W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-dist-auth@w3.org > July to September 1997

RE: Author's Meeting Drafts - Lock Draft

From: Yaron Goland <yarong@microsoft.com>
Date: Mon, 7 Jul 1997 19:00:35 -0700
Message-ID: <11352BDEEB92CF119F3F00805F14F48503187AD5@RED-44-MSG.dns.microsoft.com>
To: w3c-dist-auth@w3.org
Cc: "Del Jensen (E-mail)" <dcjensen@novell.com>, "Asad Faizi (E-mail)" <asad@netscape.com>, "Jim Whitehead (E-mail)" <ejw@ics.uci.edu>, "Steve Carter (E-mail)" <SRCarter@gw.novell.com>
This is the DAV lock spec as agreed to by the authors at the last author


1 Problem Description - Overview

Locking is used to arbitrate access to a resource amongst principals
that have equal access rights to that resource.

This draft allows locks to vary over two parameters, the number of
principals involved and the type of access to be granted. This draft
will only provide for the definition of locking for one access type,
write. However, the syntax is extensible enough to allow for the
specification of other access types. It is a goal of this proposal that
it use the same access verbs as will be defined in the access control

1.1 Exclusive Vs. Shared Locks

The most basic form of LOCK is an exclusive lock. This is a lock where
the access right in question is only granted to a single principal. The
need for this arbitration results from a desire to avoid having to
constantly merge results. In fact, users so dislike having to merge that
they would rather serialize their access to a resource rather than have
to constantly perform merges.

However, there are times when the goal of a lock is not to exclude
others from exercising an access right but rather to provide a mechanism
for principals to indicate that they intend to exercise their access
right.  Shared locks are provided for this case. A shared lock allows
multiple principals to receive a lock, hence any principal with
appropriate access can get the lock. 

With shared locks there are two trust sets that affect a resource.  The
first trust set is created by access permissions. Principals who are
trusted, for example, may have permission to write the resource, those
who are not, don't.  Among those who have access permission to write the
resource, the set of principals who have taken out a shared lock also
must trust each other, creating a (probably) smaller trust set within
the access permission write set.

Starting with every possible principal on the Internet, in most
situations the vast majority of these principals will not have write
access to a given resource.  Of the small number who do have write
access, some principals may decide to guarantee their edits are free
from overwrite conflicts by using exclusive write locks in conjunction
with a precondition header (If-State-Match) that checks for existence of
the lock prior to writing the resource. Others may decide they trust
their collaborators (the potential set of collaborators being the set of
principals who have write permission) and use a shared lock, which
informs their collaborators that a principal is potentially working on
the resource.

The WebDAV extensions to HTTP do not need to provide all of the
communications paths necessary for principals to coordinate their
activities.  When using shared locks, principals may use any out of band
communication channel to coordinate their work (e.g., face-to-face
interaction, written notes, post-it notes on the screen, telephone
conversation, email).  The intent of a shared lock is to let
collaborators know who else is potentially working on a resource..

So, why not just use exclusive write locks all the time?  Experience
from initial Web distributed authoring systems has indicated that
exclusive write locks are often too rigid.  An exclusive write lock is
used to enforce a particular editing process: take out exclusive write
lock, read the resource, perform edits, write the resource, release the
lock.  What happens if the lock isn't released?  While the time-out
mechanism provides one solution, if you need to force the release of a
lock immediately, it doesn't help much.  Granted, an administrator can
release the lock for you, but this could become a significant burden for
large sites. Further, what if the administrator can't be reached

Despite their potential problems, exclusive write locks are extremely
useful, since often a guarantee of freedom from overwrite conflicts is
exactly what is needed.  The solution: provide exclusive write locks,
but also provide a less strict mechanism in the form of shared locks
which can be used by a set of people who trust each other, and have
access to a communications channel external to HTTP which can be used to
negotiate writing to the resource.

1.2 Required Support

A DAV compliant server is not required to support locking in any form.
If the server does support locking it may choose to support any
combination of exclusive and shared locks for any access types.

