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Subject: Re: [xacml] Re: XACML's limitations in the access control for XMLdocuments use case - AW: AW: [xacml] CD-1 issue #11: strictness of xpathdefinition

Hi Rich,

If I understand you correctly, the essence of your email is that you say 
that a hierarchical resource could be described in some other manner 
than an XML document, so use of XML in the request or XPath in the 
policies are not required.

Well, maybe so, but if one does not use XML for the hierarchy, one has 
to use something else somewhere else, and you leave this question 
completely open. So you are really proposing yet another brand new 
scheme for doing hierarchies and multiple requests. This could be 
interesting in its own right, but there are many people who wish to use 
XML for their resources since it is convenient. And these users do want 
to look up additional attributes in the XML. This discussion started 
because users of XACML saw limitations in XACML's capabilities with 
regard to XML resources.

So, I think we should make a clear distinction between:

1. How to improve XACML when the user is in fact using XML for resources 
and does want to look up attributes of the individual resources in the XML.

2. How to define other schemes for multiple requests and hierarchies.

One could also discuss the various merits of different schemes, but a 
strong point of the XML scheme is that XML is a standardized capability 
which does not require any custom capabilities in the PEP or context 
handler. The URI scheme leaves the whole issue of defining, storing and 
transmitting the hierarchy unspecified, so it would not work out of box 
on a standard XACML implementation.

Best regards,

Rich.Levinson wrote:
> Hi Erik, Paul, Jan,
> There has been good discussion in the last 6 emails:
> http://lists.oasis-open.org/archives/xacml/200910/msg00005.html
> http://lists.oasis-open.org/archives/xacml/200910/msg00004.html
> http://lists.oasis-open.org/archives/xacml/200910/msg00003.html
> http://lists.oasis-open.org/archives/xacml/200910/msg00002.html
> http://lists.oasis-open.org/archives/xacml/200910/msg00001.html
> http://lists.oasis-open.org/archives/xacml/200910/msg00000.html
> Reviewing them all has led me to step back a bit and try to see a 
> larger scope thru which all the details might be systematically 
> viewed. I will try to present the larger scope that has helped me view 
> these issues and then try to address a couple of the issues within 
> that context.
> Starting with the Multiple Resource Profile, I see 4 basic 
> "hierarchical use cases", which involve "hierarchical node 
> identification", which I think can reduced to 2 "hierarchical use 
> cases", which may then be viewed as applying to xml and non-xml resources.
> The 4 use cases I see in the Multiple Profile are the following (Note: 
> the top node of the hierarchies involved in these use cases is 
> generally the node identified by the " 'resource-id' attribute in the 
> original request context", a phrase that appears on lines 111,115,143, 
> 145. I think the term "original resource-id" can be used to 
> distinguish this resource-id from the generated individual 
> resource-ids that appear in the individual requests. Also, the 
> original resource-id is used, as one of the individual requests as well.):
>    1. resource:scope="Immediate" covered by section 2.3. This use case
>       is essentially a "single" resource request and is relatively
>       uninteresting (in the context of the hierarchical node-naming
>       discussion), except for the fact that the individual
>       "resource-id" attribute may be considered to be essentially the
>       same as the "original resource-id" attribute. Also, section 2.3
>       covers the multiple single request use case, which is
>       essentially non-hierarchical in nature and simply a list of
>       resources
>    2. resource:scope="Children" covered by sections 2.1 and 2.2, and
>       consists essentially of sending a set of individual requests,
>       which are each identified by "resource-id", where the "parent"
>       or "original resource-id" is one request and each child of this
>       parent has a "generated resource-id" to identify it. Also, all
>       these resource-id's may appear in the individual Result elements
>       that are returned and thus represents a tangible entity that
>       needs to be explicitly implemented, because it can actually
>       appear as a specific return element as an identifier of the
>       explicit resource to which the Result applies.
>    3. resource:scope="Descendants" also covered by sections 2.1 and
>       2.2, and represents the node identified by the "original
>       resource-id" plus all the element and attribute descendants of
>       the original resource-id node. Therefore, this use case requires
>       the generation of a tangible resource-id for every element and
>       attribute in a hierarchical resource including and below the
>       element identified by the original resource-id. Again, these may
>       be tangible return values, and therefore need to have a specific
>       syntax and literal representation.
>    4. resource:scope="EntireHierarchy" covered by sections 3.1 and
>       3.2. This use case is essentially the same as
>       resource:scope="Descendants" except only one Result element is
>       generated, and is therefore relatively uninteresting from a
>       "hierarchical naming perspective".
