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Versions: 00 01 02 RFC 2891

Network Working Group                             A. Herron, Microsoft
INTERNET DRAFT                                      T. Howes, Netscape
Expire in six months                       M. Wahl, Critical Angle Inc
                                                   C.Weider, Microsoft
                                                 A. Anantha, Microsoft
                                                        August 7, 1998

   LDAP Control Extension for Server Side Sorting of Search Results
               draft-ietf-ldapext-sorting-01.txt


1.  Status of this Memo

This document is an Internet-Draft.  Internet-Drafts are  working docu-
ments  of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), its areas, and its
working groups.  Note that other  groups  may  also  distribute working
documents as Internet-Drafts.

Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum  of  six months
and  may  be  updated,  replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet- Drafts as reference material
or to cite them other than as ``work in progress.''

To learn the current status of  any  Internet-Draft,  please  check the
``1id-abstracts.txt''  listing  contained in the Internet- Drafts Shadow
Directories on ftp.ietf.org (US East Coast), nic.nordu.net (Europe),
ftp.isi.edu (US West Coast), or munnari.oz.au (Pacific Rim).

This document expires on February 7, 1999.

2.  Abstract

This  document  describes two LDAPv3 control extensions for  server side
sorting of search results. These controls allows a client to specify the
attribute types and  matching rules a  server should  use when returning
the results to an LDAP search request.  The controls may be useful when
the  LDAP client  has limited  functionality or  for some  other reason
cannot sort the results  but still needs them sorted.  Other permissible
controls on search operations are not defined in this extension.

The sort controls allow a server to return a result code for the sorting
of the results  that is independent  of the result code returned for the
search operation.

The key words "MUST", "SHOULD", and "MAY" used in this document are to
be interpreted as described in [bradner97].

3.  The Controls

3.1 Request Control

This control is  included in  the searchRequest  message as  part of the
controls  field  of the  LDAPMessage, as  defined in  Section  4.1.12 of
[LDAPv3].

The controlType is set to "1.2.840.113556.1.4.473". The criticality
MAY be either TRUE or FALSE (where absent is also equivalent to
FALSE) at the client's option.  The controlValue is an OCTET STRING,
whose value is the BER encoding of a value of the following SEQUENCE:

     SortKeyList ::= SEQUENCE OF SEQUENCE {
                attributeType   AttributeDescription,
                orderingRule    [0] MatchingRuleId OPTIONAL,
                reverseOrder    [1] BOOLEAN DEFAULT FALSE }

The SortKeyList sequence is in order of highest to lowest sort key
precedence.

The MatchingRuleID SHOULD be one that is valid for the attribute type
it applies to. If it is not, the server MUST return unwillingToPerform.

Each attributeType should only  occur in the  SortKeyList  once.  If an
attributeType is included in  the sort  key list  multiple  times,  the
server should return an error in the sortResult of unwillingToPerform.

If the orderingRule is omitted, the ordering MatchingRule defined for use
with this attribute MUST be used.

Any conformant implementation of this control MUST allow a sort key
list with at least one key.

3.2 Response Control

This control is included in the searchResultDone message as part of the
controls  field  of the  LDAPMessage, as  defined in Section  4.1.12 of
[LDAPv3].

The controlType is set to "1.2.840.113556.1.4.474". The criticality is
FALSE (MAY be absent).  The controlValue is an OCTET STRING, whose
value is the BER encoding of a value of the following SEQUENCE:

     SortResult ::= SEQUENCE {
        sortResult  ENUMERATED {
            success                   (0), -- results are sorted
            operationsError           (1), -- server internal failure
            timeLimitExceeded         (3), -- timelimit reached before
                                           -- sorting was completed
            strongAuthRequired        (8), -- refused to return sorted
                                           -- results via insecure
                                           -- protocol
            adminLimitExceeded       (11), -- too many matching entries
                                           -- for the server to sort
            noSuchAttribute          (16), -- unrecognized attribute
                                           -- type in sort key
            inappropriateMatching    (18), -- unrecognized or inappro-
                                           -- priate matching rule in
                                           -- sort key
            insufficientAccessRights (50), -- refused to return sorted
                                           -- results to this client
            busy                     (51), -- too busy to process
            unwillingToPerform       (53), -- unable to sort
            other                    (80)
            },
      attributeType [0] AttributeType OPTIONAL }

4.  Client-Server Interaction

The  sortKeyRequestControl  specifies one  or more  attribute types and
matching rules for the results returned by a search request. The server
SHOULD return all results for the search request in the order specified
by the sort keys.  If the  reverseOrder field is set  to TRUE, then the
entries will  be presented in  reverse sorted  order for  the specified
key.

There are six possible scenarios that may occur as a result of the sort
control being included on the search request :

1 - If the server does not support this sorting control and the client
specified TRUE for the control's criticality field, then the server
MUST return unavailableCriticalExtension as a return code in the
searchResultDone message and not send back any other results.  This
behavior is specified in section 4.1.12 of [LDAPv3].

2 - If the server does not support this sorting control and the client
specified FALSE for the control's criticality field, then the server
MUST ignore the sort control and process the search request as if it
were not present.  This behavior is specified in section 4.1.12 of
[LDAPv3].

3 - If the server supports this sorting control but for some reason
cannot sort the search results using the specified sort keys and the
client specified TRUE for the control's criticality field, then the
server SHOULD do the following: return unavailableCriticalExtension as
a return code in the searchResultDone message; include the
sortKeyResponseControl in the searchResultDone message, and not send
back any search result entries.

