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Formerly Known As Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) & Mime Application Types
While they are properly referred to as Internet Media Types today, many people still call them MIME types. This paper uses the terms Internet Media Type and MIME type interchangeably.
Back in 1996, when the Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) types first came into use, people still weren't exactly sure how the whole Internet thing was going to play out. E-mail made sense to the average person; they could understand what it was and why it would be useful.
The World Wide Web, on the other hand, was pretty much an entirely new concept. People didn't understand what it was and it took some time to catch on. In the nineties, watching videos on the Web was only in its infancy. YouTube was far from even being considered.
This is why MIME types came into place and were named as they were. When the convention RFC 2045 was brought into place, people mostly used e-mail clients to share and view media. Fast forward to 2015 and users are consuming media with all types of browsers, on all types of devices.
While we still share media using e-mail, most users in 2015 consume Internet media through web browsers, such as Firefox and Internet Explorer and Android and iPhone apps.
The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is the body responsible for Internet Media Type naming conventions and it maintains the only central database of registered Internet Media Types.
An Internet Media Type is contained in the header of HTML documents. Browsers downloading the page use Internet Media Type information to choose appropriate programs to display components of web pages.
Internet Media Types contain two parts: a type and a subtype. Types are sometimes referred to as a top-level types to differentiate them from subtypes.
Presently, IANA-approved Internet Media Types include:
There are many subtypes registered with the IANA. Users may encounter the "vnd," "x-" and "x" subtypes. "Vnd" refers to subtypes registered by software producers, or vendors.
The IANA strongly discourages the use of "x" and "x-" Internet media subtypes. Some users contend that there is a need for their use within private networks. In order for "x" subtypes to be effectively used, both the receiver and transmitter of data must be in agreement of how the standard is implemented.
RFC 6838 outlines the Internet Engineering Task Force's (IETF) stance on "x" Internet media subtypes. "X" subtypes may not be registered and may only be used on private networks.
Vanity and personal Internet media subtypes may also be in use under the "prs" subtype.
The method used to set a file's MIME type in its header varies depending on the language being used. For a rich text document, for example, the code to set the type is as follows:
// Type System.Web.HttpResponse
response.ContentType = "text/rtf";
<% response.ContentType="text/rtf" %><% response.ContentType="text/rtf" %>
// Type javax.servlet.ServletReponse
Refer to the top 4 boxes on each page for facts on each mime application type.