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11. WebUI URL format

  • Status: accepted
  • Deciders: @refs, @butonic, @micbar, @dragotin, @hodyroff, @pmaier1, @fschade, @tbsbdr, @kulmann
  • Date: 2021-07-07

Context and Problem Statement

When speaking about URLs we have to make a difference between browser URLs and API URLs. Only browser URLs are visible to end users and will be bookmarked. The currently existing and bookmarked ownCloud 10 URLs look something like this:

GET https://demo.owncloud.com/apps/files/?dir=/path/to/resource&fileid=5472225
303 Location: https://demo.owncloud.com/apps/files/?dir=/path/to/resource

When the URL contains a fileid parameter the server will look up the corresponding dir, overwriting whatever was set before the redirect. The fileid always takes precedence and the server is responsible for the lookup.

GET https://demo.owncloud.com/apps/files/?dir=/path/to/resource

The dir parameter is then used to make a WebDAV request against the /dav/files endpoint of the currently logged in user:

PROPFIND https://demo.owncloud.com/remote.php/dav/files/demo/path/to/resource

The resulting PROPFIND response is used to render the file listing. All good so far.

For the new ocis web UI we want to clean up the user visible Browser URLs. They currently look like this:


Currently, there is no fileid like parameter in the browser URL, making bookmarks of it fragile (they break when a bookmarked folder is renamed).

The oCIS web UI just takes the path and uses the /webdav endpoint of the currently logged in user:

PROPFIND https://demo.owncloud.com/remote.php/webdav/path/to/resource

With the new ownCloud web client (owncloud/web)

needs to interpret them to make API calls. With this in mind, this is the current mapping on ownCloud Web with OC10 and OCIS backend:

OC10 + classic WebUI https://demo.owncloud.com/apps/files/?dir=/path/to/resource&fileid=5472225 https://demo.owncloud.com/remote.php/dav/files/demo/path/to/resource
OC10 + OCIS WebUI https://web.owncloud.com/index.html#/files/list/all/path%2Fto%2Fresource https://demo.owncloud.com/remote.php/webdav/path/to/resource
OCIS https://demo.owncloud.com/#/files/list/all/path/to/resource https://demo.owncloud.com/remote.php/webdav/path/to/resource

On an OC10 backend the fileid query parameter takes precedence over the dir. In fact if dir is invalid but fileid isn’t, the resolution will succeed, as opposed to if the fileid is wrong (doesn’t exist) and dir correct, resolution will fail altogether with a 404.

This ADR is limited to the scope of “how will a web client deal with the browser URL?”. The API URLs will change with the spaces concept to https://demo.owncloud.com/dav/spaces/<space_id>/relative/path/to/resource. The Web UI can look up a space id and the mount path using the /graph/v1.0/drives API:

  1. TODO for a given resource id as part of the URL the https://demo.owncloud.com/v1.0/drive/items/123456A14B0A7750!359?$select=parentReference can be used to retrieve the drive/space:
    "parentReference": {
        "driveId": "123456a14b0a7750",
        "driveType": "personal",
        "id": "123456A14B0A7750!357",
        "path": "/drive/root:"
  1. TODO to fetch the list of all spaces with their mount points we need an API endpoint that allows clients (not only the web ui) to ‘sync’ the list of storages a user has access to from the storage registry on the server side. This allows clients to directly talk to a storage provider on another instance, allowing true storage federation. The MS graph api has no notion of mount points, so we will need to add a mountpath (or mountpoint? or alias?) to our drive resource properties in the libreGraph spec. Tracked in https://github.com/owncloud/open-graph-api/issues/6
@jfd: The graph api returns a path in the parentReference, which is part of the root in a drive resource. But it contains a value in the namespace of the graph endpoint, eg.: /drive/root:/Bilder for the /Bilder folder in the root of the currently logged in users personal drive/space. Which is again relative to the drive. To give the clients a way to determine the mount point we need to add a new mountpath/point/alias property.

Decision Drivers

  • To reveal relevant context to the user URLs should either carry a path component or a meaningful alias
  • To prevent bookmarks from breaking URLs should have an id component that can be used by the system to lookup the resource

Considered Options

  • Existing ownCloud 10 URLs
  • ID based URLs
  • Path based URLs
  • Space based URLs
  • Mixed Global URLs
  • Configurable path component in URLs

Decision Outcome

Chosen option: “[option 1]”, because [justification. e.g., only option, which meets k.o. criterion decision driver | which resolves force force | … | comes out best (see below)].

