Passing attribute with whitespace value

Koren, Meshna (ELS-AMS) M.Koren at
Wed Aug 3 09:13:01 UTC 2022

As one random SP operator out there I would not like to have to adapt on dealing with a single space character as a value for reasons mentioned below. In my view an IdP shouldn't be passing attributes when it doesn't have any values and an SP (and apps downstream) have to decide how to deal with that; throw an error, ask the user to enter value manually, leave a field empty... depends on SP's use case and requirements.

Kind regards,

From: users <users-bounces at> On Behalf Of Christopher Bongaarts via users
Sent: Monday, August 1, 2022 18:12
To: users at
Cc: Christopher Bongaarts <cab at>
Subject: Re: Passing attribute with whitespace value

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We used a similar workaround back when we used WebEx; I think we used a scripted attribute to substitute a "-" for given name if none was present.  We did this as a custom attribute that was only sent to WebEx so it would not corrupt non-broken systems.

On 8/1/2022 10:22 AM, Morgan, Andrew J via users wrote:
Hi Warren,

Here at Oregon State University, we set the person's firstname to "." (period) when the person has no firstname.  I'm guessing firstname was a required field back in the 1990s when OSU implemented Banner.


From: users <users-bounces at><mailto:users-bounces at> on behalf of Warren Leung <warrenwl at><mailto:warrenwl at>
Sent: Friday, July 29, 2022 1:00 PM
To: Shib Users <users at><mailto:users at>
Subject: Re: Passing attribute with whitespace value

[This email originated from outside of OSU. Use caution with links and attachments.]

Hi Peter,

We are currently working with HR on evaluating ways of displaying users who have no first name. We currently are receiving FNU from HR, but many downstream systems has expressed issues with it. Leaving it blank would create issues for other systems. I guess the overall problem is probably something I can ask in an InCommon mailing list.



From: users <users-bounces at><mailto:users-bounces at> on behalf of Peter Schober via users <users at><mailto:users at>
Date: Thursday, July 28, 2022 at 12:51 PM
To: users at<mailto:users at> <users at><mailto:users at>
Cc: Peter Schober <peter.schober at><mailto:peter.schober at>
Subject: Re: Passing attribute with whitespace value

* Mark Scarbrough <scarbrom at><mailto:scarbrom at> [2022-07-28 16:30]:
> We have a use case where we are trying to pass a value of a single
> space in an attribute.

Maybe I'll regret even askig but would you care to share what that use
case is or rather how a single space can convey the required semantics
(not not any other non-whitespace character)?

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