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Oslo IETF WG Minutes

From: Jim Whitehead <ejw@ics.uci.edu>
Date: Tue, 10 Aug 1999 20:15:55 -0700
To: WebDAV WG <w3c-dist-auth@w3.org>
Just received a message in my inbox that reminded me that the minutes from
the last IETF were never sent out to the mailing list.  My apologies for the
delay, I should have gotten them out sooner.

Major, major thanks go out to Lisa Lippert for her excellent note taking
during the meeting.

- Jim


WebDAV WG Minutes
Oslo IETF 45
Thursday, July 15, 1999

A meeting of the WebDAV working group was held on Thursday, July 15, 1999,
from 9:00AM to 11:30AM.  Geoff Clemm was the acting chair for the duration
of the meeting.  Minutes were recorded by Lisa Lippert.

There was not enough consensus on what a direct reference should be, how it
should interact with locking/collections/versioning, so this was dropped and
the redirect bindings were used.

New method:  BIND

Larry Masinter:  It seemed that the model for these representations did map
into the underlying architecture, is that true?  Is it widespread?  Do BIND
and ordered collections map to existing capabilities or is it new capability
that people are comfortable adding?

Geoff Clemm:  People want this behaviour.  The proposal already takes into
account some subtleties of existing implementations.

Yaron Goland:  Essentially it started with Unix, 'ln' type functionality.
How can we best represent it in the protocol as closely as possible to
existing linking functionality?  On the other hand, ordered collections have
apparently been implemented in very advanced doc mgmt systems, nevertheless
Judy Slein did a good job of specifying this functionality.

Geoff: There are a couple of other people on the ML saying this is required

Geoff returned to discussing bindings:  bindings allow you to bind
"/a/b/foo.html" to "/a/b/bar.html", so that a resource has two names, a
PROPPATCH will affect both.  It does cause interesting issues with LOCK --
if you lock one, can you MOVE the other?

Explanation of how a binding to a collection works -- rather than have a
shadow resource created for every resource within the collection, just the
collection link is created.  The purpose of the collection binding is,
however, to have available all the collection resources under the new link.

Jules?  worried about whether this was specifying the implementation, and
Geoff clarified that the implementation discussion was only to ensure that a
compliant implementation was possible, and any other way of implementing
consistent with the protocol is valid.
Geoff explained how a collection binding requires that new resources in the
source collection results in new resources available under the link
Jules asked whether the protocol violated the reversibility of the bindings,
and Geoff does not think this has been violated.

Geoff discussed circular bindings:

BIND /x/ to /x/circle-x/

This results in

We strongly distinguish bindings, which connect a name and a resource, and a
mapping, which is a connection between some legal name and a resource.  The
creation of one new binding can induce an infinite number of mappings, i.e.
names that are now linked to a resource.  A delete of a binding can remove
an infinite number of mappings.

Because of this, a circularity check is required.  PROPFIND depth infinity
does include a circularity check that only needs to be done by servers that
support bindings.  There is a new response code to be returned rather than
return a 500 server error.

Yaron pointed out that servers may just ignore this requirement as roughly
Nick Shelness:  I have a hunch this breaks the model where resources know
what they belong to.  You might have an infinite number of membership.
Geoff thinks this is OK though.  Nick will think more about this.

Question:  Why do we even allow circularity?

Geoff: it was argued that it was tougher to prevent circularity than to deal
with it, but the more important argument is that it should be possible to
just classify a collection as part of a set which contains itself, that
there were contains-itself relationships that people wanted to model.
Example from "include" files:  a collection which contained all the files
included might include itself.  These might be excluded by some kind of
#ifdef behaviour... Everybody in the design team had their own favourite
example of why circularity should be allowed (otherwise would be faked in
some way more painful than asking the server to do the circularity check)

Yaron:  We've created a situation where any PROPFIND depth infinity request
will generate an error if there is a circularity.

Geoff:  We thought of some custom stuff to tell the server to "ignore
circularities", but figured it's most useful for clients to be able to deal
with the circularity error by controling depth more carefully in requests.

Yaron:  These relationships have kind of poisoned effects.  E.g. Depth
infinity DASL requests will be the rule, and these will now result in errors
because of a cycle somewhere, and that seems problematic.  I would like to
see some kind of discussion of what circularities would result in for other
areas of DAV, like searching, versioning, etc.

Geoff: Yes, we wanted to open this up for discussion.  If anybody else
requires this feature, add your vote.

