Using LDAP in ColdFusion
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Published: 30 Sep 2008
In this article, Debjani provides a brief introduction to what LDAP is and what its benefits are along with the knowledge of how it can be used in ColdFusion. She begins with a brief introduction to LDAP and the basic elements of an LDAP directory. She discusses the usage of LDAP in ColdFusion and also demonstrates the application of cfldap tag with the help of an example.
by Debjani Mallick
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LDAP stands for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol. In one line, LDAP is a lightweight protocol for accessing directory servers or in other words, for accessing existing online directory services. The advantage of LDAP over the previous leading standards for directory services is that it can use the simpler TCP/IP networking stack where as previous leading standards like X.500 was more complicated and required use of OSI network stack rather than TCP/IP.

What is LDAP?

Before going deep into LDAP, let me explain what directory servers really mean. In technical words, directory servers can be referred to as a hierarchical object oriented database. A directory is similar to a database in the way that it can store data in a structural way, but it tends to be normally more descriptive. The difference is that it does not involve the complicated activities done on a database like transactions or rollback. Normally, a directory is mostly used to read information from it rather than writing information to it.  In actual practice, those are tuned to return a quick response to search operations performed on them.

Conceptually, a directory is a collection of objects which are derived from a particular class. It is the class which defines what attributes can be present within an object. Programmers acquainted with object oriented programming may easily understand it. Similar to object oriented concept, classes here also can inherit form other classes, and the attributes of the class from which the second class gets inherited, get added to the attribute of an object derived form the first class. Every object in LDAP can contain sub-objects resulting in a tree like structure.

The objects in LDAP can have more than one class. This is where LDAP deviates from OO concept. Classes are assigned to objects using the "objectClass" attribute. Classes can be defined as three types.

Structural class - Structural classes tend to map to physical objects. An object can have only one structural class and it must have the structural class. Once the structural class for an object has been defined, the structural class cannot be changed for that particular object unless and until the object is destroyed and created again.

Auxiliary class - These normally define the additional attributes for the structural class. Objects can have many auxiliary classes and these auxiliary classes, unlike structural classes, can be added and removed after the object has been created.

Abstract classes -These classes cannot be used directly by objects. These can be used by other classes through inheritance.

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User Comments

Title: Excellent writing   
Name: Tailor
Date: 2008-10-09 1:56:33 AM
You just have excellent writing skills. So brief description with so simple words. Go on.
Title: Nice article   
Name: Sumit
Date: 2008-10-09 1:22:55 AM
Good article.
Title: Need help in active directory   
Name: mukunda
Date: 2008-10-01 12:55:27 AM
Please can any one help how to list out all the contact which are present in the active directory. in or c# .net. I can able to list out the users which are present in the active directory. Please..
Thanks in advance


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