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Simple user authentication library for Scalatra
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README.md

Scalatra UserAuth

A simple to use authentication library for user access control on Scalatra based web projects.

The aim of this library is to provide secure authentication without requiring the programmer to become an authentication expert overnight and without any more coding than is absolutely necessary.

Currently it allows logging in with a username and password and user tracking with sessions. An additional (and optional) mixin has just been added for 'Remember Me' support - in other words, storing a cookie that allows a user to return to your site without logging in.

Please note that sessions, cookies and password authentication are all inherently insecure unless used over secure HTTP. Setting up a secure server is now a lot less costly and complicated than it used to be and has relatively low impact on server load and communications overhead.

Version: 0.1.4-SNAPSHOT

This code is currently under development.

Prerequisites

  • Scalatra based project.
  • A User class (it doesn't have to be called User) that represents a logged in user and can verify a username and password. In other words, this library does not manage the storage and retreival of users from database - that is down to you.
  • Only tested so far with ScalatraServlet (e.g. not tested with ScalatraFilter)

Building and installing

Just include it as a dependency in your project with:

"com.proinnovate" %% "scalatra-userauth" % "0.1.1-SNAPSHOT"

Using

Simple to use is a key theme of this library. To add it to a ScalatraServlet import:

import com.proinnovate.scalatra.userauth.UserAuthSupport

and add this trait to your ScalatraServlet, e.g.:

class MyServlet extends ScalatraServlet with UserAuthSupport[User] {

where User is the class you are using to represent Users of your web application.

Then, within your Servlet handling class (e.g. MyServlet in the example above), include definitions of the following three methods:

def userOptionFromSession(session: HttpSession) = {
  // Use the in scope `session` variable to access the current session and return a Option[User] for the particular
  // User class of your project. e.g. code like the following...
  session.get("UserID") match {
    case Some(id: String) => Some(User(id))
    case _ => None
  }

}

def recordUserInSession(session: HttpSession, userOption: Option[User]) {
  // Record the given User in the current session accessed through the in scope `session` variable. e.g. code like the
  // following...
  userOption match {
    case Some(user) => session.put("UserID", user.userID)
    case None => session.remove("UserID")
  }
}

// An implicit function which must take two Strings and return an Option[User] for the particular User object you are
// using to represent users in your project.  Given a valid pair of userid and password, it should return the User object
// as an Option[User].  e.g. the following...
implicit def userAuthenticate(userid: String, password: String): Option[User] = {
  User.authenticate(userid, password)
}

In order to authenticate a user you can just add the following matcher to your request handling code:

before() {
  if (!userIsAuthenticated) {
    userAuthenticate(this)
  }
}

This currently makes the assumption that the login process with involve a form being sent with two fields called "username" and "password". If it detects these in any request it attempt to validate and authenticate the user. But if you want to change this you will see just how simple the code is if you look at UserPasswordStrategy.scala. You can add a new strategy or use a different strategy by overriding the UserAuthSupport lazy val: userAuthStrategies.

With these things in place your Scalatra request matching code you can then use the following methods to control access. See the code within UserAuthSupport for documentation of these:

redirectIfUserAuthenticated()

redirectIfUserNotAuthenticated()

onlyIfUserAuthenticated {
    // Your code goes here.
    // This is intended for ajax responses which should fail and not redirect if the user is not authenticated.
}

userLogout()

You can also access:

// The currently logged on user:
userOption: Option[User]

// Boolean check of whether any user is authenticated now:
userIsAuthenticated: Boolean

Other authentication mixins

Remember Me authentication can now be mixed in by adding:

with CookieSupport with RememberMeSupport[User] 

to your ScalatraServlet. RememberMeSupport provides the additional authentication, CookieSupport is an existing Scalatra mixin that provides support for handling cookies and is depended upon by RememberMeSupport. In other words, your ScalatraServlet declaration might look like:

class MyServlet extends ScalatraServlet with CookieSupport
        with UserAuthSupport[User] with RememberMeSupport[User] {

Rememeber Me is currently being worked on and further documentation will appear soon!

Future directions

I would like to add some measures to increase security, particularly if the library is used on an insure HTTP connection.

Ideas include:

  • Encryption of passwords sent from client to server during login.
  • Use of client IP address and User Agent details to validate sessions and cookies.
  • Checks to ensure that session keys are changed upon login.

Acknowledgements

Some of this code was loosely based around the existing Scalatra Auth module and some blogged examples of the use of this.

License

This software is Copyright (c) 2011, Stuart Roebuck and licensed under a standard MIT license (more specifically referred to as the Expat license). See the LICENSE.md file for details. In other words, you are pretty much free to use it however you want.

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