First WebDAV products see the light of day

Proprietary methods for Web developers to interact with Web servers are becoming unnecessary, because products are now beginning to ship which support the Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) Protocol.

WebDAV is a proposed standard of the Internet Engineering Task Force, and provides Web servers with the equivalent of a network file system for exchanging data via HTTP.

Glyphica and Microsoft are both delivering WebDAV support in the current beta versions of their server products, and Zope, an open-source Web application development environment, also added WebDAV functionality last week.

Support for the WebDAV protocol is a key update to Microsoft's Internet Information Server (IIS), which is a piece of Windows 2000. IIS 5.0 and Windows 2000 were released for Beta 3 testing last week.

"IIS is where you'll see the implementation of the protocol," according to Michael Stephenson, a product manager for Windows NT Server at Microsoft. "The way users will get that functionality is through IIS services."

In Beta 2 of IIS 5.0, Microsoft introduced preliminary WebDAV support, based on Version 8.0 of the draft protocol. Stephenson said Beta 3 includes complete support.

"Beta 3 will be the full [Request for Comment-]compliant version," Stephenson said. "WebDAV is going to make it a lot easier for a user on the Web to share a file as it is today on a file share [on a network]."

With the WebDAV support in IIS 5.0, Microsoft is following up on a promise it made in late 1998 to support the protocol in its Windows, Office and BackOffice lines. For example, in Office 2000, due for release in June, "Web Servers" is an option where content can be saved.

Glyphica is using WebDAV in its new server product as part of its portal offering. When used in conjunction with the WebDAV-compliant Internet Explorer 5 browser, users can drag and drop documents from their desktops to Glyphica's document repository. The files are then indexed and can be searched with the company's PortalWare product.

Glyphica is planning to develop other client modules to WebDAV-enable other desktop products. Its WebDAV Server is now in beta testing and will go gold this month. Now available for licensing, it runs on Windows NT and Solaris systems. Information on pricing is not yet available.

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