Friday, August 12, 2011

MIME types: Application/xml vs text/xml

XML has two MIME types, application/xml and text/xml. These are often used interchangeably, but there is a subtle difference which is why application/xml is generally recommended over the latter.

Let me explain why: according to the standard, text/*-MIME types have a us-ascii character set unless otherwise specified in the HTTP headers. This effectively means that any encoding defined in the XML prolog (e.g. <?xml version=”1.0” encoding=”UTF-8”?>) is ignored. This is of course not the expected and desired behaviour.

To further complicate matters, most/all browser implementations actually implement nonstandard behaviour for text/xml because they process the encoding as if it were application/xml.

So, text/* has encoding issues, and is not implemented by browsers in a standards-compliant manner, which is why using application/* is recommended.


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