I need help with a design

I have been working on an app but ran into many problems when i was
applying authentication and authorization.

I want to have the following users with the given abilities.

Admin: full control on the entire system, but apart from login , email
and password it does not require any more attributes

company owner: should be able to created the number of companies the
admin approves, and have full control over all of its companies, i
would like to send an invitation to this user type

user: should have different roles and has couple more fields than the
company owner. The super user roles can only have full control over
its own company. user cant create companies and should belong to a
company and cant create companies. owners or super users should be
able to create them via a crud

client: if approved by the admin a company is clients are allowed to
log in to the system, they only have read access to their personal
data and an internal email system. Have lots of fields, ca be
affiliated to a company but the admin has access to all clients in the
system. company owners only have access to their companies clients ,
and the users only to the clients that are affiliated to their
company.

the problem comes now, I have 4 models at the moment, i would like
authentication an authorization systems to be common to all of them. I
have 4 abilities with cancan, and 4 resources with devise, but keeping
up with everything was very redundant, i have 4 login page 4 path to
signout, etc. If i unify all users in a single model an manage
everything with fields in the DB im a little confuse on how to handle
the company users relation since companies belong to owners in the
current design but a company has many users and clients.

I have been thinking of a has many through association with resources
called ownership, employ and affiliation
and use boolean fields or a user type field to differentiate each type
of user. I would need a lot of conditional validations of course.
would STI be helpful or would it require 4 of everything anyway? i
want to have one login page and one ability class.

Anyone has a better solution? i would appreciate some comments on
this.

please help!! T_T

bump

anyone?

On 7 October 2010 01:33, radhames brito [email protected] wrote:

I have been working on an app but ran into many problems when i was
applying authentication and authorization.

I want to have the following users with the given abilities.

Note your wording here, you want the following users. That is the
clue to what follows.

its own company. user cant create companies and should belong to a

the problem comes now, I have 4 models at the moment, i would like
authentication an authorization systems to be common to all of them. I
have 4 abilities with cancan, and 4 resources with devise, but keeping
up with everything was very redundant, i have 4 login page 4 path to
signout, etc. If i unify all users in a single model an manage
everything with fields in the DB im a little confuse on how to handle
the company users relation since companies belong to owners in the
current design but a company has many users and clients.

I presume that your models are Admin, Owner, User and Client (or
similar names). The fact that you worded your initial requirement as
I have pointed out above suggests that these are all Users with
different roles. This rationalisation will mean they can all log on
via the same page. Once logged in you can control the features
available using the roles that a particular user has. There will
likely be a roles table. User belongs_to role, Role has_many users
and so on. The settings in the role will indicate what a user can do.

Colin

@colin

Thanks, someone finally cared.

I presume that your models are Admin, Owner, User and Client (or

similar names).

yes exactly, but i created separated models because there would be a lot
of
conditional validations if i didnt,
for example owners can manage a companies but a user should belong to a
company.

The fact that you worded your initial requirement as

I have pointed out above suggests that these are all Users with
different roles.

yes but i would require different controllers and views for each
roles/type
of user, and what i call user, which is the
company employee in this case, has many roles.

User belongs_to role, Role has_many users

and so on.

im already think of making this a HBTM association, since , but only for
the
“user” role/type since is the one with many roles.

I though about all this before, but the reason i have hesitated to do it
this way is because of the validations, excess in attributes
for the roles/types that dont require them and possible security issues.

I see not way of avoiding the creation of a very fat user model, with
lots
of accesible attributes dynamically changing and lots of scopes.

Remember a controller does not need to map to a model.

Yes i know, thanks.

Again that is not necessarily a problem, though it is all a matter of
degree of course.
If you really think that here you have different types of users rather
than users with different roles you could look at STI as an
alternative.

Well i know is not a problem, but i wanted to know if there is a better
way
to do all this.
STI creates a problem when authenticating user and creating permissions,
i
would need an ability and a login per user type.

On 7 October 2010 17:24, radhames brito [email protected] wrote:

for example owners can manage a companies but a user should belong to a
company.

I don’t see that as a problem.

The fact that you worded your initial requirement as
I have pointed out above suggests that these are all Users with
different roles.

yes but i would require different controllers and views for each roles/type
of user, and what i call user, which is the
company employee in this case, has many roles.

You have that already with the different models. You can either
continue with separate controllers/views or merge them as seems most
appropriate. Remember a controller does not need to map to a model.

for the roles/types that dont require them and possible security issues.

I see not way of avoiding the creation of a very fat user model, with lots
of accesible attributes dynamically changing and lots of scopes.

Again that is not necessarily a problem, though it is all a matter of
degree of course.
If you really think that here you have different types of users rather
than users with different roles you could look at STI as an
alternative.

Colin

Just to make things a bit more clear, my app will be very similar to
shopify. Im worrying about this first and later i will worry about the
CMS
part.

Now I cannot spend more time with this, but write me in private more
detailed, if you would like to, and in these days I will try to help.
good luck
gezope

Thanks a lot. How can i get in contact with you?