> The point of the above is to call attention to the two primary use 
> cases: resource:scope="Children" and resource:scope="Descendants" that 
> involve the issue of naming of nodes in a hierarchy. In this context, 
> I note the following characteristics that I think may be of general 
> interest:
>     * Because the resource:scope="Descendants" use case requires the
>       ability to provide a tangible unique identifier to every node in
>       an XML document, if the original resource-id refers to the top
>       node of that document, there is an implicit requirement to have
>       an explicit name for every element in the hierarchy.
>     * There appears to be no explicit "need" to send the actual XML
>       document along with the Request, because all that is explicitly
>       required is the resource-id Attribute. The only need for the XML
>       document would be to look at additional attributes that may be
>       in that document, but those attributes are outside the scope of
>       anything in the Multiple Profile itself.
>           o Assuming the above point is acknowledged, it can also be
>             pointed out that while there may be policies written that
>             use additional attributes, there is no reason to think
>             that any, or all of those attributes necessarily would be
>             found in the XML document.
>           o Therefore, if agreement exists on the above 2 points, one
>             might also be able to say that there really is no reason
>             to restrict the attributes for the policies to be
>             attributes that can be accessed specifically by the XPath
>             mechanism, and therefore no real "reason" to restrict the
>             node identification to be an XPath syntax as opposed to
>             any other syntax.
>     * What these points are getting at is the notion that within the
>       multiple and hierarchical resource profiles there is an explicit
>       need to define an explicit syntax for identifying the nodes in a
>       hierarchy, be it and xml document or a non-xml document, but
>       there is not explicit need that this syntax should be explicitly
>       XPath.
> Given all the above I think it is also fair to say that XPath does not 
> even provide a syntax for explicit node-naming, although one can 
> specify a syntax for node naming using namespace prefixes in the path, 
> however, the XML document which has the resolution of those namespace 
> prefixes in xmlns attributes will need to accompany the request in 
> order to resolve the resource-id to a tangible value that can be 
> included in an IncludeInResult return attribute.
> Granted that in a totally self-contained XPath environment, one might 
> be able to exist without ever explicitly naming a node outside of the 
> presence of the XML document itself, or the document schema, it 
> appears to me, at least, that such a situation kind of "bakes in" one 
> specific technology that will be required to be used to identify these 
> resources. This seems to me to be ok for specific implementations, but 
> it also appears to me to be at odds with the spirit of the core XACML 
> spec which states (lines 2659-2664):
>     "5.42 Element <Request>
>     The <Request> element is an abstraction layer used by the policy
>     language. For simplicity of expression, this document describes
>     policy evaluation in terms of operations on the context. However a
>     conforming PDP is not required to actually instantiate the context
>     in the form of an XML document. But, any system conforming to the
>     XACML specification MUST produce exactly the same authorization
>     decisions as if all the inputs had been transformed into the form
>     of an <Request> element."
> In summary, I believe the above considerations indicate that there is 
> nothing of functional substance in the Multiple or Hierarchical 
> Resource profiles that really require the presence of the XML document 
> in the Request element, and that all the capabilities can be 
> implemented without XPath or the XML document, and that therefore, 
> restricting functional capabilities, such as node-naming to be 
> represented in an explicitly XML-XPath dependent manner, while 
> providing no alternatives is unnecessarily restricting the 
> implementation technology to a specific form of resource representation.
> i.e. the point I am trying to make is that while I have no objection 
> to XPath methods being included as representative of a way to 
> implement the functionality of the profiles, I do not agree that these 
> methods are necessarily sufficient in and of themselves to represent 
> the functional capabilities of these profiles. And for the node-naming 
> problem, in particular, I think that the XPath syntax provides only a 
> technology-specific way of representing the node names and that 
> therefore an alternative string representation that is not 
> technology-dependent is effectively required as an alternative. In 
> addition, I also believe that the suggestion I made using URI syntax 
> or something equivalent, meets the requirements and is transformable 
> to XPath syntax if necessary for implementation purposes.
> Comments and suggestions welcome, and I realize that I may have 
> overlooked aspects of the problem, which might alter these 
> conclusions, but would request that those oversights or mistakes be 
> pointed out for consideration.
>     Thanks,
>     Rich
> Erik Rissanen wrote:
>> Hi Paul,
>> See some comments inline.
>> Best regards,
>> Erik
>> Tyson, Paul H wrote:
>>> No one has produced an actual use case that requires regexp on xpath 
>>> resource-ids to solve. I am not inclined to jump to this sort of 
>>> solution.  I have a lot of experience writing xpath expressions for 
>>> xslt transformations, so I am skeptical when anyone suggests  
>>> additional functionality is required in this area, that is not 
>>> already provided by well-established standards.
>>> I still plan to start some wiki pages on these topics, but I want to 
>>> introduce some other aspects of this discussion.
