Spring LDAP makes it easier to build Spring-based applications that use the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol.

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Preface

The Java Naming and Directory Interface (JNDI) is for LDAP programming what Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) is for SQL programming. There are several similarities between JDBC and JNDI/LDAP (Java LDAP). Despite being two completely different APIs with different pros and cons, they share a number of less flattering characteristics:

The above points often lead to massive code duplication in common usages of the APIs. As we all know, code duplication is one of the worst code smells. All in all, it boils down to this: JDBC and LDAP programming in Java are both incredibly dull and repetitive.

Spring JDBC, a part of the Spring framework, provides excellent utilities for simplifying SQL programming. We need a similar framework for Java LDAP programming.

1. Introduction

1.1. Overview

Spring LDAP http://spring.io/spring-ldap is a library for simpler LDAP programming in Java, built on the same principles as the JdbcTemplate in Spring JDBC. It completely eliminates the need to worry about creating and closing LdapContext and looping through NamingEnumeration. It also provides a more comprehensive unchecked Exception hierarchy, built on Spring’s DataAccessException. As a bonus, it also contains classes for dynamically building LDAP queries and DNs (Distinguished Names), LDAP attribute management, and client-side LDAP transaction management.

Consider, for example, a method that should search some storage for all persons and return their names in a list. Using JDBC, we would create a connection and execute a query using a statement. We would then loop over the result set and retrieve the column we want, adding it to a list. In contrast, using Java LDAP, we would create a context and perform a search using a search filter. We would then loop over the resulting naming enumeration and retrieve the attribute we want, adding it to a list.

The traditional way of implementing this person name search method in Java LDAP looks like this, where the code marked as bold actually performs tasks related to the business purpose of the method:

package com.example.dao;

public class TraditionalPersonDaoImpl implements PersonDao {
   public List getAllPersonNames() {
      Hashtable env = new Hashtable();
      env.put(Context.INITIAL_CONTEXT_FACTORY, "com.sun.jndi.ldap.LdapCtxFactory");
      env.put(Context.PROVIDER_URL, "ldap://localhost:389/dc=example,dc=com");

      DirContext ctx;
      try {
         ctx = new InitialDirContext(env);
      } catch (NamingException e) {
         throw new RuntimeException(e);
      }

      LinkedList list = new LinkedList();
      NamingEnumeration results = null;
      try {
         SearchControls controls = new SearchControls();
         controls.setSearchScope(SearchControls.SUBTREE_SCOPE);
         results = ctx.search("", "(objectclass=person)", controls);

         while (results.hasMore()) {
            SearchResult searchResult = (SearchResult) results.next();
            Attributes attributes = searchResult.getAttributes();
            Attribute attr = attributes.get("cn");
            String cn = (String) attr.get();
            list.add(cn);
         }
      } catch (NameNotFoundException e) {
         // The base context was not found.
         // Just clean up and exit.
      } catch (NamingException e) {
         throw new RuntimeException(e);
      } finally {
         if (results != null) {
            try {
               results.close();
            } catch (Exception e) {
               // Never mind this.
            }
         }
         if (ctx != null) {
            try {
               ctx.close();
            } catch (Exception e) {
               // Never mind this.
            }
         }
      }
      return list;
   }
}

By using the Spring LDAP classes AttributesMapper and LdapTemplate, we get the exact same functionality with the following code:

package com.example.dao;
import static org.springframework.ldap.query.LdapQueryBuilder.query;

public class PersonDaoImpl implements PersonDao {
   private LdapTemplate ldapTemplate;

   public void setLdapTemplate(LdapTemplate ldapTemplate) {
      this.ldapTemplate = ldapTemplate;
   }

   public List getAllPersonNames() {
      return ldapTemplate.search(
         query().where("objectclass").is("person"),
         new AttributesMapper() {
            public Object mapFromAttributes(Attributes attrs)
               throws NamingException {
               return attrs.get("cn").get();
            }
         });
   }
}

The amount of boiler-plate code is significantly less than in the traditional example. The LdapTemplate version of the search method performs the search, maps the attributes to a string using the given AttributesMapper, collects the strings in an internal list, and finally returns the list.

Note that the PersonDaoImpl code simply assumes that it has an LdapTemplate instance, rather than looking one up somewhere. It provides a set method for this purpose. There is nothing Spring-specific about this "Inversion of Control". Anyone that can create an instance of PersonDaoImpl can also set the LdapTemplate on it. However, Spring provides a very flexible and easy way of achieving this. The Spring container can be told to wire up an instance of LdapTemplate with its required dependencies and inject it into the PersonDao instance. This wiring can be defined in various ways, but the most common is through XML:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<beans xmlns="http://www.springframework.org/schema/beans"
       xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
       xmlns:ldap="http://www.springframework.org/schema/ldap"
       xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.springframework.org/schema/beans http://www.springframework.org/schema/beans/spring-beans.xsd
       http://www.springframework.org/schema/ldap http://www.springframework.org/schema/ldap/spring-ldap.xsd">

   <ldap:context-source
          url="ldap://localhost:389"
          base="dc=example,dc=com"
          username="cn=Manager"
          password="secret" />

   <ldap:ldap-template id="ldapTemplate" />

   <bean id="personDao" class="com.example.dao.PersonDaoImpl">
      <property name="ldapTemplate" ref="ldapTemplate" />
   </bean>
</beans>

In order to use the custom XML namespace for configuring the Spring LDAP components you need to include references to this namespace in your XML declaration as in the example above.

1.2. Packaging overview

At a minimum, to use Spring LDAP you need:

  • spring-ldap-core (the Spring LDAP library)

  • spring-core (miscellaneous utility classes used internally by the framework)

  • spring-beans (contains interfaces and classes for manipulating Java beans)

  • slf4j (a simple logging facade, used internally)

  • commons-lang (misc utilities, used internally)

In addition to the required dependencies the following optional dependencies are required for certain functionality:

  • spring-context (If your application is wired up using the Spring Application Context - adds the ability for application objects to obtain resources using a consistent API. Definitely needed if you are planning on using the BaseLdapPathBeanPostProcessor.)

  • spring-tx (If you are planning to use the client side compensating transaction support)

  • spring-jdbc (If you are planning to use the client side compensating transaction support)

  • commons-pool (If you are planning to use the pooling functionality)

  • spring-batch (If you are planning to use the LDIF parsing functionality together with Spring Batch)

1.3. What’s new in Spring LDAP 2.0?

While quite significant modernizations have been made to the Spring LDAP APi in version 2.0, great care has been taken to ensure backward compatibility as far as possible. Code that works with Spring LDAP 1.3.x should with very few exceptions still compile and run using the 2.0 libraries without any modifications whatsoever.

The exception is a small number of classes that have been moved to new packages in order to make a couple of important refactorings possible. The moved classes are usually not part of the intended public API, and the migration procedure should be very smooth - wherever a Spring LDAP class cannot be found after upgrade, just organize the imports in your IDE.

You will probably encounter some deprecation warnings though, and there are also a lot of other API improvements. The recommendation for getting as much as possible out of the 2.0 version is to move away from the deprecated classes and methods and migrate to the new, improved API utilities.

Below is a list of the most important changes in Spring LDAP 2.0.

  • Java 1.6 is now required when using Spring LDAP. Spring versions starting at 2.0 and up are still supported.

  • The central API has been updated with Java 5 features such as generics and varargs. As a consequence, the entire spring-ldap-tiger module has been deprecated and users are encouraged to migrate to use the core Spring LDAP classes. The parameterization of the core interfaces will most likely cause lots of compilation warnings, and you are obviously encouraged to take appropriate action to get rid of these warning.

  • The ODM (Object-Directory Mapping) functionality has been moved to core and there are new methods in LdapOperations/LdapTemplate that uses this automatic translation to/from ODM-annotated classes. See Object-Directory Mapping (ODM) for more information.

  • A custom XML namespace is now provided to simplify configuration of Spring LDAP. See Configuration for more information.

  • Spring Data Repository and QueryDSL support is now included in Spring LDAP. See Spring LDAP Repositories for more information.

  • Name instances as attribute values are now handled properly with regards to Distinguished Name equality in DirContextAdapter and ODM. See DirContextAdapter and Distinguished Names as Attribute Values. and ODM and Distinguished Names as Attribute Values. for more information.

  • DistinguishedName and associated classes have been deprecated in favor of standard Java LdapName. See Dynamically Building Distinguished Names for information on how the library helps working with LdapNames.

  • Fluent LDAP query support has been added. This makes for a more pleasant programming experience when working with LDAP searches in Spring LDAP. See Building LDAP Queries and Advanced LDAP Queries for more information about the LDAP query builder support.

  • The old authenticate methods in LdapTemplate have been deprecated in favor of a couple of new authenticate methods that work with LdapQuery objects and throw exceptions on authentication failure, making it easier for the user to find out what caused an authentication attempt to fail.

1.4. Support

Spring LDAP 2.0 is supported on Spring 2.0 and later. The community support forum is located at http://forum.spring.io/forum/spring-projects/data/ldap, and the project web page is http://spring.io/spring-ldap/.

2. Basic Operations

2.1. Search and Lookup Using AttributesMapperAttributesMapper

In this example we will use an AttributesMapper to easily build a List of all common names of all person objects.

AttributesMapper that returns a single attribute
package com.example.dao;
import static org.springframework.ldap.query.LdapQueryBuilder.query;

public class PersonDaoImpl implements PersonDao {
   private LdapTemplate ldapTemplate;

   public void setLdapTemplate(LdapTemplate ldapTemplate) {
      this.ldapTemplate = ldapTemplate;
   }

   public List<String> getAllPersonNames() {
      return ldapTemplate.search(
         query().where("objectclass").is("person"),
         new AttributesMapper<String>() {
            public String mapFromAttributes(Attributes attrs)
               throws NamingException {
               return (String) attrs.get("cn").get();
            }
         });
   }
}

The inline implementation of AttributesMapper just gets the desired attribute value from the Attributes and returns it. Internally, LdapTemplate iterates over all entries found, calling the given AttributesMapper for each entry, and collects the results in a list. The list is then returned by the search method.

Note that the AttributesMapper implementation could easily be modified to return a full Person object:

AttributesMapper that returns a Person object
package com.example.dao;
import static org.springframework.ldap.query.LdapQueryBuilder.query;

public class PersonDaoImpl implements PersonDao {
   private LdapTemplate ldapTemplate;
   ...
   private class PersonAttributesMapper implements AttributesMapper<Person> {
      public Person mapFromAttributes(Attributes attrs) throws NamingException {
         Person person = new Person();
         person.setFullName((String)attrs.get("cn").get());
         person.setLastName((String)attrs.get("sn").get());
         person.setDescription((String)attrs.get("description").get());
         return person;
      }
   }

   public List<Person> getAllPersons() {
      return ldapTemplate.search(query()
          .where("objectclass").is("person"), new PersonAttributesMapper());
   }
}

If you have the distinguished name (dn) that identifies an entry, you can retrieve the entry directly, without searching for it. This is called a lookup in Java LDAP. The following example shows how a lookup results in a Person object:

A lookup resulting in a Person object
package com.example.dao;

public class PersonDaoImpl implements PersonDao {
   private LdapTemplate ldapTemplate;
   ...
   public Person findPerson(String dn) {
      return ldapTemplate.lookup(dn, new PersonAttributesMapper());
   }
}

This will look up the specified dn and pass the found attributes to the supplied AttributesMapper, in this case resulting in a Person object.

