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Fielding on MOVE & COPY

From: Jim Whitehead <ejw@ics.uci.edu>
Date: Wed, 4 Sep 1996 10:09:45 -0400
Message-Id: <ae533ce00202100480b1@[18.52.0.181]>
To: w3c-dist-auth@w3.org
Yaron Goland asked Roy Fielding last week what the history was on the MOVE
and COPY methods which were in the initial HTTP 1.1 draft, and which were
subsequently removed.  Roy cc'ed his response to me, and I feel it is of
interest to the group.

- Jim

Roy Fielding:

That part of the early HTTP/1.1 spec (draft 00) was never completed,
so it probably isn't worth looking at.  The only thing I did was
define the methods COPY and MOVE as being methods, but did not supply
the other information that would be needed to make them work.
In fact, I think we are better-off without any MOVE and instead just
have a COPY and DELETE combination (the reason being that the copy
destination needs to "run" the copy method, but only the copy source is
capable of running the delete method -- since the source and destination
can be different servers).

Basically, what I started to do was to use those method names and have
the source of the action be the request-URI.  However, I now believe that
the request-URI needs to be the destination-URI, since it is the destination
server which will be performing the COPY operation.  The question is: how do
you specify the source-URI(s) for the copy?
I originally thought that using a Location or Content-Location header
field on the request would do it, but that makes those fields more
difficult to specify.  Instead, what I suggest is that you use the
body of the request as a list of source URIs for the copy, e.g.,

    COPY /new/resource HTTP/1.1
    Host: www.ics.uci.edu
    Content-Type: text/uri-list
    Content-Length: 38

    http://www.microsoft.com/old/resource

which would have the added benefit of allowing multiple copies

    COPY /new/dir/ HTTP/1.1
    Host: www.ics.uci.edu
    Content-Type: text/uri-list
    Content-Length: 640

    http://www.ics.uci.edu/pub/ietf/http/hypermail/1996q3/0001.html
    http://www.ics.uci.edu/pub/ietf/http/hypermail/1996q3/0002.html
    http://www.ics.uci.edu/pub/ietf/http/hypermail/1996q3/0003.html
    http://www.ics.uci.edu/pub/ietf/http/hypermail/1996q3/0004.html
    http://www.ics.uci.edu/pub/ietf/http/hypermail/1996q3/0005.html
    http://www.ics.uci.edu/pub/ietf/http/hypermail/1996q3/0006.html
    http://www.ics.uci.edu/pub/ietf/http/hypermail/1996q3/0007.html
    http://www.ics.uci.edu/pub/ietf/http/hypermail/1996q3/0008.html
    http://www.ics.uci.edu/pub/ietf/http/hypermail/1996q3/0009.html
    http://www.ics.uci.edu/pub/ietf/http/hypermail/1996q3/0010.html

in a single request.  That one could also be done using relative URIs.
Received on Thursday, 5 September 1996 13:08:40 GMT

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