Re: default return is "text/html"?

David Nessl (
Mon, 18 Jul 1994 17:32:14 +0200

On Thu, 14 Jul 1994, Larry Masinter wrote:
> Possible resolutions are:
> a) this is illegal. HTTP server should always include
> Content-type.
> b) Clients should guess, based on the suffix of the URL, as if
> this were a ftp or file URL.
> c) Clients should have a configuration default, and rely on that.
> d) The default should be text/plain.
> e) The default should be text/html.

For the WWW client I wrote for VM, I chose:

f) If it contains control chars (in the range 0x00-0x1f and
0x80-0x9f except for CR+LF+FF+HT) it must be binary; else
if the upcase of the file suffix is HTM or HTML or if the file
contains (upcased) tags such as <HTML> or <HEAD> or <TITLE> or
<PRE> then it must be HTML. Otherwise it must be plaintext.
I also use this same rule to handle documents retrieved via ftp,
gopher, etc.

I claim this method follows the "rule of least surprise".