Positive Consequences

  • [e.g., improvement of quality attribute satisfaction, follow-up decisions required, …]

Negative Consequences

  • [e.g., compromising quality attribute, follow-up decisions required, …]

Pros and Cons of the Options

Existing OwnCloud 10 URLs

The existing ownCloud 10 URLs look like this

URL comment
https://<host>/apps/files/?dir=<path>&fileid=<fileid> pattern
https://demo.owncloud.com/apps/files/?dir=/&fileid=18 root of the currently logged in user
https://demo.owncloud.com/index.php/apps/files/?dir=/path/to/resource&fileid=192 sub folder /path/to/resource

It contains a path and a fileid (which takes precedence).

  • Good, because the fileid prevents bookmarks from breaking
  • Good, because the dir reveals context in the form of a path
  • Bad, because the web UI needs to look up the space alias in a registry to build an API request for the /dav/space endpoint
  • Bad, because URLs still contain a long prefix (/index.php)/apps/files
  • Bad, because the fileid needs to be accompanied by a storageid to allow efficient routing in ocis
  • Bad, because if not configured properly an additional /index.php prefixes the route
  • Bad, because powerusers cannot navigate by updating only the path in the URL, as the fileid takes precedence. They have to delete the fileid to navigate

ID based URLs

MS OneDrive has URLs like this:

URL comment
https://<host>/?id=<fileid>(&cid=<cid>) pattern, the cid is optional but added automatically
https://onedrive.live.com/?id=root&cid=A12345A14B0A7750 root of a personal drive
https://onedrive.live.com/?id=A12345A14B0A7750%21359&cid=A12345A14B0A7750 sub folder in a personal drive

It contains only IDs but no folder names. The fileid is a URL encoded <cid>!<numericid>. Very similar to the CS3 resourceid which consists of storageid and nodeid.

  • Good, because bookmarks cannot break
  • Good, because URLs do not disclose unshared path segments
  • Bad, because the web UI needs to look up the space id in a registry to build an API request for the /dav/space endpoint
  • Bad, because URLs reveal no context to users

Path based URLs

There is a customized ownCloud instance that uses path only based URLs:

URL comment
https://<host>/apps/files/?dir=/& root of the currently logged in user
https://demo.owncloud.com/apps/files/?dir=/& root of the currently logged in user
https://demo.owncloud.com/apps/files/?dir=/path/to/resource& sub folder /path/to/resource
  • Good, because the URLs reveal the full path context to users
  • Good, because powerusers can navigate by updating the path in the url
  • Bad, because the web UI needs to look up the space id in a registry to build an API request for the /dav/space endpoint
  • Bad, because the bookmarks break when someone renames a folder in the path
  • Bad, because there is no id that can be used as a fallback lookup mechanism
  • Bad, because URLs might leak too much context (parent folders of shared files)

Space based URLs

URL comment
https://<host>/#/s/<space_id>(/<relative/path>)(?id=<resource_id>) the pattern, relative path and resource_id are optional
https://demo.owncloud.com/#/s/b78c2044-5b51-446f-82f6-907a664d089c:194b4a97-597c-4461-ab56-afd4f5a21607 root of a storage space, might be the currently logged in users home
https://demo.owncloud.com/#/s/b78c2044-5b51-446f-82f6-907a664d089c:194b4a97-597c-4461-ab56-afd4f5a21607/relative/path/to/resource sub folder /relative/path/to/resource in the storage with id b78c2044-5b51-446f-82f6-907a664d089c:194b4a97-597c-4461-ab56-afd4f5a21607, works only if path still exists
https://demo.owncloud.com/#/s/b78c2044-5b51-446f-82f6-907a664d089c:194b4a97-597c-4461-ab56-afd4f5a21607/relative/path/to/resource?id=ba4c1820-df12-11eb-8dcd-ff21f12c1264:beb78dd6-df12-11eb-a05c-a395505126f6 sub folder /relative/path/to/resource in the storage with id b78c2044-5b51-446f-82f6-907a664d089c:194b4a97-597c-4461-ab56-afd4f5a21607, lookup can fall back to the id
  • /# is used by the current vue router.
  • /s denotes that this is a space url.
  • <space_id> and <resource_id> both consist of <storage_id>:<node_id>, but the space_id can be replaced with a shorter id or an alias. See further down below.
  • <relative/path> takes precedence over the <resource_id>, both are optional
  • Good, because the web UI does not need to look up the space id in a registry to build an API request for the /dav/space endpoint
  • Good, because the URLs reveal a relevant path context to users
  • Good, because everything after the # is not sent to the server, building the webdav request to list the folder is offloaded to the clients
  • Good, because powerusers can navigate by updating the path in the url
  • Bad, because the current ids are uuid based, leading to very long URLs where the path component nearly vanishes between two very long strings
  • Bad, because the # in the URL is just a technical requirement
  • Bad, because ocis web requires a /#/files/s at the root of the route to distinguish the files app from other apps
  • Bad, while navigating using the WebUI, the URL has to be updated whenever we change spaces.
  • Bad, because the technical <space_id> is meaningless to end users

