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Re: PATCH, gdiff, and random-access I/O

From: Jim Luther <luther.j@apple.com>
Date: Fri, 30 Apr 2004 10:22:31 -0500
Message-Id: <32B80AF8-9ABA-11D8-A729-000A9577847A@apple.com>
To: HTTP working group <ietf-http-wg@w3.org>

On Apr 30, 2004, at 8:53 AM, Justin Chapweske wrote:

>> I would not call the above "random I/O" pattern because you are doing
>> a single fetch and a single patch operation as far as protocol is
>> concerned. The proposed PATCH method and even existing diff formats
>> seem to support the above use case reasonably well.
>> Can you think of any reason why PATCH with common diff formats cannot
>> support the above efficiently?
> I was simply raising this as a possible use-case, and it is encouraging
> to hear some initial reports that the existing diff algorithms may be
> able to efficiently support these types of operations.
>> I was under impression that you are talking about supporting large
>> volume of micro updates (e.g., remove a single character in the middle
>> of a 100MB file) that must be committed in real time, one by one.
>> Doing so efficiently may require mechanisms different than proposed
>> PATCH.  However, your example seem to be within PATCH scope! Sorry if
>> I misunderstood the true meaning of the "random access I/O" term.
> I think large volumes of micro-updates should be efficiently
> implementable as well.  One might expect a WebDAV file system driver
> operating across a LAN to work in this fashion.  I think as long as you
> do without the Content-MD5, and avoid extra copying on the server-side,
> you could end up with reasonably efficient large volume micro-updates.
> However, semantically speaking, it probably isn't a good idea to PATCH
> changes to a file while the file is in an unknown state - so I would
> guess something like the write log mechanism might make a lot of sense.
> What do the DAV file system driver guys think of this?  Apple?

In the current implementation of the Mac OS X WebDAV file system, 
opening a file on a WebDAV file server causes a GET and the resource is 
cached in a file on the root file system. While the file is open, all 
changes are made to the local cache file. The cache file (if changed) 
is pushed to the server with a PUT when the file system receives a 
fsync or close request. So most of the time, there is a single PUT when 
a file is changed on the server. Since the PUT replaces the complete 
resource, a file is always in a consistent state after the PUT is 

If PATCH were available, I'd have to decide whether to use the existing 
"cache file" model, or use the buffer cache used by the rest of the Mac 
OS X file systems. If I were to stick with the cache file model, then 
I'd keep track of what portions of the cache file have been changed and 
send a single PATCH request to the server when a fsync or close is 
received. If I were to switch to use the buffer cache, I'd send a PATCH 
request whenever memory pressure causes the buffer cache to write a 
file's dirty buffer(s) to the server. That would mean that the resource 
on the server might be in an inconsistent state at times -- this would 
not be different than other network file systems.

- Jim
Received on Friday, 30 April 2004 11:23:22 UTC

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