Network Working Group S. Kille Request for Comments: 1779 ISODE Consortium Obsoletes: 1485 March 1995 Category: Standards Track
A String Representation of Distinguished Names
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.
The OSI Directory uses distinguished names as the primary keys to entries in the directory. Distinguished Names are encoded in ASN.1. When a distinguished name is communicated between to users not using a directory protocol (e.g., in a mail message), there is a need to have a user-oriented string representation of distinguished name. This specification defines a string format for representing names, which is designed to give a clean representation of commonly used names, whilst being able to represent any distinguished name.
Many OSI Applications make use of Distinguished Names (DN) as defined in the OSI Directory, commonly known as X.500 . This specification assumes familiarity with X.500, and the concept of Distinguished Name. It is important to have a common format to be able to unambiguously represent a distinguished name. This might be done to represent a directory name on a business card or in an email message. There is a need for a format to support human to human communication, which must be string based (not ASN.1) and user oriented. This notation is targeted towards a general user oriented system, and in particular to represent the names of humans. Other syntaxes may be more appropriate for other uses of the directory. For example, the OSF Syntax may be more appropriate for some system oriented uses. (The OSF Syntax uses "/" as a separator, and forms names in a manner intended to resemble UNIX filenames).
A formal definition can now be given. The structure is specified in a BNF grammar in Figure 1. This BNF uses the grammar defined in RFC 822, with the terminals enclosed in <> . This definition is in an abstract character set, and so may be written in any character set supporting the explicitly defined special characters. The quoting mechanism is used for the following cases:
o Strings containing ",", "+", "=" or """ , <CR>, "<", ">", "#", or ";".
o Strings with leading or trailing spaces
o Strings containing consecutive spaces
There is an escape mechanism from the normal user oriented form, so that this syntax may be used to print any valid distinguished name. This is ugly. It is expected to be used only in pathological cases. There are two parts to this mechanism:
1. Attributes types are represented in a (big-endian) dotted notation. (e.g., OID.2.6.53).
2. Attribute values are represented in hexadecimal (e.g. #0A56CF). Each pair of hex digits defines an octet, which is the ASN.1 Basic Encoding Rules value of the Attribute Value.
The keyword specification is optional in the BNF, but mandatory for this specification. This is so that the same BNF may be used for the related specification on User Friendly Naming . When this specification is followed, the attribute type keywords must always be present.
A list of valid keywords for well known attribute types used in naming is given in Table 1. Keywords may contain spaces, but shall not have leading or trailing spaces. This is a list of keywords which must be supported. These are chosen because they appear in common forms of name, and can do so in a place which does not correspond to the default schema used. A register of valid keywords is maintained by the IANA.
<pair> ::= "\" ( <special> | "\" | '"') <stringchar> ::= any character except <special> or "\" or '"'
<hex> ::= 2*<hexchar> <hexchar> ::= 0-9, a-f, A-F
Figure 1: BNF Grammar for Distinguished Name
Kille [Page 5]
RFC 1779 DN Representation March 1995
Key Attribute (X.520 keys) ------------------------------ CN CommonName L LocalityName ST StateOrProvinceName O OrganizationName OU OrganizationalUnitName C CountryName STREET StreetAddress
Table 1: Standardised Keywords
Only string type attributes are considered, but other attribute syntaxes could be supported locally (e.g., by use of the syntexes defined in .) It is assumed that the interface will translate from the supplied string into an appropriate Directory String encoding. The "+" notation is used to specify multi-component RDNs. In this case, the types for attributes in the RDN must be explicit.
The name is presented/input in a little-endian order (most significant component last). When an address is written in a context where there is a need to delimit the entire address (e.g., in free text), it is recommended that the delimiters <> are used. The terminator > is a special in the notation to facilitate this delimitation.
This work was based on research work done at University College London , and evolved by the IETF OSI-DS WG.
Input for this version of the document was received from: Allan Cargille (University of Wisconsin); John Dale (COS); Philip Gladstone (Onsett); John Hawthorne (US Air Force); Roland Hedberg (University of Umea); Kipp Hickman (Mosaic Communications Corp.) Markus Kuhn (University of Erlangen); Elisabeth Roudier (E3X); Mark Wahl (ISODE Consortium).