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WebDAV                                                        J. Amsden
Internet Draft                                                      IBM
Document: draft-ietf-webdav-properties-extension-00.txt  September 1999
Category: Informational
Expires: March, 2000


                Proposed Extensions to WebDAV Properties


Status of this Memo


   This document is an Internet-Draft and is in full conformance with
      all provisions of Section 10 of RFC2026 [1].

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF), its areas, and its working groups. Note that
   other groups may also distribute working documents as Internet-
   Drafts. Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of
   six months and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other
   documents at any time. It is inappropriate to use Internet- Drafts
   as reference material or to cite them other than as "work in
   progress."

   The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at
   http://www.ietf.org/ietf/1id-abstracts.txt

   The list of Internet-Draft Shadow Directories can be accessed at
   http://www.ietf.org/shadow.html.


1. Abstract

   The WebDAV protocol defines facilities for adding properties to Web
   resources. These properties consist of name/value pairs interchanged
   using XML. The protocol includes the PROPFIND method for accessing
   properties, and the PROPPATCH method for updating and removing
   properties. Experience building both WebDAV clients and a WebDAV
   server indicates the need for three minor extensions to the current
   properties protocol: 1) allow PROPPATCH to create and initialize the
   properties of a resource that did not exist, 2) distinguish between
   adding a new property, and setting the value of an existing property
   of a resource, and 3) give client applications more control in
   specifying how PROPPATCH errors should be handled.


2. Conventions used in this document

   Since this document describes a set of extensions to the HTTP/1.1
   protocol, the augmented BNF used here to describe protocol an element
   is exactly the same as described in Section 2.1 of [HTTP].  Since
   this augmented BNF uses the basic production rules provided in
   Section 2.2 of [HTTP], these rules apply to this document as well.

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   In examples, "C:" and "S:" indicate lines sent by the client and
   server respectively.

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED",  "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in
   this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC-2119 [2].


3. Terminology

   The terminology used here extends that defined in the WebDAV
   Distributed Authoring Protocol specification [WebDAV]. Definitions of
   the terms resource, Uniform Resource Identifier (URI), and Uniform
   Resource Locator (URL) are provided in [URI].

   Null Property - A property that responds with 404 (Not Found) to a
   PROPFIND method. A null property MUST not appear in the list of
   properties of a resource the PROPFIND is specified with DAV:allprop.


4. Introduction

   This Internet Draft specification introduces three simple extensions
   or modifications to the handling of WebDAV properties. All are based
   on experience gained through building a WebDAV class 2 server, and
   sample client applications. The extensions are all compatible with
   existing WebDAV property semantics, and all involve property updates
   through the PROPPATCH method.


4.1 PROPPATCH on a Null Resource


   HTTP and WebDAV do not specify methods for creating resources; they
   are created as the side effect of other methods. For example, PUT on
   a null resource (a resource that does not exist) creates the resource
   and establishes its initial contents. LOCK on a null resource creates
   a lock-null resource, which has properties, but no content. COPY and
   MOVE can create resources at the destination URI. It is often
   necessary to create resources and initialize their state before any
   other access is allowed in order to ensure the integrity of the
   operations. WebDAV currently has no protocol for creating and
   initializing the properties of a resource in a single method. This
   Internet Draft proposes that PROPPATCH on a null resource creates the
   resource with empty contents, and initializes its properties based on
   the propertyupdate elements in the request entity body.


   The WebDAV spec is currently somewhat silent about PROPPATCH on a
   null resource. It does say that PROPPATCH on a lock null resource (a
   resource created by the LOCK method) will fail, but this is
   inconsistent with PUT which is allowed, and changes the state of the
   resource from lock null to resource. [HTTP] uses status 404, Not
   Found, to indicate the server has not found anything matching the
   Request-URI. It does not say that the server cannot create a resource


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   at the Request-URI. The HTTP and WebDAV PUT method on a null resource
   is defined to create the resource and set its initial contents.
   Allowing PROPPATCH on a null resource to create the resource and set
   its initial properties is consistent with the PUT semantics, and
   other resource state changing methods that create resources as a side
   effect.


4.2 Adding New Properties


   Typical database management systems distinguish three kinds of
   updates; add, remove, and change. It is often necessary to
   distinguish between add and change in order to ensure a property is
   added only once, and that its value is not inadvertently changed
   after it has been initialized.

   The WebDAV PROPPATCH method updates a resource's properties based on
   the instructions contained in the DAV:propertyupdate element of the
   request entity body. The propertyupdate element currently supports
   setting and removing properties. DAV:set creates a new property if it
   does not exist, and sets its value. If the property already exists,
   the value is changed.

   This Internet Draft proposes the addition of a DAV:add propertyupdate
   that adds a new property and sets its value, but fails if the
   property already exists. In addition, this draft proposes that
   DAV:set on a null property (a property that does not exist) fails
   instead of creating a new property. This may help prevent erroneous
   client property updates resulting from setting the values of
   properties where the property name is incorrectly specified.

4.3 Handling PROPPATCH Errors


   Client applications currently use PROPPATCH to update the properties
   of a resource. PROPPATCH supports the update of a number of
   properties in a single method request in order to reduce
   communication overhead and maintain resource state integrity with
   atomic updates.

