Tiny Sunday coding project: has_password

Just a little announcement about something I cooked up this afternoon. It’s nothing ground-breaking but might save you a little time. Basically, I was getting super-tired of writing the same authentication code for every project so I extracted it into a plugin called has_password. Install like so:

ruby script/plugin install git://github.com/jcoglan/has_password

Now, this plugin is tiny and does almost nothing for you, but that’s kind of the point. All I wanted was a simple way to reuse all the password-hashing stuff, not something to generate migrations and controller code. So, all has_password does is abstract out the idea of a model class being password-protected and storing hashed passwords and salts. To use it:

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
  has_password :salt_size => 16

Your model should have password_hash and password_salt fields. Hashes are 160-bit (40-char) SHA1 hashes and salts are random hexadecimal strings of the bit-length you specify (16 bits gives you 4 hex digits). Your model will gain three methods:

user.password=(pwd): sets the hash and salt values of user from the given plain-text value pwd. The plain-text password is stored in user while in memory but is not persisted to the database.

user.password returns the current plain-text password if one has been set since user was pulled from the database. An object freshly pulled from the DB will return nil for this method.

user.has_password?(pwd): returns true iff user‘s plain-text password is equal to pwd.

Finally, you get a callback in case you want to do stuff like send password confirmation emails. In your model class, put, for example:

after_password_change :send_notification


after_password_change do |model|

In terms of validation, it automatically validates_confirmation_of :password and checks supplied passwords for a few obvious silly phrases like, say, password and test. Passwords are only validated if password is non-blank.

Give it a whirl, and do let me know if you find any bugs.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, you might enjoy my recently published book JavaScript Testing Recipes. It’s full of simple techniques for writing modular, maintainable JavaScript apps in the browser and on the server.