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By default, message header parameters in Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) messages can not carry characters outside the ISO-8859-1 character set. RFC 2231 defines an escaping mechanism for use in Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) headers. This document specifies a profile of that encoding suitable for use in HTTP.
There are multiple HTTP headers that already use RFC 2231 encoding in practice (Content-Disposition) or might use it in the future (Link). The purpose of this document is to provide a single place where the generic aspects of RFC 2231 encoding in HTTP headers are defined.
Distribution of this document is unlimited. Although this is not a work item of the HTTPbis Working Group, comments should be sent to the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) mailing list at email@example.com, which may be joined by sending a message with subject "subscribe" to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Discussions of the HTTPbis Working Group are archived at <http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/ietf-http-wg/>.
XML versions, latest edits and the issues list for this document are available from <http://greenbytes.de/tech/webdav/#draft-reschke-rfc2231-in-http>. A collection of test cases is available at <http://greenbytes.de/tech/tc2231/>.
|I edit (type: edit, status: open)|
|email@example.com||2009-04-17||Umbrella issue for editorial fixes/enhancements.|
|Associated changes in this document: A.1, A.|
This specification uses the ABNF (Augmented Backus-Naur Form) notation defined in [RFC5234]. The following core rules are included by reference, as defined in [RFC5234], Appendix B.1: ALPHA (letters), DIGIT (decimal 0-9), HEXDIG (hexadecimal 0-9/A-F/a-f) and LWSP (linear white space).¶
RFC 2231 defines several extensions to MIME. The sections below discuss if and how they apply to HTTP.¶
In short: ¶
Thus in HTTP, senders MUST NOT use parameter continuations, and therefore recipients do not need to support them.¶
Section 4 of [RFC2231] specifies how to embed language information into parameter values, and also how to encode non-ASCII characters, dealing with restrictions both in MIME and HTTP header parameters.¶
However, RFC 2231 does not specify a mandatory-to-implement character set, making it hard for senders to decide which character set to use. Thus, recipients implementing this specification MUST support the character sets "ISO-8859-1" [ISO-8859-1] and "UTF-8" [RFC3629].¶
Furthermore, RFC 2231 allows leaving out the character set information. The profile defined by this specification does not allow that.¶
parameter = attribute LWSP "=" LWSP value
attribute = token value = token / quoted-string quoted-string = <quoted-string, defined in [RFC2616], Section 2.2> token = <token, defined in [RFC2616], Section 2.2>
This specification extends the grammar to:¶
parameter = reg-parameter / ext-parameter reg-parameter = attribute LWSP "=" LWSP value ext-parameter = attribute "*" LWSP "=" LWSP ext-value ext-value = charset "'" [ language ] "'" value-chars ; extended-initial-value, ; defined in [RFC2231], Section 7 charset = "UTF-8" / "ISO-8859-1" / ↓
ext-charset ext-charset = token ; see IANA charset registry ; (<http://www.iana.org/assignments/character-sets>)language = <Language-Tag, defined in [RFC5646], Section 2.1> value-chars = *( pct-encoded / attr-char ) pct-encoded = "%" HEXDIG HEXDIG ; see [RFC3986], Section 2.1 attr-char = ALPHA / DIGIT / "-" / "." / "_" / "~" / ":" / "!" / "$" / "&" / "+"
|I tokenquotcharset (type: change, status: closed)|
|firstname.lastname@example.org||2009-10-05||token can contain single quotes. ABNF is ambiguous for charset in ext-value.|
|email@example.com||2009-10-06||(points out that Section 2.3 of RFC 2978 doesn't allow the single quote) - <http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/ietf-http-wg/2009OctDec/0014.html>.|
|Associated changes in this document: 3.2, 3.2, 7.|
Extended parameters are those where the left hand side of the assignment ends with an asterisk character.¶
The value part of an extended parameter (ext-value) is a token that consists of three parts: the REQUIRED character set name (charset), the OPTIONAL language information (language), and a character sequence representing the actual value (value-chars), separated by single quote characters. Note that both character set names and language tags are restricted to the US-ASCII character set, and are matched case-insensitively (see [RFC2978], Section 2.3 and [RFC5646], Section 2.1.1).¶
Inside the value part, characters not contained in attr-char are encoded into an octet sequence using the specified character set. That octet sequence then is percent-encoded as specified in Section 2.1 of [RFC3986].¶
|I badseq (type: edit, status: closed)|
|firstname.lastname@example.org||2009-10-06||Mention recipient handling for broken encoded sequences.|
|Associated changes in this document: 3.2.|
Non-extended notation, using "token":
foo: bar; title=Economy
Non-extended notation, using "quoted-string":
foo: bar; title="US-$ rates"
Extended notation, using the unicode character U+00A3 (POUND SIGN):
foo: bar; title*=iso-8859-1'en'%A3%20rates
Note: the Unicode pound sign character U+00A3 was encoded using ISO-8859-1 into the single octet A3, then percent-encoded. Also note that the space character was encoded as %20, as it is not contained in attr-char.