2.2. Building LDAP Queries

LDAP searches involve a number of parameters, e.g. Base LDAP path, search scope, attributes to return, and search filters.

Spring LDAP provides an LdapQueryBuilder with a fluent API for building LDAP Queries.

Let’s say that we want to perform a search starting at the base DN dc=261consulting,dc=com, limiting the returned attributes to "cn" and "sn", with the following filter: (&(objectclass=person)(sn=?)), where we want the ? to be replaced with the value of the parameter lastName. This is how we do it using the LdapQueryBuilder:

Building a search filter dynamically
package com.example.dao;
import static org.springframework.ldap.query.LdapQueryBuilder.query;

public class PersonDaoImpl implements PersonDao {
   private LdapTemplate ldapTemplate;
   ...
   public List getPersonNamesByLastName(String lastName) {

      LdapQuery query = query()
         .base("dc=261consulting,dc=com")
         .attributes("cn", "sn")
         .where("objectclass").is("person")
         .and("sn").is(lastName);

      return ldapTemplate.search(query,
         new AttributesMapper() {
            public Object mapFromAttributes(Attributes attrs)
               throws NamingException {
               return attrs.get("cn").get();
            }
         });
   }
}

In addition to simplifying building of complex search parameters, the LdapQueryBuilder and its associated classes also provide proper escaping of any unsafe characters in search filters. This prevents "ldap injection", where a user might use such characters to inject unwanted operations into your LDAP operations.

There are many overloaded methods in LdapTemplate for performing LDAP searches. This is in order to accommodate for as many different use cases and programming style preferences as possible. For the vast majority of use cases the ones that take an LdapQuery as input will be the recommended methods to use.

The AttributesMapper is just one of the available callback interfaces to use when handling search and lookup data. See Simpler Attribute Access and Manipulation with DirContextAdapter for alternatives.

For more information on the LdapQueryBuilder see Advanced LDAP Queries.

2.3. Dynamically Building Distinguished Names

The standard Java implementation of Distinguished Name, LdapName, performs very well when it comes to parsing of Distinguished Names. However, in practical use this implementation has a number of shortcomings:

  • The LdapName implementation is mutable, which is badly suited for an object representing identity.

  • Despite its mutable nature, the API for dynamically building or modifying Distinguished Names using LdapName is cumbersome. Extracting values of indexed or (particularly) named components is also a little bit awkward.

  • Many of the operations on LdapName throw checked Exceptions, requiring unnecessary try-catch statements for situations where the error is typically fatal and cannot be repaired in a meaningful manner.

To simplify working with Distinguished Names, Spring LDAP provides an LdapNameBuilder, as well as a number of utility methods in LdapUtils that helps working with LdapName.

Below are a couple of examples of how these utilities can simplify handling of distinguished names.

Dynamically building an LdapName using LdapNameBuilder
package com.example.dao;
import org.springframework.ldap.support.LdapNameBuilder;
import javax.naming.Name;

public class PersonDaoImpl implements PersonDao {
  public static final String BASE_DN = "dc=example,dc=com";

  protected Name buildDn(Person p) {
    return LdapNameBuilder.newLdapName(BASE_DN)
      .add("c", p.getCountry())
      .add("ou", p.getCompany())
      .add("cn", p.getFullname())
      .build();
  }
  ...

Assuming that a Person has the following attributes:

Attribute Name Attribute Value

country

Sweden

company

Some Company

fullname

Some Person

The code above would then result in the following distinguished name:

cn=Some Person, ou=Some Company, c=Sweden, dc=example, dc=com
Extracting values from a distinguished name using LdapUtils
package com.example.dao;
import org.springframework.ldap.support.LdapNameBuilder;
import javax.naming.Name;
public class PersonDaoImpl implements PersonDao {
...
protected Person buildPerson(Name dn, Attributes attrs) {
  Person person = new Person();
  person.setCountry(LdapUtils.getStringValue(dn, "c"));
  person.setCompany(LdapUtils.getStringValue(dn, "ou"));
  person.setFullname(LdapUtils.getStringValue(dn, "cn"));
  // Populate rest of person object using attributes.

  return person;
}

Since Java version <= 1.4 didn’t provide any public Distinguished Name implementation at all, Spring LDAP 1.3.2 and lower provided its own implementation, DistinguishedName. This implementation suffered from a couple of shortcomings of its own, and has been deprecated in version 2.0. Users are now recommended to use LdapName along with the utilities described above instead.

2.4. Binding and Unbinding

2.4.1. Binding Data

Inserting data in Java LDAP is called binding. In order to do that, a distinguished name that uniquely identifies the new entry is required. The following example shows how data is bound using LdapTemplate:

Binding data using Attributes
package com.example.dao;

public class PersonDaoImpl implements PersonDao {
   private LdapTemplate ldapTemplate;
   ...
   public void create(Person p) {
      Name dn = buildDn(p);
      ldapTemplate.bind(dn, null, buildAttributes(p));
   }

   private Attributes buildAttributes(Person p) {
      Attributes attrs = new BasicAttributes();
      BasicAttribute ocattr = new BasicAttribute("objectclass");
      ocattr.add("top");
      ocattr.add("person");
      attrs.put(ocattr);
      attrs.put("cn", "Some Person");
      attrs.put("sn", "Person");
      return attrs;
   }
}

The Attributes building is—while dull and verbose—sufficient for many purposes. It is, however, possible to simplify the binding operation further, which will be described in Simpler Attribute Access and Manipulation with DirContextAdapter.

2.4.2. Unbinding Data

Removing data in Java LDAP is called unbinding. A distinguished name (dn) is required to identify the entry, just as in the binding operation. The following example shows how data is unbound using LdapTemplate:

Unbinding data
package com.example.dao;

public class PersonDaoImpl implements PersonDao {
   private LdapTemplate ldapTemplate;
   ...
   public void delete(Person p) {
      Name dn = buildDn(p);
      ldapTemplate.unbind(dn);
   }
}

2.5. Modifying

In Java LDAP, data can be modified in two ways: either using rebind or modifyAttributes.

2.5.1. Modifying using rebind

A rebind is a very crude way to modify data. It’s basically an unbind followed by a bind. It looks like this:

Modifying using rebind
package com.example.dao;

public class PersonDaoImpl implements PersonDao {
   private LdapTemplate ldapTemplate;
   ...
   public void update(Person p) {
      Name dn = buildDn(p);
      ldapTemplate.rebind(dn, null, buildAttributes(p));
   }
}

2.5.2. Modifying using modifyAttributes

If only the modified attributes should be replaced, there is a method called modifyAttributes that takes an array of modifications:

Modifying using modifyAttributes
package com.example.dao;

public class PersonDaoImpl implements PersonDao {
   private LdapTemplate ldapTemplate;
   ...
   public void updateDescription(Person p) {
      Name dn = buildDn(p);
      Attribute attr = new BasicAttribute("description", p.getDescription())
      ModificationItem item = new ModificationItem(DirContext.REPLACE_ATTRIBUTE, attr);
      ldapTemplate.modifyAttributes(dn, new ModificationItem[] {item});
   }
}

Building Attributes and ModificationItem arrays is a lot of work, but as you will see in Simpler Attribute Access and Manipulation with DirContextAdapter, the update operations can be simplified.

2.6. Sample applications

It is recommended that you review the Spring LDAP sample applications included in the release distribution for best-practice illustrations of the features of this library.

3. Simpler Attribute Access and Manipulation with DirContextAdapter

3.1. Introduction

A little-known—and probably underestimated—feature of the Java LDAP API is the ability to register a DirObjectFactory to automatically create objects from found contexts. One of the reasons why it is seldom used is that you will need an implementation of DirObjectFactory that creates instances of a meaningful implementation of DirContext. The Spring LDAP library provides the missing pieces: a default implementation of DirContext called DirContextAdapter, and a corresponding implementation of DirObjectFactory called DefaultDirObjectFactory. Used together with DefaultDirObjectFactory, the DirContextAdapter can be a very powerful tool.

3.2. Search and Lookup Using ContextMapper

The DefaultDirObjectFactory is registered with the ContextSource by default, which means that whenever a context is found in the LDAP tree, its Attributes and Distinguished Name (DN) will be used to construct a DirContextAdapter. This enables us to use a ContextMapper instead of an AttributesMapper to transform found values:

Searching using a ContextMapper
package com.example.dao;

public class PersonDaoImpl implements PersonDao {
   ...
   private static class PersonContextMapper implements ContextMapper {
      public Object mapFromContext(Object ctx) {
         DirContextAdapter context = (DirContextAdapter)ctx;
         Person p = new Person();
         p.setFullName(context.getStringAttribute("cn"));
         p.setLastName(context.getStringAttribute("sn"));
         p.setDescription(context.getStringAttribute("description"));
         return p;
      }
   }

   public Person findByPrimaryKey(
      String name, String company, String country) {
      Name dn = buildDn(name, company, country);
      return ldapTemplate.lookup(dn, new PersonContextMapper());
   }
}

The above code shows that it is possible to retrieve the attributes directly by name, without having to go through the Attributes and BasicAttribute classes. This is particularly useful when working with multi-value attributes. Extracting values from multi-value attributes normally requires looping through a NamingEnumeration of attribute values returned from the Attributes implementation. The DirContextAdapter can do this for you, using the getStringAttributes() or getObjectAttributes() methods:

Getting multi-value attribute values using getStringAttributes()
private static class PersonContextMapper implements ContextMapper {
   public Object mapFromContext(Object ctx) {
      DirContextAdapter context = (DirContextAdapter)ctx;
      Person p = new Person();
      p.setFullName(context.getStringAttribute("cn"));
      p.setLastName(context.getStringAttribute("sn"));
      p.setDescription(context.getStringAttribute("description"));
      // The roleNames property of Person is an String array
      p.setRoleNames(context.getStringAttributes("roleNames"));
      return p;
   }
}

3.2.1. The AbstractContextMapper

Spring LDAP provides an abstract base implementation of ContextMapper, AbstractContextMapper. This automatically takes care of the casting of the supplied Object parameter to DirContexOperations. The PersonContextMapper above can thus be re-written as follows:

Using an AbstractContextMapper
private static class PersonContextMapper extends AbstractContextMapper {
  public Object doMapFromContext(DirContextOperations ctx) {
     Person p = new Person();
     p.setFullName(context.getStringAttribute("cn"));
     p.setLastName(context.getStringAttribute("sn"));
     p.setDescription(context.getStringAttribute("description"));
     return p;
  }
}

3.3. Binding and Modifying Using DirContextAdapter

While very useful when extracting attribute values, DirContextAdapter is even more powerful for hiding attribute details when binding and modifying data.

