Authentication, REST and XML

I’m using rails edge because trying REST.

I’m facing a problem: how to do authentication for my app’s REST API.

I’m trying not to repeat myself so I was thinking on using large tokens
and modify restful_authentication to recognize this token and require
all calls to the api to specify it. If I’m not wrong, this might cause
problems because restful_auth depends on sessions which depend on
cookies which a client that accesses the API might not support.

I want to know if someone has dealt with this problem before. Any tips
or ideas are greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

Eduardo D. wrote:

I’m using rails edge because trying REST.

I’m facing a problem: how to do authentication for my app’s REST API.

I’m trying not to repeat myself so I was thinking on using large tokens
and modify restful_authentication to recognize this token and require
all calls to the api to specify it. If I’m not wrong, this might cause
problems because restful_auth depends on sessions which depend on
cookies which a client that accesses the API might not support.

I want to know if someone has dealt with this problem before. Any tips
or ideas are greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

Hey Eduardo-

I haven’t liked any of the username/password authentication things that
are out there. (e.g. Basecamp API)

I’ve implemented a token-based thing like you suggest. The user has the
application create an API token (if API stuff is to be enabled). This
token is stored with the account.

I use the map.resources bit to map out the API resources with a prefix
like /api/:api_token –


map.with_options :path_prefix => “/api/:api_token” do |api|
api.resources :item
end

https://mydomain.com/api/8f298j23ji/item

Then maps to the “item” resource in the RESTful manner. Since URLs are
encrypted for HTTPS, this seems pretty secure to me. (i.e. the
api_token is never in the wild)

My “require_login” filters automatically check for the api_token and can
authenticate that way. If no api_token is present, authentication must
be done with the session.

If the user wants to change the api_token, they’re free to do so at any
time. Personally, I don’t like the idea of keeping a username and
password somewhere in an application that is using an API. I’d much
rather just set the token.

Jake

On 11/1/06, Jake J. [email protected] wrote:

I’ve implemented a token-based thing like you suggest. The user has the
application create an API token (if API stuff is to be enabled). This
token is stored with the account.

Hi Jake,
i have the similar needs for my application. Do you mind to post some
code or a link to repository to take a look on? Thanks in advance.

On Oct 31, 2006, at 4:41 AM, Eduardo D. wrote:

I’m using rails edge because trying REST.

I’m facing a problem: how to do authentication for my app’s REST API.

I’m trying not to repeat myself so I was thinking on using large
tokens
and modify restful_authentication to recognize this token and require
all calls to the api to specify it. If I’m not wrong, this might cause
problems because restful_auth depends on sessions which depend on
cookies which a client that accesses the API might not support.

restful_authentication uses forms and cookies for standard web
requests but offers http authentication for api calls. eg, the
default access_denied method is:

 def access_denied
   respond_to do |accepts|
     accepts.html do
       store_location
       redirect_to :controller => 'sessions', :action => 'new'
     end
     accepts.xml do
       headers["Status"]           = "Unauthorized"
       headers["WWW-Authenticate"] = %(Basic realm="Web Password")
       render :text => "Could't authenticate you", :status =>

‘401 Unauthorized’
end
end
false
end

So you shouldn’t need to define a key etc, restful authentication and
http have it covered.

James.


James S. : Web D.
Work : http://jystewart.net
Play : http://james.anthropiccollective.org

Stoyan Z. wrote:

On 11/1/06, Jake J. [email protected] wrote:

I’ve implemented a token-based thing like you suggest. The user has the
application create an API token (if API stuff is to be enabled). This
token is stored with the account.

Hi Jake,
i have the similar needs for my application. Do you mind to post some
code or a link to repository to take a look on? Thanks in advance.

Hi Stoyan-

Unfortunately, I don’t have things very neatly organized. Fortunately,
there isn’t much to it, really. I stole the “create_token” code from
the salted-hash login generator:

def create_token
  # Create an integer from an SHA1 hash of the time.
  # Add a random number to the time in case we're generating these 

quickly.
val = Integer(‘0x’ +
Digest::SHA1.hexdigest("#{TOKEN_SALT}#{Time.now.to_f}#{rand}"))

  # Convert the integer to URL-safe characters.
  # 64 characters per 6 bits of the integer.
  ch64 = ('a'..'z').to_a + ('A'..'Z').to_a + ('0'..'9').to_a + 

[’-’,’_’]
token = ‘’
26.times do
token += ch64[(val & 0x3f)]
val = val >> 6
end
token
end

From there, you can use the other login systems fairly easily. During
the authentication step (require_login or wherever), just check for the
API token as a parameter:

# Check for an API token
if params[:api_token] && params[:api_token]
  activeaccount = Account.find_by_api_token(params[:api_token])
  return true if activeaccount
end

Jake

On 11/8/06, Jake J. [email protected] wrote:

Unfortunately, I don’t have things very neatly organized. Fortunately,
there isn’t much to it, really. I stole the “create_token” code from
the salted-hash login generator:

I’m using Rick O.'s restful authentication [
http://svn.techno-weenie.net/projects/plugins/restful_authentication/
]. It have ‘remember_me’ token with expiration. Maybe i’ll use that
token insteed of ‘create_token’.

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