>>> 1. Part of the problem is that XACML overloads the concept of 
>>> "resource-id" when it can be used actually as a "resource-selector" 
>>> in multi-resource request for XML resources.  This causes the actual 
>>> resource-id that is used during evaluation to be different than the 
>>> initial resource-id (it has been "expanded" to describe the exact 
>>> node).  I believe this is a defect in the specification, which 
>>> should be remedied in any case.  You face this problem when you want 
>>> to write (as Jan does) rules involving the string value of the 
>>> resource-id.  (I still don't understand the motivation for writing 
>>> these sorts of rules, but that's a different matter.)
>> Yes, I agree. If I understand you correctly, this is the exact same 
>> issue I am thinking of when I say that the multiple resource profile 
>> "breaks the XACML assumption that the <Request> describes a single 
>> attempted access to a single resource".
>>> 2. Related to the above point, there seems to be a gap in the 
>>> current multi-resource specification, because it is not clear how 
>>> the response identifies the xml node for each decision.  If PEP asks 
>>> for decisions on "//*[@id=('foo','bar','baz')]"  (i.e., elements 
>>> whose id attribute is 'foo', 'bar', or 'baz'), what should be the 
>>> respective values of the resource-ids in the response?  They could 
>>> be "//*[@id='foo']", "//*[@id='bar']", "//*[@id='baz']".  Or they 
>>> could be "/chapter[1]/section[3]/para[1]", "/chapter[2]", 
>>> "/chapter[2]/section[1]/fig[1]".  Assuming the PEP has xpath 
>>> processing capabilities, it really shouldn't matter.  But the XACML 
>>> spec should at least say something like "the returned resource-id 
>>> shall be an xpath expression which, when evaluated against the 
>>> original xml content, returns exactly (and only) the node on which 
>>> the decision was issued".
>> This behavior is already required by the current specification, but 
>> could perhaps be stated more explicitly. The PDP will return the 
>> resource-id attribute specified in the individual request if the 
>> "IncludeInResult" attribute has been set to "true". And the multiple 
>> resource profile already requires that for each individual request 
>> the resource-id must consist of an XPath expression which matches 
>> exactly one node. The combined effect of this is the behavior you 
>> describe above.
>>> 3.  Much of this discussion centers around the conceptual model of 
>>> multi-resource requests.  The spec says these are to be treated as a 
>>> series of individual requests, and describes the required context of 
>>> each derived request.  This model is normative only in concept, not 
>>> for implementation--that is, a PDP must issue decisions as if this 
>>> model had been followed.  The MR spec says "This Profile does NOT 
>>> REQUIRE that the implementation of the evaluation of a request for 
>>> access to multiple resources conform to the preceding model or that 
>>> actual Individual Resource Requests be constructed." (section 2)  
>>> Therefore, the behavior of any rule evaluation that depends on a 
>>> particular implementation of multi-resource requests is out of scope 
>>> (and unspecified).  I believe the discussion of xpath resource-id 
>>> rules falls into this category.  (I also believe the model of 
>>> multi-resource decision evaluation needs to be defined better.)
>> Sorry, but I don't understand this point. But I do think it is 
>> relevant to discuss whether the spec can be implemented in any 
>> efficient manner, and this can affect what the specification should 
>> be like.
>>> --Paul
>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>> From: Jan Herrmann [mailto:herrmanj@in.tum.de] Sent: Thursday, 
>>>> October 01, 2009 07:04
>>>> To: 'Rich.Levinson'
>>>> Cc: xacml@lists.oasis-open.org
>>>> Subject: AW: [xacml] Re: XACML's limitations in the access control 
>>>> for XML documents use case - AW: AW: [xacml] CD-1 issue #11: 
>>>> strictness of xpath definition
>>>> Hi Rich,
>>>> I highly agree with what you said in this mail. It seems that your 
>>>> use case goes a bit further then the one I am thinking of. Let me 
>>>> try to identify the common and varying parts of our use cases.
>>>> If I understand you correctly you are not only thinking about how 
>>>> the resource-id values of the individual decision requests in the 
>>>> xml use case have to look like. You are further having the file 
>>>> system and URL resource use case in mind. This is something I have 
>>>> never thought about so far.
>>>> Further it seems that you are trying to represent the whole 
>>>> resource through and only through URIs in one decision request. 
>>>> That's also somehow different to the use case I have in mind, as in 
>>>> my scenario the resource (the xml doc) is always included under 
>>>> <content> as it is and the question of representation is always 
>>>> reduced to how to represent the resource-id value that must match 
>>>> exactly one node under content.
>>>> I think one important task is to try to identify the common or 
>>>> relating aspects of the different use cases and where they differ 
>>>> or where they are independent.
>>>> I agree that in issue 11 the namespace problem was not handled at 
>>>> all. Thus some little extra work is needed.
