Emacs Unified Directory Client
This file documents EUDC v1.30b.
EUDC is the Emacs Unified Directory Client, a common interface to directory servers using various protocols such as LDAP or the CCSO white pages directory system (PH/QI)
Copyright © 1998, 2000–2013 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with the Front-Cover texts being “A GNU Manual”, and with the Back-Cover Texts as in (a) below. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled “GNU Free Documentation License”.
(a) The FSF's Back-Cover Text is: “You have the freedom to copy and modify this GNU manual.”
|Overview||Summary of EUDC features|
|Installation||How to install EUDC|
|Usage||The various usage possibilities explained|
|Credits||Who's done what|
|GNU Free Documentation License||The license for this documentation.|
|Command and Function Index|
EUDC, the Emacs Unified Directory Client, provides a common user interface to access directory servers using different directory protocols.
Currently supported back-ends are:
- LDAP, Lightweight Directory Access Protocol
- CCSO PH/QI
- BBDB, Big Brother's Insidious Database
The main features of the EUDC interface are:
- Queries using a customizable form
- Inline query expansion (for instance you can expand a name to an email address in a mail message buffer using a server as an address book)
- Multiple servers can be tried in turn until a match is found for an inline query
- Fast minibuffer queries for email addresses and phone numbers
- Interface to BBDB to let you insert server records into your own BBDB database (see BBDB)
LDAP, the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, is a communication protocol for directory applications defined in RFC 1777.
Quoted from RFC 1777:
[LDAP] is designed to provide access to the X.500 Directory while not incurring the resource requirements of the Directory Access Protocol (DAP). This protocol is specifically targeted at simple management applications and browser applications that provide simple read/write interactive access to the X.500 Directory, and is intended to be a complement to the DAP itself.
LDAP servers usually store (but are not limited to) information about people such as their name, phone number, email address, office location, etc... More information about LDAP can be found at http://www.openldap.org/.
EUDC requires external support to access LDAP directory servers (see LDAP Requirements)
1.2 CCSO PH/QI
The Central Computing Services Office (CCSO) of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign created and freely distributed a directory system that was used by many organizations in the 1990s. The system records information about people such as their address, phone number, email, academic information or any other details it was configured to. Nowadays this system is not widely used.
The system consists of two parts: a database server traditionally called ‘qi’ and a command-line client called ‘ph’. As of 2010, the code can still be downloaded from http://www-dev.cites.uiuc.edu/ph/.
The original command-line ‘ph’ client that comes with the ‘ph/qi’ distribution provides additional features like the possibility to communicate with the server in login-mode which makes it possible to change records in the database. This is not implemented in EUDC.
BBDB is the Big Brother's Insidious Database, a package for Emacs originally written by Jamie Zawinski which provides rolodex-like database functionality featuring tight integration with the Emacs mail and news readers.
It is often used as an enhanced email address book.
EUDC considers BBDB as a directory server back end just like LDAP or PH/QI servers, though BBDB has no client/server protocol and thus always resides locally on your machine. The point in this is not to offer an alternate way to query your BBDB database (BBDB itself provides much more flexible ways to do that), but rather to offer an interface to your local directory that is consistent with the interface to external directories (LDAP, PH/QI). This is particularly interesting when performing queries on multiple servers.
EUDC also offers a means to insert results from directory queries into your own local BBDB (see Creating BBDB Records)
Add the following to your .emacs init file:
This will install EUDC at startup.
After installing EUDC you will find (the next time you launch Emacs) a
Directory Search submenu in the ‘Tools’ menu that will
give you access to EUDC.
You may also find it useful to add the following to your .emacs initialization file to add a shortcut for email address expansion in email composition buffers (see Inline Query Expansion)
(eval-after-load "message" '(define-key message-mode-map [(control ?c) (tab)] 'eudc-expand-inline)) (eval-after-load "sendmail" '(define-key mail-mode-map [(control ?c) (tab)] 'eudc-expand-inline))
2.1 LDAP Requirements
LDAP support is added by means of ldap.el, which is part of Emacs. ldap.el needs an external command line utility named ldapsearch, available as part of Open LDAP (http://www.openldap.org/).
This chapter describes the usage of EUDC. Most functions and customization options are available through the ‘Directory Search’ submenu of the ‘Tools’ submenu.
3.1 Querying Servers
EUDC's basic functionality is to let you query a directory server and return the results back to you. There are several things you may want to customize in this process.
