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<What is LDAP? ⁄ >

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LDAP is a lightweight protocol for accessing directory servers. Okay, so what is a directory server? It's a hierarchical object orientated database. If that makes you want to run away screaming, don't worry, it'll get worse before it gets better.

Only joking. This guide should make learning LDAP easy. Let's go through that description bit by bit, starting at the end. It's a database, which means we can store data in it. If you've used relational databases, like mysql, then it won't look like anything you're used to, but like a relational database, it allows you to store your data in a user defined structural way.

The second part of our description was object orientated. In LDAP our database is a collection of objects. Like in OO programming, objects are instances of a particular class. A class defines the set of attributes that an object may contain. Classes can inherit from other classes to add additional attributes. LDAP has some differences from the usual OO semantics, which will be explained in the next section.

The final part of our description was hierarchical. Every object in LDAP can contain one or more sub-objects. The result is a tree with the trunk being the root of the directory and the branches and leaves being the objects in the directory. In this way we can build up our database into an easy to navigate, structured database.

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