>>>> I further agree that it would be beautiful to have the same style 
>>>> how to define rules for different kind of resources if possible. 
>>>> Thus I fully share your proposal to add an alternative for 
>>>> representing nodes (or whatsoever) as resource-id-values or in 
>>>> general.
>>>> As far as I understand the Clark notation it is simply a 
>>>> substituted form where prefixes are replaced by the namespaces 
>>>> bound to them. For my use case this would work perfectly well. The 
>>>> question is if you want to try to force the policy writer to follow 
>>>> this syntax when defining the resource-id match in its rule. 
>>>> Further if you think of an AttributeSelector that can concatenate 
>>>> resource-id with an offset this implies that the AttributeSelector 
>>>> implementation must be able to deal with the clark syntax to :-(
>>>> In my scenario there is another possible alternative (as mentioned 
>>>> in the mail submitted two hours ago):
>>>> You could use a special reg-exp-On-XPath-strings function that is 
>>>> namespace aware and substitutes the prefixes correspondingly before 
>>>> doing the common reg-expr matching stuff on the resource-id 
>>>> attribute. This reg-exp-On-XPath-strings function is the function 
>>>> to test the resource-id values only.
>>>> Does your use cases require more functions that work on a URI based 
>>>> representation of individual resources?
>>>> Below you'll find further comments to your questions in an earlier 
>>>> mail.
>>>> Basic conclusion of the comments below:
>>>> allow to represent the resource in xml or through a set of 
>>>> attribute/value pairs (if can be shown that this realy brings 
>>>> advantages).
>>>> Looking forward to further discussions and comments.
>>>> Best regards
>>>> Jan
>>>> ________________________________________
>>>> Jan Herrmann
>>>> Dipl.-Inform., Dipl.-Geogr.
>>>> wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter
>>>> Technische Universität München
>>>> Institut für Informatik
>>>> Lehrstuhl für Angewandte Informatik / Kooperative Systeme
>>>> Boltzmannstr. 3
>>>> 85748 Garching
>>>> Tel:      +49 (0)89 289-18692
>>>> Fax:     +49 (0)89 289-18657
>>>> www11.informatik.tu-muenchen.de
>>>> ________________________________________
>>>>> -----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
>>>>> Von: Rich.Levinson [mailto:rich.levinson@oracle.com]
>>>>> Gesendet: Montag, 28. September 2009 22:40
>>>>> An: Erik Rissanen
>>>>> Cc: XACML TC
>>>>> Betreff: Re: [xacml] Re: XACML's limitations in the access       
>>>> control for XML
>>>>> documents use case - AW: AW: [xacml] CD-1 issue #11:       
>>>> strictness of xpath
>>>>> definition
>>>>> Hi Erik,
>>>>> The intent of the proposal is not to replace or be better       
>>>> than XPath,
>>>>> but to be an "alternative representation" for node identification as
>>>>> described in section 2.0 of the profile, which if we included in the
>>>>> profile as suggested in section 2.2.1, presumably would then be a
>>>>> "recommended alternative representation".
>>>>> The reason for the suggestion was to address the       
>>>> requirements specified
>>>>> in issue 11, which contained a recommended syntax that did not
>>>>> incorporate namespaces. By using the Clark notation for the       
>>>> namespaces,
>>>>> the syntax in issue 11 can be directly incorporated to the       
>>>> URI scheme as
>>>>> described in the proposal.
>>>>> Once the syntax is in place then the same kinds of regexp-scoped
>>>>> Policy's can be written for XML nodes as for file system and URL
>>>>> resources.
>>>>> Assuming the syntax and proposal is correct, it may be a useful
>>>>> alternative representation in some situations, particularly       
>>>> where it may
>>>>> be an objective to identify all resources w URIs, and/or       
>>>> where the mixed
>>>>> XACML/XPATH syntax is a concern wrt Policy specification.
>>>>>     Thanks,
>>>>>     Rich
>>>>> Erik Rissanen wrote:
>>>>>> Hi Rich,
>>>>>> Some of the reasons why an XPath approach could be better are:
>>>>>> 1. XPath contains many functions and other capabilities,         
>>>> which might
>>>>>> not be as easily available in the URI based approach.
>>>>>> 2. The TC would avoid the effort to define the URI         
>>>> approach. We would
>>>>>> need to improve the xpath approach instead, but I suspect that the
>>>>>> effort is smaller since we can reuse so much from xpath,         
>>>> compared with
>>>>>> a wholly new URI based approach.
>>>>>> 3. It is likely that an XML resource is already available         
>>>> in XML form,
>>>>>> so an xpath implimentation can be applied to it directly,         
>>>> while the
>>>>>> URI approach requires a transformation, which could         
>>>> degrade performance.
