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WebDAV and Collaborative Authoring

Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) adds an extra dimension to web publishing—collaboration. Currently, the most common practice of collaboration is decidedly low-tech: predominantly email, sometimes combined with distributed fileshares. This practice has proven to be very inconvenient and error-prone, with little or no control over the process. Consider an example of launching a multinational, multilingual web site for an automobile manufacturer. It's easy to see the need for a robust system with secure, reliable publishing primitives, along with collaboration primitives such as locking and versioning.

WebDAV (published as RFC 2518) is focused on extending HTTP to provide a suitable platform for collaborative authoring. It currently is an IETF effort with support from various vendors, including Adobe, Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Netscape, Novell, Oracle, and Xerox.

WebDAV Methods

WebDAV defines a set of new HTTP methods and modifies the operational scope of a few other HTTP methods. The new methods added by WebDAV are:

PROPFIND

Retrieves the properties of a resource.

PROPPATCH

Sets one or more properties on one or many resources.

MKCOL

Creates collections.

COPY

Copies a resource or a collection of resources from a given source to a given destination. The destination need not be on the same machine.

MOVE

Moves a resource or a collection of resources from a given source to a given destination. The destination need not be on the same machine.

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