Legacy myUMBC ACLs as PAGS Groups

I think I’ve found a way (two ways, actually) to import program ACLs (from the BRCTL.PROG_USER_XREF SIS table) into uPortal as PAGS groups, so that we can publish uPortal channels with the exact same access lists as the respective areas in the legacy myUMBC. This would be a big win, particularly for an app like Degree Navigation/MAP. In the old portal, we control access to DN/MAP using a big, looong list of individual usernames. If the user isn’t on the list, they don’t even see a link to DN/MAP. However, with uPortal, we currently don’t have access to this list, so we have to present the DN/MAP link to a much larger set of users (basically anyone who is faculty or staff), or we’re faced with totally replicating the access list in uPortal, and maintaining two lists. Not what we want.

Fortunately, we designed the old portal with a bit of forward thinking, and made its ACL mechanism totally database driven. That is, all ACL info is stored in the Oracle database, so some future portal could theoretically extract that data and use it down the road. The challenge, then, is to figure out how to get uPortal to do that.

uPortal provides a very nice groups manager called PAGS, which allows us to create arbitrary groups based on what uPortal calls Person Attributes. It can extract Person Attributes directly from LDAP, as well as extracting them from the results of an arbitrary RDBM query. It then presents this group of attributes as a seamless collection, regardless of the actual backend datasource for each individual attribute. It’s really very nice.

My first thought, then, was to just have uPortal query the legacy myUMBC ACL table to get a list of each app a particular user can access, and map the results to “Person Attributes”. I tested this and it works just fine, but there’s one problem: The legacy ACL table is indexed by UMBC username, but the way we have uPortal configured, it’s currently using the LDAP GUID to do its queries. So, to do this the right way (that is, without hacking the uPortal code), we’d need a table that maps the GUID to the username, so that we could do a join against it to get our results. Currently, we don’t have LDAP GUID data anywhere in our Oracle database. Now, I don’t think getting it there would be a huge issue (we’re already doing nightly loads of usernames from LDAP to Oracle), but it still needs to happen before we could use this method.

The second method would be to import the user’s legacy ACL data into the LDAP database as an additional attribute. Then I could just pull the data directly out of LDAP, without having to worry about an RDBM query at all. This seems like a simpler solution, if it’s possible. More later..

Note: Configuration of Person Attributes is done in the file /properties/PersonDirs.xml. When specifying an RDBM attributes query, the SQL statement must include a bind variable reference, or the code will crap out. I learned this when I tried to remove the bind variable and hardcode my own username.. no dice. To test this stuff out, subscribe to the “Person Attributes” channel, which is under the “Development” group. Then look for the attributes you defined in the config file. If they’re there, it worked. If not, not.