[ldapdata] LDAP Newsletter 9-04-2004 (JXplorer)

  • From: Hallett German <alessea@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: ldapdata@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 10 Sep 2004 02:47:04 -0400

Hallett German
Alessea Software
URL: http://www.alessea.com
RSS: http://www.alessea.com/feed.xml


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Topics:  LDAP Browser Interviews: Introduction and JXplorer

Issue Contents:

* LDAP Browser Interviews: Introduction
* LDAP Browsers Interviews: Chris Betts -- JXplorer
* Articles and Comments Welcome
This newsletter is sponsored by Alessea Consulting.

Business/IT Services for small and medium businesses. Specializing in
network identity, project management, and business development. Visit
us and read more about the Alessea difference.

URL: http://www.alessea.com
RSS: http://www.alessea.com/feed.xml
By Hallett German

Topic: LDAP Browser: Interviews

Recently, your newsletter staff submitted a series of questions to
all known MS Windows developers of LDAP Browser software. (Cygsoft,
and CodeMerc were unable to be reached. We would love to include you
as well!)These questions concerned product origin, development
process, next product release, and more. Answers are printed here
without revision except for minor changes. A few editors' notes are
added for clarification.

You can find the complete list of questions here:

Topic: LDAP Browser Interviews: Chris Betts -- JXplorer

        Chris Betts is the creator of JXplorer, which is a powerful LDAP
Browser. You can learn more about the product at
http://www.pegacat.com/jxplorer/ and more about Chris at
The smileys and the subject's enthusiasm below were left intact.

Note: JXplorer still ships with Computer Associates eTrust Directory,
however the version numbers are artificially synchronized with that
product. The next version is therefore '8.1',which is equivalent to
open source '3.1b1'.

Q1. Why did you decide to create "yet" another LDAP directory browser
when so many already exist?

A.I started work on JXplorer in 1999 - at that time there were only
a few browsers available (open source or not) and all were limited
or not user-friendly.  The main aim then was to create a schema-aware
browser to accompany Computer Associates 'eTrust Directory'.  It was
only some years later (2002) that I was able to convince them to open
source the browser.

Q2. What is your process for deciding which features to include in
future releases of your browser?
Q3.How are these future release features captured? (e.g. User
suggestions, employee input, bug tracking software:)

Initially (and still to some extent) commercial pressures drive the
core features. After that it's what I would enjoy implementing, and
what people donate. Someone has just donated GSSAPI/Kerberos support
for instance. People do add suggestions to the public SourceForge
site, but the fastest way to get the additions you want is to
implement them
yourself and send me a patch :-).

Q4a. Against what "checklist" did you use to see if your
browser was LDAP-standard compliant? How do you track changes in the
LDAP standard?  How much time does your company spend doing this?

A. A combination of reading the X.500 & LDAP standards, and a lot of
Quality Assurance (QA) and practical interoperability testing with the
commercial directory and other directories.  The company does a lot
of testing every commercial release cycle, and of course there are
some automated
tests in the nightly build.

Q5.  Do you plan to continue upgrading the product for the near

A. Yes, but I'm relying more and more on user submissions, as my
commercial work is now focused on web services security. I'm afraid
JXplorer development has slowed down a lot since the arrival of the
baby... He types very enthusiastically but he doesn't comment his code
and his unit tests are rubbish.

Q6.  What are some of the features to be included in the next major

A. The next release (3.1) is a relatively minor release; a bunch
of bug fixes and some security 'nice to haves' (pre-encrypted
passwords, Kerberos, and some SSL enhancements).

[Update from Chris:
I've put the JXplorer 3.1 release candidate up on sourceforge
(sourceforge.net/projects/jxplorer) - if it checks out and
there are not serious errors it will become the formal 3.1
release mid September and I'll do the proper install anywhere

Q7. What lesser-known LDAP browser feature would your users might
find helpful?

A. I find you can do an awful lot with LDIF import/export.  You can
even use JXplorer to view and edit LDIF files offline which can be
useful. I briefly thought of writing searching for offline LDIF files,
but then realized the work would be the equivalent of writing my
own directory server :-)

Q8. Do you plan to add an API so users can customize the product?
If you have/had an API, what types of things do/might customers
use it for?

A. There is already an extensive API for customization - in order of
increasing complexity:
a) Users can customize the HTML templates or create their own with
their own branding.
b) Users can change the icons used for displaying different object
c) Users can add their own language translation files.
d) Users can write their own Java 'attribute editor' code for non-
string attributes, keyed to different attribute classes, using a
runtime plug-in architecture.
(E.g. if you add your own schema attribute class 'CADblueprint'
you can write a special purpose pop up editor for just that attribute)
e) Users can write their own java 'entry editor' code for arbitrary
object classes, using a similar runtime plug-in architecture.
f) In theory, the JXplorer architecture is reasonably componentized,
and can be extended to other non-LDAP protocols; e.g. LDIF and DSML.

Q9.  Which LDAP Director Servers have you tested against?

A.Primarily our own; Computer Associates' eTrust Directory server.
But we also do interoperability testing with Novell, Sun One and
Active Directory (Although we tend to have trouble occasionally with
Active Directory).I forgot to mention that of course we also test
against OpenLdap's Slapd server.

Q10.  Describe your testing process (e.g. software used, process,
tracking, etc)

A. We use JUnit for unit testing, a custom LDAP test harness
for system testing, manual testing for the GUI, and an in-house
process and bug tracking system.  The SourceForge bug track
and user email lists are used as an adjunct, And good suggestions
from those get fed back into the in-house system.

Q11.  What are some of the extremes that you have tested for (longest
search, etc)

A. Unfortunately JXplorer has a fairly heavy GUI, so it doesn't work
well for large returned data sets.  The optional GUI for assembling
LDAP filters can create extrenally complex searches, but over
a few thousand returned entries and JXplorer really starts to churn...
I really should implement paged results :-)  In the meantime the
emphasis has been usability - although this means we take a massive
speed hit by downloading the schema every connection.

12.  Was there a question that you wished that was asked?
What was the answer that you would had given?

A. Who else would you like to thank for helping write this?  And the
answer of course is primarily Trudi Ersvaer who has done a lot of
tricky programming on the code base, Jason Paul who helped with the
build system and some dev work, Van Bui for the first cut of a lot
of the
security work, the hard working QA guys, and all the other open
source contributors who have given us code submissions, bug reports,
language files and encouragement :-).

Topic: Articles and Comments Welcome

I welcome 100-800 word articles for inclusion in future issues.
Vendors and LDAP data administrators are particularly welcome. Of
course, you receive full credit and ownership of your article. Thanks
in advance for your help.

Please feel free to comment on how useful it was and what
you would like to see in the future.
Contact me at hallett.german@xxxxxxxxxxxx
About Hal German

Hallett German has 20 years experience in a variety of IT positions
and in implementing stable infrastructures. This includes
directories/messaging architecture, deskstop support, and IT
Hal is the founder of the Northeast SAS Users Group and former
President of the REXX Language Association.  He is the author of
three books on scripting languages. Periodically, he writes articles
on various business and IT topics.

Contacting Hal German/Past Issues

Mail: hallett.german@xxxxxxxxxxx

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Copyright Alessea Consulting 2004

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