3.3 Date/Time Formats
3.3.1 Full Date
HTTP applications have historically allowed three different formats
for the representation of date/time stamps:
Sun, 06 Nov 1994 08:49:37 GMT ; RFC 822, updated by RFC 1123
Sunday, 06-Nov-94 08:49:37 GMT ; RFC 850, obsoleted by RFC 1036
Sun Nov 6 08:49:37 1994 ; ANSI C's asctime() format
The first format is preferred as an Internet standard and represents
a fixed-length subset of that defined by RFC 1123 (an update to RFC
822). The second format is in common use, but is based on the
obsolete RFC 850  date format and lacks a four-digit year.
HTTP/1.1 clients and servers that parse the date value MUST accept
all three formats (for compatibility with HTTP/1.0), though they MUST
only generate the RFC 1123 format for representing HTTP-date values
in header fields.
Note: Recipients of date values are encouraged to be robust in
accepting date values that may have been sent by non-HTTP
applications, as is sometimes the case when retrieving or posting
messages via proxies/gateways to SMTP or NNTP.
All HTTP date/time stamps MUST be represented in Greenwich Mean Time
(GMT), without exception. This is indicated in the first two formats
by the inclusion of "GMT" as the three-letter abbreviation for time
zone, and MUST be assumed when reading the asctime format.
HTTP-date = rfc1123-date | rfc850-date | asctime-date
rfc1123-date = wkday "," SP date1 SP time SP "GMT"
rfc850-date = weekday "," SP date2 SP time SP "GMT"
asctime-date = wkday SP date3 SP time SP 4DIGIT
date1 = 2DIGIT SP month SP 4DIGIT
; day month year (e.g., 02 Jun 1982)
date2 = 2DIGIT "-" month "-" 2DIGIT
; day-month-year (e.g., 02-Jun-82)
date3 = month SP ( 2DIGIT | ( SP 1DIGIT ))
; month day (e.g., Jun 2)
time = 2DIGIT ":" 2DIGIT ":" 2DIGIT
; 00:00:00 - 23:59:59
wkday = "Mon" | "Tue" | "Wed"
| "Thu" | "Fri" | "Sat" | "Sun"
weekday = "Monday" | "Tuesday" | "Wednesday"
| "Thursday" | "Friday" | "Saturday" | "Sunday"
month = "Jan" | "Feb" | "Mar" | "Apr"
| "May" | "Jun" | "Jul" | "Aug"
| "Sep" | "Oct" | "Nov" | "Dec"
Note: HTTP requirements for the date/time stamp format apply only
to their usage within the protocol stream. Clients and servers are
not required to use these formats for user presentation, request
3.3.2 Delta Seconds
Some HTTP header fields allow a time value to be specified as an
integer number of seconds, represented in decimal, after the time
that the message was received.
delta-seconds = 1*DIGIT
3.4 Character Sets
HTTP uses the same definition of the term "character set" as that
described for MIME:
The term "character set" is used in this document to refer to a
method used with one or more tables to convert a sequence of octets
into a sequence of characters. Note that unconditional conversion
in the other direction is not required, in that not all characters
may be available in a given character set and a character set may
provide more than one sequence of octets to represent a particular
character. This definition is intended to allow various kinds of
character encodings, from simple single-table mappings such as US-
ASCII to complex table switching methods such as those that use ISO
2022's techniques. However, the definition associated with a MIME
character set name MUST fully specify the mapping to be performed
from octets to characters. In particular, use of external profiling
information to determine the exact mapping is not permitted.
Note: This use of the term "character set" is more commonly
referred to as a "character encoding." However, since HTTP and MIME
share the same registry, it is important that the terminology also
HTTP character sets are identified by case-insensitive tokens. The
complete set of tokens is defined by the IANA Character Set registry
charset = token
Although HTTP allows an arbitrary token to be used as a charset
value, any token that has a predefined value within the IANA
Character Set registry MUST represent the character set defined by
that registry. Applications SHOULD limit their use of character sets
to those defined by the IANA registry.
3.5 Content Codings
Content coding values indicate an encoding transformation that has
been or can be applied to an entity. Content codings are primarily
used to allow a document to be compressed or otherwise usefully
transformed without losing the identity of its underlying media type
and without loss of information. Frequently, the entity is stored in
coded form, transmitted directly, and only decoded by the recipient.
content-coding = token
All content-coding values are case-insensitive. HTTP/1.1 uses
content-coding values in the Accept-Encoding (section 14.3) and
Content-Encoding (section 14.12) header fields. Although the value
describes the content-coding, what is more important is that it
indicates what decoding mechanism will be required to remove the
The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) acts as a registry for
content-coding value tokens. Initially, the registry contains the
gzip An encoding format produced by the file compression program "gzip"
(GNU zip) as described in RFC 1952 . This format is a Lempel-
Ziv coding (LZ77) with a 32 bit CRC.
The encoding format produced by the common UNIX file compression
program "compress". This format is an adaptive Lempel-Ziv-Welch
Note: Use of program names for the identification of encoding
formats is not desirable and should be discouraged for future
encodings. Their use here is representative of historical practice,
not good design. For compatibility with previous implementations of
HTTP, applications should consider "x-gzip" and "x-compress" to be
equivalent to "gzip" and "compress" respectively.
deflate The "zlib" format defined in RFC 1950 in combination with
the "deflate" compression mechanism described in RFC 1951.
New content-coding value tokens should be registered; to allow
interoperability between clients and servers, specifications of the
content coding algorithms needed to implement a new value should be
publicly available and adequate for independent implementation, and
conform to the purpose of content coding defined in this section.
3.6 Transfer Codings
Transfer coding values are used to indicate an encoding
transformation that has been, can be, or may need to be applied to an
entity-body in order to ensure "safe transport" through the network.