With the above explained, let’s see some use cases:

Example 1: UserA shares something from her Home folder with UserB

  • open the browser and go to demo.owncloud.com
  • the browser’s url changes to: https://demo.owncloud.com/#/s/b78c2044-5b51-446f-82f6-907a664d089c:194b4a97-597c-4461-ab56-afd4f5a21607. You’re now in YOUR home folder / personal space.
  • you create a new folder /relative/path/to/resource and navigate into /relative/path/to
    • the URL now changes to: https://demo.owncloud.com/#/s/b78c2044-5b51-446f-82f6-907a664d089c:194b4a97-597c-4461-ab56-afd4f5a21607/relative/path/to
  • You share resource with some else
  • You navigate into /relative/path/to/resource
    • now the URL would look like: https://demo.owncloud.com/#/s/b78c2044-5b51-446f-82f6-907a664d089c:3a9305da-df17-11eb-ab99-abe09d93e08a

As you can see, even if you’re the owner of /relative/path/to/resource and navigate into it, the URL changes due to a new space being entered. This ensures that while working in your home folder, copying URLs and giving them to the person you share the resource with, the receiver can still navigate within the new space.

In short terms, while navigating using the WebUI, the URL has to constantly change whenever we change spaces to reflect the most explicit one.

Example 2: UserA shares something from a Workspace

Assuming we only have one storage provider; a consequence of this, all storage spaces will start with the same storage_id.

  • open the browser and go to demo.owncloud.com
  • the browser’s url changes to: https://demo.owncloud.com/#/s/b78c2044-5b51-446f-82f6-907a664d089c:194b4a97-597c-4461-ab56-afd4f5a21607. You’re now in YOUR home folder / personal space.
  • you have access to a workspace called foo (created by an admin)
  • navigate into workspace foo
    • the URL now changes to: https://demo.owncloud.com/#/s/b78c2044-5b51-446f-82f6-907a664d089c:d342f9ce-df18-11eb-b319-1b6d9df4bc74. You are now at the root of the workspace foo.
      • because we only have one storage provider, the space_id section of the URL only updates the node_id part of it.
      • had we had more than one storage provider, the space_id would depend on which storage provider contains the storage space.
  • you create a folder /relative/path/to/resource
  • you navigate into /relative/path/to/resource
    • now the URL would look like: https://demo.owncloud.com/#/s/b78c2044-5b51-446f-82f6-907a664d089c:d342f9ce-df18-11eb-b319-1b6d9df4bc74/relative/path/to/resource
    • or a more robust url: https://demo.owncloud.com/#/s/b78c2044-5b51-446f-82f6-907a664d089c:d342f9ce-df18-11eb-b319-1b6d9df4bc74/relative/path/to/resource?id=b78c2044-5b51-446f-82f6-907a664d089c:04f1991c-df19-11eb-9cc7-3b09f04f9ca3

Spaces Registry

A big drawback against this idea is that the length of the URL is increased by a lot, rendering them almost unreadable. Introducing a Spaces Registry (SR) would shorten them. Let’s see how.