3.3.1. Binding

This is an example of an improved implementation of the create DAO method. Compare it with the previous implementation in Binding Data.

Binding using DirContextAdapter
package com.example.dao;

public class PersonDaoImpl implements PersonDao {
   ...
   public void create(Person p) {
      Name dn = buildDn(p);
      DirContextAdapter context = new DirContextAdapter(dn);

      context.setAttributeValues("objectclass", new String[] {"top", "person"});
      context.setAttributeValue("cn", p.getFullname());
      context.setAttributeValue("sn", p.getLastname());
      context.setAttributeValue("description", p.getDescription());

      ldapTemplate.bind(context);
   }
}

Note that we use the DirContextAdapter instance as the second parameter to bind, which should be a Context. The third parameter is null, since we’re not using any Attributes.

Also note the use of the setAttributeValues() method when setting the objectclass attribute values. The objectclass attribute is multi-value, and similar to the troubles of extracting muti-value attribute data, building multi-value attributes is tedious and verbose work. Using the setAttributeValues() mehtod you can have DirContextAdapter handle that work for you.

3.3.2. Modifying

The code for a rebind would be pretty much identical to Binding using DirContextAdapter, except that the method called would be rebind. As we saw in Modifying using Binding and modifying using DirContextAdapter a more correct approach would be to build a ModificationItem array containing the actual modifications you want to do. This would require you to determine the actual modifications compared to the data present in the LDAP tree. Again, this is something that DirContextAdapter can help you with; the DirContextAdapter has the ability to keep track of its modified attributes. The following example takes advantage of this feature: DirContextAdapter

Modifying using Binding and modifying using DirContextAdapter
package com.example.dao;

public class PersonDaoImpl implements PersonDao {
   ...
   public void update(Person p) {
      Name dn = buildDn(p);
      DirContextOperations context = ldapTemplate.lookupContext(dn);

      context.setAttributeValues("objectclass", new String[] {"top", "person"});
      context.setAttributeValue("cn", p.getFullname());
      context.setAttributeValue("sn", p.getLastname());
      context.setAttributeValue("description", p.getDescription());

      ldapTemplate.modifyAttributes(context);
   }
}

When no mapper is passed to a ldapTemplate.lookup() operation, the result will be a DirContextAdapter instance. While the lookup method returns an Object, the convenience method lookupContext method automatically casts the return value to a DirContextOperations (the interface that DirContextAdapter implements.

The observant reader will see that we have duplicated code in the create and update methods. This code maps from a domain object to a context. It can be extracted to a separate method:

Binding and modifying using DirContextAdapter
package com.example.dao;

public class PersonDaoImpl implements PersonDao {
   private LdapTemplate ldapTemplate;

   ...
   public void create(Person p) {
      Name dn = buildDn(p);
      DirContextAdapter context = new DirContextAdapter(dn);
      mapToContext(p, context);
      ldapTemplate.bind(context);
   }

   public void update(Person p) {
      Name dn = buildDn(p);
      DirContextOperations context = ldapTemplate.lookupContext(dn);
      mapToContext(person, context);
      ldapTemplate.modifyAttributes(context);
   }

   protected void mapToContext (Person p, DirContextOperations context) {
      context.setAttributeValues("objectclass", new String[] {"top", "person"});
      context.setAttributeValue("cn", p.getFullName());
      context.setAttributeValue("sn", p.getLastName());
      context.setAttributeValue("description", p.getDescription());
   }
}

3.4. DirContextAdapter and Distinguished Names as Attribute Values.

When managing security groups in LDAP it is very common to have attribute values that are actually distinguished names. Since distinguished name equality is not the same as String equality, handling these attributes as normal strings when calculating attribute modifications will not work as expected. For instance, if a member attribute has the value cn=John Doe,ou=People and we call ctx.addAttributeValue("member", "CN=John Doe, OU=People"), the attribute will now be considered to have two values, even though the strings actually represent the same distinguished name.

As of version 2.0, if you supply javax.naming.Name instances to the attribute modification methods in DirContextAdapter, modification calculation will use distinguished name equality, meaning that if we modify the example above to: ctx.addAttributeValue("member", LdapUtils.newLdapName("CN=John Doe, OU=People")), this will no longer be considered a modification.

Group membership modification example
public class GroupDao implements BaseLdapNameAware {
    private LdapTemplate ldapTemplate;
    private LdapName baseLdapPath;

    public void setLdapTemplate(LdapTemplate ldapTemplate) {
        this.ldapTemplate = ldapTemplate;
    }

    public void setBaseLdapPath(LdapName baseLdapPath) {
        this.setBaseLdapPath(baseLdapPath);
    }

    public void addMemberToGroup(String groupName, Person p) {
        Name groupDn = buildGroupDn(groupName);
        Name userDn = buildPersonDn(
            person.getFullname(),
            person.getCompany(),
            person.getCountry());

        DirContextOperation ctx = ldapTemplate.lookupContext(groupDn);
        ctx.addAttributeValue("member", userDn);

        ldapTemplate.update(ctx);
    }

    public void removeMemberFromGroup(String groupName, Person p) {
        Name groupDn = buildGroupDn(String groupName);
        Name userDn = buildPersonDn(
            person.getFullname(),
            person.getCompany(),
            person.getCountry());

        DirContextOperation ctx = ldapTemplate.lookupContext(groupDn);
        ctx.removeAttributeValue("member", userDn);

        ldapTemplate.update(ctx);
    }

    private Name buildGroupDn(String groupName) {
        return LdapNameBuilder.newLdapName("ou=Groups")
            .add("cn", groupName).build();
    }

    private Name buildPersonDn(String fullname, String company, String country) {
        return LdapNameBuilder.newLdapName(baseLdapPath)
            .add("c", country)
            .add("ou", company)
            .add("cn", fullname)
            .build();
   }
}

In the example above we are implementing BaseLdapNameAware, in order to get hold of the base LDAP path as described in Obtaining a reference to the base LDAP path. This is necessary because distinguished names as member attribute values must always be absolute from the directory root.

3.5. A Complete PersonDao Class

To illustrate the power of Spring LDAP, here is a complete Person DAO implementation for LDAP in just 68 lines:

package com.example.dao;
import java.util.List;

import javax.naming.Name;
import javax.naming.NamingException;
import javax.naming.directory.Attributes;
import javax.naming.ldap.LdapName;

import org.springframework.ldap.core.AttributesMapper;
import org.springframework.ldap.core.ContextMapper;
import org.springframework.ldap.core.LdapTemplate;
import org.springframework.ldap.core.DirContextAdapter;
import org.springframework.ldap.filter.AndFilter;
import org.springframework.ldap.filter.EqualsFilter;
import org.springframework.ldap.filter.WhitespaceWildcardsFilter;

public class PersonDaoImpl implements PersonDao {
   private LdapTemplate ldapTemplate;

   public void setLdapTemplate(LdapTemplate ldapTemplate) {
      this.ldapTemplate = ldapTemplate;
   }

   public void create(Person person) {
      DirContextAdapter context = new DirContextAdapter(buildDn(person));
      mapToContext(person, context);
      ldapTemplate.bind(context);
   }

   public void update(Person person) {
      Name dn = buildDn(person);
      DirContextOperations context = ldapTemplate.lookupContext(dn);
      mapToContext(person, context);
      ldapTemplate.modifyAttributes(context);
   }

   public void delete(Person person) {
      ldapTemplate.unbind(buildDn(person));
   }

   public Person findByPrimaryKey(String name, String company, String country) {
      Name dn = buildDn(name, company, country);
      return (Person) ldapTemplate.lookup(dn, getContextMapper());
   }

   public List findByName(String name) {
      AndFilter filter = new AndFilter();
      filter.and(new EqualsFilter("objectclass", "person")).and(new WhitespaceWildcardsFilter("cn",name));
      return ldapTemplate.search(LdapUtils.emptyPath(), filter.encode(), getContextMapper());
   }

   public List findAll() {
      EqualsFilter filter = new EqualsFilter("objectclass", "person");
      return ldapTemplate.search(LdapUtils.emptyPath(), filter.encode(), getContextMapper());
   }

   protected ContextMapper getContextMapper() {
      return new PersonContextMapper();
   }

   protected Name buildDn(Person person) {
      return buildDn(person.getFullname(), person.getCompany(), person.getCountry());
   }

   protected Name buildDn(String fullname, String company, String country) {
      return LdapNameBuilder.newLdapName()
        .add("c", country)
        .add("ou", company)
        .add("cn", fullname)
        .build();
   }

   protected void mapToContext(Person person, DirContextOperations context) {
      context.setAttributeValues("objectclass", new String[] {"top", "person"});
      context.setAttributeValue("cn", person.getFullName());
      context.setAttributeValue("sn", person.getLastName());
      context.setAttributeValue("description", person.getDescription());
   }

   private static class PersonContextMapper extends AbstractContextMapper {
      public Object doMapFromContext(DirContextOperations context) {
         Person person = new Person();
         person.setFullName(context.getStringAttribute("cn"));
         person.setLastName(context.getStringAttribute("sn"));
         person.setDescription(context.getStringAttribute("description"));
         return person;
      }
   }
}

In several cases the Distinguished Name (DN) of an object is constructed using properties of the object. E.g. in the above example, the country, company and full name of the Person are used in the DN, which means that updating any of these properties will actually require moving the entry in the LDAP tree using the rename() operation in addition to updating the Attribute values. Since this is highly implementation specific this is something you’ll need to keep track of yourself - either by disallowing the user to change these properties or performing the rename() operation in your update() method if needed.

4. Object-Directory Mapping (ODM)

4.1. Introduction

Relational mapping frameworks like Hibernate and JPA have offered developers the ability to use annotations to map database tables to Java objects for some time. Spring LDAP project offers a similar ability with respect to directories through the use of a number of methods: in LdapOperations

  • <T> T findByDn(Name dn, Class<T> clazz)

  • <T> T findOne(LdapQuery query, Class<T> clazz)

  • <T> List<T> find(LdapQuery query, Class<T> clazz)

  • <T> List<T> findAll(Class<T> clazz)

  • <T> List<T> findAll(Name base, SearchControls searchControls, Class<T> clazz)

  • <T> List<T> findAll(Name base, Filter filter, SearchControls searchControls, Class<T> clazz)

  • void create(Object entry)

  • void update(Object entry)

  • void delete(Object entry)

4.2. Annotations

Entity classes managed used with the object mapping methods are required to be annotated with annotations from the org.springframework.ldap.odm.annotations package. The available annotations are:

  • @Entry - Class level annotation indicating the objectClass definitions to which the entity maps. (required)

  • @Id - Indicates the entity DN; the field declaring this attribute must be a derivative of the javax.naming.Name class. (required)

  • @Attribute - Indicates the mapping of a directory attribute to the object class field.

  • @DnAttribute - Indicates the mapping of a dn attribute to the object class field.

  • @Transient - Indicates the field is not persistent and should be ignored by the OdmManager.