This differs from a content coding in that the transfer coding is a
property of the message, not of the original entity.
transfer-coding = "chunked" | transfer-extension
transfer-extension = token
All transfer-coding values are case-insensitive. HTTP/1.1 uses
transfer coding values in the Transfer-Encoding header field (section
Transfer codings are analogous to the Content-Transfer-Encoding
values of MIME , which were designed to enable safe transport of
binary data over a 7-bit transport service. However, safe transport
has a different focus for an 8bit-clean transfer protocol. In HTTP,
the only unsafe characteristic of message-bodies is the difficulty in
determining the exact body length (section 7.2.2), or the desire to
encrypt data over a shared transport.
The chunked encoding modifies the body of a message in order to
transfer it as a series of chunks, each with its own size indicator,
followed by an optional footer containing entity-header fields. This
allows dynamically-produced content to be transferred along with the
information necessary for the recipient to verify that it has
received the full message.
Chunked-Body = *chunk
chunk = chunk-size [ chunk-ext ] CRLF
hex-no-zero = <HEX excluding "0">
chunk-size = hex-no-zero *HEX
chunk-ext = *( ";" chunk-ext-name [ "=" chunk-ext-value ] )
chunk-ext-name = token
chunk-ext-val = token | quoted-string
chunk-data = chunk-size(OCTET)
footer = *entity-header
The chunked encoding is ended by a zero-sized chunk followed by the
footer, which is terminated by an empty line. The purpose of the
footer is to provide an efficient way to supply information about an
entity that is generated dynamically; applications MUST NOT send
header fields in the footer which are not explicitly defined as being
appropriate for the footer, such as Content-MD5 or future extensions
to HTTP for digital signatures or other facilities.
An example process for decoding a Chunked-Body is presented in
All HTTP/1.1 applications MUST be able to receive and decode the
"chunked" transfer coding, and MUST ignore transfer coding extensions
they do not understand. A server which receives an entity-body with a
transfer-coding it does not understand SHOULD return 501
(Unimplemented), and close the connection. A server MUST NOT send
transfer-codings to an HTTP/1.0 client.
3.7 Media Types
HTTP uses Internet Media Types in the Content-Type (section 14.18)
and Accept (section 14.1) header fields in order to provide open and
extensible data typing and type negotiation.
media-type = type "/" subtype *( ";" parameter )
type = token
subtype = token
Parameters may follow the type/subtype in the form of attribute/value
parameter = attribute "=" value
attribute = token
value = token | quoted-string
The type, subtype, and parameter attribute names are case-
insensitive. Parameter values may or may not be case-sensitive,
depending on the semantics of the parameter name. Linear white space
(LWS) MUST NOT be used between the type and subtype, nor between an
attribute and its value. User agents that recognize the media-type
MUST process (or arrange to be processed by any external applications
used to process that type/subtype by the user agent) the parameters
for that MIME type as described by that type/subtype definition to
the and inform the user of any problems discovered.
Note: some older HTTP applications do not recognize media type
parameters. When sending data to older HTTP applications,
implementations should only use media type parameters when they are
required by that type/subtype definition.
Media-type values are registered with the Internet Assigned Number
Authority (IANA). The media type registration process is outlined in
RFC 2048 . Use of non-registered media types is discouraged.
3.7.1 Canonicalization and Text Defaults
Internet media types are registered with a canonical form. In
general, an entity-body transferred via HTTP messages MUST be
represented in the appropriate canonical form prior to its
transmission; the exception is "text" types, as defined in the next
When in canonical form, media subtypes of the "text" type use CRLF as
the text line break. HTTP relaxes this requirement and allows the
transport of text media with plain CR or LF alone representing a line
break when it is done consistently for an entire entity-body. HTTP
applications MUST accept CRLF, bare CR, and bare LF as being
representative of a line break in text media received via HTTP. In
addition, if the text is represented in a character set that does not
use octets 13 and 10 for CR and LF respectively, as is the case for
some multi-byte character sets, HTTP allows the use of whatever octet
sequences are defined by that character set to represent the
equivalent of CR and LF for line breaks. This flexibility regarding
line breaks applies only to text media in the entity-body; a bare CR
or LF MUST NOT be substituted for CRLF within any of the HTTP control
structures (such as header fields and multipart boundaries).
If an entity-body is encoded with a Content-Encoding, the underlying
data MUST be in a form defined above prior to being encoded.
The "charset" parameter is used with some media types to define the
character set (section 3.4) of the data. When no explicit charset
parameter is provided by the sender, media subtypes of the "text"
type are defined to have a default charset value of "ISO-8859-1" when
received via HTTP. Data in character sets other than "ISO-8859-1" or
its subsets MUST be labeled with an appropriate charset value.
Some HTTP/1.0 software has interpreted a Content-Type header without
charset parameter incorrectly to mean "recipient should guess."
Senders wishing to defeat this behavior MAY include a charset
parameter even when the charset is ISO-8859-1 and SHOULD do so when
it is known that it will not confuse the recipient.
Unfortunately, some older HTTP/1.0 clients did not deal properly with
an explicit charset parameter. HTTP/1.1 recipients MUST respect the
charset label provided by the sender; and those user agents that have
a provision to "guess" a charset MUST use the charset from the
content-type field if they support that charset, rather than the
recipient's preference, when initially displaying a document.
3.7.2 Multipart Types
MIME provides for a number of "multipart" types -- encapsulations of
one or more entities within a single message-body. All multipart
types share a common syntax, as defined in MIME , and MUST
include a boundary parameter as part of the media type value. The
message body is itself a protocol element and MUST therefore use only
CRLF to represent line breaks between body-parts. Unlike in MIME, the
epilogue of any multipart message MUST be empty; HTTP applications
MUST NOT transmit the epilogue (even if the original multipart
contains an epilogue).
