Inconsistent DAV Integration

by Scot Hacker

iDisk uses DAV for remote disk mounting, and iCal lets me publish my calendars to a personal DAV server. Presumably, iPhoto photocasts to the iDisk DAV system, and iSync does the same. So why can't I use my own DAV server to store all of my iSync data? Why can't I photocast to my own DAV server?

Naturally there's a market-related reason: Apple wants to sell .Mac accounts. Fair enough. But if that's the case, why do they allow iCal to play outside the sandbox? It feels inconsistent. Or are there technical reasons for the difference I'm not seeing here?

I understand Apple wanting to sell "advanced" features to power users, but I also think that increased openness / interoperability would make OS X more attractive to many power users. They'd still sell plenty of .Mac accounts to the general public. Openness expands the reach of systems and makes people feel warm-n-fuzzy. Artificial limits leave a sour taste in people's mouths.

Apple, here's one of my Leopard wishlist items (if it's not too late): Start assuming that WebDAV is a feature to which many customers of external hosting systems have access - not some kind of magic pixie dust available only to .Mac users.


2006-05-06 09:05:56
I think the reason they allow it for iCal is purely strategic. iCal isn't just an app geared towards home users. They also want it used in businesses that use the Mac. There, it might make better sense to allow WebDAV access so that companies can host calendars on their on servers.
2006-05-06 09:31:20
Yes, a market-related reason but also, how many people actually want to publish a photocast to *their own* DAV server? Not many at all. If there's enough demand Apple will add it I'm sure; they're usually pretty responsive. Most users of these tools just want it to work and wouldn't know what a DAV server is anyhow.
2006-05-06 10:45:04
Yes, this is one of the bad things that Apple does. We pay more for hardware, so why can we not get free space to store files, bookmarks, etc.

This site shows how to create your own WebDAV server that will work with most of the .Mac services. Not all of them have been figured out yet, but its a start.

2006-05-06 10:56:23
Sync Services isn't DAV (at least not mostly). There's a fairly complicated client/server protocol to work out what bits of data need to be transferred in either direction.

Photocasts are written to the server using DAV, but there's some custom software involved in serving them, for example to make it so the photocast opens up in iPhoto but only if you have iPhoto.

2006-05-06 18:50:01
MySync works quite well for iSync between two macs without .Mac.
Scot Hacker
2006-05-06 23:03:28
shawn, thanks for that link - looks like some fun to be had there, though it doesn't fill the photocasting or isync gaps (I understand now that isync is more complex than just storing data on a DAV server, so that nut may be tougher to crack, if it's crackable at all).
2006-05-07 13:42:00
You'd think that if you paid the huge premium for Mac OS X Server, you'd get all of these features, working, out of the box. You don't. Lame.

The countless places in the product where it begs you to pay additional money for .Mac entirely misses the point -- I've bought my own server because I can't or don't want to trust Apple with my data.

Chris Adamson
2006-05-08 06:20:50

If I remember, Apache's DAV implementation requires Apache 2, and OS X still ships an Apache 1 http server. Or maybe it was that Subversion + DAV requires Apache 2. Anyways, I had Apache 2 working with these modules via fink, and hosted my iCal calendars via DAV off a Cube running Tiger. But fink remained over a year out of date with Apache fixes (including one to a bug that prevented OS X from serving a file larger than 64 KB), and I tired of the maintenance and integration hassles of fink [at least as bad as compiling, installing, and configuring by hand], so I gave up on serving my iCal calendars and when I go back to fix subversion, I'll probably just use svnserve.

It would rock if Leopard moved to Apache 2 and compiled in the dav and svn_dav modules, but I strongly doubt Apple will bother.

Scot Hacker
2006-05-08 08:24:06
Chris - The Apache 2 requirement must have been related to Subversion, as DAV works fine with Apache 1.
Pimp my Dot
2006-05-09 12:44:59
I think that .Mac is nice, but Apple should take this much further. Leopard Server should enable '.you' to do your own thing with it. This would be great in the corporate world where peope struggle with Exchange or Domino or some open source mix.

Building a simple server to host the intranet calendars (booking the beamer), the who's who pictures, the corporate Address Book (LDAP), all the stuff that you now should trust Apple for (with your private data). Ever managed the phonebook with openldap? Domino? Active DIrectory? Is it easy to update? Can you sync parts to your phone?

Surely .Mac fits in the picture for some consumers, but some Internet Providers or businesses could do their own domain.

With this technology more in common use other developers would be able to benefit more if they develop on top of it as was the plan with Tiger, then a network effect could happen.

Enabling the power of others can make .you a success. .Mac is not a runaway success now...