Walking faster

Update 6/29/2012: Andrew Laurence did a nice write-up of the background behind these improvements for the TidBITS blog about a week ago. There are also some interesting comments there.

In the recently-released Mac OS X 10.7.4 update, Apple has implemented changes to its WebDAV client that dramatically speed up connections. If you are connecting to Alfresco by mounting it in the Finder, you’re in for a much improved experience, especially if you’re using the authentication chain to allow users to authenticate against an external authN/Z provider.

In our environment, these speed-ups are on the order of 2.5 times faster. This is especially evident when browsing between folders or working with large numbers of small files.

These changes also make the WebDAV connections more reliable and stable.

So, if you’re using Mac OS X Finder to connect to Alfresco, I’d strongly recommend updating to Mac OS X 10.7.4.

From a technical point of view, all they did was to add support for session cookies to the WebDAV client.

To connect to the Alfresco from the Mac OS X Finder, here’s what you do:

  1. In the Finder, choose Connect to Server… from the Go menu
  2. Enter https://alfresco.companyname.com/alfresco/webdav in the Server Address: field of the window that appears.

    A question for the audience: In our environment (tomcat running behind Apache, where Apache is set to do a 302 redirect from http to https), entering “http://” instead of “https://” does not see the speed benefits mentioned here. I’d appreciate any thoughts about why this might be happening.

  3. Click the + button to the right of the server address field to add it to the Favorite Servers list, for easier future access.
  4. Click Connect and enter your Name and Password when prompted.
  5. You’ll see a “webdav” disk appear on your desktop. You can now use that like any other disk on your system.

Until this update was released, we had been recommending that Mac OS X users use Cyberduck to connect to WebDAV on Alfresco. Cyberduck is still somewhat faster than the Mac OS X Finder, but this update makes the Finder much more usable, and suitable for most uses.

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2 Responses to Walking faster

  1. Steve says:

    I’d have to look at all the session traffic to be sure and know exactly what you mean by adding session cookies, but my first thought is when you start in http, if the session cookie is assigned there, it would not be used for any https sessions following. So if the Apple client is still dumb after initial cookie receipt and doesn’t realize the protocol changed…no speed increase.

    Tell Andrew next time I’m in town he has to make time for coffee.

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