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Re: FW: DeltaV Passthrough issues

From: Geoffrey M. Clemm <geoffrey.clemm@rational.com>
Date: Sun, 4 Feb 2001 11:32:45 -0500 (EST)
Message-Id: <200102041632.LAA19279@tantalum.atria.com>
To: ietf-dav-versioning@w3.org

Note: Lisa asks a bunch of great questions here.  They are all
good candidates for FAQ entries.  For the moment, I'll just
do the easy thing and answer them in email.  I'll try to get
this info transcribed to the FAQ.  If anyone else has a chance
to enter this information in the FAQ, that would be greatly

   From: "Lisa Dusseault" <lisa@xythos.com>

   In an earlier mail, Geoff said:

      From: "Lisa Dusseault" <lisa@xythos.com>

      What about getting the DAV:version property for the base
      resource, which if pass-through is working to the current
      target, should result in getting the DAV:version for the current

   > I'm not sure what you mean by "if pass-through is working to the
   > current target", but in any case, as Greg pointed out, if you
   > want the version URL for the DAV:checked-in or DAV:checked-out
   > version of a version-controlled resource, you get that from the
   > DAV:checked-in and DAV:checked-out property value.  There's no
   > need to have a second way of getting the same information."

   What I meant by "passthrough" is what has been talked about before in
   the context of redirect resources, and now seems to be a feature of

In the versioning protocol, "passthrough" behavior is a characteristic
of a particular method or header, not a characteristic of a resource.
Each method or header that has some form of "passthrough" behavior
states explicitly what this behavior is.  For example, the LABEL
method is defined as redirecting to the DAV:checked-in version when it
is applied to a version-controlled resource.

But there is no "implicit" pass through by a version-controlled
resource.  This is explicitly stated in section 2.1.

   To recap:  When new kinds of resources that have targets,
   like "Direct Reference Resources" or "Version controlled Resources"
   (DRR/VCR), are exposed to clients that are not familiar with the new
   kinds of resources, it's often beneficial to allow some of the methods
   the client may send to "pass through" to the target of DRR/VCR.

A version-controlled resource does not have a "target".  We
explicitly got rid of this term because it was misleading people
into thinking just what you describe above.  Pass through behavior
only occurs when explicitly requested by a header, or when
explicitly defined in the semantics of a new method.

This has allowed us to avoid all of the complexity that caused
the WebDAV working group to give up on defining a "direct reference
resource" (i.e. no need to make the same mistake twice :-).

   when RR/VCRs exist in collections along with ordinary resources,
   PROPFIND can usefully show properties of the target resources, along
   with properties of the DRR/VCR itself.

The DAV:expand-property report has been defined to allow a client to
get this result under explicit client control.  One of the reasons
this has to be explicit is that there are many properties
(modification date, locking, comment) that have different values on
the version-controlled resource and the DAV:checked-in version,
and it is important that a client not confuse the two values
or the two resources.

   So when I do a PROPFIND depth 1
   on a directory asking for the "DAV:content-length" property, it would be
   useful for me to see the content-length of ordinary resources, the
   content-length of the targets of links, and the content-length of the
   target version of each VCR.  I thought this was called "passthrough"
   when bindings were being discussed, but apparently is no longer refered
   to in this way.

There is explicit client requested "pass through" for properties via
the DAV:expand-property report.  This avoids the complexity and
potential confusion that results from "implicit pass through".

   Anyway, the idea for bindings at one time was to allow some kind of
   reference resource to exist, which when queried, would respond "as if"
   it was the target resource.

Bindings (as they are currently defined in the Binding internet
draft) explicitly are not a redirect resource, but are a way to
give two different names to the same resource.  The key difference
here is that there are not two resources, but rather just one
resource with two names.  This avoids all the confusion related
to "which resource the method gets applied to".

   However, sometimes the client wants to
   address the reference resource directly.  The server needs to know if
   the client is addressing the reference resource, or the target of the
   reference resource.  Thus, the "Apply-To-Redirect-Ref" header was
   defined.  If the client includes this header, e.g. with a DELETE, the
   server can understand this to mean that the client wishes to delete the
   redirect reference itself, rather than get redirected to the target

This "apply-to-redirect-ref" approach always produced confusing
or counter-intuitive behavior in some cases (especially in conjunction
with a Depth header), which was a significant factor in the
abandonment of the direct reference resource effort.

   All of this applies to versioning, because with the current state of the
   draft, it's clear that a VCR is a kind of reference resource.

Well, let's see what the first section of the core versioning semantics
section has to say:

       Note that a version-controlled resource and the current
       DAV:checked-in version of that version-controlled resource are two
       distinct resources, with their own content and properties.  When a
       method is applied to a version-controlled resource, it is applied
       to that version-controlled resource and not to the DAV:checked-in
       version of that version-controlled resource.  Although the content
       and dead properties of a checked-in version-controlled resource are
       required to be the same as those of its current DAV:checked-in
       version, its live properties may differ.  An implementation may
       optimize storage by retrieving the content and dead properties of a
       checked-in version-controlled resource from its current
       DAV:checked-in version rather than storing them in the version-
       controlled resource, but this is just an implementation

I'm not sure how we could be clearer that a version-controlled resource is
not a reference to a version, and there is no implicit passthrough.

   I quote:

   "A PUT or PROPPATCH to a version-controlled resource with the
   DAV:auto-version property set will automatically check out that resource
   prior to executing the PUT or PROPPATCH.  If that resource is
   write-locked, the resource remains checked-out until the resource is
   unlocked, at which time the resource is checked in and a new version is
   created in the version history of that resource."

