Home > Articles > Web Services > XML

Building Plugins with C# Part 3: Adding LDAP, SQL, and Configuration

📄 Contents

  1. Configuration Issues
  2. The LdapAuthenticator
  • Print
  • + Share This
Feeling smarter, yet? In this continuing series, you'll learn how to use inheritance to re-use code, and how your applications can load their own configuration files. You'll also learn more about doing LDAP authentication and connecting to a database to run a stored procedure.
Like this article? We recommend Be sure to check out the rest of this article series. Part 1 introduces the concept of using plug-ins to handle authentication of users. In Part 2, you’ll learn how to use XML to validate users. Finally, Part 4 wraps up the series by showing you how to log your process, as well as some troubleshooting.

This is the third article in a four-part series on building plug-ins with C# .NET. The second part in the series covered some XML-related topics, such as using an XML file to store usernames and passwords, and writing a custom XML configuration section handler to parse the application configuration file.

In this article, I'll show you how to build two new plug-ins that require configuration. The first plug-in requires an LDAP root and the name of a domain in which to find a user. The second requires a database connection string. Aside from the configuration concepts, the other concepts that I'll introduce are using directory services like LDAP to authenticate against Active Directory, and using classes in the System.Data.SqlClient namespace to connect to a database.

Configuration Issues

When the plug-ins are loaded by the testing app, AuthenticationPlugin.UI.UITester, a call to ConfigurationSettings.AppSettings will pull configuration values from the application's configuration file, even if an XML configuration file was added correctly to the plug-in project. This can be seen by the Debug statement added to the MyTest test plug-in, which prints the location of the configuration file using the built-in .NET AppDomain class:

Debug.WriteLine
  ( AppDomain.CurrentDomain.SetupInformation.ConfigurationFile );

The Debug statement above prints the full name of the file that is being used as the configuration file, which will be the Application's configuration file.

This presents a slight problem. To add configurable values to one of the plug-ins, I could simply add the configuration keys to the application file, and I could even keep the file separate but include it using:

<appSettings file="plugin.config" />

However, with many different plug-ins, the potential exists for configuration keys to overlap. For instance, if more than one plug-in uses a database connection, I could easily have two configuration strings. One way to get around this is to add the full namespace and classname to the front of the configuration key, like this:

<appSettings>
  <add key="AuthenticationPlugin.Plugins.SqlAuthenticator.connectionString"
  value="Database=…" />
  </appSettings>

Although this can work fine, the main reason why you might not want to configure the plug-ins this way is because it requires you to modify the application's configuration file. A requirement to add values to the configuration file conflicts with the intended concept: add the plug-in, and use it right away.

To solve this configuration dilemma, I wrote a base class that can be extended by any plug-in that requires configuration. Using a base class allows both our two new plug-ins, the LDAP and database authentication plug-ins, to take advantage of the same code to load configuration.

The base class uses an XML reader to iterate through a file and add any elements it finds under the base element to a NameValueCollection—a class that comes with .NET in the Systems.Collections.Specialty namespace. The base class uses the Assembly's current directory and name to compose a full configuration file filename by tacking on an extension. I chose ".config" as the file extension, but you could change it to make more sense for your implementation.

The LoadConfiguration method from the base class is shown in Listing 1-1. The LoadConfiguration method accepts the name of the configuration file's root node as a string and returns a new NameValueCollection object with the element names and their values. A sample file, listed here, results in a NameValueCollection with two key value pairs in it: valueA, with the value of Foo, and valueB with the value of Bar.

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<rootElement>
   <valueA>Foo</valueA>
   <valueB>Bar</valueB>
</rootElement>

An XMLTextReader reads in the configuration file. The reader iterates through the XML nodes and looks to see if the node is of type Element (other types include Comment, Document, Text, and more). Once an Element is found (otherwise known as a tag), the name of the element is added to the NameValueCollection along with the text inside the element. The root element, identified by the single parameter to the LoadConfiguration method, is skipped because we don't want it in the configuration key-value pair.

The base class is added to the AuthenticationPlugin.Common project so other plug-ins can extend from it easily; they will all need to refer to the project anyway, to implement the IAuthenticationPlugin interface and define the AuthenticationPlugin attribute.

Listing 1-1

protected NameValueCollection LoadConfiguration( string rootNodeName )
{

  NameValueCollection config = new NameValueCollection();
  /* It's not implemented for this example for the sake of
   * brevity, but this method really should check to see 
   * if the file exists and log the error somewhere if it 
   * doesn't.
   */
  Debug.WriteLine( Assembly.GetCallingAssembly().Location );
  XmlTextReader configReader = new XmlTextReader( 
          Assembly.GetCallingAssembly().Location + ".config" );

    try
    {
          
    /* While the file is not at the end */
    while ( ! configReader.EOF )
    {
           /* In this specific configuration file, the code is 
            * looking for elements 
            */
           if ( XmlNodeType.Element == configReader.MoveToContent() &&
                   configReader.Name != rootNodeName )
           {
           /* Add the configuration to the internal 
              NameValueCollection object */
           config.Add( configReader.Name, 
           configReader.ReadElementString() );
           }
           else
           {
           /* Advance through the file if we're not interested in
            * the current node
            */
            configReader.Read();
            }
    }
 }
  finally
  {
    /* It is very important to close the file */
    if ( null != configReader )
    {
    configReader.Close();
    }
  }
  return config;
}
  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020