Get off my lawn.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


I just had my first taste of working with WebDAV. I'd heard about it several times before, but never had occasion to really use it until today.

WebDAV, for those of you who don't know, is a set of extensions to HTTP that allow collaborative editing and management of resources on the web. Essentially, a read/write web, or a "web file system".

Whenever I've built a web page, website, or whatever in the past, I've always developed it and tested it on one machine, then moved it to the deployment machine, treating the site and its associated resources like the source code to an application. (Actually, if a website allows for manipulation of its content separately from its styling, then it's dynamic and /is/ an application.)

But WebDAV is pretty cool. I can set up a "development" site and let other people in on it for editing. Many people can get in and jack with things in the same area, since WebDAV supports locking, check-in, check-out and other stuff.

One of the best parts is that KDE, the desktop environment on my computer, sort of "natively" knows what to do with WebDAV resources. Point the web browser, for example, to "webdav://sitename/directory", and it opens it up like a folder window. You can treat the files in the folder just like they're sitting on your machine. Edit them, save them, delete them, create new ones, whatever, and then go back to the web browser, and the site is updated. Lots of the tools in the environment (HTML editor, text editor, image editor, etc.) all know about WebDAV.

WebDAV has been around for a long time, so my sitting here ranting about how cool it is surely is a bit lame. I think the thing that has me excited is that it's one of those things where I started this day out not knowing WebDAV from a hole in the ground, and I'm finishing it up as the owner of two machines running WebDAV-enabled Apache installations, a working Java WebDAV client that I wrote, and a desktop environment that natively works with WebDAV resources that I didn't even know I had. I learned a bunch of stuff, did a bunch of work, and got a bunch of free stuff. Kind of hard to beat that.


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