[Mongrel] HTTP parse error due to an extra percent sign

Jonathan Rochkind rochkind at jhu.edu
Thu Jan 8 12:51:03 EST 2009

I can scream to the rooftops all I want.  This particular product I am 
working on is an OpenURL Resolver that handles OpenURLs representing 
scholarly citations sent from third-party licensed search providers that 
the library (where I work) pays for. We have contracts with literally 
hundreds of such providers.  This one provider in particular that sends 
the bad URL is a particular large company (EBSCO), with billions of 
dollars in revenue, and thousands of customers of which we are just 
one.  Most of their other customers are not using mongrel-fronted (or 
Rails at all) solutions for OpenURL link resolving; the solutions they 
are using manage to deal with the faulty URLs.  Now ours does too, with 
some ugly apache/perl hacking in front of mongrel.

I complained both privately and publically about this. But the world is 
not always as we would like it, and sometimes our software needs to deal 
with incoming data that is not standards compliant, just the way it is.


James Tucker wrote:
> On 7 Jan 2009, at 21:31, Jonathan Rochkind wrote:
>> Yes, the third party sending me this information in a query string 
>> was doing it in a way that was illegal and violated standards, but 
>> they are more powerful than I, and I can not make them change their 
>> behavior, and I need to handle those URLs anyway.
> This is a sad day, they won.
> Next time, scream from the rooftops, unless you already signed your 
> free speech away, that is.
> Printing an RFC and highlighting the relevant clauses and handing that 
> to a level higher than disgruntled developers is often relatively 
> effective too.
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Jonathan Rochkind
Digital Services Software Engineer
The Sheridan Libraries
Johns Hopkins University
rochkind (at) jhu.edu

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