Data transmission in HTTP --- multipart/form-Data

Source: Internet
Author: User
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Network Working Group                                         L. MasinterRequest for Comments: 2388                              Xerox CorporationCategory: Standards Track                                     August 1998           Returning Values from Forms:  multipart/form-dataStatus of this Memo   This document specifies an Internet standards track protocol for the   Internet community, and requests discussion and suggestions for   improvements.  Please refer to the current edition of the "Internet   Official Protocol Standards" (STD 1) for the standardization state   and status of this protocol.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.Copyright Notice   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1998).  All Rights Reserved.1. Abstract   This specification defines an Internet Media Type, multipart/form-   data, which can be used by a wide variety of applications and   transported by a wide variety of protocols as a way of returning a   set of values as the result of a user filling out a form.2. Introduction   In many applications, it is possible for a user to be presented with   a form. The user will fill out the form, including information that   is typed, generated by user input, or included from files that the   user has selected. When the form is filled out, the data from the   form is sent from the user to the receiving application.   The definition of MultiPart/Form-Data is derived from one of those   applications, originally set out in [RFC1867] and subsequently   incorporated into [HTML40], where forms are expressed in HTML, and in   which the form values are sent via HTTP or electronic mail. This   representation is widely implemented in numerous web browsers and web   servers.   However, multipart/form-data can be used for forms that are presented   using representations other than HTML (spreadsheets, Portable   Document Format, etc), and for transport using other means than   electronic mail or HTTP. This document defines the representation of   form values independently of the application for which it is used.Masinter                    Standards Track                     [Page 1]RFC 2388                  multipart/form-data                August 19983. Definition of multipart/form-data   The media-type multipart/form-data follows the rules of all multipart   MIME data streams as outlined in [RFC 2046].  In forms, there are a   series of fields to be supplied by the user who fills out the form.   Each field has a name. Within a given form, the names are unique.   "multipart/form-data" contains a series of parts. Each part is   expected to contain a content-disposition header [RFC 2183] where the   disposition type is "form-data", and where the disposition contains   an (additional) parameter of "name", where the value of that   parameter is the original field name in the form. For example, a part   might contain a header:        Content-Disposition: form-data; name="user"   with the value corresponding to the entry of the "user" field.   Field names originally in non-ASCII character sets may be encoded   within the value of the "name" parameter using the standard method   described in RFC 2047.   As with all multipart MIME types, each part has an optional   "Content-Type", which defaults to text/plain.  If the contents of a   file are returned via filling out a form, then the file input is   identified as the appropriate media type, if known, or   "application/octet-stream".  If multiple files are to be returned as   the result of a single form entry, they should be represented as a   "multipart/mixed" part embedded within the "multipart/form-data".   Each part may be encoded and the "content-transfer-encoding" header   supplied if the value of that part does not conform to the default   encoding.4. Use of multipart/form-data4.1 Boundary   As with other multipart types, a boundary is selected that does not   occur in any of the data. Each field of the form is sent, in the   order defined by the sending appliction and form, as a part of the   multipart stream.  Each part identifies the INPUT name within the   original form. Each part should be labelled with an appropriate   content-type if the media type is known (e.g., inferred from the file   extension or operating system typing information) or as   "application/octet-stream".Masinter                    Standards Track                     [Page 2]RFC 2388                  multipart/form-data                August 19984.2 Sets of files   If the value of a form field is a set of files rather than a single   file, that value can be transferred together using the   "multipart/mixed" format.4.3 Encoding   While the HTTP protocol can transport arbitrary binary data, the   default for mail transport is the 7BIT encoding.  The value supplied   for a part may need to be encoded and the "content-transfer-encoding"   header supplied if the value does not conform to the default   encoding.  [See section 5 of RFC 2046 for more details.]4.4 Other attributes   Forms may request file inputs from the user; the form software may   include the file name and other file attributes, as specified in [RFC   2184].   The original local file name may be supplied as well, either as a   "filename" parameter either of the "content-disposition: form-data"   header or, in the case of multiple files, in a "content-disposition:   file" header of the subpart. The sending application MAY supply a   file name; if the file name of the sender's operating system is not   in US-ASCII, the file name might be approximated, or encoded using   the method of RFC 2231.   This is a convenience for those cases where the files supplied by the   form might contain references to each other, e.g., a TeX file and its   .sty auxiliary style description.4.5 Charset of text in form data   Each part of a multipart/form-data is supposed to have a content-   type.  In the case where a field element is text, the charset   parameter for the text indicates the character encoding used.   For example, a form with a text field in which a user typed 'Joe owes   <eu>100' where <eu> is the Euro symbol might have form data returned   as:    --AaB03x    content-disposition: form-data; name="field1"    content-type: text/plain;charset=windows-1250    content-transfer-encoding: quoted-printableMasinter                    Standards Track                     [Page 3]RFC 2388                  multipart/form-data                August 1998    Joe owes =80100.    --AaB03x5. Operability considerations5.1 Compression, encryption   Some of the data in forms may be compressed or encrypted, using other   MIME mechanisms. This is a function of the application that is   generating the form-data.5.2 Other data encodings rather than multipart   Various people have suggested using new mime top-level type   "aggregate", e.g., aggregate/mixed or a content-transfer-encoding of   "packet" to express indeterminate-length binary data, rather than   relying on the multipart-style boundaries. While this would be   useful, the "multipart" mechanisms are well established, simple to   implement on both the sending client and receiving server, and as   efficient as other methods of dealing with multiple combinations of   binary data.   