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  1. David Schwartz

    app logins

    I'd like to hear people's thoughts about this topic. I'm working with TMS WebCore and their MyCloudData to prototype something. There's a kind of utopian idea that you can "build once, deploy anywhere", but there's a fly in the ointmen that nobody seems to talk about. It seems to me that web apps come in two flavors: open and accessible to all that don't tend to save data; and everything else that lets you do stuff and save data across some notion of "sessions". The former might delivery kind of utility, like prettyprinting code or translating data from one format to another. The latter is what I'll generically refer to here as a "membership site". (Perhaps another terms is more appropriate; this is just how I think of them.) Historically speaking, desktop apps had no form of "login" -- they relied on the fact that there was a login on the computer, and assumed anybody who could get on the computer was permitted to access the software on it. This assumption still lives today on desktops as well as mobile devices. Which means you cannot simply take a desktop app that saves user data and drop it on a website to turn it into a web-based app. A lot of existing apps DO, in fact, offer if not require you to login, and there are a lot of reasons for that besides allowing you to keep your saved data separate from others. One big reason is to access walled-off services that require a paid subscription to allow access, for example. (At the very least, a registration is required in any case.) The thing is, the front-end or web-app could use something like OAuth2 to verify your login. If it's simply to gain access to some stuff kept behind a paywall, that's fine. But what if it uses your login to partition your data from everybody else? Back-end services typically have a login; in many cases, they're used by the developer or vendor to ensure nobody else can use the resource(s). For example, if my app uses SQL Server or MySQL, I have a login that all of my apps probably use to access my DBs. They may all share the same credentials. But they're MY credentials, as the developer. What about the users? How deep do you push the use of user credentials? The user could login just to prove they have a current account, then everything else could be done with MY (developer's) credentials. If you need HIPAA or PCI compliance, tho, I'm not sure that would fly. I'm wondering about this b/c I work in an environment now where user credentials go all the way down to the bedrock for desktop stuff. I'm not sure about our web tools, except they do require logins that are integrated into our single-sign-on protocols. I can see that a lot of services my software might access do not need to be partitioned for use by each user with their own credentials. But, in some cases, they might. So let's say you have an app and it requires a login to access and maintain some personal (but not very sensitive) data, then it can drop a cookie (in the web-app case) that, say, lasts a month. (I see this on lots of my phone apps.) The login controls access to some common data as well as a limited set of personal data. This isn't how Desktop apps normally work -- Windows or MacOS or *nix logins run the show in most cases. I'm not sure about mobile apps. Web apps designed like Delphi apps are still rather new. (Any IntraWeb users wanna chime in here?) But you don't design php or Wordpress sites as if they're Delphi apps. (In Wordpress, everybody gets a login, but the underlying resources all rely on a common access login. Strangely, it's common for membership sites that run inside of Wordpress to have a completely separate way of managing users rather than using the logic built-in to Wordpress. I think that's because the membership sites want more meta-data than WP can collect on its users.) What do you do when you can build web apps in Delphi that can look and feel more like normal Delphi desktop apps? (I'm not says they MUST or even should, only that they can.) Have you given this any thought? If so, I'd love to hear your ideas.
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