Mobile devices are quickly becoming indispensable tools for convenience and productivity wherever you may happen to be. Around the beginning of the year, I started to look at the Android platform for developing applications for mobile devices (and other low-end kinds of systems). I picked up a Google developer phone (basically an unlocked version of the T-Mobile G1) and was impressed by the pretty rich API that it offers. Quite a large portion of Java SE is available for use, although there are some notable exceptions. For example, it’s missing all of the GUI classes, but that makes sense since Android provides its own GUI library. But another significant omission is that of JNDI, which is the API included in Java SE for communicating with LDAP directories.
On one hand, this is a good thing since JNDI is a horrible API that is inconvenient to use and doesn’t provide very good access to the LDAP protocol, and the less opportunity there is to use it the better. But on the other hand, being able to communicate with an LDAP directory server on a mobile device can be extremely helpful. For example, it could be very convenient to have access to the entire corporate directory at your fingertips for phone numbers and e-mail addresses without the need to clutter your contacts list, or maybe to keep local contacts in sync with their corresponding entries from the corporate directory.
The good news, though, is that Android developers don’t need to worry about missing LDAP support for Android because the UnboundID LDAP SDK for Java works just fine on the Android platform. I’ve done quite a bit of testing and made sure that things just work. With a couple of exceptions (primarily CRAM-MD5, DIGEST-MD5, and GSSAPI, which require the Java SASL API that isn’t available on Android) pretty much all of the functionality that we offer in our LDAP SDK can be used on Android. This includes all of the core protocol, all of the controls and extended operations, SSL/StartTLS, connection pooling, and all the other stuff is there, too. Note that there is no special “Android” version of the LDAP SDK — the same SDK that you can use for writing desktop clients or server-side applications works without any changes on the Android platform.
To demonstrate this capability, I’ve put together a simple LDAP client for Android devices. You can see a video online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NlhwrcCeSQ.