UWdir documentation


How to use the UWdir "query"

The UWdir "query" item provides a way to formulate a query of the directory database by specifying search-criterion values. With the simple form, you specify the name of a person, and UWdir searches the GIVENNAMES, NICKNAME, and SURNAME fields for all entries that match your query. With the compound form, you control the fields that are to be searched.

Query by name

This is the simplest variation. For example, if you specify

     al smith     
then the query will return the default information for every UWdir entry for which the combination of GIVENNAMES, NICKNAME, and SURNAME values contains "al" and "smith" in any order. If you are not sure of the exact spelling of this person's name, you can issue the query with a "matches anything" character (the asterisk), as
     al* smith    
The result will contain the default information for all entries for which the combined fields contain the word "smith" and any word that starts with the letters "al". This will find all people with names such as "Allan Smith" and "Alicia Smith Jacobs" and "Smith Calvin Albright" (but note that it won't find "Alicia Smith-Jacobs").

Query by specific fields

Some interfaces (such as the Web) present you with a menu of all available fields and you type your search criteria by putting values into the fields of interest to you. With other interfaces (such as a computing-system command line), you have to specify the fieldname, an "=", and the value. For example,

will display the default information for the entry for which the PHONE field has the value "1234". With these interfaces, if the value contains a blank, you must enclose that value in double-quotation marks, such as
     office="MC 1065"

Asking for more than the default information

In the general case, you do this by specifying the two words "return all" at the end of the query. For example,

     surname=Watt office="MC 1065" return all
Some menu-driven interfaces may provide a different way of asking for all of the information.

From the command line of a Unix system

Issue the "uwdir" command; in its simplest form, this is

     uwdir firstname lastname
The computer you are using will ask the computer that runs the UWdir database (uwdir.uwaterloo.ca) to search for all entries whose NAME fields contain "firstname lastname". The results of the query will be displayed at your screen.

The more complex way to do this is to issue the "uwdir" command by itself. You will receive a few lines of introductory information followed by the "uwdir>" prompt. Any line that you type after that will be treated as a directory command (see below). To return to Unix command mode, issue the "quit" directory command. If the "uwdir" command is not installed on the Unix computer that you use, please contact the person who functions as the system administrator for that computer.

To display a list of all of the fields and see which ones are indexed, issue the directory command

To display a list of all directory commands, issue the directory command
(but please note that most of them aren't relevant to UWdir).

Database fields, and who to contact if they are wrong

Every entry in UWdir comes from one of three corporate-data sources (10K diagram):

  1. student-records information maintained by the Office of the Registrar and the Graduate Studies Office;
  2. the UW Telephone Directory database of employees and their offices and phone numbers, which starts with employee-records information created in Human Resources;
  3. "other people in the UW Telephone Directory" information that is maintained by IST Telephone Services independent of the above.

This information is imported "read only" into the UWdir database (5K diagram). If it is out of date, the request for change must be reported to the administrative entity identified in the table below.

field employee graduate
Human Resources Graduate
of the
IST Telephone Services (not present in entry)
email uwdir-updates@uwdir.uwaterloo.ca

If there is no UWdir entry for you ...

If you are a UW employee and you are not in UWdir, it is probably because IST Telephone Services has no record of an office and phone number for you. To appear in UWdir, please have your departmental secretary supply IST Telephone Services with that information by contacting Ginny Polai (email: vpolai@uwaterloo.ca).

If you are a registered UW student and you can't find your UWdir entry, it is because you have completed some form during Registration indicating that you do not want to be included in any directory compiled from student-records information. Your UWdir entry is suppressed (it is there but UWdir will not display it). To request removal of the "suppress" condition, you will have to go to the Office of the Registrar or the Graduate Studies Office, in person.


The value for NAME is generated by UWdir from the GIVENNAMES and SURNAME values, or from the INITIAL(S) and SURNAME values if there are no GIVENNAMES values.

For students, the GIVENNAMES, INITIAL(S), and SURNAME values come from the student-records information maintained by the Office of the Registrar or the Graduate Studies Office.

For faculty and staff, the values comes from information that originates in Human Resources.

For others (ie, not faculty or staff or student), such as academics visiting on sabbatical leave from other institutions, the values come from information reported to IST Telephone Services by the unit with which the person is affiliated.


For students, the DEPARTMENT value is the coded "FAC/PROG" abbreviations for the Faculty in which the student is registered and the program of study being pursued.

For faculty and staff, the DEPARTMENT value comes from payroll information that originates in Human Resources.

For others (ie, not faculty or staff or student), such as academics visiting on sabbatical leave from other institutions, it comes from information reported to IST Telephone Services by the unit with which the person is affiliated.


These values are not present in student entries. For faculty, staff, and others, the values come from information maintained by IST Telephone Services.

