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WWW Distributed Authoring and Versioning

Document Charter WWW Distributed Authoring and Versioning WG (webdav)
Title WWW Distributed Authoring and Versioning
Last updated 2007-03-13
State Approved
WG State Concluded
IESG Responsible AD (None)
Charter edit AD (None)
Send notices to (None)

The goal of this working group is to define extensions to the Hypertext
Transfer Protocol (HTTP) that enable remote collaborative authoring of
Web resources. This is the third charter for
this Working Group, and does not include items
that have already been completed by this Working
Group (base WebDAV Proposed Standard, ordered
collections extension, and access control

When the WebDAV working group was initially formed, it was reacting to
experience from circa-1995/96 HTML authoring tools that showed they
were unable to meet their user's needs using the facilities of the HTTP
protocol. The observed consequences were either postponed introduction
of distributed authoring capability, or the addition of nonstandard
extensions to the HTTP protocol. These extensions, developed in
isolation, are not interoperable. The WebDAV Distributed Authoring
Protocol, RFC 2518, addressed these concerns by providing facilities 
overwrite prevention (locking), metadata management (properties), and
namespace management (copy, move, collections).

Despite their utility, several important capabilities were not 
in the initial Distributed Authoring Protocol. It is a goal to create
protocols to support these capabilities:

* Referential Containment (Bindings): The WebDAV Distributed Authoring
 Protocol has unusual containment semantics where multiple containment
 is allowed, but not supported by any protocol operations, yet
 container deletion assumes inclusion containment, deleting the
 container and its members. Most object management systems provide
 full support for referential containment, and have delete semantics 
 only remove the container without affecting contained objects.

* Namespace Redirection (Redirect References): HTTP, via its 301 and
 302 responses, supports namespace redirection where a request on one
 URL is returned to the client with instructions to resubmit the same
 request to another URL.

As with most application layer protocols, implementation and field
experience on the WebDAV Distributed Authoring Protocol has highlighted
many issues that should be addressed as the protocol is advanced from
proposed to draft standard status. Some of these issues will require
additional deliberation within the WebDAV working group.


The following items were initially identified as being out of scope for
the WebDAV working group, and continue to be such:

* Definition of core attribute sets, beyond those attributes necessary
 for the implementation of distributed authoring and versioning

* Creation of new authentication schemes

* HTTP server to server communication protocols

* Distributed authoring via protocols other than HTTP and SMTP

* Implementation of functionality by non-origin proxies


The further output of this working group is expected to be these

1. A Bindings Protocol, providing a specification of operations
 supporting referential containment for WebDAV collections. [Proposed

2. A Redirect References Protocol, providing a specification of
 operations for remote maintenance of namespace redirections, and the
 interaction of these redirections with existing HTTP and WebDAV
 methods. [Proposed Standard]

4. An updated version of WebDAV Distributed Authoring Protocol that
 resolves known issues with the protocol. [Draft Standard]

At present, the Binding Protocol and Redirect Reference protocols have
been through a WG last call but major changes were made and another
WG last call seems advised. The revision of the WebDAV Distributed
Authoring Protocol has been started.

In addition to the IETF Internet-Draft repository
(, the most recent versions of these
documents are accessible via links from the WebDAV Home Page,
(, and on WebDAV Resources,