3.1.1 Selecting a Server
Before doing any query you will need to set the directory server. You need to specify the name of the host machine running the server software and the protocol to use. If you do not set the server in any fashion, EUDC will ask you for one when you make your first query.
You can set the server by selecting one from your hotlist of servers (see The Server Hotlist) available in the ‘Server’ submenu or by selecting ‘New Server’ in that same menu.
LDAP servers generally require some configuration before you can perform queries on them. In particular, the search base must be configured. If the server you select has no configured search base then EUDC will propose you to configure it at this point. A customization buffer will be displayed where you can edit the search base and other parameters for the server.
The name or IP address of the remote directory server. A TCP port number may be specified by appending a colon and a number to the name of the server. You will not need this unless your server runs on a port other than the default (which depends on the protocol). If the directory server resides on your own computer (which is the case if you use the BBDB back end) then `localhost' is a reasonable value but it will be ignored anyway.
The directory protocol to use to query the server. Currently supported protocols in this version of EUDC are
This command accessible from ‘New Server’ submenu lets you specify a new directory server and protocol.
3.1.2 Return Attributes
Directory servers may be configured to return a default set of
attributes for each record matching a query if the query specifies none.
eudc-default-return-attributes controls the return
attributes you want to see, if different from the server defaults.
A list of the default attributes to extract from directory entries. If set to the symbol
allthen all available attributes are returned. A value of
nil, the default, means to return the default attributes as configured in the server.
The server may return several matching records to a query. Some of the records may however not contain all the attributes you requested. You can discard those records.
nil, entries that do not contain all the requested return attributes are ignored. Default is
3.1.3 Duplicate Attributes
Directory standards may authorize different instances of the same attribute in a record. For instance the record of a person may contain several email fields containing different email addresses. When using a QI directory server this is difficult to distinguish from attributes having multi-line values such as the postal address that may contain a line for the street and another one for the zip code and city name. In both cases, EUDC will consider the attribute duplicated.
EUDC has several methods to deal with duplicated attributes. The available methods are:
- Makes a list with the different values of the duplicate attribute. The
record is returned with only one instance of the attribute with a list
of all the different values as a value. This is the default method that
is used to handle duplicate fields for which no other method has been
- Discards all the duplicate values of the field keeping only the first
- Concatenates the different values using a newline as a separator. The
record keeps only one instance of the field the value of which is a
single multi-line string.
- Duplicates the whole record into as many instances as there are different
values for the field. This is the default for the email field. Thus a
record containing 3 different email addresses is duplicated into three
different records each having a single email address. This is
particularly useful in combination with
selectas the method to handle multiple matches in inline expansion queries (see Inline Query Expansion) because you are presented with the 3 addresses in a selection buffer
Because a method may not be applicable to all fields, the variable
eudc-duplicate-attribute-handling-method lets you specify either a
default method for all fields or a method for each individual field.
A method to handle entries containing duplicate attributes. This is either an alist of elements
), or a symbol method. The alist form of the variable associates a method to an individual attribute name; the second form specifies a method applicable to all attribute names. Available methods are:
duplicate(see above). The default is
3.2 Query Form
The simplest way to query your directory server is to use the query
form. You display the query form with the ‘Query with Form’ menu
item or by invoking the command M-x eudc-query-form. The attribute
names presented in this form are defined by the
eudc-query-form-attributes variable (unless a non-
argument is supplied to
Since the different directory protocols to which EUDC interfaces may
use different names for equivalent attributes, EUDC defines its own set
of attribute names and a mapping between these names and their
protocol-specific equivalent through the variable
eudc-protocol-attributes-translation-alist. Names currently
defined by EUDC are
A list of attributes presented in the query form. Attribute names in this list should be either EUDC attribute names or valid attribute names. You can get a list of valid attribute names for the current protocol with the ‘List Valid Attribute Names’ menu item or the M-x eudc-get-attribute-list command. Defaults to
Display a form to query the directory server. If given a non-
nilargument the function first queries the server for the existing fields and displays a corresponding form. Not all protocols may support a non-
Since the names of the fields may not be explicit enough or adapted to
be directly displayed as prompt strings in the form, the variable
eudc-user-attribute-names-alist lets you define more explicit
names for directory attribute names. This variable is ignored if
eudc-use-raw-directory-names is non-
This is an alist of user-defined names for the directory attributes used in query/response forms. Prompt strings for attributes that are not in this alist are derived by splitting the attribute name at underscores and capitalizing the individual words.
nil, use attributes names as defined in the directory. Otherwise, directory query/response forms display the user attribute names defined in
3.3 Display of Query Results
Upon successful completion of a form query, EUDC will display a buffer containing the results of the query.