4 - If the server supports this sorting control but for some reason
cannot sort the search results using the specified sort keys and the
client specified FALSE for the control's criticality field, then the
server should return all search results unsorted and include the
sortKeyResponseControl in the searchResultDone message.

5 - If the server supports this sorting control and can sort the search
results using the specified sort keys, then it should include the
sortKeyResponseControl in the searchResultDone message with a
sortResult of success.

6 - If the search request failed for any reason and/or there are no
searchResultEntry messages returned for the search response, then the
server SHOULD omit the sortKeyResponseControl from the
searchResultDone message.

The client application is assured that the results are sorted in the
specified key order if and only if the result code in the
sortKeyResponseControl is success.  If the server omits the
sortKeyResponseControl from the searchResultDone message, the client
SHOULD assume that the sort control was ignored by the server.

The sortKeyResponseControl, if included by the server in the
searchResultDone message, should have the sortResult set to either
success if the results were sorted in accordance with the keys
specified
in the sortKeyRequestControl or set to the appropriate error code as
to why it could not sort the data (such as noSuchAttribute or
inappropriateMatching).  Optionally, the server MAY set the
attributeType to the first attribute type specified in the SortKeyList
that was in error.  The client SHOULD ignore the attributeType field if
the sortResult is success.

The server may not be able to sort the results using the specified sort
keys because it may not recognize one of the attribute types, the
matching rule associated with an attribute type is not applicable, or
none of the attributes in the search response are of these types.
Servers may also restrict the number of keys allowed in the control,
such as only supporting a single key.

Servers that chain requests to other LDAP servers should ensure that
the server satisfying the client's request sort the entire result set
prior to sending back the results.

4.1 Behavior in a chained environment

If a server receives a sort request, the client expects to receive a
set of sorted results. If a client submits a sort request to a server
which chains the request and gets entries from multiple servers, and
the client has set the criticality of the sort extension to TRUE, the
server MUST merge sort the results before returning them to the client
or MUST return unwillingToPerform.

4.2 Other sort issues

An entry that meets the search criteria may be missing one or more of
the sort keys. In that case, the entry is considered to have a value of
NULL for that key. This standard considers NULL to be a larger value
than all other valid values for that key. For example, if only one key
is specified, entries which meet the search criteria but do not have
that key collate after all the entries which do have that key. If the
reverseOrder flag is set, and only one key is specified, entries which
meet the search criteria but do not have that key collate BEFORE all
the entries which do have that key.

If a sort key is a multi-valued attribute, and an entry happens to have
multiple values for that attribute, this standard does not specify
which of those values should be considered as the key.

5.  Interaction with other search controls

When the sortKeyRequestControl control is included with the
pagedResultsControl control as specified in [LdapPaged], then the
server should send the searchResultEntry messages sorted according to
the sort keys applied to the entire result set.  The server should not
simply sort each page, as this will give erroneous results to the
client.

The sortKeyList must be present on each searchRequest message for the
paged result.  It also must not change between searchRequests for the
same result set.  If the server has sorted the data, then it SHOULD
send back a sortKeyResponseControl control on every searchResultDone
message for each page.  This will allow clients to quickly determine
if the result set is sorted, rather than waiting to receive the entire
result set.


6.  Security Considerations

Implementors and administrators should be aware that allowing sorting
of results could enable the retrieval of a large number of records from
a given directory service, irregardless of administrative limits set on
the maximum number of records to return.

A client that desired to pull all records out of a directory service
could use a combination of sorting and updating of search filters to
retrieve all records in a database in small result sets, thus
circumventing administrative limits.

This behavior can be overcome by the judicious use of permissions on
the directory entries by the administrator and by intelligent
implementations of administrative limits on the number of records
retrieved by a client.


7.  References

[LDAPv3]
     Wahl, M, S. Kille and T. Howes, "Lightweight Directory Access
Pro-
     tocol  (v3)",  RFC 2251, December, 1997.

[Bradner97]
     Bradner, Scott, "Key Words for use in RFCs to Indicate
Requirement
     Levels",   RFC 2119,  March,  1997.

[LdapPaged]
    C. Weider, A. Herron, and T. Howes, "LDAP Control Extension for
    Simple Paged Results Manipulation", Internet Draft, February, 1997.
    Available as draft-ietf-asid-ldapv3-simplepaged-00.txt.


8.  Author's Address

   Anoop Anantha
   Microsoft Corp.
   1 Microsoft Way
   Redmond, WA 98052
   USA
   Anoopa@microsoft.com
   +1 425 882-8080

   Andy Herron
   Microsoft Corp.
   1 Microsoft Way
   Redmond, WA 98052
   USA
   andyhe@microsoft.com
   +1 425 882-8080

   Tim Howes
   Netscape Communications Corp.
   501 E. Middlefield Road
   Mountain View, CA 94043
   USA
   howes@netscape.com
   +1 415 937-2600

   Mark Wahl
   Critical Angle Inc.
   4815 W Braker Lane #502-385
   Austin, TX 78759
   USA
   M.Wahl@critical-angle.com

   Chris Weider
   Microsoft Corp.
   1 Microsoft Way
   Redmond, WA 98052
   USA
   Cweider@microsoft.com
   +1 425 882-8080


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