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midPoint works with two distinct concepts that represent objects on the resources such as accounts, groups, permissions, etc.

  • Resource Objects are real objects on the target resources. These are LDAP entries, lines in /etc/passwd files, database rows, etc. Access to Resource Objects is provided by provisioning frameworks such as Identity Connectors, OpenPTK or other.
  • Resource Object Shadows are objects in IDM repository. There are short pieces of XML that usually contain basic information about resource object and are just pointer to the real resource objects. The shadows may cache the information from resource objects to speed up access. How much or how little information is kept in the shadow objects is a specified by system (resource) configuration. Resource Object Shadows are also called simply "shadows" or "shadow objects".


Stored in

Identified by



Resource Object

natively on resource

any identifier

any schema

all resource object data

Resource Object Shadow

local IDM repository


fixed midPoint schema

common resource object data

Following figure illustrates the way how user, shadows and resource objects work together. User (<user>) and account shadow (<account>) are midPoint objects stored in midPoint identity repository. More precisely only the parts shown in black are stored in the repository, the parts shown in blue and fetched from the resource on demand. User and account shadow objects are linked. It means that the user is an owner of the specified account. User and all owned accounts are synchronized using inbound and outbound expressions.

Shadows are automatically "synchronized" with resource objects. A change of a shadow results in a change of a resource object. In fact, shadows are little more than a projections of resource objects. Only the most important parts of a shadow are stored in midPoint identity repository. Usually only the identifiers are stored and therefore the shadow acts as a "mapping" object between OID and native identifiers (e.g. LDAP DN, UUID, ...).

Resource Object Shadow

Resource Object Shadows have a fixed schema. Resource Object Shadows are defined in MidPoint Common Schema and are (indirect) subtypes of Object. Therefore they are identified by OID, can be stored in the repository, the client code may use a name property as a human-readable name, etc. To make it short, they are usual identity objects in the midPoint system.

Resource Object Shadows have one additional extensibility point: the attributes element. This element is used to store attributes of the object that are not fixed to midPoint static schema. Attributes that are fetched from the resource may be stored in this element. Attributes that can have different form and different meaning for each individual resource instance. The schema for the attributes element is not fixed, it is just xsd:any wildcard. However we assume that all the elements under the attributes tag will be in a form of properties.

The name for "shadow" object was chosen from the lack of better names. We wanted to avoid "replica", "copy", "proxy" or similar heavily-overloaded terms. We also wanted to make sure that the shadow objects will not get confused with the real resource objects.

Resource Object Shadow Example

Following form of shadow object is provided by the Provisioning Service Interface. It has most of the interesting attributes that were probably freshly fetched from the resource.

Shadow object when retrieved from provisioning

Following form of shadow object will be stored in the repository. It contains only the very basic information, usually only the identifiers. It may contain cached data as well, but that is not mandatory.

Shadow object as stored in the repository

Default namespace in both examples points to the MidPoint Common Schema. The ds1 prefix is bound to the resource schema namespace, schema specific to the resource instance. See the Resource Schema page for more details.

Resource Object

Resource objects are native objects on the resource represented as XML. They have no fixed structure, except that they should be constructed from properties. They are quite formless because we cannot predict all the possible objects that a target resource can have and may be interesting to identity management. There may be projects, workgroups-that-are-almost-but-not-quite-entirely-unlike-organizational-units, server clusters, coffee machines, kangaroos, or any other type of objects that we cannot imagine now.

Resource objects will not be stored in midPoint repository. They cannot as they have no fixed structure and therefore they have no OID. Resource objects are not directly used by stock midPoint logic. Stock midPoint code always works with shadow objects, not resource objects. As resource objects have no fixed schema it is very difficult to write generic code that work with them. Resource objects are more like necessary evil than something that we really want in IDM system. The sole purpose of resource objects is to be available to customized business logic.

The operation that work with resource objects are not yet implemented in provisioning interface.

Resource Object Example

Following example shows the same object but represented as resource object using Resource Schema. This is really not a typical example, it is provided here only for comparison with the shadow object.

Resource Object

More "typical" example of resource object is provided below.

Resource Object

If it looks fictional it may be caused by the fact that it is fictional. If we could define appropriate type, stereotype or class of typical resource object that are found in IDM deployments now, we would do it. We would create appropriate (static) type of shadow objects for them. But, similarly to kangaroos that are not frequently used in IDM deployments, the resource objects are really designed only to support the unexpected, strange and exotic cases.

Resource Object Identification

Resource object are identified by whatever native identifier is there. That may be DN for LDAP, username and groupname for traditional systems, numeric uids, guid, UUIDs, GUID, nsUniqueIds or even some combination of several identifiers. We cannot really dictate any fixed identifier type, format or scheme.

Therefore we have chosen not choose a common identifier. Every connector will choose or suggest an identification mechanism for each resource object type. The connector will announce the identification mechanism in the Resource Schema using the Resource Schema Annotations.

TODO: maybe an example?

A Complex Example

Following picture illustrates the concepts of resource objects, resource objects shadows, resource schema and much more.

See Also

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