In HTTP, multipart body-parts MAY contain header fields which are
significant to the meaning of that part. A Content-Location header
field (section 14.15) SHOULD be included in the body-part of each
enclosed entity that can be identified by a URL.
In general, an HTTP user agent SHOULD follow the same or similar
behavior as a MIME user agent would upon receipt of a multipart type.
If an application receives an unrecognized multipart subtype, the
application MUST treat it as being equivalent to "multipart/mixed".
Note: The "multipart/form-data" type has been specifically defined
for carrying form data suitable for processing via the POST request
method, as described in RFC 1867 .
3.8 Product Tokens
Product tokens are used to allow communicating applications to
identify themselves by software name and version. Most fields using
product tokens also allow sub-products which form a significant part
of the application to be listed, separated by whitespace. By
convention, the products are listed in order of their significance
for identifying the application.
product = token ["/" product-version]
product-version = token
User-Agent: CERN-LineMode/2.15 libwww/2.17b3
Product tokens should be short and to the point -- use of them for
advertising or other non-essential information is explicitly
forbidden. Although any token character may appear in a product-
version, this token SHOULD only be used for a version identifier
(i.e., successive versions of the same product SHOULD only differ in
the product-version portion of the product value).
3.9 Quality Values
HTTP content negotiation (section 12) uses short "floating point"
numbers to indicate the relative importance ("weight") of various
negotiable parameters. A weight is normalized to a real number in the
range 0 through 1, where 0 is the minimum and 1 the maximum value.
HTTP/1.1 applications MUST NOT generate more than three digits after
the decimal point. User configuration of these values SHOULD also be
limited in this fashion.
qvalue = ( "0" [ "." 0*3DIGIT ] )
| ( "1" [ "." 0*3("0") ] )
"Quality values" is a misnomer, since these values merely represent
relative degradation in desired quality.
3.10 Language Tags
A language tag identifies a natural language spoken, written, or
otherwise conveyed by human beings for communication of information
to other human beings. Computer languages are explicitly excluded.
HTTP uses language tags within the Accept-Language and Content-
The syntax and registry of HTTP language tags is the same as that
defined by RFC 1766 . In summary, a language tag is composed of 1
or more parts: A primary language tag and a possibly empty series of
language-tag = primary-tag *( "-" subtag )
primary-tag = 1*8ALPHA
subtag = 1*8ALPHA
Whitespace is not allowed within the tag and all tags are case-
insensitive. The name space of language tags is administered by the
IANA. Example tags include:
en, en-US, en-cockney, i-cherokee, x-pig-latin
where any two-letter primary-tag is an ISO 639 language abbreviation
and any two-letter initial subtag is an ISO 3166 country code. (The
last three tags above are not registered tags; all but the last are
examples of tags which could be registered in future.)
3.11 Entity Tags
Entity tags are used for comparing two or more entities from the same
requested resource. HTTP/1.1 uses entity tags in the ETag (section
14.20), If-Match (section 14.25), If-None-Match (section 14.26), and
If-Range (section 14.27) header fields. The definition of how they
are used and compared as cache validators is in section 13.3.3. An
entity tag consists of an opaque quoted string, possibly prefixed by
a weakness indicator.
entity-tag = [ weak ] opaque-tag
weak = "W/"
opaque-tag = quoted-string
A "strong entity tag" may be shared by two entities 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 entities of a resource only if the entities 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 entities
associated with a particular resource. A given entity tag value may
be used for entities obtained by requests on different URIs without
implying anything about the equivalence of those entities.
3.12 Range Units
HTTP/1.1 allows a client to request that only part (a range of) the
response entity be included within the response. HTTP/1.1 uses range
units in the Range (section 14.36) and Content-Range (section 14.17)
header fields. An entity may be broken down into subranges according
to various structural units.
range-unit = bytes-unit | other-range-unit
bytes-unit = "bytes"
other-range-unit = token
The only range unit defined by HTTP/1.1 is "bytes". HTTP/1.1
implementations may ignore ranges specified using other units.
HTTP/1.1 has been designed to allow implementations of applications
that do not depend on knowledge of ranges.
4 HTTP Message
4.1 Message Types
HTTP messages consist of requests from client to server and responses
from server to client.
HTTP-message = Request | Response ; HTTP/1.1 messages
Request (section 5) and Response (section 6) messages use the generic
message format of RFC 822  for transferring entities (the payload
of the message). Both types of message consist of a start-line, one
or more header fields (also known as "headers"), an empty line (i.e.,
a line with nothing preceding the CRLF) indicating the end of the
header fields, and an optional message-body.
generic-message = start-line
[ message-body ]
start-line = Request-Line | Status-Line
In the interest of robustness, servers SHOULD ignore any empty
line(s) received where a Request-Line is expected. In other words, if
the server is reading the protocol stream at the beginning of a
message and receives a CRLF first, it should ignore the CRLF.
Note: certain buggy HTTP/1.0 client implementations generate an
extra CRLF's after a POST request. To restate what is explicitly
forbidden by the BNF, an HTTP/1.1 client must not preface or follow
a request with an extra CRLF.
4.2 Message Headers
HTTP header fields, which include general-header (section 4.5),
request-header (section 5.3), response-header (section 6.2), and
entity-header (section 7.1) fields, follow the same generic format as
that given in Section 3.1 of RFC 822 . Each header field consists
of a name followed by a colon (":") and the field value. Field names
are case-insensitive. The field value may be preceded by any amount
of LWS, though a single SP is preferred. Header fields can be
extended over multiple lines by preceding each extra line with at
least one SP or HT. Applications SHOULD follow "common form" when
generating HTTP constructs, since there might exist some
implementations that fail to accept anything beyond the common forms.
message-header = field-name ":" [ field-value ] CRLF
field-name = token
field-value = *( field-content | LWS )
field-content = <the OCTETs making up the field-value
and consisting of either *TEXT or combinations
of token, tspecials, and quoted-string>
The order in which header fields with differing field names are
received is not significant. However, it is "good practice" to send
general-header fields first, followed by request-header or response-
header fields, and ending with the entity-header fields.
