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Blog comments on <http://tinpixel.com/node/28> -- "Why I don't like WebDAV, part 1"

From: Julian Reschke <julian.reschke@gmx.de>
Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2007 18:05:55 +0100
Message-ID: <47276473.80308@gmx.de>
To: WebDAV <w3c-dist-auth@w3.org>

Hi,

the blog <http://tinpixel.com/node/28> requires a login to comment, so I 
rather just do it here...:

> Why I don't like WebDAV, part 1
> Posted October 23rd, 2007 by chris
> in
> 
>     * gripes
>     * protocols
>     * software
>     * technology
>     * webdav
> 
> Yesterday and today I spent a lot of time using WebDAV updating one web site, and creating another, both at hosts which use that protocol for accessing file directories on hosted sites. It has taken longer than it should have, possibly caused my Mac OS X 10.4.10 desktop to crash, and ultimately forced me to use both the shell and FTP to get permissions set right and the right files in the right places. It shouldn't be this hard. Part of the blame may lay with Mac OS's native implementation of WebDAV, but I've not seen any implementation that is better on the whole.
> 
> WebDAV comes up short, because:
> 
>    1. It is not reliable. It frequently leaves files incompletely transferred, gets hung during transfers, gets permissions wrong, or issues false alarms.

That's an implementation problem. I'm not sure what server was involved, 
but this has nothing to do with the protocol itself.

>    2. It is slow. Annoying slow.

No, it's not.

>    3. It is incomplete. No surprise, being built on top of HTTP, a protocol never meant for file handling semantics. There's no clean and reliable way to do stat(2) and chmod(2) functions -- something pretty much implemented in every file system used on the server side, and necessary for getting the job done.

I don't see why PROPFIND wouldn't be sufficient for stat(2), and ACL 
(RFC3744) wouldn't be sufficient for chmod(2).

>    4. There are no industrial-grade or polished, complete implementations. Is there any implementation not based on the Neon libraries? Not to criticize the authors of Neon; after all, it's a volunteer open-source project -- but, Neon has not exactly had a lot of active development and rigorous testing (other than by poor hapless users).

Subversion seems to be quite happy with Neon. That being said, there's 
also serf (<http://code.google.com/p/serf/>) or the Apache httpclient libs.

>    5. It's obtuse. Did they really have to invent new names for everything?

I'm not sure what this is about... Maybe the author would have preferred 
"STAT" over "PROPFIND"?

> Some people praise or use WebDAV over FTP, because of FTP's 2 biggest glaring short-comings -- lack of encryption (a solved problem) and lack of authentication flexibility (how hard can it be to add that to an FTP server?). That's hardly a good reason to invent and use a new protocol which fails to meet the needs in a bunch of other ways, and is pig slow and inefficient compared to FTP. Why not just improve FTP?

WebDAV is as fast as FTP, usually being only limited by bandwidth and 
latency of the link. And of course there are lots of other reasons to 
like WebDAV, such as that it *is* HTTP -- no new URI needed to edit 
something that already is on the web.

Best regards, Julian
Received on Tuesday, 30 October 2007 17:06:19 GMT

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