Laying out the foundations for the EOS feature request system in GSOC’20

Published: 06/08/2020

Hey folks! My goal is clear, the stage is set and I am ready to hit the keyboard to light up your way to the EOS feature request system which aims to provide users an accessible interface within EOS to request new features or icons.

What did I do this week?

The first task was to let users register or login to the system which means that I need to come up with the client side logic for user authentication to control if an incoming request can proceed or not.

The structure of our application is going to be a mix of public and private pages. We will have a public login page that will contain the login component to handle our authentication. We are going to be creating client only routes that are conditionally rendered using the @reach/router . The content in the private components is irrelevant for now but it’s important that the user must me logged in to access these routes.

Most of our authentication logic will be handled in a custom hook that I create which will be called useAuth and as the name implies will live inside the file useAuth.js in our hooks folder. This file will be utilizing the useReducer API to manage our user state throughout the application. I used a reducer to receive our user state object and update our state by dispatching actions.

First, I defined our DEFAULT_STATE which I am assuming is an unauthenticated user. I then created a reducer using the redux convention and switched our action.type so when I call a dispatcher function I can pass in the type of action we want to execute. I then defined various action types like REGISTER , LOGIN and LOGOUT .

For the server side implementation using Strapi, I have the user roles and permissions plugin installed at my disposal. The users and permissions role exposes a route located at http://localhost:1337/auth/local in which we can send a POST request with our users identity and password. The route will handle validation and upon successful authentication will return a jwt token to be used in further requests as well as a user object that contains information about our validated user.

I learnt that I can not user our admin username/password with this endpoint.

What is coming up next?

Devesh (my awesome GSOC partner) built an amazing responsive and engaging UI for registering users. I will connect my authentication logic with his UI to complete the feature on the client side.

On the server side I will be coming up with solutions to differentiate our database collections and routes for the EOS Design System and the EOS feature request system so that it is easy to identify them.

Did I get stuck anywhere?

Our EOS Strapi instance was running on a very old alpha version for which there was no support. My mentors did really nice work to update Strapi to the latest stable release.

Also Strapi uses JSON Web Tokens (JWT) internally for user authentication. Our team had a nice discussion on this with various ideas pouring in for the storage mechanism for the JWT which needs to be sent in an Authorization header with every request for making permission-restricted API requests.

We learnt that the JWT should not be stored in localStorage as an XSS attack can let an external attacker get access to the token.

We came up with two solutions for the storage of JWT :-

  1. React state or memory with the only downfall that if a user refreshes the page that state is gone but we can get a new token on refresh too.
  2. httpOnly cookie which is a special kind of cookie that’s only sent in HTTP requests to the server, and it’s never accessible (both for reading or writing) from JavaScript running in the browser.

This closed the week along with some rainfall and rainbows by our healing nature. Keep calm and stay tuned as the next batch of some amazing functionality gets loaded to our feature request system :)