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From Elias Sinderson <>
Subject Re: WebDAV service
Date Tue, 11 Nov 2003 10:44:25 GMT
Greg Wilkins wrote:

> My limited understanding of WebDAV is that the protocol is pretty 
> tivial - but supporting good configuration control is somewhat harder 
> on the server storage side of things.

Having implemented a Class 2 WebDAV server module for Apache, I'd like 
to suggest that the task is not exactly 'trivial'. Any serious 
implementation that seeks to be in compliance with 2518 must meet the 
specifications set out in 2616 as well, and some of the interactions 
between the two specifications can be fairly subtle. This is especially 
the case with respect to both correct locking behavior and the effects 
of various request headers. If possible, reusing an existing 
implementation should be made a high priority as opposed to building one 
from scratch.

This reuse approach proves somewhat of a difficulty though, as there are 
few open source Java WebDAV libraries available and fewer still that 
have ASF compatible licenses. Tomcat and Slide are, of course, natural 
options as they are already ASF projects and there is a recognized 
benefit to using 'in-house' projects where possible. The DAVExplorer 
project at UC Irvine has a self-proclaimed "Apache-style license" [1], 
which appears compatible but it is not really designed as a general 
purpose WebDAV client library, instead being built upon a generic 
HTTPClient library which allows arbitrary method names, headers and 
request bodies to be defined.  As such, much of the 'WebDAV logic' in 
DAVExplorer is not well suited for reuse of their implementation. This 
is unfortunate because, as of this writing, DAVExplorer is more 
compliant with 2518 than Slide. SkunkDAV is a more reusable Java WebDAV 
client library [2], but it uses the LGPL license so really isn't an 
option in this case without there being some sort of negotiations 
involved to change the license. SkunkDAV is also out of sorts with the 
current WebDAV specification and JRE and is undergoing a major overhaul 
to bring it up to date.

While DAVExplorer and SkunkDAV only provide client implementations, 
Tomcat only provides a server implementation (which also isn't fully 
compliant with 2518). In short, unless there is a willingness to use 
client and server implementations from different projects, and in spite 
of it's recognized shortcomings, Slide may be the best fit in this 
situation. This is only tenuously offered as a solution since it would 
require picking up where the Slide developers have left off to make sure 
that the compliance issues listed in a previous email are addressed. As 
mentioned in that email, if more than bare 2518 functionality is 
required in the future (such as DASL, ACL or Delta-V) there may need to 
be some major changes made to the Slide library.

So, I think one of the main questions which needs to be addressed is 
whether it would be an acceptable overhead to use separate client and 
server implementations in Geronimo. If this is the case, I would 
recommend trying to use the DAVExplorer client library (with the Slide 
client library as a fallback option) and the Tomcat servlet 
implementation for the server side. If not, then I think Slide is the 
only available option as far as reuse is concerned. Lastly, it may be 
reasonable to take one of these approaches until a more permanent 
solution can be implemented from the ground up. Sorry for the rambling - 
it's late and you must have hit a nerve... If desired, I can try to 
revisit this issue with more clarity when I'm more rested.  :-)


[1] DAVExplorer 'Apache-style' license, 
[2] SkunkDAV project page, <>.

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