RFC 2254







Network Working Group                                          T. Howes
Request for Comments: 2254                Netscape Communications Corp.
Category: Standards Track                                 December 1997


            The String Representation of LDAP Search Filters

1. Status of this Memo

   This document specifies an Internet standards track protocol for the
   Internet community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
   improvements.  Please refer to the current edition of the "Internet
   Official Protocol Standards" (STD 1) for the standardization state
   and status of this protocol.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1997).  All Rights Reserved.

IESG Note

   This document describes a directory access protocol that provides
   both read and update access.  Update access requires secure
   authentication, but this document does not mandate implementation of
   any satisfactory authentication mechanisms.

   In accordance with RFC 2026, section 4.4.1, this specification is
   being approved by IESG as a Proposed Standard despite this
   limitation, for the following reasons:

   a. to encourage implementation and interoperability testing of
      these protocols (with or without update access) before they
      are deployed, and

   b. to encourage deployment and use of these protocols in read-only
      applications.  (e.g. applications where LDAPv3 is used as
      a query language for directories which are updated by some
      secure mechanism other than LDAP), and

   c. to avoid delaying the advancement and deployment of other Internet
      standards-track protocols which require the ability to query, but
      not update, LDAPv3 directory servers.









Howes                       Standards Track                     [Page 1]

