Internet Engineering Task Force M. Peterson, Ed.
Internet-Draft Quest Software
Updates: 7643,7644 (if approved) March 1, 2017
Intended status: Standards Track
Expires: September 2, 2017

Cursor-based Pagination of SCIM Resources


The System for Cross-domain Identity Management (SCIM) protocol supports the retrieval of core identity resources such as users and groups. In order to avoid overwhelming the SCIM client or service provider, SCIM defines index and count pagination query parameters that can be used "page through" large numbers of resources. For some SCIM service providers there are advantages in implementing cursor-based pagination as an alternative to index-based pagination. This document defines a simple extension to the SCIM protocol and core schema to assure interoperability of SCIM implementations that need to realize the advantages cursor-based pagination.

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1. Introduction

System for Cross-domain Identity Management (SCIM) protocol [RFC7644] supports the retrieval of core identity resources such as users and groups. When many resources exist, two strategies may be employed to help to avoid overwhelming the SCIM client and service provider. First, SCIM supports the use of query filters. A query filter allows the SCIM client to constrain the results returned to just the subset of resources that are needed by the client. Second, SCIM supports the ability to "page through" large result sets using index/count pagination parameters.

Not only is filtering an OPTIONAL capability,for service providers, it is also a very common for SCIM clients to not to use a query filter in order to intentionally to retrieve all resources. Therefore, pagination of results (more so than filtering) is a primary scalability mechanism for SCIM service providers.

The two most common patterns for result pagination in HTTP-based protocols are: index-based pagination, and cursor-based pagination. Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages. For web applications that also provide a application-specific Web API, the decision for which result pagination approach to use in the Web API is often dictated by the capabilities and optimizations of the underlying application database technology, or by strongly held preference of software developers.

Implementation of a SCIM service provider is often made as a companion service along side an already existing application-specific Web API. If cusor-based pagination is already used in an existing application, it can be difficult to create a companion SCIM implementation that uses existing application code paths. For these applications, the mismatch in pagination approaches (index-based vs. cursor-based) is an impediment to SCIM implementation.

This document defines a simple extension to the SCIM protocol and core schema that adds support for cursor-based pagination. Support for cursor-based pagination in SCIM encourages broader cross-application identity management interoperiablity by encouraging SCIM implementations for applications where cursor-based pagination is preferred.

1.1. Notational Conventions

The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119 [RFC2119].

2. Query Parameters and Response Attributes

The following table describes the URL pagination parameters for cursor-based pagination:

Pagination Request Parameters
Parameter Description Default
cursor The string value from the nextCursor attribute from the previous result page. A cursor parameter SHOULD be omitted for the first request of paginated query None.
count A positive integer. Specifies the desired maximum number of query results per page, e.g., 10. None. When specified, the service provider MUST NOT return more results than specified, although it MAY return fewer results.

The following table describes cursor-based pagination attributes returned in a paged query response:

Pagination Response Elements
Element Description
nextCursor A cursor value string that MAY be used in a subsequent request to obtain the next page of results. Service providers supporting cursor-based pagination MUST include nextCursor in all paged query responses except when returning the last page. nextCursor is omitted from a response only to indicate that there are no more result pages.
previousCursor A cursor value string that MAY be used in a subsequent request to obtain the previous page of results. Use of previousCursor is optional. Service Providers that are unable to support a previousCursor MAY omit previousCursor when sending paged query responses.

For example, to retrieve the first 10 Users, omit the cursor and set the count to 10:

   GET /Users?count=10
   Accept: application/scim+json
   Authorization: Bearer U8YJcYYRMjbGeepD


The response to the query above returns metadata regarding pagination similar to the following example (actual resources removed for brevity):



Given the example above, to continue pagination, set the cursor to the value of nextCursor ("VZUTiyhEQJ94IR") and re-fetch:

   GET /Users?cursor=VZUTiyhEQJ94I&count=10
   Accept: application/scim+json
   Authorization: Bearer U8YJcYYRMjbGeepD


If a Service Provider encounters an invalid cursor or count value (or other error condition), the Service Provider SHOULD return appropriate HTTP response status code and JSON detail error response as defined in Section 3.1.2 of RFC 7644 [RFC7644]

3. Service Provider Configuration

T The SCIM service provider configuration resource [RFC7644] facilitates discovery of SCIM service provider features. A SCIM Service provider implementing cursor-based pagination SHOULD include the following additional attribute in JSON document returned by the /ServiceProviderConfig endpoint:

A complex type that indicates cursor-based pagination configuration options. OPTIONAL.
cursor A Boolean value specifying whether or not the cursor-based pagination is supported. REQUIRED.

Before using cursor-based pagination, a SCIM client SHOULD fetch the Service Provider Configuration document from the SCIM service provider and verify that cursor-based pagination is supported.

For example:

   GET /ServiceProviderConfig
   Accept: application/scim+json


A service provider supporting cursor-based pagination would return a document similar to the following (portions of full Service Provider Configuration Schema ommitted for brevity):

      "schemas": [


      "pagination": {



4. Normative References

[RFC2119] Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997.
[RFC7643] Hunt, P., Grizzle, K., Wahlstroem, E. and C. Mortimore, "System for Cross-domain Identity Management: Core Schema", RFC 7643, DOI 10.17487/RFC7643, September 2015.
[RFC7644] Hunt, P., Grizzle, K., Ansari, M., Wahlstroem, E. and C. Mortimore, "System for Cross-domain Identity Management: Protocol", RFC 7644, DOI 10.17487/RFC7644, September 2015.

Author's Address

Matt Peterson (editor) Quest Software EMail:

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