Communications protocol
OSI layer Application
Port(s) 80, 443
RFC(s) RFC 2518, 4918

Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) is an extension of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) that allows clients to perform remote Web content authoring operations. WebDAV is defined in 4918 by a working group of the Internet Engineering Task Force.

The WebDAV protocol provides a framework for users to create, change and move documents on a server. The most important features of the WebDAV protocol include the maintenance of properties about an author or modification date, namespace management, collections, and overwrite protection. Maintenance of properties includes such things as the creation, removal, and querying of file information. Namespace management deals with the ability to copy and move web pages within a server’s namespace. Collections deal with the creation, removal, and listing of various resources. Lastly, overwrite protection handles aspects related to locking of files.

Many modern operating systems provide built-in client-side support for WebDAV.


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. [1] [2] 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. [3]

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.)

The WebDAV working group concluded its work in March 2007, after the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) accepted an incremental update to 2518. 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.

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