The fields that are returned for each record
are controlled by
eudc-default-return-attributes (see Return Attributes).
The display of each individual field can be performed by an arbitrary function which allows specific processing for binary values, such as images or audio samples, as well as values with semantics, such as URLs.
An alist specifying methods to display attribute values. Each member of the list is of the form
)where name is a lowercased string naming a directory attribute (translated according to
nil) and func a function that will be passed the corresponding attribute values for display.
This variable has protocol-local definitions (see see Server/Protocol Locals). For instance, it is defined as follows for LDAP:
(eudc-protocol-set 'eudc-attribute-display-method-alist '(("jpegphoto" . eudc-display-jpeg-inline) ("labeledurl" . eudc-display-url) ("audio" . eudc-display-sound) ("labeledurl" . eudc-display-url) ("url" . eudc-display-url)) 'ldap)
EUDC provides a set of built-in functions to display binary value types:
Right-clicking on a binary value button pops up a contextual menu with
options to process the value. Among these are saving the attribute
value to a file or sending it to an external viewer command. External
viewers should expect the value on their standard input and should
display it or perform arbitrary processing on it. Messages sent to
standard output are discarded. External viewers are listed in the
eudc-external-viewers which you can customize.
This is a list of viewer program specifications. Each specification is a list whose first element is a string naming the viewer for unique identification, the second element is the executable program which should be invoked and the following elements are arguments that should be passed to the program.
3.4 Inline Query Expansion
Inline query expansion is a powerful method to get completion from your
directory server. The most common usage is for expanding names to email
addresses in mail message buffers. The expansion is performed by the
command M-x eudc-expand-inline which is available from the
‘Expand Inline Query’ menu item but can also be conveniently
bound to a key shortcut (see Installation). The operation is
controlled by the variables
If the query fails for a server, other servers may be tried successively until one of them finds a match (see Multi-server Queries).
Query the server and expand the query string before point. The query string consists of the buffer substring from the point back to the preceding comma, colon or beginning of line.
eudc-inline-query-formatcontrols how individual words are mapped onto directory attribute names. After querying the server for the given string, the expansion specified by
eudc-inline-expansion-formatis inserted in the buffer at point. If replace-p is
tthen this expansion replaces the query string in the buffer. If
nilthen the meaning of replace-p is negated.
Format of an inline expansion query. This is actually a list of formats. A format is a list of one or more EUDC attribute names. A format applies if it contains as many attributes as individual words in the inline query string. If several formats apply then they are tried in order until a match is found. If
nilall the words will be mapped onto the default server/protocol attribute name (generally
For instance, use the following(setq eudc-inline-query-format '((name) (firstname) (firstname name)))
to indicate that single word expansion queries are to be considered as surnames and if no match is found then they should be tried as first names. Inline queries consisting of two words are considered as consisting of a first name followed by a surname. If the query consists of more than two words, then the first one is considered as the first name and the remaining words are all considered as surname constituents.
formats are in fact not limited to EUDC attribute names, you can use server or protocol specific names in them. It may be safer if you do so, to set the variable
eudc-inline-query-formatin a protocol or server local fashion (see see Server/Protocol Locals).
For instance you could use the following to match up to three words against the
cnattribute of LDAP servers:(eudc-protocol-set 'eudc-inline-query-format '((cn) (cn cn) (cn cn cn)) 'ldap)
This variable lets you control exactly what is inserted into the buffer upon an inline expansion request. It is a list whose first element is a string passed to
format. Remaining elements are symbols corresponding to directory attribute names. The corresponding attribute values are passed as additional arguments to
format. Default is
("%s" email)but you may want to consider a value like
("%s <%s>" name email)
This variable controls what to do when multiple entries match a query for an inline expansion. Possible values are:
- The first match is considered as being the only one, the others are discarded.
- A selection buffer pops up where you can choose a particular match. This is the default value of the variable.
- The expansion uses all records successively
- An error is signaled. The expansion aborts.
3.5 The Server Hotlist
EUDC lets you maintain a list of frequently used servers so that you
can easily switch from one to another. This hotlist appears in the
‘Server’ submenu. You select a server in this list by clicking on
its name. You can add the current server to the list with the command
M-x eudc-bookmark-current-server. The list is contained in the variable
eudc-server-hotlist which is stored in and retrieved from the file
eudc-options-file. EUDC also provides a facility to
edit the hotlist interactively (see The Hotlist Edit Buffer).
