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FW: WebDAV Collections: Rationale for Lock Semantics

From: Slein, Judith A <JSlein@crt.xerox.com>
Date: Mon, 8 Feb 1999 10:38:14 -0500
Message-ID: <201BB34B3A73D1118C1F00805F1582E8B76DB3@x-wb-0128-nt8.wrc.xerox.com>
To: "'WebDAV'" <w3c-dist-auth@w3.org>
Locking for references has turned out to be a very difficult area that the
advanced collections design team has been discussing for several weeks.  The
position we have reached is:

1. When locking a collection with Depth = infinity, if the collection
contains redirect references, the redirect references will be locked.  The
response will *not* include 302 response codes for redirect references.  The
response element for a redirect reference does include reftype and
reftarget, so that a referencing client can lock the reference's target if
it wants to.

Rationale: A 302 response code for a redirect reference would cause the
entire lock request to fail.  In effect, we would be making it impossible to
lock collections that contain redirect references.  This is unacceptable.
This means that down-level clients will not realize that the target resource
has not been locked, but we felt this consequence was less objectionable
than failing the lock altogether.  Although we could have chosen to require
the server to lock the target resource as well as the redirect reference,
this would have violated the purpose of redirect references, which is to
provide a level of referencing that is simple for servers to implement, and
in particular does not require them to operate on target resources that may
reside on other servers.

2. When the request-URI of a LOCK request identifies a redirect reference,
the reference will be locked.  Although most requests to redirect references
get 302 responses, there will *not* be a 302 response to a LOCK request.
This is for consistency with 1.

The attached note discusses our decisions about LOCK for direct references
and the rationale for them.


> -----Original Message-----
> From:	Slein, Judith A 
> Sent:	Wednesday, February 03, 1999 1:51 PM
> To:	Alan Babich; Chuck Fay; Geoff Clemm; Jim Davis; Jim Whitehead;
> jslein; Tyson Chihaya
> Subject:	WebDAV Collections: Rationale for Lock Semantics
> 
> I promised to try to capture the rationale behind our decision on locking
> semantics for direct references.  We decided that by default, a LOCK on a
> direct reference would lock the target, not the reference.  For locks with
> Depth=infinity on collections that contain direct references, the targets
> of the direct reference would be locked, and not the references
> themselves.
> 
The No-Passthrough header can be used with any LOCK request, and causes the
lock to be applied to any direct references in the scope of the request,
rather than to their targets.

> -------------
> 
> No matter what semantics we choose, there are some objectionable
> consequences.  So we are forced to select the least objectionable
> semantics.
> 
> The options for direct references are:
> Lock only the target (our choice this week)
> Lock only the reference
> Lock both the target and the reference
> 
> Goals:
> 1. No surprises for clients
> 2. Efficient implementation possible
> 3. Be consistent with the WebDAV spec
> 4. Preserve the distinction between direct and redirect references as
> cleanly as possible.
> 5. Be consistent with the behavior of other methods on direct references
> as far as possible, especially for collections (PROPFIND).
> 
> Lock only the target:
> 1. Someone may change the reference to point elsewhere while the LOCK is
> present. This will surprise the lock holder.  It's a change to the
> namespace that appears as a change in content.  This problem can be
> avoided if referencing clients make it a practice to check whether the
> target is locked before moving or deleting a direct reference.  In
> addition, a referencing client can lock both the reference and its target
> by performing two LOCK operations, one with No-Passthrough.
> Both down-level and referencing clients would be surprised, though the
> referencing client at least could figure out what had happened.
> 2. Locking a collection can be costly, especially if direct references in
> the collection point to other collections.
> 3. This is inconsistent with the WebDAV spec, which requires that if a
> collection is locked with Depth=infinity, all members of the collection
> get locked.  The reference is the member of the collection, but we are not
> locking it.  (From the client's point of view, however, we are locking the
> collection member.)
> 4-5. This clearly maintains the difference between redirect and direct
> references, and follows the general semantics we have established for
> direct references: operations on direct references affect only the target,
> unless the No-Passthrough header is used, in which case the operation
> affects only the reference.
> 
> Lock Both the Target and the Reference:
> 1. This prevents surprises caused by changing the reference to point to a
> different target while only the target is locked.
> (It's still possible to cause surprises in a hierarchy of references
> /X/Y.html by changing /X/ to point to a difference target.)
> 2. Locking a collection can be costly, especially if direct references in
> the collection point to other collections.
> 3. This is consistent with the semantics of locking defined in WebDAV.
> 4. This maintains the difference between direct and redirect references.
> 5. It is inconsistent with the semantics of other operations on direct
> references.  There is no other case where both the reference and its
> target are affected by a single operation.
> It is inconsistent with PROPFIND on a collection that contains direct
> references, which by default retrieves the properties of the targets.
> 
> Lock Only the Reference:
> 1. Clients (especially down-level clients) may be surprised.  Their lock
> operation is successful, but the target is not locked, so someone else can
> change the target.  (Someone else can also lock a different direct
> reference to the same target.)
> 2. Makes locking a collection efficient.  You never have to go outside the
> hierarchy where you started.
> 3. This is consistent with the semantics of locking defined in WebDAV.
> 4. Blurs the distinction between direct and redirect references, since the
> server does not resolve the reference in this case, even though it is
> dealing with a direct reference.
> 5. This is inconsistent with the semantics of other operations on direct
> references, which generally affect the target, not the reference.  There
> are exceptions -- DELETE, MOVE, COPY -- but these are all because their
> primary effect is to modify the namespace as seen by the client.  That
> rationale wouldn't apply in this case.
> This is inconsistent with the semantics of PROPFIND on collections.
> 
> 3 = best, 1 = worst
> 				Lock Target	Lock Reference		Lock
> Both
> 
> Surprise			2		1			3
> 
> Efficiency			1		3			1
> 
> Consistency with WebDAV	1		3			3
> 
> Consistency with definitions	3		1			3
> of direct / redirect
> 
> Consistency with other		3		1
> 1
> referencing semantics
> 
> So in choosing to lock only the target of a direct reference, we are
> choosing consistency with other referencing definitions and semantics over
> other considerations.  We also can avoid surprising results by including
> an implementation note encouraging referencing clients to check whether
> the target is locked before deleting or replacing a direct reference.  We
> choose not to be too concerned about efficiency because we have provided
> redirect references for servers that want to provide low-cost referencing.
> 
> The most serious objection to our decision is that it is inconsistent with
> the WebDAV specification's locking semantics.  In justification, we can
> say that those semantics were specified before referencing had been
> investigated, and that we are honoring the intent, though not the letter,
> of those semantics. The point of direct references is to make it appear to
> users as if the target resource is a member of the collection where the
> reference in fact resides, and to hide from users the existence of the
> reference.  Locking the target comes closer to giving the user the
> illusion that the collection and its members have been locked than locking
> the reference does.  (Locking both comes closer still, and also satisfies
> the WebDAV semantics.)
> 
> -- Judy
> 
> Judith A. Slein
> Xerox Corporation
> jslein@crt.xerox.com
> (716)422-5169
> 800 Phillips Road 105/50C
> Webster, NY 14580
> 
Received on Monday, 8 February 1999 10:35:43 GMT

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