Multiple message-header fields with the same field-name may be
present in a message if and only if the entire field-value for that
header field is defined as a comma-separated list [i.e., #(values)].
It MUST be possible to combine the multiple header fields into one
"field-name: field-value" pair, without changing the semantics of the
message, by appending each subsequent field-value to the first, each
separated by a comma. The order in which header fields with the same
field-name are received is therefore significant to the
interpretation of the combined field value, and thus a proxy MUST NOT
change the order of these field values when a message is forwarded.
4.3 Message Body
The message-body (if any) of an HTTP message is used to carry the
entity-body associated with the request or response. The message-body
differs from the entity-body only when a transfer coding has been
applied, as indicated by the Transfer-Encoding header field (section
message-body = entity-body
| <entity-body encoded as per Transfer-Encoding>
Transfer-Encoding MUST be used to indicate any transfer codings
applied by an application to ensure safe and proper transfer of the
message. Transfer-Encoding is a property of the message, not of the
entity, and thus can be added or removed by any application along the
The rules for when a message-body is allowed in a message differ for
requests and responses.
The presence of a message-body in a request is signaled by the
inclusion of a Content-Length or Transfer-Encoding header field in
the request's message-headers. A message-body MAY be included in a
request only when the request method (section 5.1.1) allows an
For response messages, whether or not a message-body is included with
a message is dependent on both the request method and the response
status code (section 6.1.1). All responses to the HEAD request method
MUST NOT include a message-body, even though the presence of entity-
header fields might lead one to believe they do. All 1xx
(informational), 204 (no content), and 304 (not modified) responses
MUST NOT include a message-body. All other responses do include a
message-body, although it may be of zero length.
4.4 Message Length
When a message-body is included with a message, the length of that
body is determined by one of the following (in order of precedence):
1. Any response message which MUST NOT include a message-body
(such as the 1xx, 204, and 304 responses and any response to a HEAD
request) is always terminated by the first empty line after the
header fields, regardless of the entity-header fields present in the
2. If a Transfer-Encoding header field (section 14.40) is present and
indicates that the "chunked" transfer coding has been applied, then
the length is defined by the chunked encoding (section 3.6).
3. If a Content-Length header field (section 14.14) is present, its
value in bytes represents the length of the message-body.
4. If the message uses the media type "multipart/byteranges", which is
self-delimiting, then that defines the length. This media type MUST
NOT be used unless the sender knows that the recipient can parse it;
the presence in a request of a Range header with multiple byte-range
specifiers implies that the client can parse multipart/byteranges
5. By the server closing the connection. (Closing the connection
cannot be used to indicate the end of a request body, since that
would leave no possibility for the server to send back a response.)
For compatibility with HTTP/1.0 applications, HTTP/1.1 requests
containing a message-body MUST include a valid Content-Length header
field unless the server is known to be HTTP/1.1 compliant. If a
request contains a message-body and a Content-Length is not given,
the server SHOULD respond with 400 (bad request) if it cannot
determine the length of the message, or with 411 (length required) if
it wishes to insist on receiving a valid Content-Length.
All HTTP/1.1 applications that receive entities MUST accept the
"chunked" transfer coding (section 3.6), thus allowing this mechanism
to be used for messages when the message length cannot be determined
Messages MUST NOT include both a Content-Length header field and the
"chunked" transfer coding. If both are received, the Content-Length
MUST be ignored.
When a Content-Length is given in a message where a message-body is
allowed, its field value MUST exactly match the number of OCTETs in
the message-body. HTTP/1.1 user agents MUST notify the user when an
invalid length is received and detected.
4.5 General Header Fields
There are a few header fields which have general applicability for
both request and response messages, but which do not apply to the
entity being transferred. These header fields apply only to the
message being transmitted.
general-header = Cache-Control ; Section 14.9
| Connection ; Section 14.10
| Date ; Section 14.19
| Pragma ; Section 14.32
| Transfer-Encoding ; Section 14.40
| Upgrade ; Section 14.41
| Via ; Section 14.44
General-header field names can be extended reliably only in
combination with a change in the protocol version. However, new or
experimental header fields may be given the semantics of general
header fields if all parties in the communication recognize them to
be general-header fields. Unrecognized header fields are treated as
A request message from a client to a server includes, within the
first line of that message, the method to be applied to the resource,
the identifier of the resource, and the protocol version in use.
Request = Request-Line ; Section 5.1
*( general-header ; Section 4.5
| request-header ; Section 5.3
| entity-header ) ; Section 7.1
[ message-body ] ; Section 7.2
The Request-Line begins with a method token, followed by the
Request-URI and the protocol version, and ending with CRLF. The
elements are separated by SP characters. No CR or LF are allowed
except in the final CRLF sequence.
Request-Line = Method SP Request-URI SP HTTP-Version CRLF
The Method token indicates the method to be performed on the resource
identified by the Request-URI. The method is case-sensitive.
Method = "OPTIONS" ; Section 9.2
| "GET" ; Section 9.3
| "HEAD" ; Section 9.4
| "POST" ; Section 9.5
| "PUT" ; Section 9.6
| "DELETE" ; Section 9.7
| "TRACE" ; Section 9.8
extension-method = token
The list of methods allowed by a resource can be specified in an
Allow header field (section 14.7). The return code of the response
always notifies the client whether a method is currently allowed on a
resource, since the set of allowed methods can change dynamically.
