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RE: Interop issue: Proposal for fixing lock token provision

From: Clemm, Geoff <gclemm@rational.com>
Date: Thu, 10 Oct 2002 12:46:50 -0400
Message-ID: <E4F2D33B98DF7E4880884B9F0E6FDEE2973C05@SUS-MA1IT01>
To: "'Webdav WG'" <w3c-dist-auth@w3c.org>
   From: Jason Crawford [mailto:nn683849@smallcue.com]

   On Wednesday, 10/09/2002 at 08:28 AST, "Clemm, Geoff" wrote:

   > if the server can tell just by scanning the If header that it
   > doesn't apply to the GET, then it can skip the If header.  For
   > example, if the If is a tagged list, and the tag did not identify
   > the request-URL, since a GET only applies to the request-URL, it
   > can ignore that If header.

   Wow.  I wouldn't have expected this as an answer.  It sounds like
   the purpose of the If: header becomes for the server to verify what
   it wants to.

That's certainly not what I meant to imply.  Let's try a
specific scenario.  A client does a "GET /coll/foo.html", with
a tagged list If header.  My server scans the If header,
and determines that none of the tags match "/coll/foo.html".
By section 9.4.2:

"If none of the resource productions match the current resource then
the header MUST be ignored."

So my server correctly ignores the If header, i.e. it ignores what
2518 requires it to ignore.  There is of course some wiggle room
around the term "match the current resource", but I believe that "the
current resource" and "match" is reasonably clear for the GET method
(i.e. write locks are ignored, and the only resource being read is the
one identified by the request-URL).

   That seems like a signficant change in philosophy from 2518.  2518
   seems to spend a lot of time talking about If: header and all it's
   details but not about how it's used to submit lock tokens.  It's
   use for lock token submission seems to simply be an afterthought.

I completely agree that we need to clarify exactly how the If header
should be used to submit lock tokens (in particular, to maximize
interoperability with existing servers).

   It even says the following when it begins to talk about the If;
   header.

      The If header is intended to have similar functionality to the
      If-Match header defined in section 14.24 of [RFC2616].  However
      the If header is intended for use with any URI which represents
      state information, referred to as a state token, about a
      resource as well as ETags.  A typical example of a state token
      is a lock token, and lock tokens are the only state tokens
      defined in this specification.

   And I've taken this opening statement, and the fact that it never
   talks about lock token submission in this section, to mean that the
   primary purpose of the If: header was for a client to verify
   various aspects of server state (like If-Match) before doing an
   operation.  I'm not saying that you're wrong to want to specify
   what you just have, but it seems to me that you are suggesting is a
   change in purpose/philosophy because the client can no longer
   really fully use it for verifying server state.  I want to bring
   attention to that to be sure that's what you really want.

Did my example above clarify that I was just talking about the
defined semantics of a tagged list?

   I'm going to stray a bit and say a bit about 2518 and say what I've
   said above in a different way...

   Above I outlined what I thought the *primary* purpose of the If:
   header was in 2518.   But there are stray comments in the 2518
   that make the If; header's purpose confused.  We've fixed one
   of those in 2518bis.  But 2518bis still has the statement that the
   server will only check the assertions on the URL's it chooses.
   With that statement, the semantics and purpose of the If; header 
   gets confusing.   It's like the server saying, 
      "you can ask me questions, but I'll only answer the one's 
      I want, and I'll only cooperate with your request if you ask 
      all the questions I want you to ask me."
   It (2518) just doesn't make sense.  It makes it hard for us
   and readers to figure out how to fill in gaps in the spec.  There
   is no guiding philosophy and purpose.  It's difficult to build on 
   that.

This probably should go in a separate thread, since I believe what you
are questioning is the fact that 2518 says that in a tagged list
production, the conditions are only checked if the request is "applied
to" the resource identified by the tag.  This means we need to
carefully define what resources a given method "applies" to, so that
we can get consistent behavior across different servers.

One simple alternative is to declare that "all methods apply to
all resources" (for the purpose of the If header), which then 
would force a server to verify every tag list in the If header.

Just for interests sake, would any existing clients break if
a server implemented the If header in this way?  Does anyone
have an important use case where they want to submit If header
entries that they expect/want the server to ignore if the
current request is not "applied" to those resources?