The reason for this flexibility is that server implementers have said
that they are willing to accept minimum requirements on all services but
locking. Locking policy strikes to the very heart of their resource
management and versioning systems and they require control over what
sort of locking will be made available. For example, some systems only
support shared write locks while others only provide support for
exclusive write locks. As each system is sufficiently different to merit
exclusion of certain locking features, the authors are proposing that
locking be allowed as the sole axis of negotiation within DAV.

2 LOCK Method

2.1 Operation

A lock method invocation creates the lock specified by the Lock-Info
header on the request-URI. Lock method requests SHOULD NOT have a
request body. A user-agent SHOULD submit an Owner header field with a
lock request.

A successful response to a lock invocation MUST include a Lock-Token
header. If the server supports a time based lock removal mechanism on
the resource, a successful lock invocation SHOULD return a Time-Out

2.2 The Effect of Locks on Properties and Containers

A lock, by default, affects the entire state of the resource, including
its associated properties. As such it is currently illegal to specify a
lock on a property. For containers, a lock also affects the ability to
add or remove members. The nature of the effect depends upon the type of
access control involved.  The paragraphs below describe the general
semantics of a LOCK method request when invoked on a collection.
Specific lock types may restrict the affect of a lock, for example
limiting the allowable values of the Depth header.

A Depth header (defined in the namespace draft) may be used on a LOCK
method when the LOCK method is applied to a collection resource. The
legal values for Depth on a LOCK are 0, 1, and Infinity. A Depth of 0
instructs the resource to just lock the container. As previously
mentioned, depending on the type of lock, the lock affects the ability
to add or remove members of the container. 

A Depth of 1 means that the container is locked and a LOCK is executed
on the container's propagate members with a Depth of 0 and If-Range,
If-Modified-Since, If-Unmodified-Since, If-Match and If-None-Match
headers are dropped. However, the effects of the LOCK MUST be atomic in
that either the container and all of its members are locked or no lock
is granted. The result of a Depth 1 lock is a single lock token which
represents the lock on the container and all of its members. This lock
token may be used in an If-State-Match or If-Not-State-Match header
against any of the resources covered by the lock. Since the lock token
represents a lock on all the resources, an UNLOCK using that token will
remove the lock from all included resources, not just the resource the
UNLOCK was executed on.

A Depth of infinity means that the LOCK is recursively executed, with a
Depth of infinity, on the collection and all of its propagate members
and all of their propagate members. As with a Depth of 1, the LOCK must
be granted in total or not at all. Otherwise the lock operates in the
same manner as a Depth of 1 lock.

The default behavior when locking a container is to act as if a "Depth:
0" header had been placed on the method. 

2.3 Locking Replicated Resources

Some servers automatically replicate resources across multiple URLs. In
such a circumstance the server MAY only accept a lock on one of the URLs
if the server can guarantee that the lock will be honored across all the

2.4 Interaction with other Methods

Only two methods, MOVE and DELETE, have side effects which involve
locks. When a resource is moved, its lock SHOULD be moved with it.
However this may not always be possible and there is currently no
proposal to create a header which would specify that the lock request
should fail if the resource's locks can not be maintained. Please note
that a COPY does not copy any locks on the source resource over to the
destination resource. Deleting a resource MUST remove all locks on the

2.5 Lock Compatibility Table

The table below describes the behavior that occurs when a lock request
is made on a resource.

Current lock state/Lock request	Shared Lock	Exclusive Lock
None							True
Shared Lock					True
Exclusive Lock					False		False*

Legend: True = lock MAY be granted.  False = lock MUST NOT be granted.
*=if the principal requesting the lock is the owner of the lock, the
lock MAY be regranted.

The current lock state of a resource is given in the leftmost column,
and lock requests are listed in the first row.  The intersection of a
row and column gives the result of a lock request.  For example, if a
shared lock is held on a resource, and an exclusive lock is requested,
the table entry is "false", indicating the lock must not be granted.