Servers SHOULD return the status code 405 (Method Not Allowed) if the
method is known by the server but not allowed for the requested
resource, and 501 (Not Implemented) if the method is unrecognized or
not implemented by the server. The list of methods known by a server
can be listed in a Public response-header field (section 14.35).
The methods GET and HEAD MUST be supported by all general-purpose
servers. All other methods are optional; however, if the above
methods are implemented, they MUST be implemented with the same
semantics as those specified in section 9.
The Request-URI is a Uniform Resource Identifier (section 3.2) and
identifies the resource upon which to apply the request.
Request-URI = "*" | absoluteURI | abs_path
The three options for Request-URI are dependent on the nature of the
request. The asterisk "*" means that the request does not apply to a
particular resource, but to the server itself, and is only allowed
when the method used does not necessarily apply to a resource. One
example would be
OPTIONS * HTTP/1.1
The absoluteURI form is required when the request is being made to a
proxy. The proxy is requested to forward the request or service it
from a valid cache, and return the response. Note that the proxy MAY
forward the request on to another proxy or directly to the server
specified by the absoluteURI. In order to avoid request loops, a
proxy MUST be able to recognize all of its server names, including
any aliases, local variations, and the numeric IP address. An example
Request-Line would be:
GET http://www.w3.org/pub/WWW/TheProject.html HTTP/1.1
To allow for transition to absoluteURIs in all requests in future
versions of HTTP, all HTTP/1.1 servers MUST accept the absoluteURI
form in requests, even though HTTP/1.1 clients will only generate
them in requests to proxies.
The most common form of Request-URI is that used to identify a
resource on an origin server or gateway. In this case the absolute
path of the URI MUST be transmitted (see section 3.2.1, abs_path) as
the Request-URI, and the network location of the URI (net_loc) MUST
be transmitted in a Host header field. For example, a client wishing
to retrieve the resource above directly from the origin server would
create a TCP connection to port 80 of the host "www.w3.org" and send
GET /pub/WWW/TheProject.html HTTP/1.1
followed by the remainder of the Request. Note that the absolute path
cannot be empty; if none is present in the original URI, it MUST be
given as "/" (the server root).
If a proxy receives a request without any path in the Request-URI and
the method specified is capable of supporting the asterisk form of
request, then the last proxy on the request chain MUST forward the
request with "*" as the final Request-URI. For example, the request
OPTIONS http://www.ics.uci.edu:8001 HTTP/1.1
would be forwarded by the proxy as
OPTIONS * HTTP/1.1
after connecting to port 8001 of host "www.ics.uci.edu".
The Request-URI is transmitted in the format specified in section
3.2.1. The origin server MUST decode the Request-URI in order to
properly interpret the request. Servers SHOULD respond to invalid
Request-URIs with an appropriate status code.
In requests that they forward, proxies MUST NOT rewrite the
"abs_path" part of a Request-URI in any way except as noted above to
replace a null abs_path with "*", no matter what the proxy does in
its internal implementation.
Note: The "no rewrite" rule prevents the proxy from changing the
meaning of the request when the origin server is improperly using a
non-reserved URL character for a reserved purpose. Implementers
should be aware that some pre-HTTP/1.1 proxies have been known to
rewrite the Request-URI.
5.2 The Resource Identified by a Request
HTTP/1.1 origin servers SHOULD be aware that the exact resource
identified by an Internet request is determined by examining both the
Request-URI and the Host header field.
An origin server that does not allow resources to differ by the
requested host MAY ignore the Host header field value. (But see
section 19.5.1 for other requirements on Host support in HTTP/1.1.)
An origin server that does differentiate resources based on the host
requested (sometimes referred to as virtual hosts or vanity
hostnames) MUST use the following rules for determining the requested
resource on an HTTP/1.1 request:
1. If Request-URI is an absoluteURI, the host is part of the
Request-URI. Any Host header field value in the request MUST be
2. If the Request-URI is not an absoluteURI, and the request
includes a Host header field, the host is determined by the Host
header field value.
3. If the host as determined by rule 1 or 2 is not a valid host on
the server, the response MUST be a 400 (Bad Request) error
Recipients of an HTTP/1.0 request that lacks a Host header field MAY
attempt to use heuristics (e.g., examination of the URI path for
something unique to a particular host) in order to determine what
exact resource is being requested.
5.3 Request Header Fields
The request-header fields allow the client to pass additional
information about the request, and about the client itself, to the
server. These fields act as request modifiers, with semantics
equivalent to the parameters on a programming language method
request-header = Accept ; Section 14.1
| Accept-Charset ; Section 14.2
| Accept-Encoding ; Section 14.3
| Accept-Language ; Section 14.4
| Authorization ; Section 14.8
| From ; Section 14.22
| Host ; Section 14.23
| If-Modified-Since ; Section 14.24
| If-Match ; Section 14.25
| If-None-Match ; Section 14.26
| If-Range ; Section 14.27
| If-Unmodified-Since ; Section 14.28
| Max-Forwards ; Section 14.31
| Proxy-Authorization ; Section 14.34
| Range ; Section 14.36
| Referer ; Section 14.37
| User-Agent ; Section 14.42
Request-header field names can be extended reliably only in
combination with a change in the protocol version. However, new or
experimental header fields MAY be given the semantics of request-
header fields if all parties in the communication recognize them to
be request-header fields. Unrecognized header fields are treated as
After receiving and interpreting a request message, a server responds
with an HTTP response message.
