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NAB: A key piece of the Domino administration puzzle

A key piece of the Domino administration puzzle is the system file known as Name & Address Book, or NAB. This tip will explain some of the basic properties of the NAB.

For anyone learning Domino administration, one of the key pieces of the puzzle is the Name & Address Book. Complicating the learning curve is the fact that this important system file is also known as NAB, names, names.nsf, Domino directory, public directory or just directory. Another helpful point of terminology: in the Notes/Domino world, the words "database" and "file" are generally interchangeable.

This article will explain some of the basic properties of the NAB, as well as why you will be interacting with it frequently as you administer a Notes/Domino system.

There are two very different versions of the NAB: one "public" on the Domino server, the other "personal" on each user's Notes workstation. Unfortunately, both of these databases have the same filename (names.nsf) even though the contents of each are vastly different.

The public NAB holds information that is required for proper server operation. This is a lot of data, especially for a large Notes/Domino network. It includes a list of all users, e-mail groups, setup policies for new servers, security settings for every server, network protocols, server replication schedules, e-mail routing tables, Domino Web server setup, Domino LDAP server setup, remote network management setup (SNMP), a list of Notes workstation licenses, scheduled program execution, and corporate organization structure.

In my opinion, the public NAB has become a bloated tangle and would be far better as a set of coherently designed smaller files. But Lotus is sort of stuck with the "everything in the public NAB" legacy for version compatibility. To their credit, Lotus does create other system databases for new server features (when they are able to do so). For example, the server-cluster features are mostly managed by other databases, to keep this information out of the public NAB.

The personal NAB is much simpler; it contains just a list of personal e-mail contacts (for people who aren't in the public NAB) and some data records to tell Notes how to connect to the available Domino servers.

As a Domino admin, you'll be making frequent use of the Domino Administrator software. A good thing to know: One of this program's purposes is to hide the complexity of the public NAB. Much of what you can do within Domino Administrator can also be done directly in the public NAB, simply by editing that file with the Notes client. Knowing this, experienced admins often bypass Domino Administrator and perform control operations directly in the NAB.

For the most part, I have moved away from doing this in my own work. In some cases, Domino Administrator performs operations in a more complete manner, and this may not be readily apparent if you work directly in the NAB. I advise you to use the Domino Administrator software for any operation that it performs.

For further information:

Lotus Domino Administrator 6 Help/Contents/Administration Tools.

Lotus Domino Administrator 6 Help/Contents/Directory Services/The Domino Directory.

You can also find this Help database on the web at Domino Administrator 6 Help.

Chuck Connell is president of CHC-3 Consulting, which helps organizations with all aspects of Domino and Notes.

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