The OFFICE value contains the UW building-code abbreviation, a blank, and the room number.

If the PHONE value is a four-digit number, it is a UW extension. If the extension begins with "4", it can be direct-dialed from off campus as 519-888-nnnn. Otherwise, it can be dialed from off campus from a touch-tone phone by calling 519-888-4567 and following the recorded instructions, or from a rotary-dial phone by calling the UW Switchboard operator at 519-885-1211 and asking for that extension.

If there is a NICKNAME, it will also appear in the printed UW Telephone Directory in place of the GIVENNAMES.


The UWUSERID value is assigned automatically when an entry is first added to UWdir. It is created using the INITIAL(S) and SURNAME values; if necessary, a numeric value is inserted between INITIAL(S) and SURNAME to guarantee that the first 8 characters of UWUSERID are unique.

The USERID value is the first 8 characters of the UWUSERID value. Computing-system administrators are expected use the USERID value whenever they must generate a userid for that person on their computing facility. If a computing system allows more than 8 characters in a userid, it is the administrator's choice as to whether to use more than the first 8 characters of the UWUSERID value.

If your userid on the computing system you use is not derived from your assigned UWUSERID value, this is a serious discrepancy that must be corrected as soon as possible. The discrepancy most likely exists either because your EMAIL value was not recorded in UWdir when your UWUSERID value was assigned in December of 1993, or because the administrator of your computing system did not wait for your entry to appear in UWdir before assigning your computing-system userid. Please contact the administrator of your computing system, to have your computing-system userid changed. In some cases, it may make more sense for the computing-system administrator to contact the UWdir database-updates staff (at the email address below) to request that your UWUSERID value be changed. Please do not send such requests to the UWdir database-updates staff yourself; such requests must come from the computing-system administrator.


In many cases, the EMAIL value has come from information that has been reported to UWdir by a process that runs on the computing system on which the person's USERID has been implemented as a computing-system userid. In other cases, it may have come from information reported to the UWdir database-updates staff by the individual or by the unit with which the individual is affiliated.

If the EMAIL value is incorrect or missing, you can have it corrected or added by sending electronic mail

     To: uwdir-updates@uwdir.uwaterloo.ca


The date that the UWUSERID was originally assigned or last changed.


The date that this person disappeared from the university records that are the basis for UWdir entries. This occurs when a person ceases to be an employee of the university, or is a student who is not currently registered for any courses, or when IST Telephone Services deletes a manual-addition entry from the UW Telephone Directory database.

If you legally change your name...

If you have changed your name, notify Human Resources if you are an employee or the Registrar's Office or the Graduate Studies Office if you are a student. Once they have updated their database, the change of name will make its way into UWdir automatically. However, you will also have to contact the administrator(s) of the computing system(s) that you use, who will contact the UWdir database-updates staff so that a new UWUSERID can be be assigned, and then your computing-system userid(s) can be changed accordingly.

Automatic deletion of old entries

This is not yet being done. However, our objective is to put in place a mechanism that will delete a UWdir entry that is INACTIVE if:

  1. there is another UWdir entry with the same UWUSERID value that is not INACTIVE, or
  2. the INACTIVE date is older than 24 months and the last reported instance of the USERID being in use as a computing-system userid is more than 13 months old.

Part of the UWdir maintenance process involves a companion "in-use" database to which computing systems from time to time report their computing-system userids in use. To prevent a UWUSERID value from being re-assigned too soon, the most recent entry for a userid in the "in-use" database will not be deleted until it is more than five years old.

To: UWUSERID@uwaterloo.ca
To: GIVENNAME.SURNAME@uwaterloo.ca

It is possible to address mail to anyone by their UWUSERID value, in the form

     To: UWUSERID@uwaterloo.ca
Such mail will be delivered to the address recorded in the EMAIL value of the UWdir entry with that UWUSERID value. If there is no such UWUSERID, or if the UWdir entry has no EMAIL value, or there are multiple UWdir entries with conflicting EMAIL values, the mail will be returned to the sender.

It is also possible to attempt to send mail addressed in the form

     To: givenname.surname@uwaterloo.ca
but there will never be any guarantee that such mail can be delivered. An attempt is made to map "givenname.surname" into an entry in UWdir. If a single unique match is found and the UWdir entry has an EMAIL value, the received mail is delivered to that address. BEWARE... if this process works today, there is no guarantee that it will work in the future... another person with the same name could come to UW.

If multiple matches are found, the received mail is returned to the sender with a list of the entries that matched. If a single match is found but the entry has no EMAIL value, the mail is returned with that explanation. If no match is found, the mail is returned.

Future considerations

No further development of UWdir is scheduled for the foreseeable future. However, there are some things that might be useful to add, should it at some point become possible to allocate staff to do so.

Maintained by rwwatt@uwaterloo.ca