The @Entry and @Id attributes are required to be declared on managed classes.@Entry is used to specify which object classes the entity maps to. All object classes for which fields are mapped are required to be declared. Also, in order for a directory entry to be considered a match to the managed entity, all object classes declared by the directory entry must match be declared by in [email protected]` annotation. For example: let’s assume that you have entries in your LDAP tree that have the objectclasses inetOrgPerson,organizationalPerson,person,top. If you are only interested in changing the attributes defined in the person objectclass, your @Entry annotation can be @Entry(objectClasses = { "person", "top" }). However, if you want to manage attributes defined in the inetOrgPerson objectclass you’ll need to use the full monty: @Entry(objectClasses = { "inetOrgPerson", "organizationalPerson", "person", "top" }).

The @Id annotation is used to map the distinguished name of the entry to a field. The field must be an instance of javax.naming.Name.

The @Attribute annotation is used to map object class fields to entity fields. @Attribute is required to declare the name of the object class property to which the field maps and may optionally declare the syntax OID of the LDAP attribute, to guarantee exact matching. @Attribute also provides the type declaration which allows you to indicate whether the attribute is regarded as binary based or string based by the LDAP JNDI provider.

The @DnAttribute annotation is used to map object class fields to and from components in the distinguished name of an entry. Fields annotated [email protected]` will automatically be populated with the appropriate value from the distinguished name when an entry is read from the directory tree. If the index attribute of all @DnAttribute annotations in a class is specified, the DN will also be calculated when creating and updating entries. For update scenarios, this will also automatically take care of moving entries in the tree if attributes that are part of the distinguished name have changed.

The @Transient annotation is used to indicate the field should be ignored by the object directory mapping and not mapped to an underlying LDAP property. Note that if a @DnAttribute is not to be bound to an Attribute, i.e. it is only part of the Distinguished Name and not represented by an object attibute, it must also be annotated with @Transient.

4.3. Execution

When all components have been properly configured and annotated, the object mapping methods of LdapTemplate can be used as follows:

Execution

@Entry(objectClasses = { "person", "top" }, base="ou=someOu")
public class Person {
   @Id
   private Name dn;

   @Attribute(name="cn")
   @DnAttribute(value="cn", index=1)
   private String fullName;

   // No @Attribute annotation means this will be bound to the LDAP attribute
   // with the same value
   private String description;

   @DnAttribute(value="ou", index=0)
   @Transient
   private String company;

   @Transient
   private String someUnmappedField;
   // ...more attributes below
}


public class OdmPersonDao {
   @Autowired
   private LdapTemplate ldapTemplate;

   public Person create(Person person) {
      ldapTemplate.create(person);
      return person;
   }

   public Person findByUid(String uid) {
      return ldapTemplate.findOne(query().where("uid").is(uid), Person.class);
   }

   public void update(Person person) {
      ldapTemplate.update(person);
   }

   public void delete(Person person) {
      ldapTemplate.delete(person);
   }

   public List>Person< findAll() {
      return ldapTemplate.findAll(Person.class);
   }

   public List<Person> findByLastName(String lastName) {
      return ldapTemplate.find(query().where("sn").is(lastName), Person.class);
   }
}

4.4. ODM and Distinguished Names as Attribute Values.

Security groups in LDAP commonly contains a multi-value attribute where each of the values is the distinguished name of a user in the system. The difficulties involved when handling these kinds of attributes are discussed in DirContextAdapter and Distinguished Names as Attribute Values..

ODM also has support for javax.naming.Name attribute values, making group modifications very easy:

Example Group representation
@Entry(objectClasses = {"top", "groupOfUniqueNames"}, base = "cn=groups")
public class Group {

    @Id
    private Name dn;

    @Attribute(name="cn")
    @DnAttribute("cn")
    private String name;

    @Attribute(name="uniqueMember")
    private Set<Name> members;

    public Name getDn() {
        return dn;
    }

    public void setDn(Name dn) {
        this.dn = dn;
    }

    public Set<Name> getMembers() {
        return members;
    }

    public void setMembers(Set<Name> members) {
        this.members = members;
    }

    public String getName() {
        return name;
    }

    public void setName(String name) {
        this.name = name;
    }

    public void addMember(Name member) {
        members.add(member);
    }

    public void removeMember(Name member) {
        members.remove(member);
    }
}

Modifying group members using setMembers, addMember and removeMember above, and then calling ldapTemplate.update(), attribute modifications will be calculated using distinguished name equality, meaning that the text formatting of distinguished names will be disregarded when figuring out whether they are equal.

5. Advanced LDAP Queries

5.1. LDAP Query Builder Parameters

The LdapQueryBuilder and its associated classes is intended to support all parameters that can be supplied to an LDAP search. The following parameters are supported:

  • base - specifies the root DN in the LDAP tree where the search should start.

  • searchScope - specifies how deep into the LDAP tree the search should traverse.

  • attributes - specifies the attributes to return from the search. Default is all.

  • countLimit - specifies the maximum number of entries to return from the search.

  • timeLimit - specifies the maximum time that the search may take.

  • Search filter - the conditions that the entries we are looking for must meet.

An LdapQueryBuilder is created with a call to the query method of LdapQueryBuilder. It’s intended as a fluent builder API, where the base parameters are defined first, followed by the filter specification calls. Once filter conditions have been started to be defined with a call to the where method of LdapQueryBuilder, later attempts to call e.g. base will be rejected. The base search parameters are optional, but at least one filter specification call is required.

Search for all entries with objectclass person
import static org.springframework.ldap.query.LdapQueryBuilder.query;
...

List<Person> persons = ldapTemplate.search(
      query().where("objectclass").is("person"),
      new PersonAttributesMapper());
Search for all entries with objectclass person and cn=John Doe
import static org.springframework.ldap.query.LdapQueryBuilder.query;
...

List<Person> persons = ldapTemplate.search(
      query().where("objectclass").is("person")
             .and("cn").is("John Doe"),
      new PersonAttributesMapper());
Search for all entries with objectclass person starting at dc=261consulting,dc=com
import static org.springframework.ldap.query.LdapQueryBuilder.query;
...

List<Person> persons = ldapTemplate.search(
      query().base("dc=261consulting,dc=com")
             .where("objectclass").is("person"),
      new PersonAttributesMapper());
Search for all entries with objectclass person starting at dc=261consulting,dc=com, only returning the cn attribute
import static org.springframework.ldap.query.LdapQueryBuilder.query;
...

List<Person> persons = ldapTemplate.search(
      query().base("dc=261consulting,dc=com")
             .attributes("cn")
             .where("objectclass").is("person"),
      new PersonAttributesMapper());
import static org.springframework.ldap.query.LdapQueryBuilder.query;
...
List<Person> persons = ldapTemplate.search(
      query().where("objectclass").is("person"),
             .and(query().where("cn").is("Doe").or("cn").is("Doo));
      new PersonAttributesMapper());

5.2. Filter Criteria

The examples above demonstrates simple equals conditions in LDAP filters. The LDAP query builder has support for the following criteria types:

  • is - specifies an equals condition (=).

  • gte - specifies a greater than or equals condition (>=).

  • lte - specifies a less than or equals condition (⇐).

  • like - specifies a "like" condition where wildcards can be included in the query, e.g. where("cn").like("J*hn Doe") will result int the filter (cn=J*hn Doe).

  • whitespaceWildcardsLike - specifies a condition where all whitespace is replaced with wildcards, e.g. where("cn").whitespaceWildcardsLike("John Doe") will result in the filter (cn=*John*Doe*).

  • isPresent - specifies condition that checks for the presence of an attribute, e.g. where("cn").isPresent() will result in the filter (cn=*).

  • not - specifies that the current condition should be negated, e.g. where("sn").not().is("Doe) will result in the filter (!(sn=Doe))

5.3. Hardcoded Filters

There are occasions when you will want to specify a hardcoded filter as input to an LdapQuery. LdapQueryBuilder has two methods for this purpose:

  • filter(String hardcodedFilter) - uses the specified string as filter. Note that the specified input string will not be touched in any way, meaning that this method is not particularly well suited if you are building filters from user input.

  • filter(String filterFormat, String... params) - uses the specified string as input to MessageFormat, properly encoding the parameters and inserting them at the specified places in the filter string.

You cannot mix the hardcoded filter methods with the where approach described above; it’s either one or the other. What this means is that if you specified a filter using filter() you will get an exception if you try to call where afterwards.

6. Configuration

6.1. Introduction

The recommended way of configuring Spring LDAP is using the custom XML configuration namespace. In order to make this available you need to include the Spring LDAP namespace declaration in your bean file, e.g.:

<beans xmlns="http://www.springframework.org/schema/beans"
       xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
       xmlns:ldap="http://www.springframework.org/schema/ldap"
       xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.springframework.org/schema/beans http://www.springframework.org/schema/beans/spring-beans.xsd
       http://www.springframework.org/schema/ldap http://www.springframework.org/schema/ldap/spring-ldap.xsd">

6.2. ContextSource Configuration

ContextSource Configuration Attributes The ContextSource is defined using a <ldap:context-source> tag. The simplest possible context-source declaration requires you to specify a server url, a username, and a password:

Simplest possible context-source declaration

<ldap:context-source username="cn=Administrator" password="secret" url="ldap://localhost:389" />

This will create an LdapContextSource with default values (see below), and the url and authentication information as specified. The configurable attributes on context-source are as follows (required attributes marked with *):

Table 1. ContextSource Configuration Attributes
Attribute Default Description

id

contextSource

The id of the created bean.

username

The username (principal) to use when authenticating with the LDAP server. This will usually be the distinguished name of an admin user (e.g.cn=Administrator, but may differ depending on server and authentication method. Required if authentication-source-ref is not explicitly configured.

password

The password (credentials) to use when authenticating with the LDAP server. Required if authentication-source-ref is not explicitly configured.

url *

The URL of the LDAP server to use. The URL should be in the format ldap://myserver.example.com:389. For SSL access, use the ldaps protocol and the appropriate port, e.g. ldaps://myserver.example.com:636. If fail-over functionality is desired, more than one URL can be specified, separated using comma (,).

base

LdapUtils.emptyLdapName()

The base DN. When this attribute has been configured, all Distinguished Names supplied to and received from LDAP operations will be relative to the specified LDAP path. This can significantly simplify working against the LDAP tree; however there are several occasions when you will need to have access to the base path. For more information on this, please refer to Obtaining a reference to the base LDAP path

anonymous-read-only

false

Defines whether read-only operations will be performed using an anonymous (unauthenticated) context. Note that setting this parameter to true together with the compensating transaction support is not supported and will be rejected.

referral

null

Defines the strategy to handle referrals, as described here. Valid values are:

  • ignore

  • follow

  • throw

native-pooling

false

Specify whether native Java LDAP connection pooling should be used. Consider using Spring LDAP connection pooling instead. See Pooling Support for more information.

authentication-source-ref

A SimpleAuthenticationSource instance.

Id of the AuthenticationSource instance to use (see below).

authentication-strategy-ref

A SimpleDirContextAuthenticationStrategy instance.