Response = Status-Line ; Section 6.1
*( general-header ; Section 4.5
| response-header ; Section 6.2
| entity-header ) ; Section 7.1
[ message-body ] ; Section 7.2
The first line of a Response message is the Status-Line, consisting
of the protocol version followed by a numeric status code and its
associated textual phrase, with each element separated by SP
characters. No CR or LF is allowed except in the final CRLF
Status-Line = HTTP-Version SP Status-Code SP Reason-Phrase CRLF
6.1.1 Status Code and Reason Phrase
The Status-Code element is a 3-digit integer result code of the
attempt to understand and satisfy the request. These codes are fully
defined in section 10. The Reason-Phrase is intended to give a short
textual description of the Status-Code. The Status-Code is intended
for use by automata and the Reason-Phrase is intended for the human
user. The client is not required to examine or display the Reason-
The first digit of the Status-Code defines the class of response. The
last two digits do not have any categorization role. There are 5
values for the first digit:
o 1xx: Informational - Request received, continuing process
o 2xx: Success - The action was successfully received, understood,
o 3xx: Redirection - Further action must be taken in order to
complete the request
o 4xx: Client Error - The request contains bad syntax or cannot be
o 5xx: Server Error - The server failed to fulfill an apparently
The individual values of the numeric status codes defined for
HTTP/1.1, and an example set of corresponding Reason-Phrase's, are
presented below. The reason phrases listed here are only recommended
-- they may be replaced by local equivalents without affecting the
Status-Code = "100" ; Continue
| "101" ; Switching Protocols
| "200" ; OK
| "201" ; Created
| "202" ; Accepted
| "203" ; Non-Authoritative Information
| "204" ; No Content
| "205" ; Reset Content
| "206" ; Partial Content
| "300" ; Multiple Choices
| "301" ; Moved Permanently
| "302" ; Moved Temporarily
| "303" ; See Other
| "304" ; Not Modified
| "305" ; Use Proxy
| "400" ; Bad Request
| "401" ; Unauthorized
| "402" ; Payment Required
| "403" ; Forbidden
| "404" ; Not Found
| "405" ; Method Not Allowed
| "406" ; Not Acceptable
| "407" ; Proxy Authentication Required
| "408" ; Request Time-out
| "409" ; Conflict
| "410" ; Gone
| "411" ; Length Required
| "412" ; Precondition Failed
| "413" ; Request Entity Too Large
| "414" ; Request-URI Too Large
| "415" ; Unsupported Media Type
| "500" ; Internal Server Error
| "501" ; Not Implemented
| "502" ; Bad Gateway
| "503" ; Service Unavailable
| "504" ; Gateway Time-out
| "505" ; HTTP Version not supported
extension-code = 3DIGIT
Reason-Phrase = *<TEXT, excluding CR, LF>
HTTP status codes are extensible. HTTP applications are not required
to understand the meaning of all registered status codes, though such
understanding is obviously desirable. However, applications MUST
understand the class of any status code, as indicated by the first
digit, and treat any unrecognized response as being equivalent to the
x00 status code of that class, with the exception that an
unrecognized response MUST NOT be cached. For example, if an
unrecognized status code of 431 is received by the client, it can
safely assume that there was something wrong with its request and
treat the response as if it had received a 400 status code. In such
cases, user agents SHOULD present to the user the entity returned
with the response, since that entity is likely to include human-
readable information which will explain the unusual status.
6.2 Response Header Fields
The response-header fields allow the server to pass additional
information about the response which cannot be placed in the Status-
Line. These header fields give information about the server and about
further access to the resource identified by the Request-URI.
response-header = Age ; Section 14.6
| Location ; Section 14.30
| Proxy-Authenticate ; Section 14.33
| Public ; Section 14.35
| Retry-After ; Section 14.38
| Server ; Section 14.39
| Vary ; Section 14.43
| Warning ; Section 14.45
| WWW-Authenticate ; Section 14.46
Response-header field names can be extended reliably only in
combination with a change in the protocol version. However, new or
experimental header fields MAY be given the semantics of response-
header fields if all parties in the communication recognize them to
be response-header fields. Unrecognized header fields are treated as
Request and Response messages MAY transfer an entity if not otherwise
restricted by the request method or response status code. An entity
consists of entity-header fields and an entity-body, although some
responses will only include the entity-headers.
In this section, both sender and recipient refer to either the client
or the server, depending on who sends and who receives the entity.
7.1 Entity Header Fields
Entity-header fields define optional metainformation about the
entity-body or, if no body is present, about the resource identified
by the request.
entity-header = Allow ; Section 14.7
| Content-Base ; Section 14.11
| Content-Encoding ; Section 14.12
| Content-Language ; Section 14.13
| Content-Length ; Section 14.14
| Content-Location ; Section 14.15
| Content-MD5 ; Section 14.16
| Content-Range ; Section 14.17
| Content-Type ; Section 14.18
| ETag ; Section 14.20
| Expires ; Section 14.21
| Last-Modified ; Section 14.29
extension-header = message-header
The extension-header mechanism allows additional entity-header fields
to be defined without changing the protocol, but these fields cannot
be assumed to be recognizable by the recipient. Unrecognized header
fields SHOULD be ignored by the recipient and forwarded by proxies.
7.2 Entity Body
The entity-body (if any) sent with an HTTP request or response is in
a format and encoding defined by the entity-header fields.
entity-body = *OCTET
An entity-body is only present in a message when a message-body is
present, as described in section 4.3. The entity-body is obtained
from the message-body by decoding any Transfer-Encoding that may have
been applied to ensure safe and proper transfer of the message.
When an entity-body is included with a message, the data type of that
body is determined via the header fields Content-Type and Content-
Encoding. These define a two-layer, ordered encoding model:
entity-body := Content-Encoding( Content-Type( data ) )
Content-Type specifies the media type of the underlying data.
