What is WebDAV

Web  Distributed Authoring and Versioning or WebDAV is an extension to the HTTP protocol which allows clients to edit different content on the web. To make it clear, it allows a web server to act as a file server, allowing authors to collaborate on web content. It gives an enhancement to the standard set of HTTP headers and also lets you create, edit, move,  and delete files and folders. Since it is an HTTP extension, it generally uses port 80 for normal encrypted access and port 443 for SSL and TLS.

Revisions in WebDAV

While many users are familiar with File access and manipulation, but something like tracking revisions is not what anybody would know. There are a lot of “what is webDAV” questioning. Revisions are basically,  part of a versioning system which was added to WebDAV after it had been shown in the Delta-V extension. Now, WebDAV servers are simply divided into two categories based on this revision system: Namely Class 1 and Class 2.

what is webdav

Class 1 servers show the users the basic management features like cut, copy, paste and create files and folders. That is why many users use Class 1 servers as read-only as they cannot protect any file from being modified or overwritten.

Class 2 WebDAV servers can prevent such modifications, though, because they can lock files and many WebDAV clients including Microsoft’s Office and Web Folder apps, Mac OS X WebDAV and OpenOffice require it.

WebDAV also features other protocols, such as CalDAV and CardDAV. CalDAV access clients scheduling information from any remote server and CardDAV is used as an address book protocol, which allows users to have access and also share contact data on a server.

Realizing the potential of the Web for remote collaboration activities like distributed authoring, wherein several authors could collaborate on the same document even while working from different parts of the world, an IETF working group was formed to develop extensions to HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) that would enable such activities.

The resulting HTTP extension was called WebDAV. It was first specified under RFC 2518, which was later superseded by RFC 4918.


WebDAV features include:

  • Locking the file: This prevents accidental overwriting or modification of files.
  • XML properties: This allows storage and retrieval functions on metadata so that the data can be organized.
  • The DAV protocol: This comprises all types of  property setting, deleting, and retrieving;
  • The DASL (DAV Searching and Locating) protocol: This allows searches based on property values for locating and coordinating in the Web.
  • Namespace manipulation: This supports copy and moves operations. Collections, which are similar to file system directories, may be created and listed.

Final Thoughts: What Is WebDAV ?

WebDAV was created to give an editing perspective to the World Wide Web. Since then, it has been in use for much more works, mostly to support editing and versioning capabilities. Others extensions which have been added are contact sharing, scheduling and searching. All of these enhances working on remote servers.

So, any web server which can support this protocol can be used and acted as a file hosting server. Users can easily access servers by using the command-line or more user-friendly graphical clients. And with all that in mind, WebDAV is a useful protocol for everyone who wants to manage files on the web.