Abstract class for managing a variety of identity certificates. An identity certificate is a binding of a principal to a public key which is vouched for by another principal. (A principal represents an entity such as an individual user, a group, or a corporation.)
This class is an abstraction for certificates that have different formats but important common uses. For example, different types of certificates, such as X.509 and PGP, share general certificate functionality (like encoding and verifying) and some types of information (like a public key).
X.509, PGP, and SDSI certificates can all be implemented by subclassing the Certificate class, even though they contain different sets of information, and they store and retrieve the information in different ways.