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PeopleUpdate 2.0

Web Active Directory's PeopleUpdate 2.0 provides Web-based interfaces to view and update information in Active Directory (AD). As the name implies, PeopleUpdate is targeted toward user information (the default AD global filter is objectCategory=person), but you can configure it more broadly if you choose.

In a typical implementation, people are able to search AD for user information, such as a user's name, address, phone number, or email address. During setup, the administrator chooses which AD attributes are available to users and which AD attributes users are able to update. One feature lets users update some of their own attributes, while providing read-only access to the same attributes for other users.

PeopleUpdate installs on Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 Server. It requires Microsoft IIS 5.0 or later, the Microsoft .NET Framework 1.0 or later, and an account with read/write permission to AD. The basic software installation proceeds quickly. In general, the online documentation is informative and useful.

After you install the software, an online Getting Started guide prompts you to check a variety of settings and permissions required for proper operation of PeopleUpdate. Many of these items don't need to be changed if the system default values are still in place, but guiding you through the list anyway is a nice touch. Administrators who go to the trouble to lock down their servers beyond the default settings will appreciate this extra bit of documentation. On completion of this checklist, PeopleUpdate is ready for a test drive.

Using the administrative interface, you can designate the AD attributes that users can search on and build ACLs to determine who is able to view and edit the various attributes. Just as you can configure the format of this search page, you can also configure the format of three other pages: the summary results page (which lists the names of the AD objects that meet the search criteria), the detailed results page (which displays information about one AD object), and the edit page (which lets users change those attributes they're authorized to modify).

Using the interface for users, people can search for user information based on the AD attributes you configure to appear on the search page page. Although there's no reporting component, users can export the search results in the format you select during setup. Three formats are available: Microsoft Excel, comma-delimited, or tab-delimited. Note that you can export summary data only. A feature new to version 2.0 is the organization chart. Using information drawn from AD's Manager field, PeopleUpdate displays an organization chart on the detailed results page, as Figure 1 shows. The organization chart provides another avenue to navigate between users while you're in the detailed results page.

Considering that PeopleUpdate is only at version 2.0, there's ample room for enhancement. Personally, I'd like to see enhancements to make it easier for a user to browse for a name. The search page supports pull-down lists created by the administrator but not lists that are automatically derived from AD content. Adding to the search page auto-generated pull-down lists for AD attributes such as Division, Department, and Title would make the search more user-friendly. Direct support for additional AD object types would also add value for administrators. Conversations with company representatives lead me to expect a regular stream of upgrades aimed at increasing the product's versatility. Nevertheless, PeopleUpdate is a useful, easy-to-use product that performs its basic function well. If you're seeking an easy-to-implement AD-based company directory to add to your intranet, you should give it a whirl.

PeopleUpdate 2.0
Contact: Web Active Directory * 720-938-3578
Price: $1495 for the first 500 users and $1.95 for each additional user; volume, educational, and government discounts are available
Pros: Simple, easy-to-use interface; performs its basic functions well
Cons: No reporting component; room for enhancement
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Recommendation: A product with basic, but effective, features for those seeking to add an AD-based company directory to their intranet.
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