I don't see any pass-through behavior here.  All operations
are on the version-controlled resource.  A new "version" resource
is created, but the operations are on the version-controlled resource.

   "For certain methods (e.g. GET, PROPFIND), if the request-URL identifies
   a version-controlled resource, a label can be specified in a Label
   request header to cause the method to be applied to the version selected
   by that label from the version history of that version-controlled

Yes, a Label header is one of the ways that a user can explicitly ask
that a method be applied to a resource related to the request resource,
but that is a case of explicitly requested pass through behavior
(via the Label header).

   This means that PUT and PROPPATCH are ALWAYS parsed as applying to the
   version (passthrough), even though the URL was to the VCR.

PUT and PROPPATCH are redirected only when the client explicitly
requests it with the Label header.

   It also
   means that GET and PROPFIND _sometimes_ apply to the version

Only when explicitly requested via the Label header.

   It's not as clear what other methods are applied to.  It seems MOVE
   source is defined as the VCR (no passthrough), but the COPY source is
   the defined as the default version.

No, the COPY source is not the "default version" because there is no
default version.  There is the content and dead properties of the
version-controlled resource.  It is true that when a
version-controlled resource is checked-in, that there is a version
resource that has the same content and dead properties as that
version-controlled resource, but that has no effect on the semantics
of the COPY operation, which always applies to the version-controlled
resource.  When a version-controlled resource is checked-out, it
doesn't even have a DAV:checked-in version.

   The language all seems to imply
   that a COPY when the source URL is a VCR should be interpreted as
   copying the latest version from the source, to the destination.

Section 2.1 explicitly states that this is not the case, to avoid
anyone making such an interpretation.

   The consequence of a model that supports "pass through" to the target of
   a reference resource is that the model must specify clearly when
   passthrough occurs, and when it doesn't.

That is correct.  Happily, the versioning model explicitly states that
implicit pass through does not occur, so there is no need to deal with
this issue.

  In addition:
    - What methods the Label: header can apply to (and what it _can't_)

An interoperable client can count on the Label header applying to a
method only when the protocol explicitly says it applies to that
method.  Some future extension of the protocol may want to extend the
number of methods that a header applies to, so we deliberately never
say that a method MUST NOT have a given header.

    - When the label header is absent, for each method, what does it apply
   to -- the VCR or the target version?

There is no implicit pass-through behavior, so this question does not
arise.  If a particular method has some kind of pass-through behavior,
it will be explicitly stated in the semantics of that method.

    - Whether there is a way of overriding the default assumption of what
   the method applies to

The default assumption is the same default assumption of HTTP, namely
that the method applies to the resource identified by the request-URL.
The only way to override this assumption is to use a method or header
that explicitly specifies some redirecting behavior.

   Some of the specific questions that came up when I was reading the spec:
    - If any PROPPATCH to a VCR actually creates a new version; how does
   one proppatch the properties actually on a VCR, such as
   DAV:auto-version, DAV:predecessor-set and DAV:precursor-set, which
   aren't protected?

The only time a PROPPATCH to a VCR creates a new version is when it is
a dead property.  None of these properties are dead properties, so they
never create a new version when they are modified.

    - If a PROPFIND with a Label: header is applied to a non
   version-controlled resource, what does "no effect" mean?  What happens
   if the specified label wasn't found -- does PROPFIND then return the
   properties of the target version?  Or the VCR?

"No effect" means that the result is the same as if the request did
not include the Label header.

    - Does a PROPFIND to a VCR result ever result in a merge of the
   properties of the VCR and its target version?

No.  In general, if the protocol doesn't say it happens, it doesn't
happen.  Note that we reserve this kind of information is appropriate
for the FAQ, because the protocol would get a bit long if we had
to define in the protocol everything that doesn't happen (:-).

    - Since COPY seems to always get its content from a single version, I
   would say that "passthrough" always seems to be on for COPY.  Is there
   any way of NOT doing passthrough with COPY?  I.e, is there any way of
   copying a VCR along with its VHR and VRs?

COPY only is guaranteed to copy dead properties.  The versioning
protocol explicitly states that a COPY MUST NOT copy the versioning
properties.  If you want to create another version-controlled
resource for the same version history, you must use the VERSION-CONTROL
request.  If you want to create another version-controlled resource
with a new version history, your server may do this for you
automatically (by placing every new resource under version control),
or you can do it explicitly with the VERSION-CONTROL request.

   This would result in two
   VCRs, two VHs and 2*n VRs, which would be the same initially, but could
   diverge after.

By "the same", I assume you mean "there is a version in one version
history with the same content and dead properties as a particular version
in the other version history".  If so, yes.

   A related issue is one I brought up in a separate mail, but I'll explain
   the relationship here too:  how does one define properties which apply
   not to an individual version, but to the whole shebang -- to the VCR,
   VHR and all VRs?  An example is "owner", which in its meaning of "the
   person responsible for this resource", can be taken to mean that when
   ownership of a VCR is transferred the new owner becomes responsible for
   all old versions related to the VCR.  No?  But we can't go about
   changing properties of old versions...

It sounds like you're talking about properties on the version history
resource.  Your server of course must then support the version history
option, but then you PROPPATCH the version history resource just as you
would PROPPATCH any other resource.

Again, great set of questions, Lisa!  Now if you could transcribe this
information to the FAQ ... (:-).

Received on Sunday, 4 February 2001 11:33:47 UTC

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