>>>>>> Note that it is not true that the whole XML has to be repeated for
>>>>>> each resource since multiple <Attributes> elements are         
>>>> not required
>>>>>> with the xpath approach, and with XACML 3.0 it is         
>>>> possible to reuse
>>>>>> the same <Content> document for all the multiple queries.
>>>>>> Best regards,
>>>>>> Erik
>>>>>> Rich.Levinson wrote:
>>>>>>> Hi Jan, et al,
>>>>>>> I have had a busy week and not been able to respond until now,
>>>>>>> however, looking over all the subsequent emails to the           
>>>> one to which
>>>>>>> this is a response (
>>>>>>> http://lists.oasis-open.org/archives/xacml/200909/msg00081.html
>>>>>>> ), it appears to me that there are still unresolved           
>>>> issues, and from
>>>>>>> my perspective, there are some assertions made, with which I
>>>>>>> disagree, about AttributeDesignators, which I thought my           
>>>> suggested
>>>>>>> URI scheme would address, but apparently it either needs further
>>>>>>> explanation or I am missing something that I have not           
>>>> yet understood.
>>>>>>> In any event I would very much like to determine whether these
>>>>>>> assertions are true or false in order that the TC be of           
>>>> a single mind
>>>>>>> when comparing the capabilities of AttributeSelectors and
>>>>>>> AttributeDesignators.
>>>>>>>    The assertion with which I disagree is that the           
>>>> AttributeDesignators
>>>>>>>    cannot do what the AttributeSelectors can do because the
>>>>>>>    AttributeDesignators lose the hierarchical structure.           
>>>> My response is
>>>>>>>    that if you don't throw away the hierarchical structure when
>>>>>>>    creating your AttributeDesignators then this           
>>>> perceived problem does
>>>>>>>    not exist.
>>>> For the XML use case:
>>>> I can imagine that it is possible to rebuild the semantics that are
>>>> expressed through the structure of nodes through an appropriate 
>>>> naming of
>>>> the attributes. But it seems to be very complicated and I can't 
>>>> find the
>>>> advantages of transforming an originally xml encoded resource in uris
>>>> without benefits. Further this will imply special functions working 
>>>> on the
>>>> chosen naming-schema see below.
>>>> Why should one try to avoid AttributeSelectors at all?
>>>>>>> If I am wrong about this, I will accept that, however, I do not
>>>>>>> believe that my approach to the AttributeDesignators has been
>>>>>>> considered on its merits yet, and I will try to be           
>>>> totally explicit
>>>>>>> in this email, and I will show how I think Jan's           
>>>> proposed solution
>>>>>>> can be completely done using only AttributeDesignators and regexp
>>>>>>> string matching.
>>>>>>> Having been thru some lengthy discussions earlier this           
>>>> year on the
>>>>>>> hierarchical profile, I became quite sensitive to the node naming
>>>>>>> issue, and one of the results of those earlier           
>>>> discussions was that
>>>>>>> if hierarchical URIs are used to name nodes, that these           
>>>> names contain
>>>>>>> within them the navigation necessary to locate the node, so that
>>>>>>> using these names outside of an XML document does not lose the
>>>>>>> structural relationships.
>>>>>>> Using James Clark's universal name syntax           
>>>> ("{namespace}elementname"
>>>>>>> http://www.jclark.com/xml/xmlns.htm) combined with a transform to
>>>>>>> replace the xml document with a list of name/value pairs           
>>>> (there are
>>>>>>> several XML to JSON xslt transformers available free,           
>>>> which I expect
>>>>>>> could readily be adapted to produce name/value pairs in           
>>>> the format
>>>>>>> below), where each element and attribute is identfied by its full
>>>>>>> path expressed as universal element names. For example,           
>>>> assuming the
>>>>>>> document you gave as an example had a namespace = "foo":
>>>>>>> <objects xmlns:="foo">
>>>>>>>  <book>
>>>>>>>    <title>xxx</title>
>>>>>>>    <author>Bob</author>
>>>>>>>    <id>100</id>
>>>>>>>    <price>30</price>
>>>>>>>    <book-content>.....</book-content >
>>>>>>>  <book>
>>>>>>>  <book>
>>>>>>>    <title>yyy</title>
>>>>>>>    <author>Alice</author>
>>>>>>>    <id>200</id>
>>>>>>>    <price>80</price>
>>>>>>>    <book-content >...</book-content >
>>>>>>>  <book>
>>>>>>> </objects>
>>>>>>> The above document would first be transformed to the           
>>>> following set of
>>>>>>> name value pairs (ignoring whitespace):
>>>>>>> /{foo}objects = ""
>>>>>>> /{foo}objects/{foo}book[1] = ""
>>>>>>> /{foo}objects/{foo}book[1]/{foo}title = "xxx"
>>>>>>> /{foo}objects/{foo}book[1]/{foo}author = "Bob"
>>>>>>> /{foo}objects/{foo}book[1]/{foo}id = "100"
>>>>>>> /{foo}objects/{foo}book[1]/{foo}price = "30"
>>>>>>> /{foo}objects/{foo}book[1]/{foo}content = "..."
