  This parameter has identical semantics to the charset
         parameter of the "application/xml" media type as specified in
         RFC 3023 [RFC3023].  [RFC3023].
   Encoding considerations:  Identical to those of "application/xml" as
      described in RFC 3023 [RFC3023], section 3.2.
   Security considerations:  As defined in this specification. [[update
      upon publication]]
      In addition, as this media type uses the "+xml" convention, it
      shares the same security considerations as described in RFC 3023
      [RFC3023], section 10.
   Interoperability considerations:  There are no known interoperability
      issues.






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   Published specification:  This specification. [[update upon
      publication]]
   Applications which use this media type:  No known applications
      currently use this media type.

   Additional information:

   Magic number(s):  As specified for "application/xml" in RFC 3023
      [RFC3023], section 3.2.
   File extension:  None
   Fragment identifiers:  As specified for "application/xml" in RFC 3023
      [RFC3023], section 5.
   Base URI:  As specified in RFC 3023 [RFC3023], section 6.
   Macintosh File Type code:  TEXT
   Person and email address to contact for further information:  Mark
      Nottingham <mnot@pobox.com>
   Intended usage:  COMMON
   Author/Change controller:  This specification's author(s). [[update
      upon publication]]


7.  References

7.1.  Normative References

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

   [RFC3023]  Murata, M., St. Laurent, S., and D. Kohn, "XML Media
              Types", RFC 3023, January 2001.

   [RFC3986]  Berners-Lee, T., Fielding, R., and L. Masinter, "Uniform
              Resource Identifier (URI): Generic Syntax", STD 66,
              RFC 3986, January 2005.

   [RFC4288]  Freed, N. and J. Klensin, "Media Type Specifications and
              Registration Procedures", BCP 13, RFC 4288, December 2005.

   [W3C.REC-xml]
              Bray, T., Paoli, J., Sperberg-McQueen, C., and E. Maler,
              "Extensible Markup Language (XML) 1.0 (2nd ed)", W3C REC-
              xml, October 2000, <http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-xml>.

7.2.  Informative References

   [RFC4918]  Dusseault, L., "HTTP Extensions for Web Distributed
              Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV)", RFC 4918, June 2007.




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   [W3C.REC-P3P-20020416]
              Marchiori, M., "The Platform for Privacy Preferences 1.0
              (P3P1.0) Specification", W3C REC REC-P3P-20020416,
              April 2002.

URIs

   [1]  <http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-talk/>


Appendix A.  Acknowledgements

   The authors take all responsibility for errors and omissions.


Appendix B.  Frequently Asked Questions

B.1.  Is this mechanism appropriate for all kinds of metadata?

   No.  The primary use cases are described in the introduction; when
   it's necessary to discover metadata or policy before a resource is
   accessed, and/or it's necessary to describe metadata for a whole site
   (or large portions of it), site-meta is appropriate.  In other cases
   (e.g., fine-grained metadata that doesn't need to be known ahead of
   time), other mechanisms are more appropriate.

B.2.  Why not use OPTIONS * with content negotiation to discover
      different types of metadata directly?

   Two reasons; a) OPTIONS is not cacheable -- a severe problem for
   scaling -- and b) it is not well-supported in browsers, and difficult
   to configure in servers.

B.3.  Why not use a META tag or microformat in the root resource?

   This places constraints on the format of a site's root resource to be
   HTML or similar.  While extremely common, it isn't universal (e.g.,
   mobile sites, machine-to-machine communication, etc.).  Also, some
   root resources are very large, which would place additional overhead
   on clients and intervening networks.

B.4.  Why not use response headers on the root resource, and have
      clients use HEAD?

   This is attractive, in that you could either put metadata directly in
   response headers, or you could refer to a resource in a similar
   manner to site-meta.  However, it requires an extra round-trip for
   metadata discovery, which is unacceptable in some scenarios.



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B.5.  Why scope metadata to be site-wide?

   The alternative is to allow scoping to be dynamic and determined
   locally, but this has its own issues, which usually come down to a)
   an unreasonable number of requests to determine authoritative
   metadata, b) increased complexity, with a higher likelihood of
   implementation and interoperability (or even security) problems.
   Besides, many mechanisms on the Web already presume a site scope
   (e.g., robots.txt, P3P, cookies, javascript security), and the effort
   and cost required to mint a new URI authority is small and shrinking.

B.6.  Why /site-meta?

   It's short, descriptive and according to search indices, not widely
   used.

B.7.  Aren't you concerned about pre-empting an authority's URI
      namespace?

   Yes, but it's unfortunately a necessary (and already present) evil;
   this proposal tries to minimise future abuses.

B.8.  Why use link relations instead of media types to identify kinds of
      metadata?

   A link relation declares the intent and use of the link (or inline
   content, when present); a media type defines the format and
   processing model for those bits.

B.9.  What impact does this have on existing mechanisms, such as P3P and
      robots.txt?

   None, until they choose to use this mechanism.

B.10.  Why not (insert existing similar mechanism here)?

   We are aware that there are several existing proposals with similar
   functionality.  In our estimation, none have gained sufficient
   traction.  This may be because they were perceived to be too complex,
   or tied too closely to one use case.











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Authors' Addresses

   Mark Nottingham

   Email: mnot@pobox.com
   URI:   http://www.mnot.net/


   Eran Hammer-Lahav

   Email: eran@hueniverse.com
   URI:   http://www.hueniverse.com/







































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