LDAP : Relationship Mapping by Attribute

Another way to model relationships between LDAP entries is to use attribute matching. This means two entries have the same attribute values. An example of this type of relationship is used by posixGroup and posixAccount object classes were posixGroup.memberUid points to posicAccount.uid.

We just describe 1-N relationship mapping here and distinguish between unidirectional and bidirectional relationships. The metadata for 1-1, N-1 and M-N relationship mapping looks identical, the only difference is whether single-valued or multi-valued attributes are used in LDAP to store the relationships.

1-N Unidirectional

We use the following example LDAP tree and Java classes:

dc=example,dc=com                                       public class Department {
|                                                           String name;
|-- ou=Departments                                          Set<Employee> employees;
|   |-- ou=Sales                                        }
|   |-- ou=Engineering                                  
|   |-- ...                                             public class Employee {
|                                                           String firstName;
|-- ou=Employees                                            String lastName;
|   |-- uid=bbunny                                          String fullName;
|   |-- uid=dduck                                           String uid;
|   |-- uid=sgonzales                                   }
|   |-- ...                                             

We have a flat LDAP tree with one container for all the departments and one container for all the employees. We have two Java classes, Department and Employee . The Department class contains a Collection of type Employee . The Employee knows nothing about the Department it belongs to.

There are 2 ways that we can persist this relationship in LDAP because the reference could be stored at the one or at the other LDAP entry.

Owner Object Side

One way is to store the reference at the owner object side, in our case at the department entry. This is possible since LDAP allows multi-valued attributes. The example department entry looks like this:

dn: ou=Sales,ou=Departments,dc=example,dc=com
objectClass: top
objectClass: organizationalUnit
objectClass: extensibleObject
ou: Sales
memberUid: bbunny
memberUid: dduck

Our JDO metadata looks like this:

<jdo>
    <package name="com.example">
        <class name="Department" table="ou=Departments,dc=example,dc=com" schema="top,organizationalUnit,extensibleObject">
            <field name="name" primary-key="true" column="ou" />
            <field name="employees" column="memberUid">
                <join column="uid" />
            </field>
        </class>
        <class name="Employee" table="ou=Employees,dc=example,dc=com" schema="top,person,organizationalPerson,inetOrgPerson">
        
            <field name="fullName" primary-key="true column="cn" />
            <field name="firstName" column="givenName" />
            <field name="lastName" column="sn" />
            <field name="uid" column="uid" />
        </class>
    </package>
</jdo>

So we define that the attribute memberUid at the department entry should be used to persist the relationship of field employees

The important thing here is the <join> tag and its column . Firstly it signals DataNucleus to use attribute mapping. Secondly it specifies the attribute at the other side that should be used for relationship mapping. In our case, when we establish a relationship between a Department and an Employee , the uid value of the employee entry is stored in the memberUid attribute of the department entry.

Non-Owner Object Side

Another possible way is to store the reference at the non-owner object side, in our case at the employee entry. The example employee entry looks like this:

dn: uid=bbunny,ou=Employees,dc=example,dc=com
objectClass: top
objectClass: person
objectClass: organizationalPerson
objectClass: inetOrgPerson
uid: bbunny
cn: Bugs Bunny
givenName: Bugs
sn: Bunny
departmentNumber: Sales

Our JDO metadata looks like this:

<jdo>
    <package name="com.example">
        <class name="Department" table="ou=Departments,dc=example,dc=com" schema="top,organizationalUnit">
            <field name="name" primary-key="true" column="ou" />
            <field name="employees">
                <element column="departmentNumber" />
                <join column="ou" />
            </field>
        </class>
        <class name="Employee" table="ou=Employees,dc=example,dc=com" schema="top,person,organizationalPerson,inetOrgPerson">
            <field name="fullName" primary-key="true column="cn" />
            <field name="firstName" column="givenName" />
            <field name="lastName" column="sn" />
            <field name="uid" column="uid" />
        </class>
    </package>
</jdo>

We need to define the relationship at the department metadata because the employee doesn't know about the department it belongs to.

With the <element> tag we specify that the relationship should be persisted at the other side and the column attribute defines the LDAP attribute to use. In this case the relationship is persisted in the departmentNumber attribute at the employee entry.

The important thing here is the <join> tag and its column . As before it signals DataNucleus to use attribute mapping. Now, as the relation is persisted at the other side, it specifies the attribute at this side that should be used for relationship mapping. In our case, when we establish a relationship between a Department and an Employee , the ou value of the department entry is stored in the departmentNumber attribute of the employee entry.

1-N Bidirectional

We use the following example LDAP tree and Java classes:

dc=example,dc=com                                       public class Department {
|                                                           String name;
|-- ou=Departments                                          Set<Employee> employees;
|   |-- ou=Sales                                        }
|   |-- ou=Engineering                                  
|   |-- ...                                             public class Employee {
|                                                           String firstName;
|-- ou=Employees                                            String lastName;
|   |-- uid=bbunny                                          String fullName;
|   |-- uid=dduck                                           String uid;
|   |-- uid=sgonzales                                       Department department;
|   |-- ...                                             }

We have a flat LDAP tree with one container for all the departments and one container for all the employees. We have two Java classes, Department and Employee . The Department class contains a Collection of type Employee . Now each Employee has a reference to its Department .

It is possible to persist this relationship on both sides.

dn: uid=bbunny,ou=Employees,dc=example,dc=com
objectClass: top
objectClass: person
objectClass: organizationalPerson
objectClass: inetOrgPerson
uid: bbunny
cn: Bugs Bunny
givenName: Bugs
sn: Bunny
departmentNumber: Sales
<jdo>
    <package name="com.example">
        <class name="Department" table="ou=Departments,dc=example,dc=com" schema="top,organizationalUnit">
            <field name="name" primary-key="true" column="ou" />
            <field name="employees" mapped-by="department" />
        </class>
        <class name="Employee" table="ou=Employees,dc=example,dc=com" schema="top,person,organizationalPerson,inetOrgPerson">
            <field name="fullName" primary-key="true column="cn" />
            <field name="firstName" column="givenName" />
            <field name="lastName" column="sn" />
            <field name="uid" column="uid" />
            <field name="department" column="departmentNumber">
                <join column="ou" />
            </field>
        </class>
    </package>
</jdo>

In this case we store the relation at the employee entry side in a single-valued attribute departmentNumber . With the <join> tag and its column we specify that the ou value of the department entry should be used as join value. Also note that employee field of Department is mapped-by the department field of the Employee .