WebDAV began in 1996 when
Jim Whitehead, a PhD graduate from
UC Irvine, worked with the
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to host two meetings to discuss the problem of
distributed authoring on the
World Wide Web with interested people.
Tim Berners-Lee's original vision of the Web involved a
medium for both reading and writing. In fact, Berners-Lee's first
web browser, called
WorldWideWeb, could both view and edit
web pages; but, as the Web grew, it became a read-only medium for most users. Whitehead and other like-minded people wanted to transcend that limitation.
The W3C meeting decided to form an
IETF working group, because the new effort would lead to extensions to
HTTP, which the IETF had started to standardize.
As work began on the protocol, it became clear that handling both distributed authoring and
versioning together would involve too much work and that the tasks would have to be separated. The WebDAV group focused on distributed authoring, and left versioning for the future. (The
Delta-V extension added versioning later – see the Extensions section below.)
working group concluded its work in March 2007, after the
Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) accepted an incremental update to
. Other extensions left unfinished at that time, such as the
BIND method, have been finished by their individual authors, independent of the formal working group.