What should be done with this document?

Web browsers have to figure out what to do with certain documents. Even if they pass the document off to some other program (such as Acrobat) to deal with they have to know which program to pass it off to. There is a subtle negotiation going on behind the scenes to enable the browser to do what's appropriate.

In general the responsibilities divide up as follows:

  1. The server tells the browser what the "Content-type" of the document is.
  2. The client (browser) decides what to do with a document of that type.

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Jeff Goldberg