>>>>>>> /{foo}objects/{foo}book[2] = ""
>>>>>>> /{foo}objects/{foo}book[2]/{foo}title = "yyy"
>>>>>>> /{foo}objects/{foo}book[2]/{foo}author = "Alice"
>>>>>>> /{foo}objects/{foo}book[2]/{foo}id = "200"
>>>>>>> /{foo}objects/{foo}book[2]/{foo}price = "80"
>>>>>>> /{foo}objects/{foo}book[2]/{foo}content = "..."
>>>>>>> The next step is to define resources, which for this use           
>>>> case would
>>>>>>> be done based on multiple resource profile, where we would have 2
>>>>>>> resources, using Erik's shorthand:
>>>>>>> <Resource>resource-id=/{foo}objects/{foo}book[1]</Resource>
>>>>>>> <Resource>resource-id=/{foo}objects/{foo}book[2]</Resource>
>>>>>>> The next step is to create xacml attributes for these           
>>>> resources using
>>>>>>> the full universal names as AttributeIds (again w some           
>>>> shorthand),
>>>>>>> resulting in the following 2 requests:
>>>>>>> (Note: since AttributeId requires anyURI datatype, the following
>>>>>>> percent-encoding must be applied to the AttributeId values:
>>>>>>>    * { -> %7B
>>>>>>>    * } -> %7D
>>>>>>>    * [ -> %5B
>>>>>>>    * ] -> %5D )
>>>>>>> <Request>
>>>>>>> <Subject>subject-id="Bob"</Subject>
>>>>>>> <Resource>
>>>>>>> <Attribute>AttributeId="resource-id"
>>>>>>> value="/{foo}objects/{foo}book[1]"</Attribute>
>>>> <Attribute>AttributeId="/%7Bfoo%7Dobjects/%7Bfoo%7Dbook%5B1%5D
>>>> /%7Bfoo%7Dti
>>>>> tle"
>>>>>>> value = "xxx"</Attribute>
>>>> <Attribute>AttributeId="/%7Bfoo%7Dobjects/%7Bfoo%7Dbook%5B1%5D
>>>> /%7Bfoo%7Dau
>>>>> thor"
>>>>>>> value = "Bob"</Attribute>
>>>> <Attribute>AttributeId="/%7Bfoo%7Dobjects/%7Bfoo%7Dbook%5B1%5D
>>>> /%7Bfoo%7Did
>>>>> "
>>>>>>> value = "100"</Attribute>
>>>> <Attribute>AttributeId="/%7Bfoo%7Dobjects/%7Bfoo%7Dbook%5B1%5D
>>>> /%7Bfoo%7Dpr
>>>>> ice"
>>>>>>> value = "30"</Attribute>
>>>> <Attribute>AttributeId="/%7Bfoo%7Dobjects/%7Bfoo%7Dbook%5B1%5D
>>>> /%7Bfoo%7Dco
>>>>> ntent"
>>>>>>> value = "..."</Attribute>
>>>>>>> </Resource>
>>>>>>> </Request>
>>>>>>> <Request>
>>>>>>> <Subject>subject-id="Bob"</Subject>
>>>>>>> <Resource>
>>>>>>> <Attribute>AttributeId="resource-id"
>>>>>>> value="/{foo}objects/{foo}book[2]"</Attribute>
>>>> <Attribute>AttributeId="/%7Bfoo%7Dobjects/%7Bfoo%7Dbook%5B2%5D
>>>> /%7Bfoo%7Dti
>>>>> tle"
>>>>>>> value = "yyy"</Attribute>
>>>> <Attribute>AttributeId="/%7Bfoo%7Dobjects/%7Bfoo%7Dbook%5B2%5D
>>>> /%7Bfoo%7Dau
>>>>> thor"
>>>>>>> value = "Alice"</Attribute>
>>>> <Attribute>AttributeId="/%7Bfoo%7Dobjects/%7Bfoo%7Dbook%5B2%5D
>>>> /%7Bfoo%7Did
>>>>> "
>>>>>>> value = "200"</Attribute>
>>>> <Attribute>AttributeId="/%7Bfoo%7Dobjects/%7Bfoo%7Dbook%5B2%5D
>>>> /%7Bfoo%7Dpr
>>>>> ice"
>>>>>>> value = "80"</Attribute>
>>>> <Attribute>AttributeId="/%7Bfoo%7Dobjects/%7Bfoo%7Dbook%5B2%5D
>>>> /%7Bfoo%7Dco
>>>>> ntent"
>>>>>>> value = "..."</Attribute>
>>>>>>> </Resource>
>>>>>>> </Request>
>>>>>>> All the above processing to create the requests is done in the
>>>>>>> ContextHandler, then the requests are submitted one at a           
>>>> time to the
>>>>>>> PDP.
