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Author demian.brecht
Recipients Yuri.Bochkarev, agriffis, alanjds, amak, cananian, demian.brecht, icordasc, jcea, jhylton, martin.panter, mhammond, orsenthil, r.david.murray, rbcollins
Date 2015-01-20.17:10:56
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Marked as misclassified Yes
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TL;DR: Because HTTP is an application-level protocol, it's nearly impossible to gauge how a server will behave given a set of conditions. Because of that, any time that assumptions can be avoided, they should be.

@R. David Murray:

> That is, if the connection has been closed, I think an operation attempted on the connection should raise an exception that makes it clear that the connection is closed (in the case of some stdlib modules, that may be a socket level exception for the operation on the closed socket).

In the typical case, this is exactly what happens. This issue is around a race condition that can occur between the client issuing a request prior to terminating the connection with the server, but the server terminating it prior to processing the request. In these cases, the client is left in a state where as far as it's concerned, it's in a valid state waiting for a response which the server will not issue as it has closed the socket on its side. In this case, the client reading an empty string from the receive buffer implies a closed socket. Unfortunately, it's not entirely uncommon when using persistent connections, as Martin's examples demonstrate.

> I think the remote server writing a blank line to the socket is a very different thing from the remote server closing the connection without writing anything, so I may be misunderstanding something here.

+1. What Martin is arguing here (Martin, please correct me if I'm wrong) is that a decently behaved server should not, at /any/ time write a blank line to (or effectively no-op) the socket, other than in the case where the socket connection has been closed. While I agree in the typical case, a blend of Postel and Murphy's laws leads me to believe it would be better to expect, accept and handle the unexpected.


Here's a concrete example of the unexpected behaviour. It's not specific to persistent connections and would be caught by the proposed "first request" solution, but ultimately, similar behaviour may be seen at any time from other servers/sources:

Googling for "http empty response" and similar search strings should also provide a number of examples where unexpected behaviour is encountered and in which case raising an explicit "ConnectionClosed" error would add to the confusion.

Other examples are really hypotheticals and I don't think it's worth digging into them too deeply here. Unexpected behaviour (regardless of whether it's on the first or Nth request) should be captured well enough by now.

> Eventually the server _would_ probably drop the connection (so ConnectionClosed would not be misleading)

Sure, but you're raising an exception based on future /expected/ behaviour. That's my issue with the proposed solution in general. ConnectionClosed assumes specific behaviour, where literally /anything/ can happen server side.
Date User Action Args
2015-01-20 17:10:56demian.brechtsetrecipients: + demian.brecht, jhylton, mhammond, jcea, orsenthil, amak, rbcollins, cananian, r.david.murray, alanjds, agriffis, martin.panter, icordasc, Yuri.Bochkarev
2015-01-20 17:10:56demian.brechtsetmessageid: <>
2015-01-20 17:10:56demian.brechtlinkissue3566 messages
2015-01-20 17:10:56demian.brechtcreate