Track html file revisions with semver and inline metadata.
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html-version-spec

Track HTML file revisions with semver and inline metadata.

The purpose of this specification is to make the web more distributed, permanent, and robust against outages, censorship, and orphaned content.

version

You are viewing version 4.0.0 of this specification.

Versions of this specification adhere to semver.

overview

This specification builds on existing work in subresource integrity, link relation types for simple version navigation, and meta-version to provide a comprehensive versioning system for secure, signed, and permanent single-page web applications.

This specification is intended as a publishing format for web developers that application loaders will consume. An application loader might be a wrapper around a single web application to provide versioning or a loader might provide a collection of programs through a mobile home screen or desktop icon-style interface, as an example.

HTML files, once published, are immutable. Some content-addressed delivery protocols implicitly convey the hash of the content in their addressing scheme, but for other delivery mechanisms like HTTP there are integrity and signature attributes to add additional verification. Embedded content hashes create a merkle DAG structure that protects against tampering and guards against availability outages and orphaned content. Application loaders can query secondary archives and mirrors by hash when a primary resource is unavailable.

The design of this specification is tailored to work with existing HTTP servers, but also to support emerging new distributed protocols such as ipfs, webtorrent, and ssb.

example

<html>
  <head>
    <meta name="version" content="1.2.0">
    <link rel="signature" href="https://example.com/versions/1.2.0.html.sig"
      integrity="ed25519-XIuQBrc84d+KHryxLJ4b/d0JwTV2FtnTDVuiSjRvwsA=">
    <link rel="version" href="https://example.com/versions/1.0.0.html"
      version="1.0.0" integrity="sha256-mPjSxFzbBSy+LyCVyylIf5E/7zswbvsL4D/qxCAqrjY">
    <link rel="version" version="1.0.0"
      href="magnet:?xt=urn:btih:4822271aa656ba6913a14edb117d3c4dc50f1209">
    <link rel="version" href="https://example.com/versions/1.0.1.html"
      version="1.0.1" integrity="sha256-Qra3bKdpoprvRqkTF96gWOa0dPkA8MHYxOJqVsvkzIY=">
    <link rel="version" version="1.0.1"
      href="magnet:?xt=urn:btih:d0320ebba035cc86526baae771da14912895e113">
    <link rel="version" version="1.0.1"
      href="ipfs:QmNcojAWDNwf1RZsPsG2ABvK4FVs7yq4iwSrKaMdPwV3Sh">
    <link rel="version" href="https://example.com/versions/1.1.0.html"
      version="1.1.0" integrity="sha256-9VGwnCJuLbwo/N+TL1Ia9whqP8kVwEO8K0IFTUQk19o=">
    <link rel="version" version="1.1.0"
      href="ipfs:QmWMey8Dd1ZH9XWRP3d7N1oSoL35uou1GSMpBwt4UahFSD">
    <link rel="latest-version" href="https://example.com/versions/latest.html">
    <link rel="latest-version"
      href="magnet:?xt=urn:btih:4a533d47ec9c7d95b1ad75f576cffc641853b750">
    <link rel="latest-version"
      href="ipns:QmWJ9zRgvEvdzBPm1pshDqqFKqMXRJoHDQ4nuocHYS2REk">
    <link rel="predecessor-version" version="1.1.0">
  </head>
  <body>
    wow
  </body>
</html>

All external assets should either include integrity attributes or should be included inline. This way the entire document can be tracked under a single hash with a merkle DAG structure.

elements

This specification consists of a list of <meta> and <link> elements with certain expected attributes.

It is valid but entirely optional to use self-closing (/>) syntax for <link> and <meta> tags.

It is recommended but not required to put these elements in a <head> block.

meta version (required)

An HTML file MUST have a SINGLE meta version tag with a format specified in meta-version:

  • The content attribute MUST be a valid semver version.
  • The name attribute MUST be "version".

The version content refers to the semantic version of the current HTML file.

Example:

<meta name="version" content="1.2.3">

signature link

A <link rel="signature"> links to a cryptographic signature of the current document contents.

  • rel - "signature" (required)
  • href - external resource where the detached signature data can be found
  • integrity - See the integrity section below.

The content of the signature payload at href depends on the cryptographic algorithms in use. Base64 is recommended to avoid binary encoding issues.

Some protocols like ipfs, ssb, bittorrent/webtorrent (with bep44) have cryptographic signatures built into the routing layer. For these protocols, a signature link is not necessary. However, a different signature than the protocol signature can provide an extra layer of verification and is recommended if there are protocols like HTTP in use that don't have signatures built into the addressing mechanism.

