LDAP/Directory Server Standards and Specifications

One of the great things about LDAP is that it's a very standards-based protocol. All LDAP clients and servers speak the same language, and as long as they stick to the published standards then it doesn't matter what API the client is using or which server it's talking to. Compare that with relational databases and SQL. Every vendor has their own flavor of SQL and uses a different mechanism for talking to the database. You can't swap out one relational database for another and expect all of your applications to continue working as if nothing had happened. This is much more possible with LDAP.

Virtually everything that you need to know about LDAP (especially LDAPv3) is publicly available in the form of either RFCs or Internet Drafts. However, this information is not always as easy to find as it should be. There are thousands of RFCs covering all kinds of technologies, and it's not all that simple to figure out which ones are related to LDAP or directory technologies. It's even harder with Internet Drafts because they are in flux, and drafts are designed to expire within six months of being published. When they expire, the IETF deletes them from their site so they can be really hard to find. Each revision of a draft is numbered, so in some cases you can just try incrementing the number to see if there is a newer version, but if a draft has stalled and no new revision is available then you can be out of luck.

Since it's obviously pretty important to keep up to date on all of these specifications when you're developing a directory server, we have compiled our own collection of the various RFCs and Internet Drafts that are related to directory technologies. Since OpenDS is now public, we have all of these specifications in the documentation section of the project site at https://opends.dev.java.net/public/standards/index.html. What's also handy about this list is that it indicates whether we intend to support each of these specifications in OpenDS at some point, as well as whether it is already in place.

I should point out that the specifications we currently have marked "No" doesn't mean that's the final word on the matter. We're open to suggestion, and if you can provide a convincing argument as to why you think that we should support something that's currently marked "no", then we can reconsider it. The best way to voice your opinion on things like this is by sending a message to one of our mailing lists. The users@opends.dev.java.net list is a good one for these kinds of topics. Note that if you do intend to post to the lists, then it's easiest if you subscribe first, since posts from non-subscribers will be subject to moderation, and you may not necessarily see all of the replies since the reply-to address will automatically be set to the address of the mailing list.

This list of specifications is an ongoing work, as we try to keep it up to date as new documents are published (or new revisions of existing drafts). If you know of any specifications that aren't included on this list then please let us know.

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