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Versions: 05 rfc1384                                                    
Network Working                    P. Barker and S.E. Hardcastle-Kille
Group                                        University College London
INTERNET-DRAFT                                              April 1992

                Naming Guidelines for Directory Pilots

Status of this Memo

Deployment of a Directory will benefit from following certain
guidelines.  This document defines a number of naming guidelines.
Alignment to these guidelines is recommended for directory pilots.
This draft document will be submitted to the RFC editor as an
informational document.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.
Please send comments to the authors or to the discussion group

INTERNET--DRAFT              Naming Guidelines              April 1992

1  Introduction

As a pre-requisite to this document, it is assumed that the COSINE and
Internet X.500 Schema should is followed [BHK91].

2  DIT structure

The majority of this document is concerned with DIT structure and
naming for organisations, organisational units and personal entries.
This section briefly notes three other key issues.

2.1  The top level of the DIT

The following information will be present at the top level of the DIT:

Participating Countries The entries should contain suitable values of
    the ``Friendly Country'' attribute.

International Organisations An international organisation is an
    organisation, such as the United Nations, which inherently has a
    brief and scope covering many nations.  Such organisations might
    be considered to be supra-national and this, indeed, is the
    raison-d'etre of such organisations.  Such organisations will
    almost all be governmental or quasi-governmental.
    A multi-national organisation is an organisation which operates in
    more than one country, but is not supra-national.  This
    classification includes the large commercial organisations whose
    production and sales are spread throughout a large number of
    International organisations, may be registered at the top level.
    This will not be done for multi-national organisations.  The only
    international organisation registered so far is:  Internet.  This
    is not a formal registration, but is adopted for the Internet
    Directory Service.

Localities A few localities will be registered under the root.  The
    chief purpose of these locality entries is to provide a
    ``natural'' parent node for organisations which are
    supra-national, and yet which do not have global authority in
    their particular field.  Such organisations will usually be
    governmental or quasi-governmental.  Example localities might

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    include:  Europe, Africa, West Indies.  Example organisations
    within Europe might include:  European Court of Justice, European
    Space Agency, European Commission.

DSA Information Some information on DSAs may be needed at the top
    level.  This should be kept to a minimum.

The only directory information for which there is a recognised top
level registration authority is countries.  Registration of other
information at the top level may potentially cause problems.  At this
stage, it is argued that the benefits of additional top level
registration outweighs these problems.  However, this potential
problem should be noted by anyone making use of such a registration.

2.2  The DNS within the DIT

The rules for the DNS parts of the DIT are defined in [HK91].  One
modification to this is that the DNS tree will be rooted under
``O=Internet'', rather than at the root of the DIT.

2.3  Access control

An entry's object class attribute, and any attribute(s) used for
naming an entry are of special significance and may be considered to
be ``structural''.  Any inability to access these attributes will
often militate against successful querying of the Directory.  For
example, user interfaces typically limit the scope of their searches
by searching for entries of a particular type, where the type of entry
is indicated by its object class.  Thus, unless the intention is to
bar public access to an entry or set of entries, the object class and
naming attributes should be publicly readable.

3  Naming Style

The first goal of naming is to provide unique identifiers for entries.
Once this is achieve, the next major goal in naming entries should be
to facilitate querying of the Directory.  In particular, support for a
naming structure which facilitates use of user friendly naming is
desirable.  Other considerations, such as accurately reflecting the
organisational structure of an organisation, should be disregarded if

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this has an adverse effect on normal querying.  Early experience in
the pilot has shown that a consistent approach to structure and naming
is an aid to querying using a wide range of user interfaces, as
interfaces are often optimised for DIT structures which appear
Naming is dependent on a number of factors and these are now
considered in turn.

3.1  National Guidelines

Where naming is being done in a country which has established
guidelines for naming, these guidelines should in general be followed.
These guidelines might be based on an established registration
authority, or may make use use of an existing registration mechanism
(e.g., company name registration).
Where an organisation has a name which is nationally registered in an
existing registry, this name is likely to be appropriate for use in
the Directory, even in cases where there are no national guidelines.

3.2  Structure Rules

A DIT structure is suggested in Annex B of X.521, and it is
recommended that Directory Pilots should follow a slightly modified
form of these guidelines.  The rules should be extended for handling
DNS [HK91].  Some simple restrictions should be applied, as described

For most countries pilots, the following simple structure should
suffice.  The country entry will appear immediately beneath the root
of the tree.  Organisations which have national significance should
have entries immediately beneath their respective country entries.
Smaller organisations which are only known in a particular locality
should be placed underneath locality entries representing states or
similar geographical divisions.  Large organisations will probably
need to be sub-divided by organisational units to help in the
disambiguation of entries for people with common names.  Entries for
people and roles will be stored beneath organisations or
organisational units.  An example plan evolving for the US is the work
of the North American Directory Forum [For91].
As noted above, there will be a few exceptions to this basic
structure.  International organisations will be stored immediately

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under the root of the tree.  Multi-national organisations will be
stored within the framework outlined, but with some use of aliases and
attributes such as seeAlso to help bind together the constituent parts
of these organisations.  This is discussed in more detail later.