A URL without a SR would look like: https://ocis.com/#/s/b78c2044-5b51-446f-82f6-907a664d089c:d342f9ce-df18-11eb-b319-1b6d9df4bc74/TEST?id=b78c2044-5b51-446f-82f6-907a664d089c:04f1991c-df19-11eb-9cc7-3b09f04f9ca3 The same URL with a SR https://ocis.com/#/s/workspaceFoo/TEST?id=b78c2044-5b51-446f-82f6-907a664d089c:04f1991c-df19-11eb-9cc7-3b09f04f9ca3

Space Registry resolution can happen at the client side (i.e: the client keeps a list of space name -> space id [where space id = storageid + nodeid]; the client queries a SR) or server side. Server side is more resilient due to clients can have limited networking; for instance if they are running on a tight intranet.

Mixed Global URLs

While ID based space URLs can be made more readable by shortening the IDs they only start to reveal context when an alias is used instead of the space id. These aliases however have to be unique identifiers. These aliases should live in namespaces like /workspaces/marketing and /personal/marketing to make phishing attacks harder (in this case a user that registered with the username marketing). But namespaced aliases is semantically equivalent to … a path hierarchy.

When every space has a namespaced alias and a relative path we can build a global namespace:

URL comment
https://<host>/files</namespaced/alias></relative/path/to/resource>?id=<resource_id> the pattern, /files might become optional
https://demo.owncloud.com/files/personal/einstein/?id=b78c2044-5b51-446f-82f6-907a664d089c:194b4a97-597c-4461-ab56-afd4f5a21607 root of user einstein
https://demo.owncloud.com/files/personal/einstein/relative/path/to/resource?id=b78c2044-5b51-446f-82f6-907a664d089c:194b4a97-597c-4461-ab56-afd4f5a21608 sub folder /relative/path/to/resource
https://demo.owncloud.com/files/shares/einstein/somesharename?id=b78c2044-5b51-446f-82f6-907a664d089c:194b4a97-597c-4461-ab56-afd4f5a21608 shared URL for /relative/path/to/resource
https://demo.owncloud.com/files/personal/einstein/marie is stupid/and richard as well/resource?id=b78c2044-5b51-446f-82f6-907a664d089c:194b4a97-597c-4461-ab56-afd4f5a21608 sub folder marie is stupid/and richard as well/resource … something einstein might not want to reveal
https://demo.owncloud.com/files/shares/einstein/resource (2)?id=b78c2044-5b51-446f-82f6-907a664d089c:194b4a97-597c-4461-ab56-afd4f5a21608 named link URL for /marie is stupid/and richard as well/resource, does not disclose the actual hierarchy, has an appended counter to avoid a collision
https://demo.owncloud.com/files/shares/einstein/mybestfriends?id=b78c2044-5b51-446f-82f6-907a664d089c:194b4a97-597c-4461-ab56-afd4f5a21608 named link URL for /marie is stupid/and richard as well/resource, does not disclose the actual hierarchy, has a custom alias for the share
https://demo.owncloud.com/files/public/kcZVYaXr7oZ66bg/relative/path/to/resource sub folder /relative/path/to/resource in public link with token kcZVYaXr7oZ66bg
https://demo.owncloud.com/files/public/kcZVYaXr7oZ66bg/relative/path/to/resource sub folder /relative/path/to/resource in public link with token kcZVYaXr7oZ66bg
https://demo.owncloud.com/s/kcZVYaXr7oZ66bg/ shortened link to a resource. This is needed to be able to copy a link to a resource without leaking any metadata.

</namespaced/alias></relative/path/to/resource> is the global path in the CS3 api. The CS3 Storage Registry is responsible by managing the mount points.

In order to be able to copy and paste URLs all resources must be uniquely identifiable:

  • Instead of /home the URL always has to reflect the user: /personal/einstein
  • Workspaces can use /workspaces/<alias> or /workspaces/<additional>/<classification>/<alias> where the hierarchy is given by the organization
  • Experiments can use /experiments/<alias>
  • Research institutes could set up /papers/<researchgroup>/<alias>
  • Trash could be accessed by prefixing the namespace alias with /trash? or using /trash/<space_id>
  • Instead of a namespaced alias a storage space id could be used with a generic /space/<space_id> namespace
  • An url shortener can create urls like /s/<token> which could be used as a stable link to a resource.
  • Links for anonymous users will resolve to /public/<token>

The alias namespace hierarchy and depth can be pre determined by the admin. Even if aliases change the id parameter prevents bookmarks from breaking. A user can decide to build a different hierarchy by using his own registry.

