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WebDAV (World Wide Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning)

Contributor(s): Roderic Young

WebDAV (World Wide Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning) is the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standard for collaborative authoring on the Web: a set of extensions to the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) that facilitates collaborative editing and file management between users located remotely from each other on the Internet.

WebDAV is expected to have an impact on the development of virtual enterprises, by enabling remote groups to work together in new ways. For example, WebDAV-conforming tools could be used by a virtual organization to develop business plans, create software, or write libraries of information. The WebDAV work group is part of the applications section of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C); their charter states its goal as to "define the HTTP extensions necessary to enable distributed Web authoring tools to be broadly interoperable, while supporting user needs." WebDAV is expected to fulfill early expectations of the Web's collaborative potential, by adding write access to the read access afforded by HTTP. WebDAV will enable users to collaborate over the Web in the same way as they might over a corporate intranet.

WebDAV features include:

  • Locking (also known as concurrency control), which prevents accidental overwriting of files;
  • XML properties, which facilitate operations (such as storage and retrieval) on metadata, so that data about other data can be organized;
  • The DAV protocol, which enables property setting, deleting, and retrieving;
  • The DASL (DAV Searching and Locating) protocol, which enables searches based on property values for locating resources on the Web;
  • Namespace manipulation, which supports copy and move operations. Collections, which are similar to file system directories, may be created and listed.
This was last updated in September 2005

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