3.3  Depth of tree

The broad recommendation is that the DIT should be as flat as
possible.  A flat tree means that Directory names will be relatively
short, and probably somewhat similar in length and component structure
to paper mail addresses.  A deep DIT would imply long Directory names,
with somewhat arbitrary component parts, with a result which it is
argued seems less natural.  Any artificiality in the choice of names
militates against successful querying.
A presumption behind this style of naming is that most querying will
be supported by the user specifying convenient strings of characters
which will be mapped onto powerful search operations.  The alternative
approach of the user browsing their way down the tree and selecting
names from large numbers of possibilities may be more appropriate in
some cases, and a deeper tree facilitates this.  However, these
guidelines recommend a shallow tree, and implicitly a search oriented
It may be considered that there are two determinants of DIT depth:
first, how far down the DIT an organisation is placed; second, the
structure of the DIT within organisations.

The structure of the upper levels of the tree will be determined in
due course by various registration authorities, and the pilot will
have to work within the given structure.  However, it is important
that the various pilots are cognisant of what the structures are
likely to be, and move early to adopt these structures.
The other principal determinant of DIT depth is whether an
organisation splits its entries over a number of organisational units,
and if so, the number of levels.  The recommendation here is that this
sub-division of organisations is kept to a minimum.  A maximum of two
levels of organisational unit should suffice even for large
organisations.  Organisations with only a few tens or hundreds of
employees should strongly consider not using organisational units at
all.  It is noted that there may be some problems with choice of
unique RDNs when using a flat DIT structure.  Multiple value RDNs can
alleviate this problem.  The standard recommends that an
organizationalUnitName attribute can also be used as a naming

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attribute to disambiguate entries.  Further disambiguation may be
achieved by the use of a personalTitle attribute in the RDN.

3.4  Organisation and Organisational Unit Names

The naming of organisations in the Directory will ultimately come
under the jurisdiction of official naming authorities.  In the
interim, it is recommended that pilots and organisations follow these
guidelines.  An organisation's RDN should usually be the full name of
the organisation, rather than just a set of initials.  This means that
University College London should be preferred over UCL. An example of
the problems which a short name might cause is given by the proposed
registration of AA for the Automobile Association.  This seems
reasonable at first glance, as the Automobile Association is well
known by this acronym.  However, it seems less reasonable in a broader
perspective when you consider organisations such as Alcoholics
Anonymous and American Airlines which use the same acronym.  Just as
initials should usually be avoided for organisational RDNs, so should
formal names which, for example, exist only on official charters and
are not generally well known.  There are two reasons for this

1.  The names should be meaningful.

2.  The names should uniquely identify the organisation, and be a name
    which is unlikely to be challenged in an open registration
    process.  For example, UCL might well be challenged by United
    Carriers Ltd.

The same arguments on naming style can be applied with even greater
force to the choice of RDNs for organisational units.  While
abbreviated names will be in common parlance within an organisation,
they will almost always be meaningless outside of that organisation.
While many people in academic computing habitually refer to CS when
thinking of Computer Science, CS may be given several different
interpretations.  It could equally be interpreted as Computing
Services, Cognitive Science, Clinical Science or even Counselling
For both organisations and organisational units, extra naming
information should be stored in the directory as alternative values of
the naming attribute.  Thus, for University College London, UCL should

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INTERNET--DRAFT              Naming Guidelines              April 1992

be stored as an alternative organizationName attribute value.
Similarly CS could be stored as an alternative organizationalUnitName
value for Computer Science and any of the other departments cited
earlier.  In general, entries will be located by searching, and so it
is not essential to have names which are either memorable or
guessable.  Minimising of typing may be achieved by use of carefully
selected alternate values.

