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Overview of the LDAP C API

by Timothy A. Howes, Ph.D., and Mark C. Smith - May 30, 2000

Overview of the

Synopsis and Objectives


The Core LDAP Functions


Typical Use of the LDAP Library


Synchronous Versus Asynchronous Use of the LDAP C API


The Core LDAP Functions

One way to categorize the LDAP C API is by separating the functions that are used to initiate LDAP protocol operations and to receive results over the network from those that do other things. It may surprise you to learn that relatively few of the LDAP C API calls actually send or receive data over the network. Those functions that do include the following:




Searches for directory entries


Sees if an entry contains a given attribute value


Authenticates (proves your identity) to a directory server


Terminates an LDAP session


Makes changes to an existing directory entry


Adds a new directory entry


Deletes an existing directory entry


Renames an existing directory entry


Retrieves the result(s) of one of the previous operations

These functions map almost one to one onto the operations that are supported in LDAP itself and are therefore the heart of the LDAP C API. However, you will need to surround calls to these functions with a variety of other calls that are used to interpret errors, pull information out of the entries returned from a search, prepare lists of changes to be performed during a modify operation, and other essential tasks. It is safe to say, though, that nearly all source code that makes use of LDAP will call one or more of the previously mentioned functions.

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