   The proposal by Lisa and the interop folks, which I tried to
   clearly guess at and describe, does fix this.  It provides
   a clear purpose and semantics for the headers.  And it does 
   a good job achieving compatibility.

If by "fix this", you mean clarify how to submit tokens, I agree, but
I think that it is easy to clarify this without creating a new header.
And I totally disagree that the new-header proposal does a good job of
achieving compatibility (with existing clients and servers).

   As an alternative to that proposal, I think it's possible that 
   you can achieve much of that by saying that the client can 
   submit assertions against whatever resource it likes in 
   the If: header, and the server will evaluate all of the If: header, 
   and the server does also require that the client ask a few 
   particular questions against particular resources.  It's not 
   as simple as Lisa's solution, but it's at least an improvement 
   over 2518. 

Note that this does change the If header semantics defined in 2518
(which pretty clearly imply that a request does not "apply" to all
resources), but if this semantic change is not a problem for existing
clients and servers (e.g. if they don't really use the tagged list
form of the If anyway), then it is fine with me.

   But if you say that the server only evalutes some of what the
   client submits, then you might as well abandon what appeared to be
   the primary purpose of the If: header in 2518.  If we do that, we
   should be aware the we're doing that and make sure we're
   comfortable with that.

It appeared to me that the section 9.4.2 of 2518 intended that a
server only apply a subset (possibly empty) of the If header, namely,
the subset for the resources to which the method is being "applied".
So I'd turn it around, and say, if we are changing the semantics
of the If header so that it applies to all tagged lists, then we
need to be aware that we are doing that and comfortable with doing so.

   >    >    And what is "modifying"? A PUT/PROPPATCH to an ordinary 
   >    >    resouce modifies it. 
   >    > 
   >    > Yes, in this case, I think we can clearly state that only the 
   >    > lock on the resource specified by the request-URL must be 
   >    > submitted. 
   > 
   >    The request URL?  I guess that's okay.  I had actually
   >    proposed the root of the lock rather than the request URL.  I
   >    think lower in this note you also said it should be the root
   >    of the lock.
   > 
   > Parsing problem (:-).  I meant: "the lock on (the resource
   > specified by the request-URL) must be submitted", not "(the lock
   > on the resource) specified by the request-URL must be submitted".

   I think you didn't understand my question... 

   A (depth) lock can lock many resources.

Agreed.

   Which locked resource/URL
   should be specified when submitting the lock token? 

You submit the lock-root of the lock as the tag.

   You've
   suggested both (1) the root and (2) the request resource.

No, I've only suggested (1).  The sequence is:
- find the resource that the request-URL is mapped to.
- find the lock on that resource.
- submit the lock token with the lock-root of that lock as the tag.

So there are two URL's here ... the request-URL, and the
lock-root URL.  With a depth lock, the two URLs can be different.

Note that there is a somewhat subtle point here; namely, for If header
purposes, one of the resources to which an "update" operation
"applies" will always be the resource identified by the lock-root of
any lock on the resource.

   Another option is to just submit it on the resource whose being
   locked poses an impediment, but there can be zillions of those in
   the case of operations like the 2518-style DELETE in the presence
   of depth locks.  That leaves the first two options and I think only
   (1) can work universally.

I agree.

   > I could go either way, but I'd probably be inclined to not say 
   > anything special about the NOT.  This means that putting a NOT 
   > around a lock token is guaranteed to fail (i.e. because either it 
   > is locked with that token, so the NOT fails, or it is not locked 
   > with that token, so it is an invalid lock token, and it fails). 
   > Alternatively, we could say that it is only a submission of the 
   > lock token if it does not appear in a NOT, but all that buys the 
   > client is the ability to have a request succeed only if the 
   > resource is not locked by a particular lock token, which seems 
   > like a pretty pointless semantics to support.  But I'm happy 
   > to do it either way. 

   I suspect that's the best approach. 

   So I'd say...

   All of the If; header is evaluated, and the token(s) in question
   must be "mentioned".  And I suspect we need resolve on what
   resource it should be mentioned.  I'm voting for the resource that
   is the root of the lock.

It sounds like we are in violent agreement that the lock-root
URL should be the tag for the If clause that mentions a particular
lock token.  It also sounds like we still need to spend some time
discussing what resources a method "applies" to, for If header
purposes.

Cheers,
Geoff
Received on Thursday, 10 October 2002 12:47:24 GMT

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