UWWI User displayName Update

About 2 years ago, I wrote about how the UWWI user displayName provisioning works. Last Friday, there was a slight change, and this post is to amend that prior post with the new behavior.

UWWI user displayNames are used most prominently by UW Exchange, but are also used by other applications that leverage UWWI, such as UW Sharepoint.

So the change itself is small, but it potentially affects quite a few UWWI users. In specific, any shared UW NetID can be affected by this change. Back in 2009, I wrote:

“Upon provisioning, our account creation agent, fuzzy_kiwi, does some complicated name parsing logic similar to what I’ll describe below. For uw netids where it doesn’t find a PDS entry, or where it isn’t allowed to publish the name, it stamps the uwnetid value on the name attributes. And for some uw netids, that initial value is where things end.”

Until last Friday, that was the end of the story for all shared UW NetIDs. The only way they got a displayName value was via our account provisioning/password agent, and the only displayName value they could have was the uwnetid value.

The account provisioning & password agent now uses different logic to determine the displayName it should populate for shared UW NetIDs. For shared UW NetIDs, it instead uses the PDS displayName value with some minor manipulation to improve the casing.

What is the PDS displayName attribute?

Well, here are some factoids about the PDS displayName attribute:

  • It generally isn’t used very widely (because there are many other name attributes which generally have more interesting data)All values in it are upper case
  • There isn’t a self-service method to modify the PDS displayName attribute, but the administrators for a given shared UW NetID can call the UW-IT Help Desk to get it modified
  • The source for PDS displayName attribute value for shared UW NetIDs comes from the UW NetID system
  • The source for PDS displayName attribute value for other UW NetIDs varies (and is generally what is considered the “official” source of data)

Some of these factoids about the PDS displayName attribute may change (perhaps radically) in the future, as it may be the attribute used to deploy the UW NetID displayName solution I talked about 2 years ago.

So the UWWI user displayName for shared UW NetIDS will now be upper case?

No. We do a slight modification to the data to make it more readable/usable. We lowercase it all, and upper case only the first character in each “word” in the data. So generally, it looks pretty good, but there are some cases where the first character of a “word” is a special character, and then it doesn’t look quite right.

Example UWWI user displayNames that might come out of this are:

  • “Brian D. Arkills”
  • “Arts Sciences Deans Office”
  • “Temporary Patron”
  • “Simpson, Bart”
  • “Brian Arkills ‘admin'”

Note that this logic doesn’t attempt to re-order the data for consistency, so “lastname, firstname” isn’t re-ordered to “firstname lastname”. But keep in mind that generally Shared UW NetIDs don’t have a person’s name on them, but instead have a department’s name or something similar.

So when would a UWWI user that is a shared UW NetID benefit from this new displayName provisioning functionality?

Here are the ways this new logic can be triggered:

  • UW NetID password set (usually happens after UW NetID creation)
  • UW NetID password change
  • UW NetID rename (a rename isn’t recommended unless you can’t avoid it)

And that’s it. This logic change is only implemented in the account/password provisioning agent, not in ILM.

Earlier I mentioned the UW NetID displayName solution that I revealed 2 years ago. That solution isn’t dead, it just hasn’t been prioritized. And we still see that solution as simplifying the complexity, providing self-service management for all UW NetIDs, and most importantly putting control into your hands.

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