RFC 2254 String Representation of LDAP December 1997 Readers are hereby warned that until mandatory authentication mechanisms are standardized, clients and servers written according to this specification which make use of update functionality are UNLIKELY TO INTEROPERATE, or MAY INTEROPERATE ONLY IF AUTHENTICATION IS REDUCED TO AN UNACCEPTABLY WEAK LEVEL. Implementors are hereby discouraged from deploying LDAPv3 clients or servers which implement the update functionality, until a Proposed Standard for mandatory authentication in LDAPv3 has been approved and published as an RFC. 2. Abstract The Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) [1] defines a network representation of a search filter transmitted to an LDAP server. Some applications may find it useful to have a common way of representing these search filters in a human-readable form. This document defines a human-readable string format for representing LDAP search filters. This document replaces RFC 1960, extending the string LDAP filter definition to include support for LDAP version 3 extended match filters, and including support for representing the full range of possible LDAP search filters. Howes Standards Track [Page 2]
RFC 2254 String Representation of LDAP December 1997 3. LDAP Search Filter Definition An LDAPv3 search filter is defined in Section 4.5.1 of [1] as follows: Filter ::= CHOICE { and [0] SET OF Filter, or [1] SET OF Filter, not [2] Filter, equalityMatch [3] AttributeValueAssertion, substrings [4] SubstringFilter, greaterOrEqual [5] AttributeValueAssertion, lessOrEqual [6] AttributeValueAssertion, present [7] AttributeDescription, approxMatch [8] AttributeValueAssertion, extensibleMatch [9] MatchingRuleAssertion } SubstringFilter ::= SEQUENCE { type AttributeDescription, SEQUENCE OF CHOICE { initial [0] LDAPString, any [1] LDAPString, final [2] LDAPString } } AttributeValueAssertion ::= SEQUENCE { attributeDesc AttributeDescription, attributeValue AttributeValue } MatchingRuleAssertion ::= SEQUENCE { matchingRule [1] MatchingRuleID OPTIONAL, type [2] AttributeDescription OPTIONAL, matchValue [3] AssertionValue, dnAttributes [4] BOOLEAN DEFAULT FALSE } AttributeDescription ::= LDAPString AttributeValue ::= OCTET STRING MatchingRuleID ::= LDAPString AssertionValue ::= OCTET STRING LDAPString ::= OCTET STRING Howes Standards Track [Page 3]
RFC 2254 String Representation of LDAP December 1997 where the LDAPString above is limited to the UTF-8 encoding of the ISO 10646 character set [4]. The AttributeDescription is a string representation of the attribute description and is defined in [1]. The AttributeValue and AssertionValue OCTET STRING have the form defined in [2]. The Filter is encoded for transmission over a network using the Basic Encoding Rules defined in [3], with simplifications described in [1]. 4. String Search Filter Definition The string representation of an LDAP search filter is defined by the following grammar, following the ABNF notation defined in [5]. The filter format uses a prefix notation. filter = "(" filtercomp ")" filtercomp = and / or / not / item and = "&" filterlist or = "|" filterlist not = "!" filter filterlist = 1*filter item = simple / present / substring / extensible simple = attr filtertype value filtertype = equal / approx / greater / less equal = "=" approx = "~=" greater = ">=" less = "<=" extensible = attr [":dn"] [":" matchingrule] ":=" value / [":dn"] ":" matchingrule ":=" value present = attr "=*" substring = attr "=" [initial] any [final] initial = value any = "*" *(value "*") final = value attr = AttributeDescription from Section 4.1.5 of [1] matchingrule = MatchingRuleId from Section 4.1.9 of [1] value = AttributeValue from Section 4.1.6 of [1] The attr, matchingrule, and value constructs are as described in the corresponding section of [1] given above. Howes Standards Track [Page 4]
RFC 2254 String Representation of LDAP December 1997 If a value should contain any of the following characters Character ASCII value --------------------------- * 0x2a ( 0x28 ) 0x29 \ 0x5c NUL 0x00 the character must be encoded as the backslash '\' character (ASCII 0x5c) followed by the two hexadecimal digits representing the ASCII value of the encoded character. The case of the two hexadecimal digits is not significant. This simple escaping mechanism eliminates filter-parsing ambiguities and allows any filter that can be represented in LDAP to be represented as a NUL-terminated string. Other characters besides the ones listed above may be escaped using this mechanism, for example, non-printing characters. For example, the filter checking whether the "cn" attribute contained a value with the character "*" anywhere in it would be represented as "(cn=*\2a*)". Note that although both the substring and present productions in the grammar above can produce the "attr=*" construct, this construct is used only to denote a presence filter. 5. Examples This section gives a few examples of search filters written using this notation. (cn=Babs Jensen) (!(cn=Tim Howes)) (&(objectClass=Person)(|(sn=Jensen)(cn=Babs J*))) (o=univ*of*mich*) The following examples illustrate the use of extensible matching. (cn:1.2.3.4.5:=Fred Flintstone) (sn:dn:2.4.6.8.10:=Barney Rubble) (o:dn:=Ace Industry) (:dn:2.4.6.8.10:=Dino) Howes Standards Track [Page 5]
RFC 2254 String Representation of LDAP December 1997 The second example illustrates the use of the ":dn" notation to indicate that matching rule "2.4.6.8.10" should be used when making comparisons, and that the attributes of an entry's distinguished name should be considered part of the entry when evaluating the match. The third example denotes an equality match, except that DN components should be considered part of the entry when doing the match. The fourth example is a filter that should be applied to any attribute supporting the matching rule given (since the attr has been left off). Attributes supporting the matching rule contained in the DN should also be considered. The following examples illustrate the use of the escaping mechanism. (o=Parens R Us \28for all your parenthetical needs\29) (cn=*\2A*) (filename=C:\5cMyFile) (bin=\00\00\00\04) (sn=Lu\c4\8di\c4\87) The first example shows the use of the escaping mechanism to represent parenthesis characters. The second shows how to represent a "*" in a value, preventing it from being interpreted as a substring indicator. The third illustrates the escaping of the backslash character. The fourth example shows a filter searching for the four-byte value 0x00000004, illustrating the use of the escaping mechanism to represent arbitrary data, including NUL characters. The final example illustrates the use of the escaping mechanism to represent various non-ASCII UTF-8 characters. 6. Security Considerations This memo describes a string representation of LDAP search filters. While the representation itself has no known security implications, LDAP search filters do. They are interpreted by LDAP servers to select entries from which data is retrieved. LDAP servers should take care to protect the data they maintain from unauthorized access. Howes Standards Track [Page 6]
RFC 2254 String Representation of LDAP December 1997 7. References [1] Wahl, M., Howes, T., and S. Kille, "Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (v3)", RFC 2251, December 1997. [2] Wahl, M., Coulbeck, A., Howes, T., and S. Kille, "Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (v3): Attribute Syntax Definitions", RFC 2252, December 1997. [3] Specification of ASN.1 encoding rules: Basic, Canonical, and Distinguished Encoding Rules, ITU-T Recommendation X.690, 1994. [4] Yergeau, F., "UTF-8, a transformation format of Unicode and ISO 10646", RFC 2044, October 1996. [5] Crocker, D., "Standard for the Format of ARPA Internet Text Messages", STD 11, RFC 822, August 1982. 8. Author's Address Tim Howes Netscape Communications Corp. 501 E. Middlefield Road Mountain View, CA 94043 USA Phone: +1 415 937-3419 EMail: howes@netscape.com Howes Standards Track [Page 7]
RFC 2254 String Representation of LDAP December 1997 9. Full Copyright Statement Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1997). All Rights Reserved. This document and translations of it may be copied and furnished to others, and derivative works that comment on or otherwise explain it or assist in its implementation may be prepared, copied, published and distributed, in whole or in part, without restriction of any kind, provided that the above copyright notice and this paragraph are included on all such copies and derivative works. However, this document itself may not be modified in any way, such as by removing the copyright notice or references to the Internet Society or other Internet organizations, except as needed for the purpose of developing Internet standards in which case the procedures for copyrights defined in the Internet Standards process must be followed, or as required to translate it into languages other than English. The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be revoked by the Internet Society or its successors or assigns. This document and the information contained herein is provided on an "AS IS" basis and THE INTERNET SOCIETY AND THE INTERNET ENGINEERING TASK FORCE DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO ANY WARRANTY THAT THE USE OF THE INFORMATION HEREIN WILL NOT INFRINGE ANY RIGHTS OR ANY IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. Howes Standards Track [Page 8]

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