The hotlist is also used to make queries on multiple servers successively (see Multi-server Queries). The order in which the servers are tried is the order they appear in the hotlist, therefore it is important to sort the hotlist appropriately.
The name of a file where EUDC stores its internal variables (the hotlist and the current server). EUDC will try to load that file upon initialization so, if you choose a file name different from the defaults ~/.eudc-options, be sure to set this variable to the appropriate value before EUDC is itself loaded.
3.5.1 The Hotlist Edit Buffer
The hotlist edit buffer offers a means to manage a list of frequently used servers. Commands are available in the context pop-up menu generally bound to the right mouse button. Those commands also have equivalent key bindings.
Bound to a. Add a new server to the hotlist on the line after point
Bound to s. Select the server the point is on as the current directory server for the next queries
Bound to t. Bubble up the server the point is on to the top of the list
Bound to q. Save the changes and quit the hotlist edit buffer. Use x or M-x kill-buffer to exit without saving.
3.6 Multi-server Queries
When using inline query expansion (see Inline Query Expansion), EUDC can try to query successively a sequence of directory servers until one of them successfully finds a match for the query.
This variable controls which servers are tried and in which order when trying to perform an inline query. Possible values are:
- Only the current directory server is tried
- The servers in the hotlist are tried in order until one finds a match for the query or `eudc-max-servers-to-query' is reached
- The current server then the servers in the hotlist are tried in the order they appear in the hotlist until one of them finds a match or `eudc-max-servers-to-query' is reached. This is the default.
This variable indicates the maximum number of servers to query when performing a multi-server query. The default,
nil, indicates that all available servers should be tried.
3.7 Creating BBDB Records
With EUDC, you can automatically create BBDB records (see BBDB) from records you get from a directory server. You do this by moving point to the appropriate record in a query result display buffer and invoking the command M-x eudc-insert-record-at-point-into-bbdb with the keyboard binding b1, or with the menu. EUDC cannot update an existing BBDB record and will signal an error if you try to insert a record matching an existing one.
Because directory systems may not enforce a strict record format, local server installations may use different attribute names and have different ways to organize the information. Furthermore BBDB has its own record structure. For these reasons converting a record from its external directory format to the BBDB format is a highly customizable process.
The value of this variable should be a symbol naming an alist defining a mapping between BBDB field names onto directory attribute names records. This is a protocol-local variable and is initialized upon protocol switch (see Server/Protocol Locals). The alist is made of cells of the form
). bbdb-field is the name of a field that must be defined in your BBDB environment (standard field names are
notes). spec-or-list is either a single mapping specification or a list of mapping specifications. Lists of mapping specifications are valid for the
addressBBDB fields only. specs are actually s-expressions which are evaluated as follows:
- a string
- evaluates to itself
- a symbol
- evaluates to the symbol value. Symbols corresponding to directory attribute names present in the record evaluate to the value of the field in the record
- a form
- is evaluated as a function. The argument list may contain attribute names which evaluate to the corresponding values in the record. The form evaluation should return something appropriate for the particular bbdb-field (see
eudc-bbdbify-addressare provided as convenience functions to parse phones and addresses.
The default value of the PH-specific value of that variable is
((name . name) (net . email) (address . (eudc-bbdbify-address address "Address")) (phone . ((eudc-bbdbify-phone phone "Phone") (eudc-bbdbify-phone office_phone "Office Phone"))))
This means that:
namefield of the BBDB record gets its value from the
nameattribute of the directory record
netfield of the BBDB record gets its value from the
addressfield of the BBDB record is obtained by parsing the
addressattribute of the directory record with the function
phonefields are created (when possible) in the BBDB record. The first one has Phone for location and its value is obtained by parsing the
phoneattribute of the PH/QI record with the function
eudc-bbdbify-phone. The second one has Office Phone for location its value is obtained by parsing the
office_phoneattribute of the PH/QI record with the function
This is a convenience function provided for use in
eudc-bbdb-conversion-alist. It parses phone into a vector compatible with
bbdb-create-internal. phone is either a string supposedly containing a phone number or a list of such strings which are concatenated. location is used as the phone location for BBDB.
This is a convenience function provided for use in
eudc-bbdb-conversion-alist. It parses addr into a vector compatible with
bbdb-create-internal. addr should be an address string of no more than four lines or a list of lines. The last line is searched for the zip code, city and state name. location is used as the phone location for BBDB.