Id of the DirContextAuthenticationStrategy instance to use (see below).

base-env-props-ref

A SimpleDirContextAuthenticationStrategy instance.

Reference to a Map of custom environment properties that should supplied with the environment sent to the DirContext on construction.

6.2.1. DirContext Authentication

When DirContext instances are created to be used for performing operations on an LDAP server these contexts often need to be authenticated. There are different options for configuring this using Spring LDAP, described in this chapter.

This section refers to authenticating contexts in the core functionality of the ContextSource - to construct DirContext instances for use by LdapTemplate. LDAP is commonly used for the sole purpose of user authentication, and the ContextSource may be used for that as well. This process is discussed in User Authentication using Spring LDAP.

Authenticated contexts are created for both read-only and read-write operations by default. You specify username and password of the LDAP user to be used for authentication on the context-source element.

If username is the dn of an LDAP user, it needs to be the full Distinguished Name (DN) of the user from the root of the LDAP tree, regardless of whether a base LDAP path has been specified on the context-source element.

Some LDAP server setups allow anonymous read-only access. If you want to use anonymous Contexts for read-only operations, set the anonymous-read-only attribute to true.

Custom DirContext Authentication Processing

The default authentication mechanism used in Spring LDAP is SIMPLE authentication. This means that the principal (as specified to the username attribute) and the credentials (as specified to the password) are set in the Hashtable sent to the DirContext implementation constructor.

There are many occasions when this processing is not sufficient. For instance, LDAP Servers are commonly set up to only accept communication on a secure TLS channel; there might be a need to use the particular LDAP Proxy Auth mechanism, etc.

It is possible to specify an alternative authentication mechanism by supplying a DirContextAuthenticationStrategy implementation reference to the context-source element using the authentication-strategy-ref attribute.

TLS

Spring LDAP provides two different configuration options for LDAP servers requiring TLS secure channel communication: DefaultTlsDirContextAuthenticationStrategy and ExternalTlsDirContextAuthenticationStrategy. Both these implementations will negotiate a TLS channel on the target connection, but they differ in the actual authentication mechanism. Whereas the DefaultTlsDirContextAuthenticationStrategy will apply SIMPLE authentication on the secure channel (using the specified userDn and password), the ExternalDirContextAuthenticationStrategy will use EXTERNAL SASL authentication, applying a client certificate configured using system properties for authentication.

Since different LDAP server implementations respond differently to explicit shutdown of the TLS channel (some servers require the connection be shutdown gracefully; others do not support it), the TLS DirContextAuthenticationStrategy implementations support specifying the shutdown behavior using the shutdownTlsGracefully parameter. If this property is set to false (the default), no explicit TLS shutdown will happen; if it is true, Spring LDAP will try to shutdown the TLS channel gracefully before closing the target context.

When working with TLS connections you need to make sure that the native LDAP Pooling functionality (as specified using the native-pooling attribute is turned off. This is particularly important if shutdownTlsGracefully is set to false. However, since the TLS channel negotiation process is quite expensive, great performance benefits will be gained by using the Spring LDAP Pooling Support, described in Pooling Support.

Custom Principal and Credentials ManagementUsing the

While the user name (i.e. user DN) and password used for creating an authenticated Context are statically defined by default - the ones defined in the context-source element configuration will be used throughout the lifetime of the ContextSource - there are several cases where this is not the desired behaviour. A common scenario is that the principal and credentials of the current user should be used when executing LDAP operations for that user. The default behaviour can be modified by supplying a reference to an AuthenticationSource implementation to the context-source element using the authentication-source-ref element, instead of explicitly specifying the username and password. The AuthenticationSource will be queried by the ContextSource for principal and credentials each time an authenticated Context is to be created.

If you are using Spring Security you can make sure the principal and credentials of the currently logged in user is used at all times by configuring your ContextSource with an instance of the SpringSecurityAuthenticationSource shipped with Spring Security.

Using the SpringSecurityAuthenticationSource

<beans>
...
    <ldap:context-source
        url="ldap://localhost:389"
        authentication-source-ref="springSecurityAuthenticationSource/>

    <bean id="springSecurityAuthenticationSource"
        class="org.springframework.security.ldap.SpringSecurityAuthenticationSource" />
...
</beans>
We don’t specify any username or password to our context-source when using an AuthenticationSource - these properties are needed only when the default behaviour is used.
When using the SpringSecurityAuthenticationSource you need to use Spring Security’s LdapAuthenticationProvider to authenticate the users against LDAP.

6.2.2. Native Java LDAP Pooling

The internal Java LDAP provider provides some very basic pooling capabilities. This LDAP connection pooling can be turned on/off using the pooled flag on AbstractContextSource. The default value is false (since release 1.3), i.e. the native Java LDAP pooling will be turned off. The configuration of LDAP connection pooling is managed using System properties, so this needs to be handled manually, outside of the Spring Context configuration. Details of the native pooling configuration can be found here.

There are several serious deficiencies in the built-in LDAP connection pooling, which is why Spring LDAP provides a more sophisticated approach to LDAP connection pooling, described in Pooling Support. If pooling functionality is required, this is the recommended approach.
Regardless of the pooling configuration, the ContextSource#getContext(String principal, String credentials) method will always explicitly not use native Java LDAP Pooling, in order for reset passwords to take effect as soon as possible.

6.2.3. Advanced ContextSource Configuration

Custom DirContext Environment Properties

In some cases the user might want to specify additional environment setup properties in addition to the ones directly configurable on context-source. Such properties should be set in a Map and referenced in the base-env-props-ref attribute.

6.3. LdapTemplate Configuration

The LdapTemplate is defined using a <ldap:ldap-template> tag. The simplest possible ldap-template declaration is the simple tag:

Simplest possible ldap-template declaration

<ldap:ldap-template />

This will create an LdapTemplate instance with the default id, referencing the default ContextSource, which is expected to have the id contextSource (the default for the context-source element).

The configurable attributes on ldap-template are as follows:

Table 2. LdapTemplate Configuration Attributes
Attribute Default Description

id

ldapTemplate

The id of the created bean.

context-source-ref

contextSource

Id of the ContextSource instance to use.

count-limit

0

The default count limit for searches. 0 means no limit.

time-limit

0

The default time limit for searches in milliseconds. 0 means no limit.

search-scope

SUBTREE

The default search scope for searches. Valid values are:

  • OBJECT

  • ONELEVEL

  • SUBTREE

ignore-name-not-found

false

Specifies whether NameNotFoundException should be ignored in searches. Setting this attribute to true will cause errors caused by invalid search base to be silently swallowed.

ignore-partial-result

false

Specifies whether PartialResultException should be ignored in searches. Some LDAP servers have problems with referrals; these should normally be followed automatically, but if this doesn’t work it will manifest itself with a PartialResultException. Setting this attribute to true presents a work-around to this problem.

odm-ref

Id of the ObjectDirectoryMapper instance to use. Default is a default-configured DefaultObjectDirectoryMapper.

6.4. Obtaining a reference to the base LDAP path

As described above, a base LDAP path may be supplied to the ContextSource, specifying the root in the LDAP tree to which all operations will be relative. This means that you will only be working with relative distinguished names throughout your system, which is typically rather handy. There are however some cases in which you will need to have access to the base path in order to be able to construct full DNs, relative to the actual root of the LDAP tree. One example would be when working with LDAP groups (e.g. groupOfNames objectclass), in which case each group member attribute value will need to be the full DN of the referenced member.

For that reason, Spring LDAP has a mechanism by which any Spring controlled bean may be supplied the base path on startup. For beans to be notified of the base path, two things need to be in place: First of all, the bean that wants the base path reference needs to implement the BaseLdapNameAware interface. Secondly, a BaseLdapPathBeanPostProcessor needs to be defined in the application context

Implementing BaseLdapNameAware
package com.example.service;
public class PersonService implements PersonService, BaseLdapNameAware {
   ...
   private LdapName basePath;

   public void setBaseLdapPath(LdapName basePath) {
      this.basePath = basePath;
   }
   ...
   private LdapName getFullPersonDn(Person person) {
      return LdapNameBuilder.newLdapName(basePath)
          .append(person.getDn())
          .build();
   }
   ...
}
Specifying a BaseLdapPathBeanPostProcessor in your ApplicationContext
<beans>
   ...
   <ldap:context-source
          username="cn=Administrator"
          password="secret"
          url="ldap://localhost:389"
          base="dc=261consulting,dc=com" />
   ...
   <bean class="org.springframework.ldap.core.support.BaseLdapPathBeanPostProcessor" />
</beans>

The default behaviour of the BaseLdapPathBeanPostProcessor is to use the base path of the single defined BaseLdapPathSource (AbstractContextSource)in the ApplicationContext. If more than one BaseLdapPathSource is defined, you will need to specify which one to use with the baseLdapPathSourceName property.

7. Spring LDAP Repositories

7.1. Overview

Spring LDAP has built-in support for Spring Data repositories. The basic functionality and configuration is described here. When working with Spring LDAP repositories, please note the following:

  • Spring LDAP repositories can be enabled using an <ldap:repositories> tag in your XML configuration or using an @EnableLdapRepositories annotation on a configuration class.

  • To include support for LdapQuery parameters in automatically generated repositories, have your interface extend LdapRepository rather than CrudRepository.

  • All Spring LDAP repositories must work with entities annotated with the ODM annotations, as described in Object-Directory Mapping (ODM).

  • Since all ODM managed classes must have a Distinguished Name as ID, all Spring LDAP repositories must have the ID type parameter set to javax.naming.Name. Indeed, the built-in SpringLdapRepository only takes one type parameter; the managed entity class, defaulting ID to javax.naming.Name.

  • Due to specifics of the LDAP protocol, paging and sorting is not supported for Spring LDAP repositories.

7.2. QueryDSL support

Basic QueryDSL support is included in Spring LDAP. This support includes the following:

  • An Annotation Processor, LdapAnnotationProcessor, for generating QueryDSL classes based on Spring LDAP ODM annotations. See Object-Directory Mapping (ODM) for more information on the ODM annotations.

  • A Query implementation, QueryDslLdapQuery, for building and executing QueryDSL queries in code.

  • Spring Data repository support for QueryDSL predicates. QueryDslPredicateExecutor includes a number of additional methods with appropriate parameters; extend this interface along with LdapRepository to include this support in your repository.

8. Pooling Support

8.1. Introduction

Pooling LDAP connections helps mitigate the overhead of creating a new LDAP connection for each LDAP interaction. While Java LDAP pooling support exists it is limited in its configuration options and features, such as connection validation and pool maintenance. Spring LDAP provides support for detailed pool configuration on a per-ContextSource basis.

Pooling support is provided by supplying a <ldap:pooling /> sub-element to the <ldap:context-source /> element in the application context configuration. Read-only and read-write DirContext objects are pooled separately (if anonymous-read-only is specified. Jakarta Commons-Pool is used to provide the underlying pool implementation.

8.2. DirContext Validation

Validation of pooled connections is the primary motivation for using a custom pooling library versus the JDK provided LDAP pooling functionality. Validation allows pooled DirContext connections to be checked to ensure they are still properly connected and configured when checking them out of the pool, in to the pool or while idle in the pool.

If connection validation is configured, pooled connections are validated using DefaultDirContextValidator. DefaultDirContextValidator does a ` DirContext.search(String, String, SearchControls) ` , with an empty name, a filter of "objectclass=*" and SearchControls set to limit a single result with the only the objectclass attribute and a 500ms timeout. If the returned NamingEnumeration has results the DirContext passes validation, if no results are returned or an exception is thrown the DirContext fails validation. The default settings should work with no configuration changes on most LDAP servers and provide the fastest way to validate the DirContext. If customization required this can be done using the validation configuration attributes, described below

Connections will be automatically invalidated if they throw an exception that is considered non-transient. E.g. if a DirContext instance throws a javax.naming.CommunicationException, this will be interpreted as a non-transient error and the instance will be automatically invalidated, without the overhead of an additional testOnReturn operation. The exceptions that are interpreted as non-transient are configured using the nonTransientExceptions property of the PoolingContextSource.

8.3. Pool Configuration

The following attributes are available on the <ldap:pooling /> element for configuration of the DirContext pool:

Table 3. Pooling Configuration Attributes
Attribute Default Description

max-active

8

The maximum number of active connections of each type (read-only|read-write) that can be allocated from this pool at the same time, or non-positive for no limit.

max-total

-1

The overall maximum number of active connections (for all types) that can be allocated from this pool at the same time, or non-positive for no limit.

max-idle

8

The maximum number of active connections of each type (read-only|read-write) that can remain idle in the pool, without extra ones being released, or non-positive for no limit.

min-idle

0

The minimum number of active connections of each type (read-only|read-write) that can remain idle in the pool, without extra ones being created, or zero to create none.

max-wait

-1

The maximum number of milliseconds that the pool will wait (when there are no available connections) for a connection to be returned before throwing an exception, or non-positive to wait indefinitely.

when-exhausted

BLOCK

Specifies the behaviour when the pool is exhausted.

  • The FAIL option will throw a ` NoSuchElementException ` when the pool is exhausted.

  • The BLOCK option will wait until a new object is available. If max-wait is positive a ` NoSuchElementException ` is thrown if no new object is available after the max-wait time expires.

  • The GROW option will create and return a new object (essentially making max-active meaningless).

test-on-borrow

false

The indication of whether objects will be validated before being borrowed from the pool. If the object fails to validate, it will be dropped from the pool, and an attempt to borrow another will be made.

test-on-return

false

The indication of whether objects will be validated before being returned to the pool.

test-while-idle

false

The indication of whether objects will be validated by the idle object evictor (if any). If an object fails to validate, it will be dropped from the pool.

eviction-run-interval-millis

-1

The number of milliseconds to sleep between runs of the idle object evictor thread. When non-positive, no idle object evictor thread will be run.

tests-per-eviction-run

3

The number of objects to examine during each run of the idle object evictor thread (if any).

min-evictable-time-millis

1000 * 60 * 30

The minimum amount of time an object may sit idle in the pool before it is eligible for eviction by the idle object evictor (if any).

validation-query-base

LdapUtils.emptyName()

The search base to be used when validating connections. Only used if test-on-borrow, test-on-return, or test-while-idle is specified

validation-query-filter

objectclass=*

The search filter to be used when validating connections. Only used if test-on-borrow, test-on-return, or test-while-idle is specified

validation-query-search-controls-ref

null; default search control settings are described above.

Id of a SearchControls instance to be used when validating connections. Only used if test-on-borrow, test-on-return, or test-while-idle is specified

non-transient-exceptions

javax.naming.CommunicationException

Comma-separated list of Exception classes. The listed exceptions will be considered non-transient with regards to eager invalidation. Should any of the listed exceptions (or subclasses of them) be thrown by a call to a pooled DirContext instance, that object will be automatically invalidated without any additional testOnReturn operation.

8.4. Configuration

Configuring pooling should look very familiar if you’re used to Jakarta Commons-Pool or Commons-DBCP. You will first create a normal ContextSource then wrap it in a PoolingContextSource .

<beans>
   ...
    <ldap:context-source
        password="secret" url="ldap://localhost:389" username="cn=Manager">
        <ldap:pooling />
    </ldap:context-source>
   ...
</beans>

In a real world example you would probably configure the pool options and enable connection validation; the above serves as an example to demonstrate the general idea.

8.4.1. Validation Configuration

Adding validation and a few pool configuration tweaks to the above example is straight forward. Inject a DirContextValidator and set when validation should occur and the pool is ready to go.

<beans>
   ...
    <ldap:context-source
        username="cn=Manager" password="secret" url="ldap://localhost:389" >
        <ldap:pooling
            test-on-borrow="true"
            test-while-idle="true" />
    </ldap:context-source>
   ...
</beans>

The above example will test each DirContext before it is passed to the client application and test `DirContext`s that have been sitting idle in the pool.

8.5. Known Issues

8.5.1. Custom Authentication

The PoolingContextSource assumes that all DirContext objects retrieved from ContextSource.getReadOnlyContext() will have the same environment and likewise that all DirContext objects retrieved from ContextSource.getReadWriteContext() will have the same environment. This means that wrapping a LdapContextSource configured with an AuthenticationSource in a PoolingContextSource will not function as expected. The pool would be populated using the credentials of the first user and unless new connections were needed subsequent context requests would not be filled for the user specified by the AuthenticationSource for the requesting thread.

9. Adding Missing Overloaded API Methods

9.1. Implementing Custom Search Methods

While LdapTemplate contains several overloaded versions of the most common operations in DirContext, we have not provided an alternative for each and every method signature, mostly because there are so many of them. We have, however, provided a means to call whichever DirContext method you want and still get the benefits that LdapTemplate provides.

Let’s say that you want to call the following DirContext method:

NamingEnumeration search(Name name, String filterExpr, Object[] filterArgs, SearchControls ctls)

There is no corresponding overloaded method in LdapTemplate. The way to solve this is to use a custom SearchExecutor implementation:

public interface SearchExecutor {
   public NamingEnumeration executeSearch(DirContext ctx) throws NamingException;
}

In your custom executor, you have access to a DirContext object, which you use to call the method you want. You then provide a handler that is responsible for mapping attributes and collecting the results. You can for example use one of the available implementations of CollectingNameClassPairCallbackHandler, which will collect the mapped results in an internal list. In order to actually execute the search, you call the search method in LdapTemplate that takes an executor and a handler as arguments. Finally, you return whatever your handler has collected.

A custom search method using SearchExecutor and AttributesMapper
package com.example.dao;

public class PersonDaoImpl implements PersonDao {
   ...
   public List search(final Name base, final String filter, final String[] params,
         final SearchControls ctls) {
      SearchExecutor executor = new SearchExecutor() {
         public NamingEnumeration executeSearch(DirContext ctx) {
            return ctx.search(base, filter, params, ctls);
         }
      };

      CollectingNameClassPairCallbackHandler handler =
         new AttributesMapperCallbackHandler(new PersonAttributesMapper());

      ldapTemplate.search(executor, handler);
      return handler.getList();
   }
}

If you prefer the ContextMapper to the AttributesMapper, this is what it would look like:

A custom search method using SearchExecutor and ContextMapper
package com.example.dao;

public class PersonDaoImpl implements PersonDao {
   ...
   public List search(final Name base, final String filter, final String[] params,
         final SearchControls ctls) {
      SearchExecutor executor = new SearchExecutor() {
         public NamingEnumeration executeSearch(DirContext ctx) {
            return ctx.search(base, filter, params, ctls);
         }
      };

      CollectingNameClassPairCallbackHandler handler =
         new ContextMapperCallbackHandler(new PersonContextMapper());

      ldapTemplate.search(executor, handler);
      return handler.getList();
   }
}

When using the ContextMapperCallbackHandler you must make sure that you have called setReturningObjFlag(true) on your SearchControls instance.

9.2. Implementing Other Custom Context Methods

In the same manner as for custom search methods, you can actually execute any method in DirContext by using a ContextExecutor.

public interface ContextExecutor {
   public Object executeWithContext(DirContext ctx) throws NamingException;
}

When implementing a custom ContextExecutor, you can choose between using the executeReadOnly() or the executeReadWrite() method. Let’s say that we want to call this method:

Object lookupLink(Name name)

It’s available in DirContext, but there is no matching method in LdapTemplate. It’s a lookup method, so it should be read-only. We can implement it like this:

A custom DirContext method using ContextExecutor
package com.example.dao;

public class PersonDaoImpl implements PersonDao {
   ...
   public Object lookupLink(final Name name) {
      ContextExecutor executor = new ContextExecutor() {
         public Object executeWithContext(DirContext ctx) {
            return ctx.lookupLink(name);
         }
      };

      return ldapTemplate.executeReadOnly(executor);
   }
}

In the same manner you can execute a read-write operation using the executeReadWrite() method.

10. Processing the DirContext

10.1. Custom DirContext Pre/Postprocessing

In some situations, one would like to perform operations on the DirContext before and after the search operation. The interface that is used for this is called DirContextProcessor:

public interface DirContextProcessor {
   public void preProcess(DirContext ctx) throws NamingException;
   public void postProcess(DirContext ctx) throws NamingException;
}

The LdapTemplate class has a search method that takes a DirContextProcessor:

public void search(SearchExecutor se, NameClassPairCallbackHandler handler,
   DirContextProcessor processor) throws DataAccessException;

Before the search operation, the preProcess method is called on the given DirContextProcessor instance. After the search has been executed and the resulting NamingEnumeration has been processed, the postProcess method is called. This enables a user to perform operations on the DirContext to be used in the search, and to check the DirContext when the search has been performed. This can be very useful for example when handling request and response controls.