>>>>>>> Now the rule that gets applied to each of these requests is the
>>>>>>> following:
>>>>>>> <Rule effect=Deny>
>>>>>>>  Target:
>>>>>>>    reg-exp-string-match(resource-id,           
>>>> /{foo}objects/{foo}book\[\d+\]
>>>>>>>  Condition:
>>>>>>>    AttributeDesignator(AttributeId =
>>>>>>> function:string-concatenate(resource-id,           
>>>> /%7Bfoo%7Dprice) > 50 and
>>>>>>>    AttributeDesignator(AttributeId =
>>>>>>> function:string-concatenate(resource-id, /%7Bfoo%7Dauthor) =
>>>>>>> AttributeDesignator(subject-id)
>>>>>>> </Rule>
>>>>>>> Unless I am mistaken, all the logic and structure is           
>>>> retained and it
>>>>>>> has been done purely w AttributeDesignators and regexp.
>>>> I think i can follow your approach and agree that this explicitly 
>>>> represents
>>>> the xml resource through URIs.
>>>> Probs:
>>>> - things like ../../ will be hard to handle
>>>> - in the geo use case we have an geometry data type. This datapye 
>>>> is defined
>>>> by the following xml code:
>>>> <gml:Polygon srsName="http://www.opengis.net/../epsg.xml#43";>
>>>>   <gml:outerBoundaryIs>
>>>>     <gml:LinearRing>
>>>>       <gml:coordinates decimal="." cs="," ts=" ">-120.000000,65.588264
>>>> ...-120.000000,65.588264
>>>>       </gml:coordinates>
>>>>     </gml:LinearRing>
>>>>   </gml:outerBoundaryIs>
>>>> </gml:Polygon>
>>>> Now assume you try to define a rule, following your approach, in 
>>>> which you
>>>> use a pointer to a polygon element in the decision request's 
>>>> content element
>>>> (e.g. a polgon representing the location of a building):
>>>> In very dirty/wrong XACML this will look like this:
>>>> <Rule effect=permit>
>>>> <Target>
>>>>   subject-id==Alice
>>>>   reg-exp-string-match(resource-id, /{foo}objects/{foo}building\[\d+\]
>>>> <Condition>
>>>>   <Apply FunctionId=within>
>>>>     <ExtendedAttributeSelector Category=resource>
>>>>       <concat>
>>>>         <AttributeDesigntor>resource-id
>>>>         <AttributeValue>/%7Bfoo%7Dlocation/%7Bfoo%7DPolygon
>>>>       </concat>
>>>>     <AttributeValue DataType=Geometry>
>>>>       <Polygon>...defining the area of the USA </Polygon>
>>>>     </AttributeValue>
>>>>  </Apply>
>>>> </Condition>
>>>> </Rule>
>>>> So far no probs. Let's have a have a closer look at the 
>>>> AttributeSeletor,
>>>> responsible for instantiating an attribute of datatype Geometry. It 
>>>> will
>>>> have to go through all the URIs representing the resource and find the
>>>> relevant ones in order to instantiate the geometry attribute. This 
>>>> can off
>>>> course be implemented but the question is why to "flatten" an xml 
>>>> doc, if
>>>> afterwards, you need to rebuild parts of it.
>>>> This makes the AttributeSelector implementation unneccesarely 
>>>> complicated.
>>>> I think what needs to be analysed is:
>>>> - What are the advantages to transform the xml resource completely 
>>>> into uris
>>>> or Attribut/Value pairs respectively?
>>>> - What are the disadvantages of doing this?
>>>> The approach of leaving the xml resource as it is in the decision 
>>>> request
>>>> and just adding a resource-id/value pair pointing to one node 
>>>> implies that
>>>> you will have to use AttributeDesignators and AttributeSelectors in 
>>>> your
>>>> rules. Is this a disadvantage? It seems that you are trying to 
>>>> avoid the
>>>> selector at all. But I can't follow why.
>>>> However if it can be shown that it brings advantages to encode an xml
>>>> resource in the decision request only through Attribute/Value pairs 
>>>> that I
>>>> would support this as an legal option that should be added to the 
>>>> profile.
>>>> Of course this must bring advantages. Whithout advantages this will 
>>>> just
>>>> introduce another way of how to define the same rules for now reason.
