Content negotiation

Content negotiation refers to mechanisms defined as a part of HTTP that make it possible to serve different versions of a document (or more generally, representations of a resource) at the same URI, so that user agents can specify which version fits their capabilities the best. One classical use of this mechanism is to serve an image in GIF or PNG format, so that a browser that cannot display PNG images (e.g. MS Internet Explorer 4) will be served the GIF version.

A resource may be available in several different representations; for example, it might be available in different languages or different media types. One way of selecting the most appropriate choice is to give the user an index page and let them select the most appropriate choice; however it is often possible to automate the choice based on some selection criteria.

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