Content-Encoding may be used to indicate any additional content
codings applied to the data, usually for the purpose of data
compression, that are a property of the requested resource. There is
no default encoding.
Any HTTP/1.1 message containing an entity-body SHOULD include a
Content-Type header field defining the media type of that body. If
and only if the media type is not given by a Content-Type field, the
recipient MAY attempt to guess the media type via inspection of its
content and/or the name extension(s) of the URL used to identify the
resource. If the media type remains unknown, the recipient SHOULD
treat it as type "application/octet-stream".
The length of an entity-body is the length of the message-body after
any transfer codings have been removed. Section 4.4 defines how the
length of a message-body is determined.
8.1 Persistent Connections
Prior to persistent connections, a separate TCP connection was
established to fetch each URL, increasing the load on HTTP servers
and causing congestion on the Internet. The use of inline images and
other associated data often requires a client to make multiple
requests of the same server in a short amount of time. Analyses of
these performance problems are available ; analysis and
results from a prototype implementation are in .
Persistent HTTP connections have a number of advantages:
o By opening and closing fewer TCP connections, CPU time is saved,
and memory used for TCP protocol control blocks is also saved.
o HTTP requests and responses can be pipelined on a connection.
Pipelining allows a client to make multiple requests without
waiting for each response, allowing a single TCP connection to be
used much more efficiently, with much lower elapsed time.
o Network congestion is reduced by reducing the number of packets
caused by TCP opens, and by allowing TCP sufficient time to
determine the congestion state of the network.
o HTTP can evolve more gracefully; since errors can be reported
without the penalty of closing the TCP connection. Clients using
future versions of HTTP might optimistically try a new feature, but
if communicating with an older server, retry with old semantics
after an error is reported.
HTTP implementations SHOULD implement persistent connections.
8.1.2 Overall Operation
A significant difference between HTTP/1.1 and earlier versions of
HTTP is that persistent connections are the default behavior of any
HTTP connection. That is, unless otherwise indicated, the client may
assume that the server will maintain a persistent connection.
Persistent connections provide a mechanism by which a client and a
server can signal the close of a TCP connection. This signaling takes
place using the Connection header field. Once a close has been
signaled, the client MUST not send any more requests on that
An HTTP/1.1 server MAY assume that a HTTP/1.1 client intends to
maintain a persistent connection unless a Connection header including
the connection-token "close" was sent in the request. If the server
chooses to close the connection immediately after sending the
response, it SHOULD send a Connection header including the
An HTTP/1.1 client MAY expect a connection to remain open, but would
decide to keep it open based on whether the response from a server
contains a Connection header with the connection-token close. In case
the client does not want to maintain a connection for more than that
request, it SHOULD send a Connection header including the
If either the client or the server sends the close token in the
Connection header, that request becomes the last one for the
Clients and servers SHOULD NOT assume that a persistent connection is
maintained for HTTP versions less than 1.1 unless it is explicitly
signaled. See section 19.7.1 for more information on backwards
compatibility with HTTP/1.0 clients.
In order to remain persistent, all messages on the connection must
have a self-defined message length (i.e., one not defined by closure
of the connection), as described in section 4.4.
A client that supports persistent connections MAY "pipeline" its
requests (i.e., send multiple requests without waiting for each
response). A server MUST send its responses to those requests in the
same order that the requests were received.
Clients which assume persistent connections and pipeline immediately
after connection establishment SHOULD be prepared to retry their
connection if the first pipelined attempt fails. If a client does
such a retry, it MUST NOT pipeline before it knows the connection is
persistent. Clients MUST also be prepared to resend their requests if
the server closes the connection before sending all of the
8.1.3 Proxy Servers
It is especially important that proxies correctly implement the
properties of the Connection header field as specified in 14.2.1.
The proxy server MUST signal persistent connections separately with
its clients and the origin servers (or other proxy servers) that it
connects to. Each persistent connection applies to only one transport
A proxy server MUST NOT establish a persistent connection with an
8.1.4 Practical Considerations
Servers will usually have some time-out value beyond which they will
no longer maintain an inactive connection. Proxy servers might make
this a higher value since it is likely that the client will be making
more connections through the same server. The use of persistent
connections places no requirements on the length of this time-out for
either the client or the server.
When a client or server wishes to time-out it SHOULD issue a graceful
close on the transport connection. Clients and servers SHOULD both
constantly watch for the other side of the transport close, and
respond to it as appropriate. If a client or server does not detect
the other side's close promptly it could cause unnecessary resource
drain on the network.
A client, server, or proxy MAY close the transport connection at any
time. For example, a client MAY have started to send a new request at
the same time that the server has decided to close the "idle"
connection. From the server's point of view, the connection is being
closed while it was idle, but from the client's point of view, a
request is in progress.
This means that clients, servers, and proxies MUST be able to recover
from asynchronous close events. Client software SHOULD reopen the
transport connection and retransmit the aborted request without user
interaction so long as the request method is idempotent (see section
9.1.2); other methods MUST NOT be automatically retried, although
user agents MAY offer a human operator the choice of retrying the
However, this automatic retry SHOULD NOT be repeated if the second
Servers SHOULD always respond to at least one request per connection,
if at all possible. Servers SHOULD NOT close a connection in the
middle of transmitting a response, unless a network or client failure
Clients that use persistent connections SHOULD limit the number of
simultaneous connections that they maintain to a given server. A
single-user client SHOULD maintain AT MOST 2 connections with any
server or proxy. A proxy SHOULD use up to 2*N connections to another
server or proxy, where N is the number of simultaneously active
users. These guidelines are intended to improve HTTP response times
and avoid congestion of the Internet or other networks.
