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Re: BINDing using a weak reference

From: Geoffrey M. Clemm <geoffrey.clemm@rational.com>
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1999 22:47:03 -0500
Message-Id: <9912080347.AA01622@tantalum>
To: w3c-dist-auth@w3.org

Before diving in, I'd like to thank Eric for becoming active
in the working group!  Getting this kind of in depth analysis
is of immense value as we try to nail down the spec for last call.

   From: "Eric Sedlar" <esedlar@us.oracle.com>

   Are you assuming that WebDAV servers will generally be standalone
   repositories, or do expect existing repositories (e.g. ClearCase,
   MSExchange, Oracle RDBMS) will implement WebDAV in addition to other
   protocols they currently use to access information therein?

The latter.

   Do you
   expect WebDAV servers to be only used for managing development content
   or also to manage production content?


   It would seem like you would
   want the broadest audience possible, and that would include existing
   servers and handling both development and production content.


   If you
   implementing WebDAV on an existing server breaks their existing
   guarantees, they won't be able to support WebDAV, which seems like an
   undesirable outcome.

The challenge is that different server implementations (e.g. file
systems, relational databases, document mgmt repositories, versioning
repositories) have very different guarantees, so defining a protocol
that allows clients to interoperate with all of them inevitably leads
to choices that are not optimal for any particular existing server.

The example of the Unix file system was intended to illustrate how
your (very reasonable) definition of strong/weak bindings are problematic
when applied to a different server implementation (i.e. the Unix file

   It seems to me that the most common type of WebDAV application would
   be managing content on a web site, and the most common type of search
   (as is most common today) would be the Yahoo-like one box keyword
   search across the entire resource space, or perhaps contrained across
   a certain class of resources, like Amazon's "Search all books"
   functionality.  If I want to implement this functionality against a
   resource space managed by WebDAV, I'm screwed if I defer garbage

A WebDAV site will commonly contained the source resources from which
derived resources are computed, as well as historical information
(e.g. previous revisions of existing information).  In the case of
Yahoo-like searches, unless they are constrained to a particular tree
(and in the case of versioning, a particular tree with a particular
target-selector header), many/most of the "hits" will be incorrect.
The "search all resources" approach works when only "deployed"
resources exist at a site ... with WebDAV support, there will be much
more available, and naive searches that don't restrict themselves
to a particular hierarchy will no longer be effective.

   >    Also,
   >    deferring the garbage collection associated with the unlink breaks the
   >    transactional guarantee when people COMMIT their work.
   > There is no COMMIT functionality in WebDAV, so this would not be an issue.

   Are you assuming that WebDAV can only be implemented against
   non-transactional content repositories?

No - we are just assuming that WebDAV must be implementable
on either a transactional or a non-transactional server, which
means that no cross-request transactional behavior can be 
assumed or required.

   If so, you should state that
   in the charter for WebDAV.  I think you would be unnecessarily
   restricting the number of vendors interested in WebDAV if you did

If there is any problem implementing WebDAV on a transactional server,
please flag it!  My point was just that WebDAV cannot assume cross-request
transactional behavior, so an argument based on what is needed to support
cross-request transactions would not apply to the WebDAV protocol.
Perhaps I misunderstood your point about COMMIT?

   >    <es> locking a URL locks the namespace, not the resource.
   > I assume this only applies to weak bindings (i.e. there must be some
   > way to lock the resource itself, so I assume that is done through a
   > strong binding?).

   I'm jumping to conclusions here based on the conversations you have
   been having with Yaron Goland.  Given that some applications will want
   to reserve the entire pathname when they LOCK it to prevent it from
   being moved, it seemed like a dichotomy would have to be introduced
   where there are two separate types of LOCK operations: one that locks
   the name separately from another request that locks the resource it
   refers to.

Currently, that is not the case for RFC-2518.  A lock is applied to the
URL and results in both a lock on the resource identified by the URL,
and the protection of the mapping of that URL to that resource.

   >    The resource the locked URL points to may actually be deleted while
   >    the URL to it is locked.   In this case the resource
   >    is deleted when the lock is released.  (Think of the lock like an open file
   >    descriptor, or in database terms, a snapshot in a read-only transaction that
   >    was started when the lock was acquired).  This has the same effect as if
   >    someone deleted that resource the instant the lock was released.
   >    </es>
   > This could be hard for a server implement if it didn't have underlying
   > transaction support.

   Well UNIX doesn't go through a lot of hoops to maintain storage for
   open files.  However, another way to do this is to increase the
   reference count on the resource by one for each BINDing and LOCK
   against the resource.  Why do you think this would be hard?

Well, the creation of those .nfsxxx files that sometimes don't get
garbage collected properly are some pretty ugly hoops (:-).  But more
to the point, RFC-2518 currently states that a locked resource can
only be deleted by a holder of the lock token, and that if you do hold
the lock token and issue a DELETE, the DELETE applies immediately and
is not deferred until the lock is removed.  So the DELETE semantics
you describe would not be compliant with RFC-2518.

Received on Tuesday, 7 December 1999 22:47:15 UTC

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