Find the Right LDAP Browser for Big Search Jobs - Page 2

 By Hallett German
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Softerra Directory Browser
Softerra is an offshore development company based in the Ukraine. Somewhere along the way, they released LDAP-compliant products that are available to the public. One of these products is the free Directory Browser currently at release 2.5.3. For those who need to perform LDAP administration tasks, there is an LDAP Administrator as well. Release 3.0 is available for a 30-day demo and costs $215.

Accessing the Softerra browser is straightforward. Select Softerra LDAP Browser from the Program Manager menu. Then click on the Softerra LDAP Browser version_number icon. The four-part browser window then appears on your screen.

  • Tree View (Top Left) - On starting, Tree View will display the list of vendor- and user- supplied directory configurations. Once you complete your search query, it will show the various levels of the directory tree including record names.
  • List View (Top Right) - On starting, List View will display a more detailed list of directory configurations. After a search query, it will display the record details.

  • Output Window (Bottom) - This window displays easy-to-understand messages about user LDAP operations such as bind and search.

  • Status window (Bottom - below output window) - This window gives a one line status summary of your LDAP Operations

If you are not satisfied with the pre-configured directory profiles, you can quickly create your own in a variety of ways. Either right-click on the Browser Root icon that appears in the List View window, press Control-N keys, or Select "New Profile" from the "File" menu. Many of the defaults are already selected and unless you are doing something very complex, you should not need to change them. There is also a check box to enable/disable anonymous logins.

If you are already comfortable with LDAP syntax, feel free to try out the features under the advanced tab. Softerra contains some useful features missing in most browsers including the following:

  • View the Server Monitor information - If supported, it could be useful in debugging certain problems and providing a clue to general server health. This may include server version, last time started, total connections since starting, back-end database status, current connections and more. If supported, the processes will usually use the application id of cn=monitor. Note that because Monitor is not part of the LDAP standard and is supported only by a few vendors: Sun/Iplanet/Netscape, OpenLDAP, and the original University of Michigan distribution among others.

  • Select server and client controls - This feature displays the list of server and client controls that are supported and enabled by your LDAP server/browser. These controls are used to extend the functionality of your LDAP server/browser beyond the standard features. These are displayed in OID (Object Identifier format.) For example, 2.16.840.1.113730.3.4.3 is a control for Persistent Search. Knowing this information could be useful in problem-solving a bad search query.

  • Attributes to Display - Specify which attributes to return including operational attributes.

  • Schema Properties - This extremely handy utility shows attribute types, object classes, and matching rules for the specified directory. This is useful in determining the right object class/attribute to search.
To initiate a search either select the Tools Directory Search, press the Control-F keys, click on the binoculars icon on top, or right-click at the appropriate level in the directory tree. Whatever approach is used to initiate the query, the next step is to enter the search criteria in the dialog box. A very handy feature is the capability to easily recall past choices for search base, search filter (default is all object classes), and attributes returned (default is all). After the search is started, the results are displayed in the lower half of the search dialog box. The results can then be saved in XLS, TXT, CSV, or HTML formats. All of these formats support either UNICODE or UTF8 for international characters, so poor Lisa can deliver that report to her boss without a problem.

Space allows us to just mention just a few of this browser's other valuable features: Schema Viewer, Favorites (to save directory entries that you use often), LDIF Export, detailed help documents, Software Version Update Checker, Access the Server Monitor (if supported), Viewers for X.509 Certificates, JPEG Photo, and Audio. Overall, Softerra is a powerful and popular directory browser that will continue to be enhanced in future releases.

Continued on Page 3: CodeMerc LDAP Search/LDAP Director

This article was originally published on Apr 20, 2004
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