Hi,

Your task is cannot be that complicated, but for first reading it
seemed, and a bit long.

Try to draw it first!
First you have to find out: the user experience! It will make clear
what datas you need, so what models, which kind of controllers you
have to write with different actions. And from this writing a before
filter will be easier.
You haven’t wrote how you solved the user authentication - from
scratch?
In FireFox there is an excellent Add-on, called Pencil, with this you
can make a sketch easily!

Now I cannot spend more time with this, but write me in private more
detailed, if you would like to, and in these days I will try to help.
good luck
gezope

On okt. 7, 03:53, radhames brito [email protected] wrote:

please help!! T_T

On 7 October 2010 18:40, gezope [email protected] wrote:

Hi,

Your task is cannot be that complicated, but for first reading it
seemed, and a bit long.

Try to draw it first!
First you have to find out: the user experience! It will make clear
what datas you need, so what models,

I disagree here, the models required should not be based upon the user
experience required but on the underlying objects in the real world -
users, companies and so on in this particular case. Unless I
misunderstand what is meant by ‘user experience’.

Colin

Colin L. wrote:

On 7 October 2010 18:40, gezope [email protected] wrote:

Hi,

Your task is cannot be that complicated, but for first reading it
seemed, and a bit long.

Try to draw it first!
First you have to find out: the user experience! It will make clear
what datas you need, so what models,

I disagree here, the models required should not be based upon the user
experience required but on the underlying objects in the real world -
users, companies and so on in this particular case. Unless I
misunderstand what is meant by ‘user experience’.

I agree with Zoltan – and I suspect you do too – in this sense: when I
put together an application, I usually think first about how I want it
to present itself to the user and what the user should be able to
accomplish (and write Cucumber scenarios accordingly). Only as a result
of making those scenarios reality do I write model classes or anything
else.

In other words: first define what you want the user to do, and only then
figure out the code to make it happen.

Colin

Best,

Marnen Laibow-Koser
http://www.marnen.org
[email protected]

Radhames Brito wrote:

I have been working on an app but ran into many problems when i was
applying authentication and authorization.

I want to have the following users with the given abilities.

Is there any reason that you cannot usefully employ existing
authentication mechanisms like Auth_Logic or Devise? And what about
Declarative_Authorization? Is there any reason why this does not suit
your authorization needs?

It seems to me to be a mis-application of effort to write from the
ground up that which is already freely available and maintained for you.

On 7 October 2010 21:21, Marnen Laibow-Koser [email protected]
wrote:

else.

In other words: first define what you want the user to do, and only then
figure out the code to make it happen.

I think my point is that the identification of models that are
required should not be based on what is required in views or what the
user experience is as he moves around the site. It is based on
considering the underlying objects in the system. So in the OP’s
case, whether he should have different models for user, owner and so
on or have one model, user, with different roles is not principally to
do with how the app should appear or behave, except in the very
broadest sense that there is a requirement for such objects.

The whole design process is iterative of course, but I think I would
rephrase your suggestion as follows:
First think (and preferably talk) about the underlying objects in the
system so as to get a first stab at the models required (not the code,
just what the models are likely to be), then define what you want the
user to do, and then figure out the code to make it happen. Round and
round ad nauseum. That is not to say that I think this is the one and
only ‘right’ way to do it. Different people’s minds work in different
ways and others may find an alternative design process suits them
better.

Colin

This approach should be very beneficial, i always begin by thinking of
entities and their relations, and only when i get to the presentation
layer
i start thinking about the user experience. I will definitively try
going
this way to see if everything come out faster.

Colin L. wrote:
[…]

The whole design process is iterative of course, but I think I would
rephrase your suggestion as follows:
First think (and preferably talk) about the underlying objects in the
system so as to get a first stab at the models required (not the code,
just what the models are likely to be), then define what you want the
user to do, and then figure out the code to make it happen.

No, absolutely not. There is no point in thinking about the models
involved before thinking about the desired functionality.

Round and
round ad nauseum. That is not to say that I think this is the one and
only ‘right’ way to do it.

No, of course there’s more than one right way. But I think yours is one
of the many wrong ways: it is inappropriate to start considering
implementation details before you know what the implementation should do
for the end user.

I’ll turn the question around: why would you want to consider
implementation before functionality? What possible benefits could it
produce?

Best,
–Â
Marnen Laibow-Koser
http://www.marnen.org
[email protected]

Sent from my iPhone

Is there any reason that you cannot usefully employ existing
authentication mechanisms like Auth_Logic or Devise? And what about
Declarative_Authorization? Is there any reason why this does not suit
your authorization needs?

It seems to me to be a mis-application of effort to write from the
ground up that which is already freely available and maintained for you.

creating a model for each user was the easiest way at first, but in that
case i need a different login page for each and that detriments the user
experience. Devise is awesome, but i have found it inflexible. I wanted
to
make an ajax login and it was harder than necessary. I tried to make all
users login with one login page and i had to first learn how to use
warden
and hack devise quite a bit, in fact i did all that, but every change
was
like going against the concept devise was build for (easy of use , etc).