3.5  Naming human users

A reasonably consistent approach to naming people is particularly
critical as a large percentage of directory usage will be looking up
information about people.  User interfaces will be better able to
assist users if entries have names conforming to a common format, or
small group of formats.  It is suggested that the RDN should follow
such a format.  Alternative values of the common name attribute should
be used to store extra naming information.  It seems sensible to try
to ensure that the RDN commonName value is genuinely the most common
name for a person as it is likely that user interfaces may choose to
place greater weight on matches on the RDN than on matches on one of
the alternative names.  It is proposed that pilots should ignore the
standard's recommendations on storing personal titles, and letters
indicating academic and professional qualifications within the
commonName attribute, as this overloads the commonName attribute.  A
personalTitle attribute has already been specified in the COSINE and
Internet Schema, and another attribute could be specified for
information about qualifications.
Furthermore, the common name attribute should not be used to hold
other attribute information such as telephone numbers, room numbers,
or local codes.  Such information should be stored within the
appropriate attributes as defined in the COSINE and Internet X.500
Schema.  If such attributes have to be used to disambiguate entries,
multi-valued RDNs should be used, such that other attribute(s) be used
for naming in addition to a common name.
The choice of RDN for humans will be influenced by cultural
considerations.  In many countries the best choice will be of the form
familiar-first-name surname.  Thus, Steve Hardcastle-Kille is
preferred as the RDN choice for one of this document's co-authors,
while Stephen E. Hardcastle-Kille is stored as an alternative
commonName value.  Sets of initials should not be concatenated into a
single ``word'', but be separated by spaces and/or ``.''  characters.
Pragmatic choices will have to be made for other cultures.

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3.6  Application Entities

The guidelines of X.521 should be followed, in that the application
entity should always be named relative to an Organisation or
Organisational Unit.  The application process will often correspond to
a system or host.  In this case, the application entities should be
named by Common Names which identify the service (e.g., ``FTAM
Service'').  In cases where there is no useful distinction between
application process and application entity, the application process
may be omitted (This is often done for DSAs in the current pilot).

4  Multinational Organisations

The standard says that only international organisations may be placed
under the root of the DIT. This implies that multi-national
organisations must be represented as a number of separate entries
underneath country or locality entries.  This structure makes it more
awkward to use X.500 within a multi-national to provide an internal
organisational directory, as the data is now spread widely throughout
the DIT, rather than all being grouped within a single sub-tree.  Many
people have expressed the view that this restriction is a severe
limitation of X.500, and argue that the intentions of the standard
should be ignored in this respect.  This note argues, though, that the
standard should be followed.

No attempt to precisely define multinational organisation is essayed
here.  Instead, the observation is made that the term is applied to a
variety of organisational structures, where an organisation operates
in more than one country.  This suggests that a variety of DIT
structures may be appropriate to accommodate these different
organisational structures.  This document suggests three approaches,
and notes some of the characteristics associated with each of these
Before considering the approaches, it is worth bearing in mind again
that a major aim in the choice of a DIT structure is to facilitate
querying, and that approaches which militate against this should be
avoided wherever possible.

4.1  The multi-national as a single entity

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INTERNET--DRAFT              Naming Guidelines              April 1992


                     ii ii i ii "!    XX X XX XX X XXz
          _________ii)_       ___________|?       ___________
          | C=GB      |       |   C=FR    |       ||_________||C=US

          |___________|       |_______B__ |            |
           ||?                    ____BBN___        ___|?_______
     ______________________|_____-_||       ______o__e||O=MultiN|at

      O=MultiNat                  O=MultiNat
     |___________|                |____|_@_@|_      |___________|
                                AE     |     @@

        Locality an________-d________|||?____||@R____||/orou=defl=abc

        Organisation Unit ent|_______||______||______|l=fgiries

       ____ _______-_ = alias to

           Figure 1:  The multi-national as a single entity

In many cases, a multi-national organisation will operate with a
highly centralised structure.  While the organisation may have large
operations in a number of countries, the organisation is strongly
controlled from the centre and the disparate parts of the organisation
exist only as limbs of the main organisation.  In such a situation,
the model shown in figure 1 may be the best choice.  The
organisation's entries all exist under a single sub-tree.  The
organisational structure beneath the organisation entry should reflect
the perceived structure of the organisation, and so no recommendations
on this matter can be made here.  To assist the person querying the
directory, alias entries should be created for all countries where the
organisation operates.

4.2  The multi-national as a loose confederation

Another common model of organisational structure is that where a
multi-national consists of a number of national entities, which are in
large part independent of both sibling national entities, and of any
central entity.  In such cases, the model shown in Figure 2 may be a

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INTERNET--DRAFT              Naming Guidelines              April 1992


                             i i  ROOTX X X
                    ii ii i i   "!         X XX X XX XXz
          _______ii)__         ___________|?       ___________
          |  C=GB      |       |  C=FR     |       | C=US    |

          |___________ |       |_____|____ |       |__@_@____|_
                                   __|?______        ____@R______
     ____________||                |         |       |O=MultiNat |

      O=MultiNat                   O=MultiNat
     |_____B_____|                 |__B______|       |______AA___|
           BB                          BB                     AA

