Re: [Gen-art] Gen-ART Last Call review of draft-ietf-httpbis-cache-header-08

Mark Nottingham <> Fri, 02 July 2021 06:05 UTC

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From: Mark Nottingham <>
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Date: Fri, 2 Jul 2021 16:05:26 +1000
Cc: General Area Review Team <>, HTTP Working Group <>
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To: Paul Kyzivat <>
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Subject: Re: [Gen-art] Gen-ART Last Call review of draft-ietf-httpbis-cache-header-08
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Hi Paul,

Thanks for the review; I've added the WG mailing list to the CC.

> On 2 Jul 2021, at 2:55 am, Paul Kyzivat <> wrote:
> 1) Minor: Is a hit or fwd parameter required?
> Is it required that an entry contain one of "hit" or "fwd"? Section 2.1 makes it clear that you can't use both, but is less clear that one of them must be included. But logically it seems that an entry without either wouldn't be very useful.
> I suggest that this be stated explicitly.

It's not required; conceivably, there's value in knowing that a cache was merely present. As the spec states, all parameters are OPTIONAL.

> 2) Minor: ttl for other caches
> I'm not clear about the following in section 3:
>   Going through two separate layers of caching, where the cache closest
>   to the origin responded to an earlier request with a stored response,
>   and a second cache stored that response and later reused it to
>   satisfy the current request:
>   Cache-Status: OriginCache; hit; ttl=1100,
>                 "CDN Company Here"; hit; ttl=545
> When "CDN Company Here" replies with a hit is it responsible for updating the ttl for the OriginCache? (Based on the time that has elapsed since it cached the value.) If not, does that ttl have any relevance?

No - 'ttl' is how fresh a response is in a cache when it's served; recording it helps to determine how old the response was at each step. As the spec says:

"When adding a value to the Cache-Status header field, caches SHOULD preserve the existing field value, to allow debugging of the entire chain of caches handling the request."

> 3) Minor: registration of parameters
> IMO the process of registration is underspecified.
> For one thing, IANA is not instructed as to what the registry itself should look like. Given that a specification document is optional, the registry presumably must contain everything specified by the template in section 4 for new parameter registrations. But the instructions for pre-populating the registry from section 2 would mean copying a *lot* free formatted text into the registry.
> ISTM that it would be more straightforward to always require a specification and have the IANA registry refer to it.
> Alternatively, you could have different templates for registering with/without a specification and different registry formats for each.
> I suggest you provide IANA with a template for the registry, and provide authors of extension parameters with a template for what should be included in a specification document.

There's a registration template in Section 4, referenced from the IANA considerations. 

> 4) Minor: Applicability of this header field is confusing
> Section 2 says:
>   The Cache-Status header field is only applicable to responses that
>   are generated by an origin server.  An intermediary SHOULD NOT append
>   a Cache-Status member to responses that it generates, even if that
>   intermediary contains a cache, except when the generated response is
>   based upon a stored response (e.g., a 304 Not Modified or 206 Partial
>   Content).
> The use of "are" implies to me that the cache received the response from the origin server just now. Using "were" (or even more explicit language) would tell me that this was a response received by the cache either now or in the past.
> Also, IIUC the cache can't ever really distinguish if it received a response from the origin server or another cache. So how can it know if this response *ever* was created by the origin server? All it can know is that it received it from a server closer to the origin.
> Can you clarify the language?

OK. I've changed 'are' to 'have been'.

Thanks again for the review,

Mark Nottingham