If an exclusive lock is re-requested by the principal who owns the lock,
the lock MAY be regranted. If the lock is regranted, the same lock token
that was previously issued MUST be returned.

2.6 Status Codes

412 "Precondition Failed" - The included state-token was not enforceable
on this resource.

416 "Locked" - The resource is locked so the method has been rejected.

2.7 Example

LOCK /workspace/webdav/proposal.doc HTTP/1.1
Host: webdav.sb.aol.com
Lock-Info: LockType=Write LockScope=Exclusive
Owner: <http://www.ics.uci.edu/~ejw/contact.html>

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Time-Out: ClockType=Activity TimeType=second;604800

This example shows the successful creation of an exclusive write lock on
resource http://webdav.sb.aol.com/workspace/webdav/proposal.doc. The
resource http://www.ics.uci.edu/~ejw/contact.html contains contact
information for the owner of the lock. The server has an activity-based
timeout policy in place on this resource, which causes the lock to
automatically be removed after 1 week (604800 seconds). The response has
a Lock-Token header that gives the state token URL for the lock token
generated by this lock request.

2.8 Lock-Info Request Header

The Lock-Info header specifies the scope and type of a lock for a LOCK
method request. The syntax specification below is extensible, allowing
new type and scope identifiers to be added.

LockInfo = "Lock-Info" ":" DAVLockType SP DAVLockScope CRLF

DAVLockType = "LockType" "=" DAVLockTypeValue

DAVLockTypeValue = ("Write" | *(uchar | reserved))

DAVLockScope = "LockScope" "=" DAVLockScopeValue

DAVLockScopeValue = ("Exclusive" | *(uchar | reserved))

2.9 Owner Request Header

2.9.1 Problem Description

When discovering the list of owners of locks on a resource, a principal
may want to be able to contact the owner directly. For this to be
possible the lock discovery mechanism must provide enough information
for the lock owner to be contacted.

2.9.2 Solution Requirements

Not all systems have authentication procedures that provide sufficient
information to identify a particular user in a way that is meaningful to
a human. In addition, many systems that do have sufficient information,
such as a name and e-mail address, do not have the ability to hook this
information into the lock discovery mechanism. Therefore a means is
needed to allow principals to identify themselves in a manner which will
be meaningful to a human.

The From header (defined in RFC 2068), which contains only an email
mailbox, is not sufficient for the purposes of quick identification.
When desperately looking for someone to remove a lock, e-mail is often
not sufficient. A telephone number (cell number, pager number, etc.)
would be better. Furthermore, the email address in the From field may or
may not support including the owners name and that name is often set to
an alias anyway. As such a header more flexible than From is required.

2.9.3 Syntax

Owner = "Owner" ":" (("<" URI ">")  | quoted-string)

The URI SHOULD provide a means for either directly contacting the
principal, say a telephone or e-mail URI, or for finding out who the
principal is, say the URL of a homepage.  The quoted string SHOULD
provide a means for directly contacting the principal, such as a name
and telephone number.

2.10 Time-Out Header

2.10.1 Problem Description

In a perfect world principals take out locks, use the resource as
needed, and then remove the lock when it is no longer needed. However,
this scenario is frequently not completed, leaving active but unused
locks. Reasons for this include client programs crashing and loosing
information about locks, users leaving their systems for the day and
forgetting to remove their locks, etc. As a result of this behavior,
servers need to establish a policy by which they can remove a lock
without input from the lock owner. Once such a policy is instituted, the
server also needs a mechanism to inform the principal of the policy.

2.10.2 Solution Requirements

There are two basic lock removal policies, administrator and time based
remove. In the first case a principal other than the lock owner has
sufficient access rights to order the lock removed, even though they did
not take it out. User-agents MUST assume that such a mechanism is
available and thus locks may arbitrarily disappear at any time. If their
actions require confirmation of the existence of a lock then the
If-State headers are available.