____ff______BBN_                        BB           __fl______AU____
|L=GB   ||L=FR   |                       B           |L=FR   ||L=US  |
|___HY__||___XX_ |                        BB         |__ii___|_______||
    H  HH        XX  XX   X                B   ii   ii         *

           HH HH       ___Xff_XX_fXXzfii)l_iiBBN_

                  HH HH||______||||____||||____||L=GBL=FRL=US

 ____ ______ __-= alias to

        Figure 2:  The multi-national as a loose confederation

better choice.  Organisational entries exist within each country, and
only that country's localities and organisational units appear
directly beneath the appropriate organisational entry.  Some binding
together of the various parts of the organisation can be achieved by
the use of aliases for localities and organisational units, and this
can be done in a highly flexible fashion.  In some cases, the national
view might not contain all branches of the company, as illustrated in
Figure 2.

4.3  Loosely linked DIT sub-trees

A third approach is to avoid aliasing altogether, and to use the
looser binding provided by an attribute such as seeAlso.  This
approach treats all parts of an organisation as essentially separate.

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INTERNET--DRAFT              Naming Guidelines              April 1992

A unified view of the organisation can only be achieved by user
interfaces choosing to follow the seeAlso links.  This is a key
difference with aliasing, where decisions to follow links may be
specified within the protocol.  (Note that it may be better to specify
another attribute for this purpose, as seeAlso is likely to be used
for a wide variety of purposes.)

4.4  Summary of advantages and disadvantages of the above approaches

Providing an internal directory All the above methods can be used to
    provide an internal directory.  In the first two cases, the
    linkage to other parts of the organisation can be followed by the
    protocol and thus organisation-wide searches can be achieved by
    single X.500 operations.  In the last case, interfaces would have
    to ``know'' to follow the soft links indicated by the seeAlso

Impact on naming In the single-entity model, all DNs within the
    organisation will be under one country.  It could be argued that
    this will often result in rather ``unnatural'' naming.  In the
    loose-confederation model, DNs are more natural, although the need
    to disambiguate between organisational units and localities on an
    international, rather than just a national, basis may have some
    impact on the choice of names.  For example, it may be necessary
    to add in an extra level of organisational unit or locality
    information.  In the loosely-linked model, there is no impact on
    naming at all.

Views of the organisation The first method provides a unique view of
    the organisation.  The loose confederacy allows for a variety of
    views of the organisation.  The view from the centre of the
    organisation may well be that all constituent organisations should
    be seen as part of the main organisation, whereas other parts of
    the organisation may only be interested in the organisation's
    centre and a few of its sibling organisations.  The third model
    gives an equally flexible view of organisational structures.

Lookup performance All methods should perform reasonably well,
    providing information is held, or at least replicated, within a
    single DSA.

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INTERNET--DRAFT              Naming Guidelines              April 1992

5  Miscellany

This section draws attention to two areas which frequently provoke
questions, and where it is felt that a consistent approach will be

5.1  Schema consistency of aliases

According to the letter of the standard, an alias may point at any
entry.  It is beneficial for aliases to be ``schema consistent''.  The
following two checks should be made:

1.  The Relative Distinguished Name of the alias should be a valid
    Relative Distinguished Name of the entry.

2.  If the entry (aliased object) were placed where the alias is,
    there should be no schema violation.

5.2  Organisational Units

There is a problem that many organisations can be either organisations
or organisational units, dependent on the location in the DIT (with
aliases giving the alternate names).  For example, an organisation may
be an independent national organisation and also an organisational
unit of a parent organisation.  To achieve this, it is important to
allow an entry to be of both object class organisation and of object
class organisational unit.


[BHK91] P. Barker and S.E. Hardcastle-Kille. The COSINE and Internet
        X.500 schema. Request for Comments RFC 1274, Department of
        Computer Science, University College London, November 1991.

[For91] The North American Directory Forum.  A Naming Scheme for
        C=US, September 1991. Also NADF-175.

[HK91]  S.E. Hardcastle-Kille. X.500 and domains.  Request for
        Comments RFC 1279, Department of Computer Science, University
        College London, November 1991.

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INTERNET--DRAFT              Naming Guidelines              April 1992

6  Security Considerations

Security considerations are not discussed in this INTERNET--DRAFT .

7  Author's Addresses

    Paul Barker and Steve Hardcastle-Kille
    Department of Computer Science
    University College London
    Gower Street
    WC1E 6BT

    Phone:+44-71-380-7366 (Barker)
    Phone:+44-71-380-7294 (Kille)

    EMail:  P.Barker@CS.UCL.AC.UK
    EMail:  S.Kille@CS.UCL.AC.UK

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