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20140521: UWWI User Name Changes (UWWI Person Directory Agent release)

A service change is planned for the UWWI NETID domain service. You may see variations of this notice from other services that are dependent on UWWI for directory information, e.g. perhaps a notice from UW Exchange about the impact on the global address list.


What and When:

On Thursday, May 29th, we’ll release a new version of our UWWI Person Directory Agent. This will result in quite a few changes to the naming attributes on UWWI user objects. The naming attributes affected include: displayName, givenName, sn, and initials. See More Info below for details.



This release fixes three known problems, gives us some flexibility we haven’t had previously, sets a default value so all UWWI users have a displayName, and gets UWWI out of a risky practice it shouldn’t have been in. See More Info below for details.


What you need to do:

Nothing: unfortunately, except in specific cases that do not cover the entire UW NetID population, there currently is very little a user can do modify what name data is displayed in directories and applications at the UW today. This fact remains true with or without this release.


To be clear, the following populations have some control of their enterprise naming data:

  • Employees. Go to the Employee Self-Service (ESS) application and choose to publish your name.
  • Students. The Registrar has publishable name data. This page ( in the Student Personal Services app controls whether the name data the Registrar has is publishable or not.
  • Shared UW NetIDs. Talk with the UW-IT Service Center ( to get the “AVF displayName” value changed.All other populations have no publishable name data.UWWI encourages customers to ask UW-IT to prioritize the Preferred Name project if they’d like to see an enterprise solution to this problem.More Info:

The effects of this release are:

    1. “Dead” accounts no longer interfere with active users getting name data (see prior announcements for more about “dead” accounts). This may not sound important, but this issue affects thousands of accounts.
    2. A bug that could result in a leading space in the displayName is fixed. This bug prevented affected users from getting provisioned to Azure Active Directory, inclusion in the Exchange global address list, and mailbox provisioning to Exchange Online.
    3. The work we did 3 years ago to allow the name value from the naming data source for Shared UW NetIDs to get provisioned upon UW NetID password change will flow automatically without any need for a password change. This means that any Shared UW NetID that hasn’t had a password change in the last 3 years will benefit. See for my description of that prior work.
    4. We increase our flexibility by allowing one of the new custom attributes we added a couple months ago to be an overriding source of data. This means that when there aren’t any other enterprise options, UWWI can still satisfy its customers. This is costly from a support perspective, so we’d prefer that customers influence an enterprise solution here, but we know that sometimes things must happen now. J
    5. All UWWI user accounts provisioned by UWWI have a default displayName and sn value. That default value is the UW NetID. If there is no usable naming data source, a UWWI user will end up with this value. This is the case for a large set of personal UW NetIDs.
    6. We stop using a naming data source (the so-called “Official Name”) which has no clear privacy or publish guidance. When we launched the UWWI Person Directory Agent 6 years ago, we made a decision to use this data source. At that time, we recognized there was a privacy issue and chose to partially mitigate this by truncating the givenName portion of the name data. But over time, we’ve come to recognize that re-using this data source is not appropriate. Almost all UWWI user accounts that have a displayName value that looks like “B. Arkills” get their name data from this naming data source. The accounts where that is the case are predominantly personal UW NetIDs who are not employees or students.


There is quite a bit more detail about all of those things, and if you want to dig in deeper, look at It’s been updated to reflect this release. It documents the new behavior in the section entitled “Complex Attribute Mappings.”


So in summary, we’ve fixed some bugs, added a default value, made name provisioning more consistent for Shared UW NetIDs, given ourselves an override, and stopped using a problematic data source.


If you have questions about this planned work, please send email to with “UWWI Person Directory Agent” in the subject line. If you’d like to ask UW-IT to prioritize an enterprise solution, send email to with “Preferred Name project” in the subject line.


Brian Arkills

UW-IT, Identity and Access Management

UWWI Service Manager