Note that only a subset of the attributes you selected with
eudc-default-return-attributes and that are actually displayed may
actually be inserted as part of the newly created BBDB record.
3.8 Server/Protocol Locals
EUDC can be customized independently for each server or directory protocol. All variables can be given local bindings that are activated when a particular server and/or protocol becomes active. This is much like buffer-local bindings but on a per server or per protocol basis.
3.8.1 Manipulating local bindings
EUDC offers functions that let you set and query variables on a per server or per protocol basis.
The following predicates allow you to test the existence of server/protocol local bindings for a particular variable.
The following functions allow you to set the value of a variable with various degrees of locality.
Set the EUDC default value of var to val. The current binding of var (if local to the current server or protocol) is not changed.
Set the binding of var local to protocol to val. If omitted, protocol defaults to the current value of
eudc-protocol. The current binding of var is changed only if protocol is omitted.
Set the binding of var local to server to val. If omitted, server defaults to the current value of
eudc-server. The current binding of var is changed only if server is omitted.
Set the most local (server, protocol or default) binding of var to val. The current binding of var is also set to val.
The following variables allow you to query the various bindings of a variable (local or non-local).
Return the default binding of var (outside of a particular server or protocol local binding). Return
unboundif var has no EUDC default value.
Return the value of var local to protocol. Return
unboundif var has no value local to protocol. protocol defaults to
Return the value of var local to server. Return
unboundif var has no value local to server. server defaults to
Changing a protocol-local or server-local value of a variable has no
effect on its current value. The following command is used to
synchronize the current values of variables with their local values
given the current
Update all EUDC variables according to their local settings.
EUDC was written by Oscar Figueiredo based on ph.el by the same author.
Thanks to Soren Dayton for his suggestions, his enthusiasm and his help in testing and proofreading the code and docs of ph.el.
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Command and Function Index
eudc-batch-export-records-to-bbdb: Creating BBDB Records
eudc-bbdbify-address: Creating BBDB Records
eudc-bbdbify-phone: Creating BBDB Records
eudc-bookmark-current-server: The Server Hotlist
eudc-bookmark-server: The Server Hotlist
eudc-default-set: Manipulating local bindings
eudc-display-generic-binary: Display of Query Results
eudc-display-jpeg-as-button: Display of Query Results
eudc-display-jpeg-inline: Display of Query Results
eudc-display-sound: Display of Query Results
eudc-display-url: Display of Query Results
eudc-expand-inline: Inline Query Expansion
eudc-get-attribute-list: Query Form
eudc-hotlist-add-server: The Hotlist Edit Buffer
eudc-hotlist-delete-server: The Hotlist Edit Buffer
eudc-hotlist-quit-edit: The Hotlist Edit Buffer
eudc-hotlist-select-server: The Hotlist Edit Buffer
eudc-hotlist-transpose-servers: The Hotlist Edit Buffer
eudc-insert-record-at-point-into-bbdb: Creating BBDB Records
eudc-protocol-local-variable-p: Manipulating local bindings
eudc-protocol-set: Manipulating local bindings
eudc-query-form: Query Form
eudc-server-local-variable-p: Manipulating local bindings
eudc-server-set: Manipulating local bindings
eudc-set: Manipulating local bindings
eudc-set-server: Selecting a Server
eudc-try-bbdb-insert: Creating BBDB Records
eudc-update-local-variables: Manipulating local bindings
eudc-variable-default-value: Manipulating local bindings
eudc-variable-protocol-value: Manipulating local bindings
eudc-variable-server-value: Manipulating local bindings
eudc-attribute-display-method-alist: Display of Query Results
eudc-bbdb-conversion-alist: Creating BBDB Records
eudc-default-return-attributes: Return Attributes
eudc-duplicate-attribute-handling-method: Duplicate Attributes
eudc-external-viewers: Display of Query Results
eudc-inline-expansion-format: Inline Query Expansion
eudc-inline-expansion-servers: Multi-server Queries
eudc-inline-query-format: Inline Query Expansion
eudc-max-servers-to-query: Multi-server Queries
eudc-multiple-match-handling-method: Inline Query Expansion
eudc-options-file: The Server Hotlist
eudc-protocol: Selecting a Server
eudc-query-form-attributes: Query Form
eudc-server: Selecting a Server
eudc-strict-return-matches: Return Attributes
eudc-use-raw-directory-names: Query Form
eudc-user-attribute-names-alist: Query Form
 This key binding does not actually
eudc-insert-record-at-point-into-bbdb but uses