What about shares? Similar to /home it must reflect the user: /shares/einstein would list all shares by einstein for the currently logged in user. The ui needs to apply the same URL rewriting as for space based URLs: when navigating into a share the URL has to switch from /personal/einstein/relative/path/to/shared/resource to /shares/einstein/<unique and potentially namespaced alias for shared resource>. When more than one resource was shared a name collision would occur. To prevent this we can use ids /shares/einstein/id/<resource_id or namespaced aliases /shares/einstein/files/alias. Similar to the /trash prefix we could treat /shares as a filter for the shared resources a user has access to, but that would disclose unshared path segments in personal spaces. We could make that a feature and let users create an alias for a shared resource, similar as for public links. Then they can decide if they want to disclose the full path in their personal space (or another workspace) or if they want to use an alias which is then accessed at /shares/einstein/<alias>. As a default we could take the alias at creation time from the filename. That way two shares to a resource with the same name, eg.: /personal/einstein/project AAA/foo and /personal/einstein/project BBB/foo would lead to /shares/einstein/foo (a CS3 internal reference to /personal/einstein/project AAA/foo) and /shares/einstein/foo (2) (a CS3 internal reference to /personal/einstein/project BBB/foo). foo (2) would keep its name even when foo is deleted or renamed. Well an id as the alias might be better then, because users might rename these aliases, which would break URLs if they have been bookmarked. In any case this would make end user more aware of what they share AND it would allow them to choose an arbitrary context for the links they want to send out: personal internal share URLs.

With these different namespaces the /files part in the URL becomes obsolete, because the files application can be registered for multiple namespaces: /personal, /workspaces, /shares, /trash

  • Good, because it contains a global path
  • Good, because spaces with namespaced aliases can by bookmarked and copied into mails or chat without disclosing unshared path segments, as the space is supposed to be shared
  • Good, because the UI can detect broken paths and notify the user to update his bookmark if the resource could be found by id
  • Good, because the /files part might only be required for id only based lookup to let the web ui know which app is responsible for the route
  • Good, because it turns shares into deliberately named spaces in /shares/<owner>/<alias>
  • Good, because all urls can be shortened to hide any metadata like path, resource name and query parameters
  • Bad, because the web UI needs to look up the space alias in a registry to build an API request for the /dav/space endpoint

Configurable path component in URLs

Not every deployment may have the requirement to have the path in the URL. We could use id only based URLs, similar to onedrive and make showing paths configurable.

URL comment
https://<host>/files?id=<resource_id> default id based navigation
https://<host>/files</namespaced/alias></relative/path/to/resource>?id=<resource_id> optional path based navigation with fallback to id

In contrast to ownCloud 10 path takes precedence and the user is warned when the fileid in his bookmark no longer matches the id on the server: sth. like “The path of the resource has changed, please verify and update your bookmark!”

When a file is selected the filename also becomes part of the URL so individual files can be bookmarked.

If navigation is id based we need to look up the path for the id so we can make a webdav request, or we need to implement the graph drives and driveItem resources.

The URL https://<host>/files?id=<resource_id>̀ is sent to the server. It has to look up the correct path and redirect the request, including the the path. But that would make all bookmarks contain tha path again, even if paths were configured to not be part of the URL.

The /meta/<fileid> webdav endpoint can be used to look up the path with property meta-path-for-user.

For now, we would use path based navigation with URLs like this:


This means that only the resource path is part of the URL path. Any other parameter, eg. file id, page or sort order must be given as URL parameters.

  • To make lookup by id possible we need to implement the /meta/<fileid> endpoint so the sdk can use it to look up the path. We should not implement a redirect on the ocis server side because the same redirect logic would need to be added to oc10. Having it in ocis web is the right place.

  • The old sharing links and oc10 urls still need to be redirected by ocis/reva as in oc10.

Public links would have the same format: https://<host>/files?id=<resource_id> The web UI has to detect if the user is logged in or not and adjust the ui accordingly.

Since there is no difference between public and private files a logged in user cannot see the public version of a link unless he logs out.