Extended notation, using the unicode characters U+00A3 (POUND SIGN) and U+20AC (EURO SIGN):
foo: bar; title*=UTF-8''%c2%a3%20and%20%e2%82%ac%20rates
Note: the unicode pound sign character U+00A3 was encoded using UTF-8 into the octet sequence C2 A3, then percent-encoded. Likewise, the unicode euro sign character U+20AC was encoded into the octet sequence E2 82 AC, then percent-encoded. Also note that HEXDIG allows both lower-case and upper-case character, so recipients must understand both, and that the language information is optional, while the character set is not.
Section 5 of [RFC2231] extends the encoding defined in [RFC2047] to also support language specification in encoded words. Although the HTTP/1.1 specification does refer to RFC 2047 ([RFC2616], Section 2.2), it's not clear to which header field exactly it applies, and whether it is implemented in practice (see <http://tools.ietf.org/wg/httpbis/trac/ticket/111> for details).¶
Thus, the RFC 2231 profile defined by this specification does not include this feature.¶
Specifications of HTTP headers that use the extensions defined in Section 3.2 should clearly state that. A simple way to achieve this is to normatively reference this specification, and to include the ext-value production into the ABNF for that header.¶
foo-header = "foo" LWSP ":" LWSP token ";" LWSP title-param title-param = "title" LWSP "=" LWSP value / "title*" LWSP "=" LWSP ext-value ext-value = <see RFCxxxx, Section 3.2>
Section 4.2 of [RFC2277] requires that protocol elements containing text can carry language information. Thus, the ext-value production should always be used when the parameter value is of textual nature.¶
Header specifications that include parameters should also specify whether same-named parameters can occur multiple times. If repetitions are not allowed (and this is believed to be the common case), the specification should state whether regular or the extended syntax takes precedence. In the latter case, this could be used by producers to use both formats without breaking recipients that do not understand the syntax.¶
foo: bar; title="EURO exchange rates"; title*=utf-8''%e2%82%ac%20exchange%20rates
In this case, the sender provides an ASCII version of the title for legacy recipients, but also includes an internationalized version for recipients understanding this specification -- the latter obviously should prefer the new syntax over the old one.
It is expected that in many cases, internationalization of parameters in response headers is implemented using server driven content negotiation ([RFC2616], Section 12.1) using the Accept-Language header ([RFC2616], Section 14.4). However, the format described in this specification also allows to use multiple instances providing multiple languages in a single header. Specifications that want to take advantage of this should clearly specify the expected processing by the recipient.¶
foo: bar; title*=utf-8'en'Document%20Title; title*=utf-8'de'Titel%20des%20Dokuments
This document does not discuss security issues and is not believed to raise any security issues not already endemic in HTTP.¶
There are no IANA Considerations related to this specification.¶
Use RFC5234-style ABNF, closer to the one used in RFC 2231.¶
Explain the ABNF in prose.¶
Remove unneeded RFC5137 notation (code point vs character).¶
And and resolve issues "charset", "repeats" and "rfc4646".¶
And and resolve issue "charsetmatch".¶