Are Your CGIs Ready For HTTP 1.1 CONTENT_TYPE?

Friday July 30th, 1999

Eric Krock of Netscape has a second piece of news to pass along:

"The HTTP 1.0 CONTENT_TYPE line looked like this:

Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded

The HTTP 1.1 CONTENT_TYPE line looks like this:

Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded; charset=ISO-8859-1

In the interest of being standards-compliant and supporting multiple languages, Navigator 5 will support this feature of HTTP 1.1. Improperly designed CGI scripts that aren't forward-compatible with this change to the HTTP protocol will need to be fixed to support HTTP 1.1. Make sure your CGI scripts are ready for the HTTP 1.1 CONTENT_TYPE header. Read this new View Source article to find out how!"

#1 Of Charsets and Things

by Anon

Friday July 30th, 1999 10:19 AM

I hope no-one misreads the story and presumes the presence of "charset=ISO-8859-1" specifically. I think Krock means to indicate that a charset will be present; it may or may not be ISO 8859-1.

#2 Charsets of Query Strings

by KlausM

Friday July 30th, 1999 2:25 PM

It's not quite the same, but similar. Recently I've heard that IE supports UTF8 in query strings. Up to now I had no time to seek thru the RFCs for a corresponding standard. Will Mozilla support Unicode strings (e.g. from text boxes) in query strings?


#7 Charsets of Query Strings

by Anon

Sunday August 1st, 1999 3:52 AM

I once messed around with IE4 beta and read a bit about UTF-8 in URLs (not just the query string). This is what I've learned:

The problem is, that UTF-8 is incompatible with the old encoding wich said convert everything (8bit) to %xx (not regarding the charset!). For 7bit chars this is ok, and old style and new style encoding are jsut the same. This is of course not true for "real" 8bit chars or unicode chars. Eg. every umlaut of latin1 becomes a two byte char in UTF-8.

The suggested way to handle this problem, was to let the server check if the URL is valid UTF-8 (can be done, semi-heuristically) and then check the local filesystem for the resource being UTF-8 encoding and, if it was not found, being encoded in the old style.

So, much for new standards and backward compatibility.

Masi (

#13 Standards

by KlausM

Friday August 6th, 1999 5:49 AM

To all who are interested in: in the meantime I found a draft (via w3c) for Unicode in URLs (and therefore also in query strings):

So since w3c doesn't list any standards regarding this, Microsoft again makes its own standards...


#3 "looks like" != ==

by Anon

Friday July 30th, 1999 3:37 PM

Anon is correct. I was giving an example of charset=ISO-8859-1, rather than implying that value is hardcoded. I think people will get the idea. If I get lots of flame mail about Netscape imposing ISO-8859-1 on the entire world, I guess I'll know otherwise ... ;->


#4 ironic

by sdm

Saturday July 31st, 1999 10:59 AM

This is ironic. Mozilla doesn't handle charsets in Content-type correctly. Going to in the latest build doesn't work, b/c it says: Unknown File Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1

bugzilla, here I come...

#5 Apache help?

by bradfitz

Sunday August 1st, 1999 1:52 AM

Can apache help out and tack on a default charset for us? I mean, will Mozilla completely get pissed off if one is absent?

#6 Backward Compatibility

by Tanyel

Sunday August 1st, 1999 2:14 AM

Wouldn't it be bad for Netscape to crash on all the CGI scripts it used to handle just fine?

#8 Re: Backward Compatibility

by Anon

Sunday August 1st, 1999 6:21 AM

Actually, no. You see, badly written CGIs have been a major problem (can you say ?something&param1&param2) for quite some time. If we're going to go standard-compliant, we will have to take the chance of "breaking" badly designed code in some areas. And Mozilla won't exactly "crash on all the CGI scripts it used to handle just fine". It will crash some badly written CGIs which can't handle the W3C standard, I think.


by Anon

Monday August 2nd, 1999 9:47 AM

Remember the old script? Anyone who still uses them will need to tweak their copy to work with HTTP/1.1. I came accross this earlier when playing around with mozilla and some CGI scripts.


#10 badly written scripts??

by kidzi

Tuesday August 3rd, 1999 4:14 PM

when you say script?param&param&param.. is that the wrong whereas script?name=param&name=param&... etc would be considered OK?? I use the get often for scripts because it is bookmarkable.. i've never used this content stuff you'r talking about, and i've been working wiht scripts for almost 3 years now :P .. i have used content-type: text/html... and a few other mime's, but that's the general structure!! HELP!!!

#11 Are Your CGIs Ready For HTTP 1.1 CONTENT_TYPE?

by Anon

Wednesday August 4th, 1999 10:03 PM

Just wanted to emphasize: Mozilla is going to send along the chosen enconding and *only* CGI scripts which check the HTTP Content-Type they *got* will get broken. In my experience, that are not so many.

#12 Are Your CGIs Ready For HTTP 1.1 CONTENT_TYPE?

by Anon

Wednesday August 4th, 1999 10:05 PM

Sorry. A little addition: Of course, only CGI-Scripts which do not expect the charset part will be broken.

#14 attn kidzi

by Anon

Monday August 16th, 1999 9:30 AM

?foo&foo is incorrrect because the & needs to be escaped out. ?foo&foo is correct.