My Internship at Auto/Mate

Auto MateMy time at Auto/Mate was both extremely valuable towards my future career and a very interesting experience overall. The things I learned while interning at that company will definitely help me as I go out into the real world as a software developer. On top of that, learning about different technologies and being able to apply them to whatever I was working on was extremely satisfying.

Auto/Mate is a suite of software that car dealerships can use to manage their company. It covers a wide variety of tasks such as managing inventory, delegating salaries to employees, and pulling down information from third parties such as Carfax. That last task is part of the “Open/Mate” software, which integrates third parties into the system.

Open/Mate uses an application to manage which third parties are needed by certain dealerships, and what services from the third parties the dealerships are allowed to use. This application, “UpdateServer”, is used primarily by Auto/Mate employees. Since it’s an internal application, UpdateServer was made very hastily with little care for bug fixes and optimization. I was tasked with cleaning up the UpdateServer package as much as possible.

My primary task was dealing with something called an LDAP server. LDAP (or Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) is a “directory service” that stores information in a hierarchal format as opposed to tables in a typical relational database. UpdateServer used LDAP to store information about third parties, their services, and the dealerships using them. However, the way UpdateServer was talking to LDAP was extremely inefficient. Whenever a change was made, UpdateServer would write the change to a file, send that file over to the LDAP server, and run another small program on there that rebuilt the entire LDAP server with the correct changes. With roughly 600 dealerships using this software, the amount of downtime required to rebuild the server was way too problematic. My supervisor suggested using LDIF (LDAP Data Interchange Format) files to send the changes to the LDAP server. LDIF files are specifically formatted to be understood by an LDAP server, so the LDAP server could make the change itself without having to be rebuilt.

James Ford, CSI 490


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