IETF to approve collaboration protocol

The Web will come one step closer to becoming a truly collaborative medium this week as the IETF approves the Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) protocol. WebDAV enables users in different locations to work on the same documents or Web site. It provides features for preventing overwrites and the capability to exchange document properties such as the author's name. Microsoft has promised sweeping product support for WebDAV and will add WebDAV support in Office 2000 and Windows 2000.

The Web will come one step closer to becoming a truly collaborative medium this week as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) approves the Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) protocol.

WebDAV enables users in different locations to work on the same documents or Web site. It provides features for preventing overwrites and the capability to exchange document properties such as the author's name.

Microsoft announced sweeping product support for WebDAV at Fall Internet World in October and will add WebDAV support in Office 2000 and Windows 2000.

Future versions of Windows, the FrontPage Web authoring tool, and the BackOffice family will also support WebDAV, according to Microsoft officials.

Some vendors did not let the standardisation process tie up their plans for delivering WebDAV-like functionality in their currently shipping products, although vendors said they will support the standard in future releases.

Dave Winer, president of Userland in Burlingame, Calif., said although his Frontier Web content management software already has the same functionality as WebDAV, his users are adamant that standards be supported.

"Users always want us to support standards, and they're very consistent on that," Winer said. "They want to be able to plug things in and make them work."

According to Winer, WebDAV will be just one way Frontier users can deliver content to a Web server, along with FTP and HTTP.

DataChannel CEO Dave Pool said there will be a market for WebDAV-enabled clients and browsers, because Microsoft will not support the standard until it ships Office 2000 and Internet Explorer 5.0.

More information about WebDAV can be found at the IETF Web site at www.ietf.org.

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