How Skip Rendering a View?

Rails 1.2.6

The setup for this question takes a bit… and I suspect there may be
a better solution than what my direct question is.

I have an intranet app that’s stuffed with all kinds of special
permission rights for what users can see and do. For the most part
the UI itself prevents users from seeing controls they can’t use,
however, I still wrap entire controller methods with access rights
conditionals to prevent direct attacks via URL that by pass the UI.

Inside any given controller action a number of instance vars might
get declared for use in the view. However, if an access right denies
that user the ability to run that action, those vars don’t get
declared (they’re inside the conditional). I know what you’re
thinking… just hold on a sec…

Because of Rails’ “backwards” (from everything I have ever worked
with) way of processing a view template before the layout, I cannot
use conditional logic in the layout to preclude the processing of the
view file.

In order to show the user a message that what they tried to do is not
allowed and not showing the otherwise default view, I am currently
adding a flag to the flash to alter the layout.

So, the controller code is written along these lines:

def my_action

 if @user.is_not_allowed?(:delete_comment)
   flash.now[:action_not_allowed] = true
 else

   ..... the normal code .....
   @some_var = ....whatever....

 end

end

Then my layout is written like so:

<% if flash[:action_not_allowed] -%>
<%= render(:partial => (@app_site_paths.panels + ‘not_allowed’)) %>
<% else -%>
<%= yield %>
<% end -%>

OK, so none of that prevents the view file from being processed, and
it will complain that @some_var doesn’t exist. To solve that, I ended
up doing a couple extra things in the controller. First, I aded a
line to my not_allowed conditional:

 if @user.is_not_allowed?(:delete_comment)
   flash.now[:action_not_allowed] = true
   render :action => 'empty'
 else

And then, you guessed it, I have an empty.rhtml file which has
nothing in it.

It works, but of course it’s kind of kludgy.

I was hoping render :nothing would have done the trick, but that (and
other options I have tried) prevents the entire layout from being
rendered. Hrmm. Not so good.

So, a) is there a better way to “skip” processing a specific view
file, or b) does anyone see a more elegant replacement for my
approach with using flash in the layout?

Of course, I could repeat the whole not_allowed conditional in the
view, but it would certainly be nicer to leave all that centralized
in the controller which my kludge achieves.

For now I’m content to use my “empty” approach in order to keep
moving, but it seems worth collecting ideas as this pattern is
foundation-level stuff for bajillions of tasks in many of my
applications.

– gw

Hi Greg,

Please forgive me if I’m trying to oversimplify your problem, but why
won’t a before_filter that does your “is_not_allowed?” test work?
Somewhere along the way you have to set @user, and I’m presuming that’s
in a before_filter. You can have another one after that reads the
controller and action from the params and determines if the user has
rights to do that. If not, redirect them to the appropriate location.
I do something similar with request methods and for the same reason
(potential hits not via the UI). Unless I’m missing something, it
should work for you and you’d have all the logic in one place.

Peace,
Phillip

On May 13, 2008, at 6:39 PM, Phillip K. wrote:

Please forgive me if I’m trying to oversimplify your problem, but why
won’t a before_filter that does your “is_not_allowed?” test work?
Somewhere along the way you have to set @user, and I’m presuming
that’s
in a before_filter. You can have another one after that reads the
controller and action from the params and determines if the user has
rights to do that. If not, redirect them to the appropriate location.
I do something similar with request methods and for the same reason
(potential hits not via the UI). Unless I’m missing something, it
should work for you and you’d have all the logic in one place.

Various layout work differently, so in some cases, yes, access to the
whole page might be refused in which case a redirect would be used. I
also have cases though where I don’t want to redirect. The way a
layout for that scenario is, there is surrounding navigation and
information (which the layout incorprates through partials) that the
user may have legit access to, but the core view panel of the page
needs to be refused. Other layouts might refuse only sub-portions of
a view in which case I either use partials if the rules are
consistent, or I wrap snippets. There are dozens of authorization
filters, and they get used at a variety of levels. It’s a complex
application with a very complex user set.

In the case of refusing the view (but not necessarily the whole
layout), I could use conditional wrappers around the whole the view
(it’d be consistent with refusing portions of views), but I was
hoping for something as I described simply to prevent doing the
unnecessary processing in the first place.

As for centralizing with before_filter, I prefer to see authorization
logic closely linked to the code itself so I know exactly what’s
going on when I read the method code. Easier to review, debug, etc.
Another reason to go ahead with wrappers in the view, but I was
leaning towards preventing the processing as more important to the
overall security strength.

– gw

On May 14, 2008, at 12:21 AM, Greg W. wrote:

I do something similar with request methods and for the same reason
a view in which case I either use partials if the rules are
As for centralizing with before_filter, I prefer to see authorization
logic closely linked to the code itself so I know exactly what’s
going on when I read the method code. Easier to review, debug, etc.
Another reason to go ahead with wrappers in the view, but I was
leaning towards preventing the processing as more important to the
overall security strength.

– gw

I started skimming so I may have missed something from your original
post, but have you tried to use either:

render :text => ‘’, :layout => ‘something’

or used in your view:

<% content_for :heading do -%>
<% if allowed? -%>
<%= render :partial => ‘group_links’ %>
<% end -%>
<% end -%>

and then the layout:

   <div id='heading'>
     <%= yield(:heading) || content_tag(:h1, title) %>
   </div>

-Rob

Rob B. http://agileconsultingllc.com
[email protected]

I would abstract it a bit. Rather than just sticking a bunch of “if
allowed?” all over the view, why not abstract it into a block helper
method as such:

application_helper.rb

def only_authorized(param_or_whatnot, &block)
content = capture(&block)
if some_authorization_technique
content
end
end

aircoded but the idea is you pass in a block to this method from the
view and its only outputted if the guy is authorized.

view:

<% only_authorized do %>

<%= super_secret_info %>

<% end %>

On May 14, 2008, at 4:09 AM, Rob B. wrote:

I started skimming so I may have missed something from your original
post, but have you tried to use either:

render :text => ‘’, :layout => ‘something’

Yep. Even reiterating the layout directly like this somehow causes
some of the partials normally loaded by the layout to not work.

or used in your view:

<% content_for :heading do -%>
<% if allowed? -%>
<%= render :partial => ‘group_links’ %>
<% end -%>
<% end -%>

Yeah, I was hoping to avoid additional conditionals in the view
(that’s a part you probably skimmed over), but I’m starting to think
it may be worth doing.

I can get what I want with the “empty” kludge, or by using
conditionals in the views, so I’ll just have to decide which looks &
feels better.

– gw

This forum is not affiliated to the Ruby language, Ruby on Rails framework, nor any Ruby applications discussed here.

| Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Remote Ruby Jobs