Authlogic is more flexible but it wont allow one page login for all
users
easily. Cancan requires a different ability per model so there is a lot
of
redundancy when i need to define permissions for one type of user and
almost
the same for another type of user. Thats why i have been thinking of
joining
everything in one model, but first i wanted to ask to see if that was
the
best/only way to overcome all those obstacles.

On 8 October 2010 03:34, Marnen Laibow-Koser [email protected]
wrote:

involved before thinking about the desired functionality.
I’ll turn the question around: why would you want to consider
implementation before functionality? What possible benefits could it
produce?

Well of course you need some idea of functionality before anything can
be designed. If I can bring back a quote from your earlier post:

… when I
put together an application, I usually think first about how I want it
to present itself to the user and what the user should be able to
accomplish (and write Cucumber scenarios accordingly). Only as a result
of making those scenarios reality do I write model classes or anything
else.

I am suggesting that there is a phase before considering in detail how
the application should present itself to the user. For example to
take the ubiquitous shopping app, before considering how the logon
page should operate there is the decision that there will be users and
that there should be a page where the user can logon. Similarly
before considering how precisely the user adds a product to his
shopping cart there is the decision that there will be products and
shopping carts. It is at this stage that initial stabs at what the
models will be can be made (note that I am not suggesting writing any
code here, merely thinking about what the models will be). It does
not seem feasible that one can write a Cucumber scenario for user
logon and then go from that to the idea that maybe one needs a user
model. Is it not true that the concept of a User must exist before
one can write the scenario? Note again that I am not suggesting
writing any code at this time, just thinking about what the models
should be.

Colin

Radhames Brito wrote:

Authlogic is more flexible but it wont allow one page login for all
users easily.

I do not understand what you mean by this. I have authlogic in
production where there is but one authentication view used by every
user. Each session created thereby has its own credentials and the user
instance thereafter obtains its permissions from the
declarative_authorization roles and rights configuration file.

I will not pretend that dealing with these two formidable packages was
without its difficulties, particularly in the the beginning when my
ignorance of them was complete. However, once one grasps the concepts
upon which each is based then elaboration of the resulting security
system is far easier than I ever thought possible.

Cancan requires a different ability per model so there is a lot of
redundancy when i need to define permissions for one type
of user and almost the same for another type of user. Thats why i have
been thinking of joining everything in one model, but first i wanted
ask to see if that was the best/only way to overcome all those obstacles.

I have not used CanCan (Ryan B.s wrote that for one of his Railscasts
episodes did he not?) but from what I can gather from your other
messages it seems that you conflate authentication with authorization at
several points. Authlogic, Devise and similar packages simply identify
a particular set of credentials as having a unique accessor instance in
the system. Declarative_Authorization and CanCan type packages tie
access to specific bits of the application to specific accessor
identities. Both need some form of implementation of the idea of a
session to be of much use.

My own experience with RBAC is that it proves best to stay away from
things that you do not fully understand until you need to address them
directly and can afford the time to master the intricacies involved.
Imagining what you will need in the absence of concrete requirements is
a great time waster.

For an initial implementation of authentication and authorization I
would create some minimal methods in the application controller to
handle hard coded identities, rights and roles and then go ahead build
the application. At some point the need for users will present itself
and then you can implement your user models/classes modifying the stub
methods to handle authorization alone. When authorization becomes the
natural focus of development then it is time to look at things like
Authlogic and CanCan.

I think that you will find the this approach permits you to remain
focused on the value-added part of your project and leaves the
administrative pieces on the periphery until their requirements are
largely defined by the rest of your application.

On 8 October 2010 13:47, Marnen Laibow-Koser [email protected]
wrote:

There is the phase of deciding in very general terms what the broad goal
may come the fact that we want user accounts and a login interface.
Third step: Users should be able to do the following things from that
guessing what model classes you’ll need, but it’s absolutely wrong to be
Remember, Cucumber scenarios are written in English for a reason:
(To be fair, user management is simple in most cases and requires a User
till you actually need to write them.
I think we are just going to have to agree to differ on this one,
though in fact I do not think our viewpoints are as far
apart as it might appear from this discussion. I also think that you
have to allow a bit of flexibility in approach for the different ways
that different peoples brains work when analysing a system
requirement. Looking back over my career I cannot remember any
instances where I got in a mess or wasted significant time by thinking
about the underlying objects too early in the analysis, but I can
remember instances of problems when I left this phase too late. Of
course the length of my career may have a bearing on what I can and
cannot remember :slight_smile:

The one thing that I am sure we can agree on is the importance of
making sure that what is provided is what the user wants, not what you
think he aught to want or what his managers thinks he wants. Provided
we achieve that then slight variations in the route to get there are
not so important. Failing to understand the user requirements is the
principle cause of IT system failures I think.

Regards

Colin

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