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autarch (914)

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Journal of autarch (914)

Saturday March 03, 2007
12:24 PM

Catalystic conversion - part 4

[ #32553 ]

So I wanted to adapt my user handling bits to work with Catalyst's Authentication plugins. I decided to go ahead and use the dev version of Catalyst::Plugin::Authentication, since this presumably will be the Catalyst way in the future.

However, there was one hitch in adapting my app's notion of a user to Catalyst's. In my app, there is always a user object, whether or not the end user has actually authenticated. Before an end user authenticates, this object is a VegGuide::User::Guest, and afterwards it's a VegGuide::User. I like this style because it means I can always count on having a user object. I find code like this rather tedious:

if ( $c->user() and $c->user()->get_object()->can_delete_entry() )

When I know that $c->user()->get_object() always returns a valid object, the code that ends up written is much clearer in its intent.

if ( $c->user()->get_object()->can_delete_entry() )

This wasn't too hard to work around. I have a controller for my root URI-space that includes an auto() method like this:

sub auto : Private
    my $self = shift;
    my $c    = shift;
    $c->authenticate( {} )
        unless $c->user();
    return 1;

This is a bit of a hack, but it works. Once a user has hit the site once, their user_id is stored in their session. This means that $c->user() will always return something after the first hit. If the user hasn't really authenticated, then the session will just indicate that they are a guest.

It would be nice if Catalyst::Plugin::Authentication could support this style of usage natively, maybe with a flag like "auto_authenticate" or something.

To make this work, all I need to do is implement appropriate logic in my Store plugin. If we have real credentials to use, we try to load real user, otherwise we return a guest:

sub find_user
    my $class = shift;
    my $auth  = shift;
    my $c     = shift;
    my $user = VegGuide::User->new(%$auth)
        if %$auth;
    $user ||= VegGuide::User::Guest->new();
    return VegGuide::Plugin::Authentication::User->new($user);

The VegGuide::Plugin::Authentication::User class provides the minimal glue needed to make Catalyst happy. I didn't want my core user data object to subclass Catalyst::Plugin::Authentication::User, which feels unclean to me. Outside of Catalyst, I don't need any of the methods that Catalyst::Plugin::Authentication::User demands, and I want to make sure that any code that isn't webapp-specific is usable without Catalyst in the mix.

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