>>>>>>> Assuming the above is correct, then the points I made about the
>>>>>>> advantages over XPath (for an enterprise looking to use           
>>>> only URIs to
>>>>>>> identify attributes):
>>>>>>>   1. The XML document does not need to be passed in with           
>>>> the request.
>>>>>>>      There is no node collection, only string operations.
>>>> If I may concretise:
>>>> Case 1.
>>>> In the global request you will have a content element containing 
>>>> the xml
>>>> resource and an scope attribute describing a subset of this node 
>>>> collection
>>>> that will be subject to the access control process.
>>>> Based on this the PDP or Contexthandler will derive the individual 
>>>> decision
>>>> requests. Here the xml resource could be transformed as you 
>>>> described above
>>>> and thus you will afterwards only have attribute/value pairs.
>>>> Case2:
>>>> The PEP can directly submits "already-transformed" global decision 
>>>> request
>>>> where the xml resource that is "normally" under <content> is 
>>>> replaced by a
>>>> set of Attribute/Value pairs. Further the resource-id and scope 
>>>> must specify
>>>> a set of these Attribute-Names. Based on this the PDP or 
>>>> Contexthandler will
>>>> derive the individual decision requests. The individual decision 
>>>> requests
>>>> will still contain the complete set of Attribute/Value pairs that 
>>>> represent
>>>> the xml resource and further the resource-id value will be equal to 
>>>> one of
>>>> these Attribute-Names.
>>>>>>>   2. For very large XML documents, say a catalog of           
>>>> 10,000 books, each
>>>>>>>      book is processed individually independent of the           
>>>> other books, as
>>>>>>>      compared to the XPath case, where one might expect the whole
>>>>>>>      document has to get parsed for each of the 10,000 individual
>>>>>>> requests.
>>>> This is only true if you don't have content dependant rules. e.g. 
>>>> assume you
>>>> have a rule that says permit access to books if none of the other 
>>>> books is
>>>> from the same author. Nevertheless I can imagine that in average 
>>>> less data
>>>> has to be parsed... On the other side there might be an overhead of
>>>> determining which data. Again the question: What are the advantages 
>>>> of transforming the resource
>>>> completely into URIs. I think if this is the central point a closer 
>>>> analysis
>>>> is needed.
>>>>>>>   3. There is no paradigm shifting, or what I believe           
>>>> was referred to
>>>>>>>      in the discussion as "shifting semantics between           
>>>> XPath and XACML
>>>>>>>      in terms of representing the policies.
>>>> If i understand you correctly you mean that all access right 
>>>> semantic will
>>>> be expressed in xacml. That is necessarily true as you don't have 
>>>> any xml
>>>> resource in the request anymore and thus xpath predicates can't be 
>>>> defined
>>>> anymore. Is this an advantage? Clearly this reduces the options how 
>>>> the same
>>>> rule can be defined in xacml and might therefore simplify a
>>>> are-two-rules-equal test. Note that this could also be achieved if you
>>>> disallow xpath with predicates in xacml. Thus this issue can be 
>>>> discussed in
>>>> general.
>>>> My experience in using a mixture of xpath predicates and xacml where
>>>> necessary (i.e. where the ac semantics can't be expressed through 
>>>> xpath
>>>> predicates) helps defining shorter and more readable rules. I would 
>>>> leave it
>>>> open to the policy administrator if he implements the semantics 
>>>> through
>>>> xpath predicates or xacml functions. Maybe a best practise study could
>>>> analyse this topic (next to others). In general I think such a 
>>>> document
>>>> might be very helpful as soon as the 3.0 specs are standardised in 
>>>> order to
>>>> make it easier for users to use XACML
>>>>>>> Again, assuming the above is correct, I am not assuming           
>>>> this will be
>>>>>>> desirable for everyone, however there may very well be           
>>>> organizations
>>>>>>> for whom the advantages of this approach are decisive.
>>>>>>> A couple other points are that
>>>>>>>    * the "unsightliness" of the AttributeIds and the
>>>>>>>      AttributeDesignators can be "covered" up by policy           
>>>> tools that
>>>>>>>      facilitate defining policies based on XML Schemas,           
>>>> and can keep
>>>>>>>      all the encoding details transparent to the policy           
>>>> designers.
>>>> i agree
>>>>>>>    * the issue about basing policies on the structure of           
>>>> XML documents
>>>>>>>      is a legitimate concern, however, if structure of documents
>>>>>>>      change, then a legitimate case could probably made that the
>>>>>>>      namespace associated with that structure should           
>>>> also change, which
>>>>>>>      would mean the policy tools would need to be able           
>>>> to facilitate
>>>>>>>      upgrading of policies to new namespaces based on           
>>>> new revs of the
>>>>>>>      schemas.
>>>>>>> Comments and suggestions welcome.
>>>>>>>    Thanks,
>>>>>>>    Rich
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