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Moving DASL to Experimental

From: Jim Whitehead <ejw@cse.ucsc.edu>
Date: Tue, 10 Apr 2001 11:36:55 -0700
To: <www-webdav-dasl@w3.org>, "WebDAV WG" <w3c-dist-auth@w3.org>
The DAV Searching and Locating (DASL) protocol is a mechanism for remotely
submitting search queries to a WebDAV server, using the "SEARCH" method. For
approximately a year and a half, from 1999-2000, the IETF had a working
group dedicated to working on the DASL protocol specification.
Unfortunately, this working group did not make sufficient progress, and was
ultimately closed. Current protocol drafts, and minutes from DASL meetings
are recorded on the DASL site, at:


However, before the DASL WG ran out of steam, the DASL protocol
specification got very close to completion. It is currently in an
implementable state, and indeed, the Xythos Storage Server has an
implementation of the DASL protocol. Exchange 2000 also implements the
SEARCH method, but does not implement the DAV:basicsearch query syntax, and
hence cannot be claimed to fully implement the DASL protocol.

There was some discussion on reviving DASL at the Minneapolis IETF meeting.
While several participants there were interested in seeing this work be
completed, no one there could commit to working on the protocol, and
finishing it.  It is my understanding that the most significant remaining
issues concern i18n search issues (sort ordering, string equality
comparison, etc.). Participants at the Minneapolis meeting felt that other
activities in the WebDAV space (DeltaV, access control, interoperability, to
name a few) have higher current priority. As a result, DASL is not likely to
percolate up to the top of the priority queue for quite some time.

The suggestion was made in Minneapolis that the current DASL protocol
specification be moved to Experimental status. From RFC 2026 ("The Internet
Standards Process -- Revision 3"), an Experimental specification is:

   The "Experimental" designation typically denotes a specification that
   is part of some research or development effort.  Such a specification
   is published for the general information of the Internet technical
   community and as an archival record of the work, subject only to
   editorial considerations and to verification that there has been
   adequate coordination with the standards process (see below).  An
   Experimental specification may be the output of an organized Internet
   research effort (e.g., a Research Group of the IRTF), an IETF Working
   Group, or it may be an individual contribution.

Basically, the Experimental designation would allow the current DASL
protocol to be baselined as an RFC, and allow implementation of the protocol
to begin, for the purpose of gathering additional information concerning the
behavior of the protocol. When it comes time to revive DASL, and move it to
Proposed Standard, the information gathered while the specification is in
Experimental status will be very helpful in improving the specification, and
in making the case that the specification is ready to move to Proposed.

I personally favor moving the DASL specification to Experimenal status,
since I feel it is a good way to express that the current DASL specification
is solid enough to implement, and will increase the likelihood that other
implementations of the DASL specification will be made, thus helping us to
better understand the characteristics of this protocol.  It is a course of
action that requires low effort, and adds value to the existing

Assuming the WebDAV WG agrees with this course of action, in the near future
I will be submitting the DASL protocol specification to the IESG for
consideration as an Experimental RFC, and the DASL requirements document as
an Informational RFC.

- Jim
Received on Tuesday, 10 April 2001 14:38:21 UTC

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