[thelist] What is wrong with this site?

Jeff Howden jeff at jeffhowden.com
Mon Aug 18 23:15:55 CDT 2003


> From: aardvark
> see, i *don't* want the browser to make a guess based on
> a file extension when the mime type is clearly something
> else... if i choose to passa an .html file as plaintext
> for some reason, i would want the browser to honor that,
> and i would hope that the developer would have enough
> skill to have *chosen* to configure the server that
> way...

i feel your pain.

unfortunately, it's all too common that some server admin dweeb that's only
4 chapters into his ntsysadminin24hours by sams has funked things up and
doesn't even know it.  you'd hope the developer would have their head
screwed on right just enough to be able to figure out the problem and
correct it, but that seems a rarity too.

> and yes, there are cases where i've wanted to pass a
> page with an ..htm, .html, or even .asp extension as
> plain text...

i've been in the same boat.

> but think of another scenario, one that comes up on this
> list semi-frequently... you have an MS Word file, with a
> .doc extension that you want users to download, but you
> don't want to have to stuff it into a .zip or otherwise
> modify it...
> one of the ways many developers handle this is by
> changing its mime type to application/octet-stream,
> forcing the browser to ask what to do with the file,
> instead of just opening it within the browser...
> so, in this case, would you prefer the browser to honor
> the file extension, or the mime type set by the server?

do you want me to answer while wearing my developer hat or my user hat?

*evil grin*

seriously though, there's something to be said about thinking of this whole
"mess" from the user's perspective.  *maybe* the user wants all word docs to
open in their browser.  maybe they've gotten use to pdfs doing the same
thing and like that behavior.  aside from the ability edit (though most
often not save) content brought into an embedded instance of word, excel,
"jack's mpg coupler", etc., there isn't really anything categorically
different about loading all sorts of content types into the browser
whenever/wherever there's some sort of embeddable viewer for that particular
type of content.

i'm not saying every user is smart enough to figure out how to get the
document if they don't want it to load within the browser.  i'm also not
saying every user is smart enough to figure out how to change certain
mime-type handlers in ie to suit their preferred behavior.  however, what i
am saying is that making assumptions about intended behavior for some users
will no doubt screw with intended behavior for those who have deliberately
made that choice.


Jeff Howden - Web Application Specialist
Resume - http://jeffhowden.com/about/resume/
Code Library - http://evolt.jeffhowden.com/jeff/code/

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