   Currently, the WebDAV spec dictates that the result of a PROPPATCH is
   an atomic transaction. That is, either all the updates succeed, or
   none of them succeed and the updates are rolled back. This can result
   in excessive client burden. A client application may attempt to make
   a number of updates with PROPPATCH, and doesn't care if some of them
   don't succeed. This is often the case when some of the properties are
   live on the server, but the client has no way to determine which are
   live without attempting to update their value and getting an error.
   This situation arises when different servers support different live
   properties. Updating the desired properties, ignoring the ones that
   are live requires the client to attempt the update, examine the
   DAV:multistatus response that is returned, construct a new PROPPATCH
   entity request body removing the properties that failed, and re-
   submitting the PROPPATCH request.



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   This Internet Draft proposes that a mechanism be added to the
   DAV:propertyupdate element that gives client applications more
   control over updating resource properties by allowing the protocol to
   specify how to handle errors on each of the updates in the
   DAV:propertyupdate of a PROPPATCH entity request body. This is
   similar to the DAV:propertybehavior element of the COPY and MOVE
   entity request body that is used to specify how properties are copied
   to the destination resource.

   By making this change to the PROPPATCH entity request body, it is now
   possible to completely specify the semantics of COPY and MOVE in
   terms of the more primitive GET, PUT, PROPFIND, and PROPPATCH
   methods. This is not currently possible because there is no way to
   process the DAV:propertybehavior element of the COPY or MOVE entity
   request body with a PROPPATCH method.


5. PROPPATCH Protocol Changes

   This section specifies changes to section 8.2 PROPPATCH of [WebDAV]
   and section 12 to support the semantics described above.

   Update section 8.2 PROPPATCH to indicate that PROPPATCH on a null
   resource creates the resource at the given Request-URI, and
   initializes its properties as specified in the DAV:propertyupdate
   element of the PROPPATCH entity request body.

   Change section 8.2 PROPPATCH to include simple error processing of
   PROPPATCH method requests. Update the DAV:set and DAV:remove elements
   to include information describing how the client wishes to handle
   errors. Change the semantics of DAV:set to fail on a null property.

   Change section 12.13.2 set XML element to:

   12.13.2 set XML element

   Name:            set
   Namespace:       DAV:
   Purpose:         List the DAV property values to be set for a
   resource.
   Description: The set XML element MUST contain only a prop XML
   element. The elements contained by the prop XML element inside the
   set XML element MUST specify the name and value of properties that
   are set on the resource identified by the Request-URI. If the
   property does not exist then a 404 (Not Found) status is returned,
   and the property update fails. The DAV:updatebehavior element
   specifies how update failures are to be handled. Language tagging
   information in the property's value (in the "xml:lang" attribute, if
   present) MUST be persistently stored along with the property, and
   MUST be subsequently retrievable using PROPFIND.

   <!ELEMENT set (prop, updatebehavior?) >


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   Change section 12.13.1 remove XML element to:

   12.13.1 remove XML element

   Name:            remove
   Namespace:       DAV:
   Purpose:         List the DAV property values to be removed from a
   resource.
   Description: Remove instructs that the properties specified in the
   prop should be removed. Specifying the removal of a null property is
   not an error. All the XML elements in a prop XML element inside of a
   remove XML element MUST be empty, as only the names of properties to
   be removed are required. The DAV:updatebehavior element specifies how
   update failures are to be handled.

   <!ELEMENT remove (prop, updatebehavior?) >

   Extend the DAV:propertyupdate element of the PROPPATCH entity request
   body to include element DAV:add. The DAV:add element has the same
   contents as DAV:set.

   Adding a property fails with 403 (Forbidden) if the property already
   exists. Setting a null property results in a 404 (Not Found) status.

   Change to section 12.13 propertyupdate XML element to:

   12.13 propertyupdate XML element

   Name:            propertyupdate
   Namespace:       DAV:
   Purpose:         Contains a request to alter the properties on a
   resource
   Description:     This XML element is a container for the information
   required to modify the properties on the resource. This XML element
   is multi-valued to support adding, changing, and/or removing
   properties.

   <!ELEMENT propertyupdate (add | set | remove) >

   Add section 12.13.3, add XML element as follows:

   12.13.3 add XML element

   Name:            add
   Namespace:       DAV:
   Purpose:         List the DAV property values to be added to a
   resource.
   Description: The add XML element MUST contain only a prop XML
   element. The elements contained by the prop XML element inside the
   add XML element MUST specify the name and value of properties that
   are to be added to the resource identified by the Request-URI. If a
   property already exists then a 403 (Forbidden) status is returned,
   and the property is not added. The DAV:updatebehavior element

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   specifies how update failures are to be handled. Language tagging
   information in the property's value (in the "xml:lang" attribute, if
   present) MUST be persistently stored along with the property, and
   MUST be subsequently retrievable using PROPFIND.

   <!ELEMENT add (prop, propertyupdate?) >

   Add sections to section 12.13 to specify error processing on property
   updates.

