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Create an LDAP Address Book with PHP

What is LDAP and how does it relate to PHP? If you're unsure, then Dannie's come to save the day! In this article he explains what LDAP is and shows you how to create an LDAP address book with PHP...

Author Info:
By: Dannie Stanley
Rating: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars / 46
January 08, 2003
  1. · Create an LDAP Address Book with PHP
  2. · Setup Public LDAP Server Information
  3. · Format Output
  4. · Close Connection
  5. · Source Code
  6. · Conclusion

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Create an LDAP Address Book with PHP
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Many have probably heard much about LDAP, but have no idea what it is or how it works.

I will not attempt to teach everything there is to know about LDAP, but here is a brief description of the protocol.

LDAP is a protocol for distributing directory information to many different resources. Most commonly it is used as a centralized address book, but it can be much more powerful depending on an organization's needs.

LDAP in its most basic form is a standard way to connect to a database. The database is optimized for read queries. Thus, it retrieves information very quickly, in contrast to additions or updates which are slower.

It is important to note that LDAP most often uses a hierarchal database, rather than a relational database to store data. Therefore, the structure is better represented with a tree than a table.

As a result, SQL syntax will be rendered unusable.

In short, LDAP is a fast way to retrieve centralized, static data containing information about people and/or resources.


  • PHP v.4 (previous versions may work but are untested) compiled with support for LDAP, I.E. --with-ldap.
  • Publicly accessible LDAP directory. Two are provided in the example.

Overview of Example

  1. Setup Public LDAP Server Information
  2. Create LDAP Query
  3. Connect to LDAP Server
  4. Process Query if Connection Was Successful
  5. Format Output
  6. Close Connection
  7. Make HTML Form for Search Interface
  8. Echo Results

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