webdav clients

In my previous post, I outlined some extensions to HTTP, the core protocol over which all of the World Wide Web – including the Joomla! CMS – operates. We’ve taken a brief overview of WebDAV, CalDAV, and CardDAV; their intended purposes, the features they present, and some of the real world areas in which they come in handy.

So how does one start using WebDAV or CalDAV? Riding on top of HTTP as both protocols do, they inherit the client-server architecture of HTTP; hence, both client and server applications are necessary to make it work. For WebDAV, clients are already built into most modern desktop OSes; Windows, OSX and Linux natively treat WebDAV shares as network drives/locations.

Additionally, the OSes mentioned previously, as well as both iOS and Android, have WebDAV clients available for download from their respective app libraries. WebDAV servers (e.g. IIS, Apache) and 3rd-party services (e.g. StorageMadeEasy) are also widely available for most modern desktop and mobile OSes. It is also possible to implement WebDAV functionality into a CMS like Joomla (and, in fact, has been done more than once), so it’s quite versatile.

Whether using WebDAV via a native client or via a 3rd-party application, it is always good to check and see whether both the WebDAV client and the server support HTTPS, or secure HTTP. You will be logging in to the WebDAV server using a standard username/password combination, so secure access will be a priority – especially if you are using WebDAV for collaboration on any sensitive work.

Further, WebDAV usually operates over the standard HTTP ports (80 for standard HTTP, 443 for HTTPS), unless the server was configured differently. If you are operating your own WebDAV installation for access to your private files, you might want to consider changing the default ports as well, to further increase security.

For CalDAV (and by extension, CardDAV), the situation is slightly more interesting. On Linux, both client (e.g. Mozilla Thunderbird) and server (e.g. Apache with mod_caldav) applications are readily available. While Apple’s iCal app natively supports CalDAV, Android’s Calendar app does not; you will have to download a CalDAV app from an app store. In addition, neither Windows Live Mail nor Microsoft Outlook supports CalDAV, either as a client or as a server; and getting CalDAV support without paying for it is no easy task. Luckily, other FOSS calendaring software for Windows that support CalDAV do exist. On Windows Phone, both CalDAV and CardDAV are supported for certain specific services, and others can be added.

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