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WebDAV Standards, browser & server compliance

From: Frank Lowney <frank.lowney@mac.com>
Date: Sun, 10 Aug 2003 10:26:32 -0400
Message-Id: <p05210601bb5bfbbc80d1@[]>
To: w3c-dist-auth@w3.org

Please let me know if I am posting to the wrong list and suggest 
better venues if I'm off target.


The Goal:
This may be premature on our part but we are trying to take advantage 
of the WebDAV standard to accomplish two major goals across a variety 
of web-based facilities:

1) Eliminate or significantly reduce reliance upon FTP so as to obtain:
    a) higher levels of ease-of-use on behalf of content experts who 
are not technophiles
    b) higher levels of security (FTP sends PWs in the clear, SFTP is 
complex & finicky, etc.)
    c) divert the current high demand for proprietary solutions such 
as MS FrontPage server extensions.

2) Simplify the training of content experts publishing via the web by:
    a) Training for fewer applications (no instruction in a number of FTP apps)
    b) Train for apps that offer greater expressive freedom (Adobe 
GoLive and Macromedia Dreamweaver instead of MS FrontPage, AOL Press, 
Netscape Composer, etc.) that also use WebDAV effectively.

The Problem:
WebDAV simply doesn't seem to work consistently and well over the 
range of server and client environments that we must work with.  The 
following sketches out those environments:

Server Environments:
NOTE: All claim to support the WebDAV standard but end user 
experience tends to contradict those claims.

WebCT Vista 2.x (see 
http://www.webct.com/products/viewpage?name=products_vista).  As I 
understand it, this Courseware Management System (CMS) is based upon 
the BEA WebLogic webserver and an Oracle 9i database.

Apache webserver (as implemented in the MacOS X Server suite, see: 

WebSTAR V webserver (as implemented in the 4D WebSTAR Server Suite, 
see: http://www.4d.com/products/webstar.html)

Client Environments:
The overall issue here is that consistency and reliability is absent 
from all these environments.  Consequently. our training efforts have 
not been as successful as we would like them to be.

Windows 98, 2000, and XP
NOTE: There are a variety of strategies that trainers must be 
prepared to present to end users: Internet Explorer & Web Folders, My 
Network Places, etc.  None of these work completely as advertised 
across all environments.

Native OS support **appears** to be both robust and easy-to-use in 
the case of Apple's ostensibly WebDAV-based dotMac service but 
clients have difficulty in other WebDAV environments.

MacOS Classic (8.6 to 9.2)
Requires the use of an app such as Goliath.  We have few clients 
using this OS/app combination so pilot error may be a 
disproportionately great factor but the experience reported here is 
spotty as in the case of all other client environments.


We are perhaps naive in expecting the WebDAV standard to be so 
complete and internally consistent as well as so thoroughly and 
faithfully implemented in both server and client environments that 
training could be simple, straightforward and w/o a raft of "ifs," 
"ands" or "buts."  True?

Is there an ongoing discussion somewhere for folks like us who are 
trying to implement WebDAV into  our work flow?

Dr. Frank Lowney  flowney@mail.gcsu.edu
     Director, Electronic Instructional Services, a unit of the
     Office of Information and Instructional Technology,
     Professional Pages: http://www.gcsu.edu/oiit/eis/
     Personal Pages: http://www.faculty.de.gcsu.edu/~flowney
Voice: (478) 445-5260
We don't make instruction effective, we make effective instruction 
more accessible.
Received on Sunday, 10 August 2003 10:26:40 UTC

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