Question:  Note that circular references might be much more complex, and
involve many levels before the circularity is discoverable.  This is a hard
problem to find out when the binding is created:  a complete tree traversal
would be required every time a reference is created.  It might make sense,
when doing these traversals, to indicate to the server not to traverse
links, just like in Unix.

Geoff:  This was one of the reasons for removing support for direct
bindings.  There is no difference between the original URL to a resource and
the new bound URL, they are both bindings to the actual resource.  The
result is that instead of paying on deep traversals, you pay on every
binding.  To require the server to do this check on every creation of a
binding was actually the more serious implementation check than to do this
only on PROPFIND depth infinity.

Lisa Lippert:  The price for not checking when the binding is created could
me more than we can know now, covering more than just PROPFIND depth

Geoff:  Yes.

Yaron:  MOVE and COPY are like this.

Geoff:  MOVE is very like BIND, it just creates a new link between a name
and a resource.  If anybody else can identify the methods which concern

Yaron:  That's why I'm pounding on the model.  I think we just have to say
we're running with scissors with this feature.

John Stracke:  But since a MOVE is a COPY followed by a DELETE...

Yaron:  NO.  In the webDAV spec, MOVE is not defined as a copy followed by a
delete.  We said that a MOVE is logically equivalent to an atomically
performed (with fixup) COPY then DELETE.  It was an attempt to inherit
certain behaviours that applied to COPY, without specifying implementation.
We knew that certain servers would end up deleting a resource (i.e. in the
case of a MOVE from one server to another).  We needed a way to say that if
a MOVE operation implementation did involve a DELETE, it would operate in a
certain way to comply with requirements from the military.

Geoff:  I need to explain how MOVE works with respect to bindings.  A MOVE
is, in the case of a binding, like a BIND followed by a DELETE.  The
difference is in all the other bindings to the thing that is being moved:
the other bindings (other than the ones being moved) are unchanged; they
continue to have the same name and point to the same resource.  This is
important, because the result does not involve creating a brand new copy of
the resource, which is what a COPY then DELETE would cause.

Summary:  the core of bindings is pretty simple, but it has some interesting
implications.  Modulo a few problems, the WebDAV base has been a good one to
work on, it's a very effective base to work on for both the design teams I'm

Question:  Do you feel the ordering sections of advanced collections are
Geoff:  We (the authors, at least) only agree that clients should be able to
tell the server that this should be after that.  We don't know what
server-maintained orderings are or mean.  Client-defined orderings are less

Question:  It sounds like there are actually three independent
specifications in advanced collections, at different levels of completion...

Geoff:  Yes, the status of ordering is that not many cared, and the few who
did only agree on client-side ordering.  It would be a shame to hold up the
rest of the protocol while we're resolving that issue.  There's less
administrative need to separate the redirect references from the binding
functionality; on the other hand their connection is gratuitous.
Keith:  Just put redirect references in a separate document.

Larry:  Historically, redirect references were a response to requirements
for collection-based functionality.

Geoff:  I am happy to follow Keith's direction so if anybody else has a
problem take it up in mail. Are there other issues with respect to these
specifications -- is it OK for them to fall under the "finishing up WebDAV"

Keith:  Is it close to being done?

Geoff:  Yes

Yaron:  No

Keith:  Take 3 months to finish, then decide what to do, but don't go under
the assumption that the current WebDAV WG will continue to exist to do this.
I bet you could get the bindings done in under 3 months.  Do them in the
order of how you think you can get them done.

Larry:  Just split up the document and last-call the pieces.

Geoff: Whichever are done in 3 months fall under this WG...

Larry:  It's not that there is less consensus for ordering, there are just
fewer people interested in seeing this functionality.  That doesn't mean it
will drag out any longer than bindings.

Geoff:  Any other issues?

Larry:  There are two elements of functionality which I think need to be
worked out before we can say we've accomplished a protocol that can be used
to do distributed authoring:

 - variants
 - compound documents

This doesn't meet the charter until we've resolved those.

Keith:  A lot of people have been chewing over those for decades.  I'm not
sure you can do anything.

Larry:  I'm interested in pursuing protocol elements that would further this
functionality, whether within this WG or elsewhere.  This could be done in

Yaron:  I would much rather this happen in IETF.  We would have to do a lot
of work before the work could continue in DMA with the same kind of

Geoff:  One could use the same gating function for a subset of the
versioning work that is of sufficient maturity that it could be closed off
in 3 months.

Keith:  No.

*** Meeting Adjourned ***
Received on Tuesday, 10 August 1999 23:21:32 UTC

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