This post explains how to connect to an LDAP server (in my case Apache DS) and retrieve elements which match a certain filter.

I have deployed an Apache Directory Server version 2.0 and imported the demo LDIF containing users and groups for the “sevenSeas” organization. You can download the file from the apache DS documentation.

This java code connects to the Apache DS deployed locally using the default port and user, and searches the context “ou=groups,o=sevenSeas” for groups the user “Fletcher Christian” belongs to.

import java.util.Properties;

import javax.naming.NamingEnumeration;
import javax.naming.NamingException;
import javax.naming.ldap.InitialLdapContext;

public class LdapSearch {
  public static void main(String[] args) throws NamingException {
    InitialLdapContext ctx = constructInitialLdapContext();
    // the name of the context to search
    String contextName = "ou=groups,o=sevenSeas";
    // Filter expression
    String filterExpr = "(uniquemember={0})"; // selects the groups a user belongs to.

    // Filter parameters (name of the user)
    String userDN = "cn=Fletcher Christian,ou=people,o=sevenSeas";
    Object[] filterArgs = { userDN };

    SearchControls constraints = new;
    constraints.setSearchScope(SearchControls.SUBTREE_SCOPE); // SUBTREE_SCOPE means recursive search

    NamingEnumeration<SearchResult> search =,
    filterExpr, filterArgs, constraints);
    while (search.hasMoreElements()) {

  private static InitialLdapContext constructInitialLdapContext()
    throws NamingException {
    Properties env = new Properties();
    // LDAP url
    env.put("java.naming.provider.url", "ldap://localhost:10389");
    // ldap login
    env.put("", "uid=admin,ou=system");
    env.put("", "secret");

    return new InitialLdapContext(env, null);


With the demo LDIF imported in Apache DS the output will be:

cn=HMS Bounty,ou=crews