8.2 Message Transmission Requirements
o HTTP/1.1 servers SHOULD maintain persistent connections and use
TCP's flow control mechanisms to resolve temporary overloads,
rather than terminating connections with the expectation that
clients will retry. The latter technique can exacerbate network
o An HTTP/1.1 (or later) client sending a message-body SHOULD monitor
the network connection for an error status while it is transmitting
the request. If the client sees an error status, it SHOULD
immediately cease transmitting the body. If the body is being sent
using a "chunked" encoding (section 3.6), a zero length chunk and
empty footer MAY be used to prematurely mark the end of the
message. If the body was preceded by a Content-Length header, the
client MUST close the connection.
o An HTTP/1.1 (or later) client MUST be prepared to accept a 100
(Continue) status followed by a regular response.
o An HTTP/1.1 (or later) server that receives a request from a
HTTP/1.0 (or earlier) client MUST NOT transmit the 100 (continue)
response; it SHOULD either wait for the request to be completed
normally (thus avoiding an interrupted request) or close the
Upon receiving a method subject to these requirements from an
HTTP/1.1 (or later) client, an HTTP/1.1 (or later) server MUST either
respond with 100 (Continue) status and continue to read from the
input stream, or respond with an error status. If it responds with an
error status, it MAY close the transport (TCP) connection or it MAY
continue to read and discard the rest of the request. It MUST NOT
perform the requested method if it returns an error status.
Clients SHOULD remember the version number of at least the most
recently used server; if an HTTP/1.1 client has seen an HTTP/1.1 or
later response from the server, and it sees the connection close
before receiving any status from the server, the client SHOULD retry
the request without user interaction so long as the request method is
idempotent (see section 9.1.2); other methods MUST NOT be
automatically retried, although user agents MAY offer a human
operator the choice of retrying the request.. If the client does
retry the request, the client
o MUST first send the request header fields, and then
o MUST wait for the server to respond with either a 100 (Continue)
response, in which case the client should continue, or with an
If an HTTP/1.1 client has not seen an HTTP/1.1 or later response from
the server, it should assume that the server implements HTTP/1.0 or
older and will not use the 100 (Continue) response. If in this case
the client sees the connection close before receiving any status from
the server, the client SHOULD retry the request. If the client does
retry the request to this HTTP/1.0 server, it should use the
following "binary exponential backoff" algorithm to be assured of
obtaining a reliable response:
1. Initiate a new connection to the server
2. Transmit the request-headers
3. Initialize a variable R to the estimated round-trip time to the
server (e.g., based on the time it took to establish the
connection), or to a constant value of 5 seconds if the round-trip
time is not available.
4. Compute T = R * (2**N), where N is the number of previous retries
of this request.
5. Wait either for an error response from the server, or for T seconds
(whichever comes first)
6. If no error response is received, after T seconds transmit the body
of the request.
7. If client sees that the connection is closed prematurely, repeat
from step 1 until the request is accepted, an error response is
received, or the user becomes impatient and terminates the retry
No matter what the server version, if an error status is received,
o MUST NOT continue and
o MUST close the connection if it has not completed sending the
An HTTP/1.1 (or later) client that sees the connection close after
receiving a 100 (Continue) but before receiving any other status
SHOULD retry the request, and need not wait for 100 (Continue)
response (but MAY do so if this simplifies the implementation).
9 Method Definitions
The set of common methods for HTTP/1.1 is defined below. Although
this set can be expanded, additional methods cannot be assumed to
share the same semantics for separately extended clients and servers.
The Host request-header field (section 14.23) MUST accompany all
9.1 Safe and Idempotent Methods
9.1.1 Safe Methods
Implementers should be aware that the software represents the user in
their interactions over the Internet, and should be careful to allow
the user to be aware of any actions they may take which may have an
unexpected significance to themselves or others.
In particular, the convention has been established that the GET and
HEAD methods should never have the significance of taking an action
other than retrieval. These methods should be considered "safe." This
allows user agents to represent other methods, such as POST, PUT and
DELETE, in a special way, so that the user is made aware of the fact
that a possibly unsafe action is being requested.
Naturally, it is not possible to ensure that the server does not
generate side-effects as a result of performing a GET request; in
fact, some dynamic resources consider that a feature. The important
distinction here is that the user did not request the side-effects,
so therefore cannot be held accountable for them.
9.1.2 Idempotent Methods
Methods may also have the property of "idempotence" in that (aside
from error or expiration issues) the side-effects of N > 0 identical
requests is the same as for a single request. The methods GET, HEAD,
PUT and DELETE share this property.
The OPTIONS method represents a request for information about the
communication options available on the request/response chain
identified by the Request-URI. This method allows the client to
determine the options and/or requirements associated with a resource,
or the capabilities of a server, without implying a resource action
or initiating a resource retrieval.
Unless the server's response is an error, the response MUST NOT
include entity information other than what can be considered as
communication options (e.g., Allow is appropriate, but Content-Type
is not). Responses to this method are not cachable.
If the Request-URI is an asterisk ("*"), the OPTIONS request is
intended to apply to the server as a whole. A 200 response SHOULD
include any header fields which indicate optional features
implemented by the server (e.g., Public), including any extensions
not defined by this specification, in addition to any applicable
general or response-header fields. As described in section 5.1.2, an
"OPTIONS *" request can be applied through a proxy by specifying the
destination server in the Request-URI without any path information.
If the Request-URI is not an asterisk, the OPTIONS request applies
only to the options that are available when communicating with that
resource. A 200 response SHOULD include any header fields which
indicate optional features implemented by the server and applicable
to that resource (e.g., Allow), including any extensions not defined
by this specification, in addition to any applicable general or
response-header fields. If the OPTIONS request passes through a
proxy, the proxy MUST edit the response to exclude those options
which apply to a proxy's capabilities and which are known to be
unavailable through that proxy.