   12.13.4 updatebehavior XML element

   Name:            updatebehavior
   Namespace:       DAV:
   Purpose:         Specify how errors on property updates are to be
   handled.
   Description: An updatebehavior specifies how errors are to be handled
   on the corresponding DAV:add, DAV:set, or DAV:remove propertyupdate.
   The client can specify that the error should be ignored, or that it
   must succeed. If DAV:mustsucceed is specified, then the PROPPATCH
   method will fail if any of the updates fail. This is the default
   behavior.

   <!ELEMENT updatebehavior (ignore | mustsucceed) >

   12.13.5 ignore XML element

   Name:            ignore
   Namespace:       DAV:
   Purpose:         Causes corresponding property update errors to be
   ignored
   Description: The default behavior for a PROPPATCH method is all
   property updates must succeed, or none of them succeed. If an
   updatebehavior is not included, it is equivalent to the default
   behavior or specifying <mustsucceed>*</mustsucceed> meaning that all
   the updates must be successful or none of them are performed. The
   DAV:ignore element specifies that the server should make best-effort
   property updates. Any error caused by the associated propertyupdate
   is ignored. The error is reported in the resulting DAV:multistatus,
   but the rest of the updates specified in the PROPPATCH entity request
   body are processed as if this propertyupdate was not specified.

   <!ELEMENT ignore EMPTY >

   12.13.6 mustsucceed XML element

   Name:            mustsucceed
   Namespace:       DAV:
   Purpose:         Specifies the corresponding property update must
   succeed.
   Description: The default behavior for a PROPPATCH method is all
   property updates must succeed, or none of them succeed. The
   DAV:mustsucceed element allows the client to specify a list of named

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   properties whose property update must succeed. Any error caused by
   the associated propertyupdate causes the PROPPATCH method to fail,
   and all property updates are rolled back. If a value of "*" is given
   for the mustsucceed XML element, this designates that all property
   updates must succeed. "*" is the only PCDATA value that can be
   specified.

   <!ELEMENT mustsucceed (#PCDATA | href+)>

   Note: element DAV:mustsucceed may not be necessary because the
   default behavior is for the PROPPATCH to fail if any propertyupdate
   fails. It is really only necessary to specify which errors are to be
   ignored. I have included it here for completeness, and consistency
   with the DAV:keepalive XML element.


6. Formal Syntax

   < Commonly used grammar is BNF grammar defined in RFC-2234.
   Suggested wording.>

   This section summarizes the changes and additions to the WebDAV DTD
   given in section 24.1 of [WebDAV].

   <!ELEMENT propertyupdate (add | set | remove)+>

   <!ELEMENT add (prop, updatebehavior?) >
   <!ELEMENT set (prop, updatebehavior?) >
   <!ELEMENT remove (prop, updatebehavior?) >

   <!ELEMENT updatebehavior (ignore | mustsucceed)>
   <!ELEMENT ignore EMPTY>
   <!ELEMENT mustsucceed (#PCDATA | href+)>


7. Security Considerations

   This section is provided to detail issues concerning security
   implications of which WebDAV applications need to be aware.

   All of the security considerations of HTTP/1.1 and the WebDAV
   Distributed Authoring Protocol specification also apply to WebDAV
   collections.

   These changes may introduce a denial of service security violation
   through the possibility of a client application exhausting server
   resources with PROPPATCH methods. However, the same possibility
   exists with PUT operations, so no new security issues are introduced.


8. IANA Considerations




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   This document uses the namespaces defined by [WebDAV] for properties
   and
XML elements.  All other IANA considerations mentioned in [WebDAV] also
apply to this document.


9. Copyright


   To be supplied by the RFC Editor.


10. Intellectual Property


   To be supplied by the RFC Editor.


11. References


   1  Bradner, S., "The Internet Standards Process -- Revision 3", BCP
      9, RFC 2026, October 1996.

   2  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement
      Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997



   [RFC2119] S. Bradner, "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
   Requirement
   Levels."  RFC 2119, BCP 14.  Harvard University.  March, 1997.

   [XML] T. Bray, J. Paoli, C.M. Sperberg-McQueen, "Extensible Markup
   Language (XML)."  World Wide Web Consortium Recommendation REC-xml-
   19980210. http://www.w3.org/TR/1998/REC-xml-19980210.

   [HTTP] R. Fielding, J. Gettys, J. Mogul, H. Frystyk, T. Berners-Lee,
   "Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1." RFC 2068.  UC Irvine, DEC,
   MIT/LCS.  January, 1997.

   [WebDAV] Y. Y. Goland, E. J. Whitehead, Jr., A. Faizi, S. R. Carter,
   D.
   Jensen, "HTTP Extensions for Distributed Authoring - WebDAV." RFC
   2518.
   Microsoft, U.C. Irvine, Netscape, Novell.  February, 1999.


11. Acknowledgments

   This draft has benefited from thoughtful discussion by Jim Whitehead,
   Geoff Clemm, and others.


12. Author's Addresses

   James Amsden
   IBM


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   3039 Cornwallis Road
   RPT, NC
   Phone: 919-461-3919
   Email: jamsden@us.ibm.com


















































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