The second solution, is the time based removal policy. Activity based
systems set a timer as soon as the lock is taken out. Every time a
method is executed on the resource, the timer is reset. If the timer
runs out, the lock is removed.

Finally, some systems only allow locks to exist for the duration of a
session, where a session is defined as the time when the HTTP connection
that was used to take out the lock remains connected. This mechanism is
used to allow programs which are likely to be improperly exited, such as
JAVA programs running in a browser, to take out locks without leaving a
lot of ownerless locks around when they are improperly exited.

2.10.3 Syntax

TimeOut = "Time-Out" ":" ((TimeOutType SP Session) | TimeOutVal |
Session) CRLF
TimeOutType = ClockType SP TimeType
ClockType = "ClockType" "=" ClockTypeValue
ClockTypeValue = "Activity" 
TimeType = "TimeType" "=" TimeTypeValue
TimeTypeValue = "Second" ";" DAVTimeOutVal
DAVTimeOutVal = 1*digit
Session = "Session" "=" ("Yes" | "No")

The "Second" TimeType specifies the number of seconds that may elapse
before the lock is automatically removed. A server MUST not generate a
time out value for "second" greater than 2^32-1.

If no time based system is in use then a Time-Out header MUST NOT be
returned. The Time-Out header MUST only be returned in a response to a
LOCK request.When session is set to yes then whatever clocktype and
timetype is being used, their effects are scoped within that particular
session. So an absolute lock with a ten day expiration period will only
remain active so long as the session remains active. A DAVTimeOutVal
value must be greater than zero.

Clients MAY include TimeOut headers in their LOCK requests. However the
server is not required to honor or even consider the request. The
primary purpose in allowing clients to submit a TimeOut header is to
inform the server if the client is requesting a session based lock. If a
timeout is associated with the lock, the server MUST return a TimeOut
header with a valid value.

2.11 State-Token Header

2.11.1 Problem Definition

Program A, used by User A, takes out a write lock on a resource. Program
B, also run by User A, then proceeds to perform a PUT to the locked
resource. The PUT will succeed because locks are associated with a
principal, not a program, and thus program B, because it is acting with
principal A's credential, will be allowed to perform the PUT. In reality
program B had no knowledge of the lock and had it had such knowledge,
would not have overwritten the resource. Hence, a mechanism is needed to
prevent different programs from accidentally ignoring locks taken out by
other programs with the same authorization.

2.11.2 Solution Requirement

The solution must not require principals to perform discovery in order
to prevent accidental overwrites as this could cause race conditions. 

The solution must not require that clients guess what sorts of locks
might be used and use if-state-match headers with wildcards to prevent
collisions. The problem with trying to "guess" what locks are being used
is that new lock types might be introduced and the program would not
know to "guess them". So, for example, a client might put in an
if-state-match header with a wildcard specifying that if any write lock
is outstanding then the operation should fail. However a new read/write
lock could be introduced which the client would not know to put in the

2.11.3 State-Token Header

The State-Token header is returned in a successful response to the LOCK
method or is used as a request header with the UNLOCK method.

The State-Token header containing a lock token owned by the request
principal, is used by that principal on any arbitrary method to indicate
that the principal is aware of the specified lock's existence. If the
State-Token header with the appropriate lock token is not included then
even though the requesting principal has authorization to make
modifications specified by the lock type, the request MUST be rejected.
Clearly this injunction does not apply to methods which are not effected
by the principal's lock.

For example, Program A, used by user A, takes out a write lock on a
resource. Program A then makes a number of PUT requests on the locked
resource, all the requests contain a State-Token header which includes
the write lock state token. Program B, also run by User A, then proceeds
to perform a PUT to the locked resource. However program B was not aware
of the existence of the lock and so does not include the appropriate
state-token header. The method is rejected even though principal A is
authorized to perform the PUT. Program B can, if it so chooses, now
perform lock discovery and obtain the lock token. Note that program A
and B can perform GETs without using the state-token header because the
ability to perform a GET is not affected by a write lock.