For a public key generated by libsodium's crypto_sign_keypair(), the link signature might be:

<link rel="signature" href="https://example.com/versions/1.2.0.html.sig"
  integrity="ed25519-jOT2v2uG9VFb0oGyFkGUn9w/WBwSf92HfdJZuY61brU=">

and for the example.html file included in this specification, the contents of https://example.com/versions/1.2.0.html.sig would be:

BzVpYkSHataBHlDeABgMUL3ohzjJQSxnfilPbCmFLtY+vEAJDHvRjp6ACfIEZI4CgXoSW09wjnPEQuepCqG0Cg==

predecessor-version link

If there are any previous versions of the application, the current HTML file MUST include a <link rel="predecessor-version"> element.

An HTML file may contain many <link rel="predecessor-version"> elements to redundantly enumerate different ways to fetch the desired content, but all the hrefs should point at the exact same content.

The attributes for this <link> element are:

  • rel - "predecessor-version" (required)
  • href - external resource where the content can be found
  • integrity - See the section on the integrity attribute below.
  • version - if href is not given in this element and there is a corresponding <link rel="version"> defined elsewhere in the document, specifying a version attribute will populate the href and integrity attributes from the found versions.

Either integrity or version are required. It's OK to have both.

Protocols without implicit content verification such as HTTP are strongly recommended to use the optional integrity attribute. Other protocols which are content-addressed can skip including a an integrity attribute.

Example:

<link rel="predecessor-version" href="https://example.com/versions/1.2.2.html"
  integrity="sha256-x8x4WcOdpYiETf5EwK0Y5Jwa4e8Tsc7gkIwwcyyu3B0=">

Example with a corresponding version tag:

<link rel="version" version="1.2.2"
  href="https://example.com/versions/1.2.2.html"
  integrity="sha256-x8x4WcOdpYiETf5EwK0Y5Jwa4e8Tsc7gkIwwcyyu3B0=">
<link rel="predecessor-version" version="1.2.2">

latest-version link

To tell an application loader how to fetch new content, use the <link rel="latest-version"> element.

Each <link rel="latest-version"> element points at a resource where the latest version will reside.

The latest version links use these attributes:

  • rel - "latest-version" (required)
  • href - external URI where updates may appear
  • integrity - See the integrity section below.

If integrity refers to any public key identities, it's not necessary to check any signatures below the current document, because the merkle DAG structure implicitly verifies their integrity.

Example:

<link rel="latest-version" href="https://example.com/versions/latest.html">
<link rel="latest-version"
  href="magnet:?xt=urn:btih:4a533d47ec9c7d95b1ad75f576cffc641853b750">
<link rel="latest-version"
  href="ipns:QmWJ9zRgvEvdzBPm1pshDqqFKqMXRJoHDQ4nuocHYS2REk">

version link

Provide semantic versioning for HTML content with a <link rel="version"> element and these attributes:

  • rel - "version" (required)
  • version - semver-compatible version string (required)
  • href - external resource where the content can be found
  • integrity - See the section on the integrity attribute below.

There can be multiple <link rel="version"> tags for the same version and content, but different hrefs. Once a version has been associated with some content, no other content may be defined for that version. Application loaders MUST treat multiple content mapping to the same version as integrity errors.

A document doesn't need to exhaustively enumerate past versions. Version info is intended to shortcut reading in the entire merkle DAG by traversing every <link rel="prev"> element recursively, reducing the number of round-trip requests.

Example:

<link rel="version" href="https://example.com/versions/1.0.0.html"
  version="1.0.0" integrity="sha256-mPjSxFzbBSy+LyCVyylIf5E/7zswbvsL4D/qxCAqrjY=">
<link rel="version" version="1.0.0"
  href="magnet:?xt=urn:btih:4822271aa656ba6913a14edb117d3c4dc50f1209">

integrity attribute

The format of the integrity attribute is defined in the subresource integrity specification.

To briefly summarize the most common use case, integrity data begins with an algorithm name followed by a dash followed by a base64 encoded digest.

For example, using sha256, the string "test" becomes:

sha256-n4bQgYhMfWWaL+qgxVrQFaO/TxsrC4Is0V1sFbDwCgg=

Multiple hashes may be specified in the same integrity attribute value, whitespace-separated. This is useful to gracefully upgrade to newer hashing algorithms with a fallback for older clients.

The subresource integrity specification requires that sha256, sha512, and sha384 are supported. Additional hashing algorithms may be used.

This specification also requires support for "ed25519" signing keys, as defined by libsodium's crypto_sign_keypair and crypto_sign_detached functions.

Some protocols implicitly verify signing keys through addressing, but for HTTP, servers should use rfc6249. For an ed25519 key, an HTTP server response header might look like:

Link: <http://example.com/whatever.sig>; rel=describedby; type="application/ed25519-signature"

Instead of a URL, an inline signature might be used:

Link: <data:application/ed25519-signature;base64,BzVpYkSHataBHlDeABgMUL3ohzjJQSxnfilPbCmFLtY+vEAJDHvRjp6ACfIEZI4CgXoSW09wjnPEQuepCqG0Cg==>

license

This document is dedicated to the public domain.