I can either reply with a long detailed email or try something short
and hopefully to the point. I will try the short approach.
First, I think we can all agree, for example, that a list of files in a
file system can represented equally well by a "dir listing" or a "dir
listing that has been channeled into an xml document format", such that
if one is handed the xml document then they can easily use the document
to tell them how to navigate to any file in the file system of interest
to them. i.e. there is an interchangability between actual file system
navigation and navigation thru an xml document.
Given that relatively simple point, without going into detail of all
the syntax, brackets, and curly braces vs namespace prefix discussion,
I think the objective I am trying to achieve w the proposal can be
simply stated, namely:
The objective of the proposal is to provide the ability to
system admins to use the same web access URI techniques they currently
use to control access to html files, for example, and apply those
techniques to control access to nodes in xml documents.
i.e. the proposal is not intended to enable an admin to say any more
about accessing a node in an xml document than the admin would be able
say about accessing an html file that was addressable w the exact same
i.e. the first part of the URI, the existing Hier section
2.2, would be used to identify the specific xml file,
The admin would write policies that would say something like:
then the second part, the fragment identifier would be able to use the
same slash-component technique to identify the node within the XML
grant admingroup readprivilege
which would allow the admin group to read nodes below the "/a/b/c/"
level in section01 of www.example.com.
So, if someone came in with an http GET on:
the policy above would allow access if they were in the admin group.
I realize the above policy is not in xacml, however, one could fairly
easily have the admingroup as the subject target, the readprivilege as
the action target, and then write a regular expression to test the
resource-id against the scoped policy.
Probably no need for constructing resource lists, multi requests could
be simply like:
which would effectively be a query for all the child nodes of /a/b/c in
the doc file01.xml.
Hopefully, this is enough to make the objectives more clear, and show
why with this relatively limited scope of objective there is no real
need for document content to be provided in the requests, and policies
can be written such that everything can be determined from the query
The point is that current web access control products effectively
provide these capabilities, and the idea is to simply provide a
technique to extend this type of capability to the nodes of xml
Erik Rissanen wrote:
One thing which is missing from this proposal is that there is no
specification for how the URI selects nodes in the XML document.
Personally I find it difficult to work with expressions like this since
it is about performing "matching on a matching language" in order to
get the actual resource. I am concerned that it is easy to make a
mistake in this dual step matching process, but if others find it
desirable to work with, I could live with it in the spec. :-)
I understand that it may be desirable in some cases to hide the XML
content, but that could perhaps be handled better by a construct like
<ContentReference .....something here..../>
With a content reference like this in the core schema, the
<Request> element could be used as a transport format where the
XMl can be hidden. And there would be no need to introduce another
conceptual model for hiding the XML content. When the PDP receives a
<Request> like this, it would conceptually replace the XML
content and behave according to the current spec. (Or based on yet
another hierarchical scheme which we define.)
Based on Oct 8 TC meeting, proposals were
solicited to address both issue 11, and the broader issue of whether or
not we should consider separating out the XML document parts of Hier,
Mult to another profile.
The attached document represents a proposed addition to Hier profile to
address issue 11 (it is the same as attachment to
w highlight changes turned off to make Hier sections 2.2, 2.2.1 easier
to read). (It is also included as attachment to emphasize it is a
proposal, as opposed to a draft of an agreed change, which would be
rev'd in the repository)
The following comments state why I think the proposed addition to Hier
is needed (#1, #2) and why I think the hierarchical properties of XML
documents should remain in the Hier/Mult profiles (#3), and that if
other profiles are developed for XML docs then those profiles should
refer to Hier/Mult for their hierarchical access properties.
1. The proposed addition to Hier is needed because it represents
functionality that is currently missing from the Hier profile
that enables identifying resources within an XML document
without having to provide the XML document itself.
* The problem introduced by requiring the presence of the
XML document is that, for example, it requires actually
accessing and exposing the protected resources in order to
determine if access is allowed to those same resources.
While this may be an acceptable increase in risk of
exposure in some application environments, it may not be
acceptable in others where very sensitive data is
involved, and an alternative should be provided for those
* For more specific example, XML-frontended datastores
contain resources in relational or other legacy storage
mechanisms and primarily use XML as vehicle for containing
and carrying those resources. Requiring construction of
XML documents containing those resources, which could
potentially contain very sensitive data, in order to
construct a request to determine whether access to those
resources is allowed should not be required if alternative
mechanisms which do not require this exposure are readily
2. The proposed addition is also needed to provide a unique uniform
naming mechanism and policy reference mechanism for all
hierarchical resources whether they are contained in an XML
document structure or some other hierarchical structure. i.e.
XML documents have an inherently simple hierarchical structure
that has an implicit resolved name structure in the underlying
XPath data model that should be able to be used for resource
identification and policy definition despite the fact that the
XPath language, itself, does not expose this capability of the
underlying reference model.
* The attached proposal uses a commonly used mechanism
(Clark notation: curly braces around resolved namespace
prefix) that addresses the omission from the XPath
language of the ability to enable single string display
representation of explicit full hierarchical path to each
node. This path is also percent-encoded where required in
order that it can be used as a URI fragment as described
in section 2.2.1 of attachment, which seamlessly augments
the existing Hier URI scheme in section 2.2.
3. It is recommended to leave the XML document sections in
Hier/Mult for the following basic reason: The introduction to
the Hier profile (section 1, lines 41-54) makes it clear that
XML documents are regarded as generally only one possible
"representation" of the actual target hierarchical resources.
Therefore there seems to be little to be gained by separating
out one representation of the general hierarchical resources
covered by the profile into a separate profile. What would seem
to make more sense is that a more general XML/WebServices
profile could reference the Hier profile when necessary for
matters concerning the "hierarchical" access control aspects of
the more general XML/WebServices problem space addressed by
that new profile.
Additional context for this proposal has already been discussed in tc
emails and will not be repeated here, but may be found in the following
references to those emails:
* The change represents missing functionality as initially
* The specific change that was outlined in above ref, was
explicitly contained in the attachment to this email:
* Trade-offs between the URI and XPath approach, including the
fact that URI does not require the presence of the actual XML
document, were considered in this email:
* A detailed walkthru of one possible use case, selected to show
direct comparison between the XPath and URI approaches was
contained in this email:
* The following email discusses in more detail the relation of the
URI-reference scheme naming and the implicit Mult scoping:
Comments and suggestions welcome.
To unsubscribe from this mail list, you must leave the OASIS TC that
generates this mail. Follow this link to all your TCs in OASIS at: