Three LDAP Browsers for the Asking - Page 2

By Hallett German | Posted Jun 1, 2004
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Yet another LDAP Browser - Coral Directory
Coral Directory is a new LDAP Browser that bears close watching. Hans Maeda, the author, is actively working on the application. There were four updates in March alone. It is available as freeware in the United States and as shareware in Japan. The software explicitly supports Open LDAP and Sun/iPlanet Directory. The Current release is 1.32331.

Coral Directory uses Flat Buttons and Menus to get you to the appropriate functions. The Configure tab allows you to store and reuse vendor and user supplied configurations. Press the Connect (pine tree icon) at the bottom right to bind. A floating message window pops up during your session. Other Flat Buttons in the current version include edit, administration (including backup and recovery), schema view and help.

Coral's directory search offers the most comprehensive combination we've seen so far for all classes of users. It includes a pull-down on attribute, condition and value. The only thing missing is handling of multiple conditions (such as AND,OR,NOT). Hans Maeda (who has been reading this series) has plans to add the following features in future releases:

  • Multiple search filters
  • A search format that is closer to the ldapsearch command line version.
  • Ability to save search filter pattern to a file and retrieve via a pull-down list.

These features should be available in the coming months.

Other Flat Buttons in the current version include edit, administration (including backup and recovery), schema view and help.

Since this product is still very much a work in progress, there are a number of minor issues that will most likely be addressed in the coming months. The application is in need for a true installer, it is not intuitive to create and save a new connection, we had to scroll up to see text for some windows, and there were sporadic DLL error messages in earlier releases. These are all minor compared to the overall positive user experience. Although this admittedly is not a finished product, it shows promise as a powerful and flexible browser when completed.

JXplorer - Sheer Power for the Masses

Space does not allow us to do justice to this product. JXplorer was originally sold as part of Computer Associate's eTrust Directory package. However, it was recently donated and transformed into an open source offering instead. It was created using Java and runs on Windows, Solaris, Linux, and OS390.

To create a configuration, you can enter the standard information in a default or DSML template (server name, user id, a rich list of authentication types, etc). Then click OK and your session begins. What makes Jxplorer unique is that it has two types of searches:

  • A quick search, available on top of the menu. You can choose from selected attributes, operators, and then enter in your value. Results are either displayed in a friendly HTML or Table format that allows you to then (which can then do various administrative operations).
  • A complex search, available under the Search menu or by pressing control-Fs. But even this gives you a choice of building a canned filter or creating your own. The canned filter can build complex search filters with multiple ANDs, ORrs, and NOTots. Other operators are described in plain English terms. You can also save and reuse search filters.

Jxplorer has an incredibly rich feature list. The following are just a few samples from the incredibly rich feature list:

  • Branches cut and copy
  • Export subtrees to LDIF
  • A schema viewer API to extend the product - plug-in editors, viewers, and authentication schemes
  • Display operation attributes for each attribute
  • Support for multi-value relative distinguished names (as a rule you shouldn't be doing this)
  • Full support for special and UTF-8 character sets support
  • Multiple log levels and other administrative goodies
  • Customized look and feel for menus
  • Rich public key and binary object support
  • Bookmarks
  • Return attribute lists, and
  • A rich help file/documentation set

This product has many features that will appeal to novices, but other advanced features that may be seen scare them away. A novice administrator might easily wipe out a crucial operation with tree operations. (Luckily, the default is safety mode, in which the user has to confirm tree operations.) Other concerns are that multiple configurations are not easy to save, the help functions are not context-sensitive, and the error/status messages are not useful or understandable.

JXEplorer is an extremely powerful directory that offers some useful and unique features. In its favor, it offers more customization capabilities than many of its counterparts. We hope that it continues to be enhanced for some time to come. If it continues to be developed by the open source community, it has the potential to be a very powerful LDAP tool.

Continued on Page 3: Our LDAP Browser Wishlist

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