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Fri 18 Apr 2008

LDAP Enabler is a real application now - it has an icon

Category : Technology

I was wracking my brains about finding an appropriate icon for LDAP Enabler. It needs to convey the idea that it's a tool for setting up information about people (of course, you can set it up to store information about things, like resources and conference rooms, etc) but most people would use it naturally to store information about people.

And this information is hierarchically organised. This idea about hierarchy in the LDAP setup is so fundamental - you can't search for things if you mess up the hierarchy.

(I've released a new version of LDAP Enabler - 1.0 beta 2 - that disables the domain name field while the LDAP Server is running because this messes up the Search Base and, consequently, the root level of the hierarchy. You can only change the domain name when you stop the LDAP Server. But then you can't find the contacts that you're already entered because they are still stuck to the previous search base. This may be a source of some confusion but it shows just how tied to the notion of hierarchy is LDAP. It's not anything like a relational database.)

Anyway, I needed an icon to show that the application is (mainly) about storing information about people - lots of people - and the people are hierarchically organised, and the information is bounded by a domain.

I tried various permutations of the NSEveryone icon used in the OS X Directory utility, plus the Address Book icon, but they all seemed so cliched.

Then I remembered that I'm a member of that race that still uses the longest surviving ideographic written language on earth (not that I had retained much facility with that language, to my eternal shame, so thoroughly had I been immersed in Western education and ways of thinking). How would the Chinese write this if they have to invent a new word that would depict said notion?

It could be something like this :

So this is LDAP Enabler's icon. It's, of course, not any "real" word in Chinese. It's just my invention, but it's struck me just how close these ideographic representations are to icons. They both need to pack a lot of punch in terms of informational content, in such a small space. I've never thought of things this way before.

Posted at 9:21AM SGT | permalink


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