There are also a few convenience methods for those that don’t need a custom SearchExecutor:

public void search(Name base, String filter,
   SearchControls controls, NameClassPairCallbackHandler handler, DirContextProcessor processor)

public void search(String base, String filter,
   SearchControls controls, NameClassPairCallbackHandler handler, DirContextProcessor processor)

public void search(Name base, String filter,
   SearchControls controls, AttributesMapper mapper, DirContextProcessor processor)

public void search(String base, String filter,
   SearchControls controls, AttributesMapper mapper, DirContextProcessor processor)

public void search(Name base, String filter,
   SearchControls controls, ContextMapper mapper, DirContextProcessor processor)

public void search(String base, String filter,
   SearchControls controls, ContextMapper mapper, DirContextProcessor processor)

10.2. Implementing a Request Control DirContextProcessor

The LDAPv3 protocol uses Controls to send and receive additional data to affect the behavior of predefined operations. In order to simplify the implementation of a request control DirContextProcessor, Spring LDAP provides the base class AbstractRequestControlDirContextProcessor. This class handles the retrieval of the current request controls from the LdapContext, calls a template method for creating a request control, and adds it to the LdapContext. All you have to do in the subclass is to implement the template method createRequestControl, and of course the postProcess method for performing whatever you need to do after the search.

public abstract class AbstractRequestControlDirContextProcessor implements
      DirContextProcessor {

   public void preProcess(DirContext ctx) throws NamingException {
      ...
   }

   public abstract Control createRequestControl();
}

A typical DirContextProcessor will be similar to the following:

A request control DirContextProcessor implementation
package com.example.control;

public class MyCoolRequestControl extends AbstractRequestControlDirContextProcessor {
   private static final boolean CRITICAL_CONTROL = true;
   private MyCoolCookie cookie;
   ...
   public MyCoolCookie getCookie() {
      return cookie;
   }

   public Control createRequestControl() {
      return new SomeCoolControl(cookie.getCookie(), CRITICAL_CONTROL);
   }

   public void postProcess(DirContext ctx) throws NamingException {
      LdapContext ldapContext = (LdapContext) ctx;
      Control[] responseControls = ldapContext.getResponseControls();

      for (int i = 0; i < responseControls.length; i++) {
         if (responseControls[i] instanceof SomeCoolResponseControl) {
            SomeCoolResponseControl control = (SomeCoolResponseControl) responseControls[i];
            this.cookie = new MyCoolCookie(control.getCookie());
         }
      }
   }
}

Make sure you use LdapContextSource when you use Controls. The Control interface is specific for LDAPv3 and requires that LdapContext is used instead of DirContext. If an AbstractRequestControlDirContextProcessor subclass is called with an argument that is not an LdapContext, it will throw an IllegalArgumentException.

10.3. Paged Search Results

Some searches may return large numbers of results. When there is no easy way to filter out a smaller amount, it would be convenient to have the server return only a certain number of results each time it is called. This is known as paged search results. Each "page" of the result could then be displayed at the time, with links to the next and previous page. Without this functionality, the client must either manually limit the search result into pages, or retrieve the whole result and then chop it into pages of suitable size. The former would be rather complicated, and the latter would be consuming unnecessary amounts of memory.

Some LDAP servers have support for the PagedResultsControl, which requests that the results of a search operation are returned by the LDAP server in pages of a specified size. The user controls the rate at which the pages are returned, simply by the rate at which the searches are called. However, the user must keep track of a cookie between the calls. The server uses this cookie to keep track of where it left off the previous time it was called with a paged results request.

Spring LDAP provides support for paged results by leveraging the concept for pre- and postprocessing of an LdapContext that was discussed in the previous sections. It does so using the class PagedResultsDirContextProcessor. The PagedResultsDirContextProcessor class creates a PagedResultsControl with the requested page size and adds it to the LdapContext. After the search, it gets the PagedResultsResponseControl and retrieves the paged results cookie, which is needed to keep the context between consecutive paged results requests.

Below is an example of how the paged search results functionality may be used: PagedResultsDirContextProcessor

Paged results using PagedResultsDirContextProcessor

public List<String> getAllPersonNames() {
  final SearchControls searchControls = new SearchControls();
  searchControls.setSearchScope(SearchControls.SUBTREE_SCOPE);
  final PagedResultsDirContextProcessor processor = new PagedResultsDirContextProcessor(PAGE_SIZE);

  return SingleContextSource.doWithSingleContext(contextSource, new LdapOperationsCallback<List<String>>() {
      @Override
      public List<String> doWithLdapOperations(LdapOperations operations) {
        List<String> result = new LinkedList<String>();

        do {
          List<String> oneResult = operations.search(
            "ou=People",
            "(&(objectclass=person))",
            searchControls,
            CN_ATTRIBUTES_MAPPER,
            processor);
          result.addAll(oneResult);
        } while(processor.hasMore());

        return result;
      }
  });
}

In order for a paged results cookie to continue being valid, it is imperative that the same underlying connection is used for each paged results call. This can be accomplished using the SingleContextSource, as demonstrated in the example.

11. Transaction Support

11.1. Introduction

Programmers used to working with relational databases coming to the LDAP world often express surprise to the fact that there is no notion of transactions. It is not specified in the protocol, and thus no servers support it. Recognizing that this may be a major problem, Spring LDAP provides support for client-side, compensating transactions on LDAP resources.

LDAP transaction support is provided by ContextSourceTransactionManager, a PlatformTransactionManager implementation that manages Spring transaction support for LDAP operations. Along with its collaborators it keeps track of the LDAP operations performed in a transaction, making record of the state before each operation and taking steps to restore the initial state should the transaction need to be rolled back.

In addition to the actual transaction management, Spring LDAP transaction support also makes sure that the same DirContext instance will be used throughout the same transaction, i.e. the DirContext will not actually be closed until the transaction is finished, allowing for more efficient resources usage.

It is important to note that while the approach used by Spring LDAP to provide transaction support is sufficient for many cases it is by no means "real" transactions in the traditional sense. The server is completely unaware of the transactions, so e.g. if the connection is broken there will be no hope to rollback the transaction. While this should be carefully considered it should also be noted that the alternative will be to operate without any transaction support whatsoever; this is pretty much as good as it gets.

The client side transaction support will add some overhead in addition to the work required by the original operations. While this overhead should not be something to worry about in most cases, if your application will not perform several LDAP operations within the same transaction (e.g. a modifyAttributes followed by a rebind), or if transaction synchronization with a JDBC data source is not required (see below) there will be nothing to gain by using the LDAP transaction support.

11.2. Configuration

Configuring Spring LDAP transactions should look very familiar if you’re used to configuring Spring transactions. You will annotate your transacted classes with @Transactional, create a TransactionManager instance and include a <tx:annotation-driven> tag in your bean configuraion.

<ldap:context-source
       url="ldap://localhost:389"
       base="dc=example,dc=com"
       username="cn=Manager"
       password="secret" />

<ldap:ldap-template id="ldapTemplate" />
<ldap:transaction-manager>
    <!--
    Note this default configuration will not work for more complex scenarios, see below for more information on RenamingStrategies.
    -->
   <ldap:default-renaming-strategy />
</ldap:transaction-manager>

<!--
   The MyDataAccessObject class is annotated with @Transactional.
-->
<bean id="myDataAccessObject" class="com.example.MyDataAccessObject">
  <property name="ldapTemplate" ref="ldapTemplate" />
</bean>

<tx:annotation-driven />
...

While this setup will work fine for most simple use cases, some more complex scenarios will require additional configuration; more specifically if you will be creating or deleting subtrees within transactions, you will need to use an alternative TempEntryRenamingStrategy, as described in Renaming Strategies below

In a real world example you would probably apply the transactions on the service object level rather than the DAO level; the above serves as an example to demonstrate the general idea.

11.3. JDBC Transaction Integration

A common use case when working against LDAP is that some of the data is stored in the LDAP tree, but other data is stored in a relational database. In this case, transaction support becomes even more important, since the update of the different resources should be synchronized.

While actual XA transactions is not supported, support is provided to conceptually wrap JDBC and LDAP access within the same transaction by supplying a data-source-ref attribute to the <ldap:transaction-manager> tag. This will create a ContextSourceAndDataSourceTransactionManager, which will then manage the two transactions, virtually as if they were one. When performing a commit, the LDAP part of the operation will always be performed first, allowing both transactions to be rolled back should the LDAP commit fail. The JDBC part of the transaction is managed exactly as in DataSourceTransactionManager, except that nested transactions is not supported:

<ldap:transaction-manager data-source-ref="dataSource" >
  <ldap:default-renaming-strategy />
<ldap:transaction-manager />
Once again it should be noted that the provided support is all client side. The wrapped transaction is not an XA transaction. No two-phase as such commit is performed, as the LDAP server will be unable to vote on its outcome. Once again, however, for the majority of cases the supplied support will be sufficient.

The same thing can be accomplished for Hibernate integration by supplying a session-factory-ref attribute to the <ldap:transaction-manager> tag.

<ldap:transaction-manager session-factory-ref="dataSource" >
  <ldap:default-renaming-strategy />
<ldap:transaction-manager />

11.4. LDAP Compensating Transactions Explained

Spring LDAP manages compensating transactions by making record of the state in the LDAP tree before each modifying operation (bind, unbind, rebind, modifyAttributes, and rename). This enables the system to perform compensating operations should the transaction need to be rolled back. In many cases the compensating operation is pretty straightforward. E.g. the compensating rollback operation for a bind operation will quite obviously be to unbind the entry. Other operations however require a different, more complicated approach because of some particular characteristics of LDAP databases. Specifically, it is not always possible to get the values of all Attributes of an entry, making the above strategy insufficient for e.g. an unbind operation. This is why each modifying operation performed within a Spring LDAP managed transaction is internally split up in four distinct operations - a recording operation, a preparation operation, a commit operation, and a rollback operation. The specifics for each LDAP operation is described in the table below:

LDAP Operation Recording Preparation Commit Rollback

bind

Make record of the DN of the entry to bind.

Bind the entry.

No operation.

Unbind the entry using the recorded DN.

rename

Make record of the original and target DN.

Rename the entry.

No operation.

Rename the entry back to its original DN.

unbind

Make record of the original DN and calculate a temporary DN.

Rename the entry to the temporary location.

Unbind the temporary entry.

Rename the entry from the temporary location back to its original DN.

rebind

Make record of the original DN and the new Attributes, and calculate a temporary DN.

Rename the entry to a temporary location.

Bind the new Attributes at the original DN, and unbind the original entry from its temporary location.

Rename the entry from the temporary location back to its original DN.

modifyAttributes

Make record of the DN of the entry to modify and calculate compensating `ModificationItem`s for the modifications to be done.

Perform the modifyAttributes operation.

No operation.

Perform a modifyAttributes operation using the calculated compensating `ModificationItem`s.

A more detailed description of the internal workings of the Spring LDAP transaction support is available in the javadocs.

11.4.1. Renaming Strategies

As described in the table above, the transaction management of some operations require the original entry affected by the operation to be temporarily renamed before the actual modification can be made in the commit. The manner in which the temporary DN of the entry is calculated is managed by a TempEntryRenamingStrategy specified in a sub-element to the <ldap:transaction-manager > declaration in the configuration. Two implementations are supplied with Spring LDAP:

  • DefaultTempEntryRenamingStrategy (the default). Specified using a <ldap:default-renaming-strategy /> element. Adds a suffix to the least significant part of the entry DN. E.g. for the DN cn=john doe, ou=users, this strategy would return the temporary DN cn=john doe_temp, ou=users. The suffix is configurable using the temp-suffix attribute.

  • DifferentSubtreeTempEntryRenamingStrategy. Specified using a <ldap:different-subtree-renaming-strategy /> element. Takes the least significant part of the DN and appends a subtree DN to this. This makes all temporary entries be placed at a specific location in the LDAP tree. The temporary subtree DN is configured using the subtree-node attribute. E.g., if subtree-node is ou=tempEntries and the original DN of the entry is cn=john doe, ou=users, the temporary DN will be cn=john doe, ou=tempEntries. Note that the configured subtree node needs to be present in the LDAP tree.