Please note that having a lock state token provides no special access
rights. Anyone can find out anyone else's lock state token by performing
lock discovery. Locks are expected to be enforced based upon whatever
authentication mechanism is used by the server, not based on the secrecy
of the token values.

3 Write Lock

A write lock prevents a principal without the lock from successfully
executing a PUT, POST, DELETE, MKCOL, PROPPATCH or PATCH on the locked
resource. All other methods, GET in particular, function independent of
the lock.

While those without a write lock may not alter a property on a resource
it is still possible for the values of live properties to change, even
while locked, due to the requirements of their schemas. Only dead
properties and live properties defined to respect locks are guaranteed
to not change while locked.

It is possible to assert a write lock on a null resource in order to
lock the name. Please note, however, that locking a null resource
effectively makes the resource non-null as the resource now has lock
related properties defined on it.

Write locking a container also prevents adding or removing members of
the container. This means that attempts to PUT/POST a resource into the
immediate name space of the write locked container MUST fail if the
principal requesting the action does not have the write lock on the
container. In order to keep the behavior of locking containers
consistent all locks on containers MUST contain a Depth header equal to
infinity, any other value is illegal. 

4 Lock Tokens

4.1 Problem Description

It is possible that once a lock has been granted it may be removed
without the lock owner's knowledge. This can cause serialization
problems if the lock owner executes methods thinking their lock is still
in effect. Thus a mechanism is needed for a principal to predicate the
successful execution of a message upon the continuing existence of a

4.2 Proposed Solution

The proposed solution is to provide a lock token in the response of a
lock request. The lock token is a type of state token and describes a
particular lock. The same lock token must never be repeated on a
particular resource. This prevents problems with long held outstanding
lock tokens being confused with newer tokens. This uniqueness
requirement is the same as for e-tags. This requirement also allows for
tokens to be submitted across resources and servers without fear of

4.3 Lock Token Definition

The lock token is returned in the State-Token header in the response to
a LOCK method. The lock token can also be discovered through lock
discovery on a resource.

Lock-Token-URL = "StateToken:" Type ":" Resources ":" State-Info
Type = "Type" "=" "^DAV:/LOCK/DAVLOCK^"
Resources = "Res" "=" 1*("^" Caret-Encoded-URI "^")
Caret-Encoded-URI = <This is a URI which has all "^"s % encoded.>
State-Info = DAVLockScope ":" DAVLockType ":" ServerID  ; DAVLockScope,
DAVLockType defined in Lock-Info header
ServerID = "ServerID" "=" *(uchar | reserved)

The ServerID is a field for use by the server. Its most basic purpose is
to put in a unique identifier to guarantee that a server will never
confuse an old lock token with a newer one. However the server is free
to use the field to record whatever information it deems fit. The field
is opaque to clients.

5 UNLOCK Method

5.1 Problem Definition

The UNLOCK method removes the lock identified by the lock token in the
State-Token header from the Request-URI.

5.2 Example

UNLOCK /workspace/webdav/proposal.doc HTTP/1.1
Host: webdav.sb.aol.com

HTTP/1.1 200 OK

In this example, the lock from example of Section 2.9 is removed from
the resource at http://webdav.sb.aol.com/workspace/webdav/proposal.doc

6 Discovery Mechanisms

6.1 Lock Type Discovery

6.1.1 Problem Definition

Since server lock support is optional, a client trying to lock a
resource on a server can either try the lock and hope for the best or
can perform some form of discovery to determine what lock types the
server actually supports, then formulate a supported request.  This is
known as lock type discovery. Lock type discovery is not the same as
discovering what access control types are supported, as there may be
access control types without corresponding lock types.

6.1.2 SupportedLock Property

Name: http://www.ietf.org/standards/dav/lock/supportedlock

Purpose: To provide a listing of the lock types supported by the

Schema: http://www.ietf.org/standards/dav/

Values: An XML document containing zero or more LockEntry XML elements.