The multipart/form-data encoding has a high overhead and performance   impact if there are many fields with short values. However, in   practice, for the forms in use, for example, in HTML, the average   overhead is not significant.5.3 Remote files with third-party transfer   In some scenarios, the user operating the form software might want to   specify a URL for remote data rather than a local file. In this case,   is there a way to allow the browser to send to the client a pointer   to the external data rather than the entire contents? This capability   could be implemented, for example, by having the client send to the   server data of type "message/external-body" with "access-type" set   to, say, "uri", and the URL of the remote data in the body of the   message.5.4 Non-ASCII field names   Note that MIME headers are generally required to consist only of 7-   bit data in the US-ASCII character set. Hence field names should be   encoded according to the method in RFC 2047 if they contain   characters outside of that set.Masinter                    Standards Track                     [Page 4]RFC 2388                  multipart/form-data                August 19985.5 Ordered fields and duplicated field names   The relationship of the ordering of fields within a form and the   ordering of returned values within "multipart/form-data" is not   defined by this specification, nor is the handling of the case where   a form has multiple fields with the same name. While HTML-based forms   may send back results in the order received, and intermediaries   should not reorder the results, there are some systems which might   not define a natural order for form fields.5.6 Interoperability with web applications   Many web applications use the "application/x-url-encoded" method for   returning data from forms. This format is quite compact, e.g.:   name=Xavier+Xantico&verdict=Yes&colour=Blue&happy=sad&Utf%F6r=Send   however, there is no opportunity to label the enclosed data with   content type, apply a charset, or use other encoding mechanisms.   Many form-interpreting programs (primarly web browsers) now implement   and generate multipart/form-data, but an existing application might   need to optionally support both the application/x-url-encoded format   as well.5.7 Correlating form data with the original form   This specification provides no specific mechanism by which   multipart/form-data can be associated with the form that caused it to   be transmitted. This separation is intentional; many different forms   might be used for transmitting the same data. In practice,   applications may supply a specific form processing resource (in HTML,   the ACTION attribute in a FORM tag) for each different form.   Alternatively, data about the form might be encoded in a "hidden   field" (a field which is part of the form but which has a fixed value   to be transmitted back to the form-data processor.)6. Security Considerations   The data format described in this document introduces no new security   considerations outside of those introduced by the protocols that use   it and of the component elements. It is important when interpreting   content-disposition to not overwrite files in the recipients address   space inadvertently.   User applications that request form information from users must be   careful not to cause a user to send information to the requestor or a   third party unwillingly or unwittingly. For example, a form mightMasinter                    Standards Track                     [Page 5]RFC 2388                  multipart/form-data                August 1998   request 'spam' information to be sent to an unintended third party,   or private information to be sent to someone that the user might not   actually intend. While this is primarily an issue for the   representation and interpretation of forms themselves, rather than   the data representation of the result of form transmission, the   transportation of private information must be done in a way that does   not expose it to unwanted prying.   With the introduction of form-data that can reasonably send back the   content of files from user's file space, the possibility that a user   might be sent an automated script that fills out a form and then   sends the user's local file to another address arises. Thus,   additional caution is required when executing automated scripting   where form-data might include user's files.7. Author's Address   Larry Masinter   Xerox Palo Alto Research Center   3333 Coyote Hill Road   Palo Alto, CA 94304   Fax:    +1 650 812 4333   EMail:                    Standards Track                     [Page 6]RFC 2388                  multipart/form-data                August 1998Appendix A. Media type registration for multipart/form-data   Media Type name:     multipart   Media subtype name:     form-data   Required parameters:     none   Optional parameters:     none   Encoding considerations:     No additional considerations other than as for other multipart     types.   Security Considerations     Applications which receive forms and process them must be careful     not to supply data back to the requesting form processing site that     was not intended to be sent by the recipient. This is a     consideration for any application that generates a multipart/form-     data.     The multipart/form-data type introduces no new security     considerations for recipients beyond what might occur with any of     the enclosed parts.Masinter                    Standards Track                     [Page 7]RFC 2388                  multipart/form-data                August 1998References   [RFC 2046] Freed, N., and N. Borenstein, "Multipurpose Internet Mail              Extensions (MIME) Part Two: Media Types", RFC 2046,              November 1996.   [RFC 2047] Moore, K., "MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions)              Part Three: Message Header Extensions for Non-ASCII Text",              RFC 2047, November 1996.   [RFC 2231] Freed, N., and K. Moore, "MIME Parameter Value and Encoded              Word Extensions: Character Sets, Languages, and              Continuations", RFC 2231, November 1997.   [RFC 1806] Troost, R., and S. Dorner, "Communicating Presentation              Information in Internet Messages: The Content-Disposition              Header", RFC 1806, June 1995.   [RFC 1867] Nebel, E., and L. Masinter, "Form-based File Upload in              HTML", RFC 1867, November 1995.   [RFC 2183] Troost, R., Dorner, S., and K. Moore, "Communicating              Presentation Information in Internet Messages: The              Content-Disposition Header Field", RFC 2183, August 1997.   [RFC 2184] Freed, N., and K. Moore, "MIME Parameter Value and Encoded              Word Extensions: Character Sets, Languages, and              Continuations", RFC 2184, August 1997.   [HTML40]   D. Raggett, A. Le Hors, I. Jacobs. "HTML 4.0              Specification", World Wide Web Consortium Technical Report              "REC-html40", December, 1997. 

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