Changing User Information using Active Directory in VB.NET

 If your company is one of the lucky? Ones to implement Windows 2000 Active Directory you may have been looking for a way to populate it with data. Perhaps adding people's details from a file directly into the active directory.

The problem I faced was a brand new active directory and a brand new exchange server 2000. In a standard Windows 2000 Active Directory, if I wanted to add a contact I would use the Active Directory User's and Computers addin. However when you install Exchange Server 2000 into such a network it makes extensive modifications to the Active Directory Schema. Because of this, if you have Exchange Server 2000 running you have to use Exchange's version of active directory users and computers because only that version knows about Microsoft Exchange's modification to the Active Directory Schema.

Phew, now I have set the scene, remember firstly to not test code like this on a production active directory or face the wrath of your system admins J.

My problem was I have a .CSV file with 290 contacts which needed to be fed into the Active Directory contacts, specifically in an Organization Unit or OU called Email Contacts.

Of course I could have typed them all in by hand or spend an hour or so building some C# code to do this. I choose the latter J.

My first task was to work out which fields I needed to update for a contact. The way to do this is to use the CSVDE utility (included with windows 2000 server) to output a .CSV file of a current OU. Doing this tells you what fields to use to add the contact.

I wanted to modify four fields - first name, last name; display name, and email. These translated in Active Directory terms to - givenname,sn,displayname,mail. As you can see Active Directory fields are not always as intuitive as you think.

Now I needed a way to import the .CSV file one line at a time and give me the four items of data. In other languages like VBA I would use string chopping techniques like Left, Right and Instr but with C# the string class has a method called Split . If you have not used this it allows you to give it a separator character or multiple separators in a char array and return a string array. Having used this the rest of the code is pretty straightforward.

Note that active directory will only add an item if all fields etc are correct. In my case some of the emails had characters in them which active directory bounced back. By using a try - catch block to catch these and outputting the problem contacts to the console I was able to go back and modify them till all 290 contacts went cleanly into the Active Directory. In my case the code completes in around 3 seconds.

Okay so now I have 290 contacts in Active Directory. The last problem was they were not showing up in the Exchange Global Address List. The reason for this was that they were not exchange enabled. This meant they were proper Active Directory contacts but of course Exchange needed a lot more information before they would appear in the global address list.

I could have spent more time researching this or do it the lazy way. If you go into the Exchange version of active directory users and computers and go to where you added the contacts you can right-click each contact, select Exchange Tasks and then select an option to create the Exchange contact.

I manually updated 290 contacts in 15 minutes. Sometime you have to take the long way as sometimes it's quicker.

You would be amazed how many companies have a Windows 2000 Active Directory but have not added things like peoples details, addresses etc simply because nobody wants to manually enter them. This article shows that as long as you have the data in a file you can add it easily using code.

Source Code:

' ActiveDirectoryAddContacts
' Adds contacts from a CSV file into the Active Directory
' Written 08/12/02 by John O'Donnell 

Imports System.IO
Imports System.DirectoryServices 
Namespace ActiveDirectoryAddContacts
Shared Sub Main(ByVal args() As String)
 DSESearcher As System.DirectoryServices.DirectorySearcher = New
Dim RootDSE As String = DSESearcher.SearchRoot.Path
RootDSE = RootDSE.Insert(7, "ou=Email Contacts,")
Dim myDE As DirectoryEnTry = New DirectoryEnTry(RootDSE)
Dim myEntries As DirectoryEntries = myDE.Children
 fs As FileStream = New
("e:\\programs\\dotnet\\activedirectoryaddcontacts\\input.csv", FileMode.OpenOrCreate, FileAccess.Read)
Dim sr As StreamReader = New StreamReader(fs)
Dim i As Integer
 i = 1 To 291 - 1 Step
 i + 1
 str As String
 = sr.ReadLine()
Dim ca() As Char = {","c}

 sa() As String
 = str.Split(ca, 4)
Dim myDirectoryEnTry As DirectoryEnTry = myEntries.Add("CN=" + sa(2), "contact")
myDirectoryEnTry.Properties("givenname").Value = sa(0)myDirectoryEnTry.Properties("sn").Value=sa(1) 
myDirectoryEnTry.Properties("displayname").Value=sa(2) myDirectoryEnTry.Properties("mail").Value=sa(3)myDirectoryEnTry.CommitChanges()

 e As
End Try


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