There are some situations where the DefaultTempEntryRenamingStrategy will not work. E.g. if your are planning to do recursive deletes you’ll need to use DifferentSubtreeTempEntryRenamingStrategy. This is because the recursive delete operation actually consists of a depth-first delete of each node in the sub tree individually. Since it is not allowed to rename an entry that has any children, and DefaultTempEntryRenamingStrategy would leave each node in the same subtree (with a different name) in stead of actually removing it, this operation would fail. When in doubt, use DifferentSubtreeTempEntryRenamingStrategy.

12. User Authentication using Spring LDAP

12.1. Basic Authentication

While the core functionality of the ContextSource is to provide DirContext instances for use by LdapTemplate, it may also be used for authenticating users against an LDAP server. The getContext(principal, credentials) method of ContextSource will do exactly that; construct a DirContext instance according to the ContextSource configuration, authenticating the context using the supplied principal and credentials. A custom authenticate method could look like this:

public boolean authenticate(String userDn, String credentials) {
  DirContext ctx = null;
  try {
    ctx = contextSource.getContext(userDn, credentials);
    return true;
  } catch (Exception e) {
    // Context creation failed - authentication did not succeed
    logger.error("Login failed", e);
    return false;
  } finally {
    // It is imperative that the created DirContext instance is always closed
    LdapUtils.closeContext(ctx);
  }
}

The userDn supplied to the authenticate method needs to be the full DN of the user to authenticate (regardless of the base setting on the ContextSource). You will typically need to perform an LDAP search based on e.g. the user name to get this DN:

private String getDnForUser(String uid) {
  List result = ldapTemplate.search(query().where("uid").is(uid),
      new AbstractContextMapper() {
    protected Object doMapFromContext(DirContextOperations ctx) {
      return ctx.getNameInNamespace();
    }
  });

  if(result.size() != 1) {
    throw new RuntimeException("User not found or not unique");
  }

  return (String)result.get(0);
}

There are some drawbacks to this approach. The user is forced to concern herself with the DN of the user, she can only search for the user’s uid, and the search always starts at the root of the tree (the empty path). A more flexible method would let the user specify the search base, the search filter, and the credentials. Spring LDAP includes an authenticate method in LdapTemplate that provide this functionality: boolean authenticate(LdapQuery query, String password);

Using this method authentication becomes as simple as this:

Authenticating a user using Spring LDAP.
ldapTemplate.authenticate(query().where("uid").is("john.doe"), "secret");

As described in below, some setups may require additional operations to be performed in order for actual authentication to occur. See Performing Operations on the Authenticated Context for details.

Don’t write your own custom authenticate methods. Use the ones provided in Spring LDAP 1.3.x.

12.2. Performing Operations on the Authenticated Context

Some authentication schemes and LDAP servers require some operation to be performed on the created DirContext instance for the actual authentication to occur. You should test and make sure how your server setup and authentication schemes behave; failure to do so might result in that users will be admitted into your system regardless of the DN/credentials supplied. This is a naïve implementation of an authenticate method where a hard-coded lookup operation is performed on the authenticated context:

public boolean authenticate(String userDn, String credentials) {
  DirContext ctx = null;
  try {
    ctx = contextSource.getContext(userDn, credentials);
    // Take care here - if a base was specified on the ContextSource
    // that needs to be removed from the user DN for the lookup to succeed.
    ctx.lookup(userDn);
    return true;
  } catch (Exception e) {
    // Context creation failed - authentication did not succeed
    logger.error("Login failed", e);
    return false;
  } finally {
    // It is imperative that the created DirContext instance is always closed
    LdapUtils.closeContext(ctx);
  }
}

It would be better if the operation could be provided as an implementation of a callback interface, thus not limiting the operation to always be a lookup. Spring LDAP includes the callback interface AuthenticatedLdapEntryContextMapper and a corresponding authenticate method: <T> T authenticate(LdapQuery query, String password, AuthenticatedLdapEntryContextMapper<T> mapper);

This opens up for any operation to be performed on the authenticated context:

Performing an LDAP operation on the authenticated context using Spring LDAP.
AuthenticatedLdapEntryContextMapper<DirContextOperations> mapper = new AuthenticatedLdapEntryContextMapper<DirContextOperations>() {
  public DirContextOperations mapWithContext(DirContext ctx, LdapEntryIdentification ldapEntryIdentification) {
    try {
      return (DirContextOperations) ctx.lookup(ldapEntryIdentification.getRelativeName());
    }
    catch (NamingException e) {
      throw new RuntimeException("Failed to lookup " + ldapEntryIdentification.getRelativeName(), e);
    }
  }
};

ldapTemplate.authenticate(query().where("uid").is("john.doe"), "secret", mapper);

12.3. Obsolete authentication methods

In addition to the authenticate methods described above there are a number of deprecated methods that can be used for authentication. While these will work fine, the recommendation is to use the LdapQuery methods instead.

12.4. Use Spring Security

While the approach above may be sufficient for simple authentication scenarios, requirements in this area commonly expand rapidly. There is a multitude of aspects that apply, including authentication, authorization, web integration, user context management, etc. If you suspect that the requirements might expand beyond just simple authentication, you should definitely consider using Spring Security for your security purposes instead. It is a full-blown, mature security framework addressing the above aspects as well as several others.

13. LDIF Parsing

13.1. Introduction

LDAP Directory Interchange Format (LDIF) files are the standard medium for describing directory data in a flat file format. The most common uses of this format include information transfer and archival. However, the standard also defines a way to describe modifications to stored data in a flat file format. LDIFs of this later type are typically referred to as changetype or modify LDIFs.

The org.springframework.ldap.ldif package provides classes needed to parse LDIF files and deserialize them into tangible objects. The LdifParser is the main class of the org.springframework.ldap.ldif package and is capable of parsing files that are RFC 2849 compliant. This class reads lines from a resource and assembles them into an LdapAttributes object. The LdifParser currently ignores changetype LDIF entries as their usefulness in the context of an application has yet to be determined.

13.2. Object Representation

Two classes in the org.springframework.ldap.core package provide the means to represent an LDIF in code:

  • LdapAttribute - Extends javax.naming.directory.BasicAttribute adding support for LDIF options as defined in RFC2849.

  • LdapAttributes - Extends javax.naming.directory.BasicAttributes adding specialized support for DNs.

LdapAttribute objects represent options as a Set<String>. The DN support added to the LdapAttributes object employs the javax.naming.ldap.LdapName class.

13.3. The Parser

The Parser interface provides the foundation for operation and employs three supporting policy definitions:

  • SeparatorPolicy - establishes the mechanism by which lines are assembled into attributes.

  • AttributeValidationPolicy - ensures that attributes are correctly structured prior to parsing.

  • Specification - provides a mechanism by which object structure can be validated after assembly.

The default implementations of these interfaces are the org.springframework.ldap.ldif.parser.LdifParser, the org.springframework.ldap.ldif.support.SeparatorPolicy, and the org.springframework.ldap.ldif.support.DefaultAttributeValidationPolicy, and the org.springframework.ldap.schema.DefaultSchemaSpecification respectively. Together, these 4 classes parse a resource line by line and translate the data into LdapAttributes objects.

The SeparatorPolicy determines how individual lines read from the source file should be interpreted as the LDIF specification allows attributes to span multiple lines. The default policy assess lines in the context of the order in which they were read to determine the nature of the line in consideration. control attributes and changetype records are ignored.

The DefaultAttributeValidationPolicy uses REGEX expressions to ensure each attribute conforms to a valid attribute format according to RFC 2849 once parsed. If an attribute fails validation, an InvalidAttributeFormatException is logged and the record is skipped (the parser returns null).

13.4. Schema Validation

A mechanism for validating parsed objects against a schema and is available via the Specification interface in the org.springframework.ldap.schema package. The DefaultSchemaSpecification does not do any validation and is available for instances where records are known to be valid and not required to be checked. This option saves the performance penalty that validation imposes. The BasicSchemaSpecification applies basic checks such as ensuring DN and object class declarations have been provided. Currently, validation against an actual schema requires implementation of the Specification interface.

13.5. Spring Batch Integration

While the LdifParser can be employed by any application that requires parsing of LDIF files, Spring offers a batch processing framework that offers many file processing utilities for parsing delimited files such as CSV. The org.springframework.ldap.ldif.batch package offers the classes necessary for using the LdifParser as a valid configuration option in the Spring Batch framework. There are 5 classes in this package which offer three basic use cases:

  • Use Case 1: Read LDIF records from a file and return an LdapAttributes object.

  • Use Case 2: Read LDIF records from a file and map records to Java objects (POJOs).

  • Use Case 3: Write LDIF records to a file.

The first use case is accomplished with the LdifReader. This class extends Spring Batch’s AbstractItemCountingItemSteamItemReader and implements its ResourceAwareItemReaderItemStream. It fits naturally into the framework and can be used to read LdapAttributes objects from a file.

The MappingLdifReader can be used to map LDIF objects directly to any POJO. This class requires an implementation of the RecordMapper interface be provided. This implementation should implement the logic for mapping objects to POJOs.

The RecordCallbackHandler can be implemented and provided to either reader. This handler can be used to operate on skipped records. Consult the Spring Batch documentation for more information.

The last member of this package, the LdifAggregator, can be used to write LDIF records to a file. This class simply invokes the toString() method of the LdapAttributes object.

14. Utilities

14.1. Incremental Retrieval of Multi-Valued Attributes

When there are a very large number of attribute values (>1500) for a specific attribute, Active Directory will typically refuse to return all these values at once. Instead the attribute values will be returned according to the Incremental Retrieval of Multi-valued Properties method. This requires the calling part to inspect the returned attribute for specific markers and, if necessary, make additional lookup requests until all values are found.

Spring LDAP’s org.springframework.ldap.core.support.DefaultIncrementalAttributesMapper helps working with this kind of attributes, as follows:

Object[] attrNames =  new Object[]{"oneAttribute", "anotherAttribute"};
Attributes attrs = DefaultIncrementalAttributeMapper.lookupAttributes(ldapTemplate, theDn, attrNames);

This will parse any returned attribute range markers and make repeated requests as necessary until all values for all requested attributes have been retrieved.

15. Java 5 Support

15.1. SimpleLdapTemplateUsing

As of Spring LDAP 2.0 the core API has full Java 5 support, and SimpleLdapTemplate and associated classes are all deprecated.

As of version 1.3 Spring LDAP includes the spring-ldap-core-tiger.jar distributable, which adds a thin layer of Java 5 functionality on top of Spring LDAP.

The SimpleLdapTemplate class adds search and lookup methods that take a ParameterizedContextMapper, adding generics support to these methods.

ParametrizedContextMapper is a typed version of ContextMapper, which simplifies working with searches and lookups:ParameterizedContextMapper

Using ParameterizedContextMapper
public List<Person> getAllPersons(){
    return simpleLdapTemplate.search("", "(objectclass=person)",
               new ParameterizedContextMapper<Person>() {
                   public Person mapFromContext(Object ctx) {
                       DirContextAdapter adapter = (DirContextAdapter) ctx;
                       Person person = new Person();
                       // Fill the domain object with data from the DirContextAdapter

                       return person;
                   }
               };
}