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Re: svn:mime-type / svn:charset (Was: Re: svn commit: r10100 - trunk/subversion/libsvn_subr)

From: <kfogel_at_collab.net>
Date: 2004-07-03 20:51:59 CEST

Ben Reser <ben@reser.org> writes:
> It was probably a mistake to call the property svn:mime-type. Perhaps
> it would be wise to deprecate that name, while still supporting it, and
> replace it with svn:media-type, which is more accurately how we're using
> it.

While this is good to know, I doubt most people in practice know the
difference between "media type" and "mime type" in this context.

I'd guess that to most people, "media type" is a general phrase that
could even mean something like "Is it on CD-ROM, tape, or floppy?".
On the other hand, many people understand "mime type" to be a kind of
metadata on a string or stream of bits, that tells you how to
interpret those bits. This is also a good description of how the
svn:mime-type property is used.

There's this common phenomenon, in which domain experts who are, by
virtue of their expertise, aware of certain subtle distinctions, try
(and fail) to get non-experts to maintain those distinctions. For
example "URL" vs "URI", or "kilobyte" vs "kibibyte", etc.

The reasons the attempts fail are not always the same in every case.
With URL vs URI, it's hard for the experts to explain the distinction
in a way that people can remember. With the "-ibi*" units, the
distinction is easy to explain, but their pronounciation is awkward.

I think 'svn:media-type' versus 'svn:mime-type' might be one of these
cases (very similar to URL vs URI, actually). Sure, for experts,
there may be an important difference between a media type and a mime
type. But most people are familiar with the concept of mime types,
and will instantly understand what the 'svn:mime-type' property is all
about just from seeing its name, whereas far fewer would automatically
understand what 'svn:media-type' is about.

Of course, if the difference between the two things is important in
some real-world way, such that conflating them can cause real trouble,
then it's necessary to enforce the distinction. But I'm not sure
that's the case here.

-Karl

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Received on Sat Jul 3 22:19:28 2004

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