Description: The SupportedLock property of a resource returns a listing
of the combinations of scope and access types which may be specified in
a lock request on the resource. Note that the actual contents are
themselves controlled by access controls so a server is not required to
provide information the client is not authorized to see. If
SupportedLock is available on "*" then it MUST define the set of locks
allowed on all resources on that server.

6.1.3 LOCKENTRY XML Element

Name: http://www.ietf.org/standards/dav/lock/lockentry

Purpose: Defines a DAVLockType/LockScope pair which may be legally used
with a LOCK on the specified resource.

Schema: http://www.ietf.org/standards/dav/

Parent: A SupportedLock entry

Values: LockType LockScope

6.1.4 LOCKTYPE XML Element

Name: http://www.ietf.org/standards/dav/lock/locktype

Purpose: Lists a DAVLockType

Schema: http://www.ietf.org/standards/dav/


Values: DAVLockTypeValue

6.1.5 LOCKSCOPE XML Element

Name: http://www.ietf.org/standards/dav/lock/lockscope

Purpose: Lists a DAVLockScope

Schema: http://www.ietf.org/standards/dav/


Values: DAVLockScopeValue

6.2 Active Lock Discovery

6.2.1 Problem Definition

If another principal locks a resource that a principal wishes to access,
it is useful for the first principal to be able to find out who the
second principal is. 

6.2.2 Solution Requirements

The lock discovery mechanism should provide a list of who has the
resource locked, what locks they have, and what their lock tokens are.
The lock tokens are useful in shared lock situations where two
principals in particular may want to guarantee that they do not
overwrite each other. The lock tokens are also useful for administrative
purposes so that an administrator can remove a lock by referring to its

6.2.3 LOCKDISCOVERY Property

Name: http://www.ietf.org/standards/dav/lockdiscovery

Purpose: To discover what locks are active on a resource

Schema: http://www.ietf.org/standards/dav/

Values= An XML document containing zero or more ActiveLock XML elements.

Description: The LOCKDISCOVERY property returns a listing of who has a
lock, what type of lock they have, the time out type and the time
remaining on the time out, and the associated lock token. The server is
free to withhold any or all of this information if the requesting
principal does not have sufficient access rights to see the requested

6.2.4 ACTIVELOCK XML Element

Name: http://www.ietf.org/standards/dav/lock/activelock

Purpose: A multivalued XML element that describes a particular active
lock on a resource

Schema: http://www.ietf.org/standards/dav/



6.2.5 OWNER XML Element

Name: http://www.ietf.org/standards/dav/lock/owner

Purpose: Returns owner information

Schema: http://www.ietf.org/standards/dav/


Values= XML:REF | {any valid XML string}

6.2.6 TIMEOUT XML Element

Name: http://www.ietf.org/standards/dav/lock/timeout

Purpose: Returns information about the timeout associated with the lock

Schema: http://www.ietf.org/standards/dav/



6.2.7 CLOCKTYPE XML Element

Name: http://www.ietf.org/standards/dav/lock/clocktype

Purpose: Returns the clock type used with this lock

Schema: http://www.ietf.org/standards/dav/


Values=  ClockTypeValue

6.2.8 TIMETYPE XML Element

Name: http://www.ietf.org/standards/dav/lock/timetype

Purpose: Returns the time type used with this lock

Schema: http://www.ietf.org/standards/dav/


Values= TimeTypeValue

6.2.9 TIMEOUTVAL XML Element

Name: http://www.ietf.org/standards/dav/lock/timeoutval

Purpose: Returns the amount of time left on the lock

Schema: http://www.ietf.org/standards/dav/


Values= DAVTimeOutVal

6.2.10 LOCKTOKEN XML Element

Name: http://www.ietf.org/standards/dav/lock/locktoken

Purpose: Returns the lock token

Schema: http://www.ietf.org/standards/dav/


Values= XML:REF

Description: The REF contains a Lock-Token-URL.
Received on Monday, 7 July 1997 22:00:46 UTC

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