How to? How can I test "if isdir"/"if isfile" tests on an HTTP site?

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When using HTTP, both if isdir and if isfile always report the specified object does not exist; if exist always reports that it does exist. I found no method to determine whether or not a file or directory exists without attempting to copy all of its content. Is this a limitation of HTTP, or is it technically possible to make ISDIR / ISFILE tests?
That's why FTP was invented, so remote users could browse, and download only what they need... and do it with a protocol with a much lower transmission error probability. My question would not have arisen if I were not forced to use HTTP with some sites that do not support FTP...