Everybody Loves MIME

Web browsers originally were designed to display only text and HTML

data. Later, they gained the ability to display certain kinds of

graphics. Then, when surfers began demanding fancier multimedia content

in Web pages, browsers began accommodating more kinds of information.

These new kinds of information were, and continue to be, defined by

MIME (Multipurpose Internet Multimedia Extension)-type designations.

Browsers handle some MIME-types natively while others get handed off to

special browser-expansion modules called plug-ins that surfers can

install selectively. Such selectivity poses a problem for Web

publishers. How do you play a RealAudio file for a visitor to your site

if that person doesn't have the RealAudio plug-in installed? What if a

surfer doesn't have the RealAudio plug-in, but can handle data of the

audio/x-wav MIME-type? What about ActiveX Controls? Well, since

Netscape Communications invented JavaScript and Microsoft, creator of

ActiveX, has embraced JavaScript only grudgingly, the ability of the

two technologies work and playing together nicely is practically zero.

With JavaScript, you can detect a surfer

Insider: How the basic tech behind the Internet works
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