Role-Based Single Sign-on with Perl and Ruby

Single sign-on dictated by user roles with Perl and Ruby.

This simple collection of a few short Web scripts provides a surprising array of benefits. Login functionality is factored out into a reusable module for Web scripts. Users and roles are now understood by the system. Authorization is separated from authentication. Single sign-on is provided, because one session/cookie is checked by all scripts. The functionality is language- and environment-independent. Easy-to-add custom login templates provide a seamless user experience. And, changes in role assignments take effect in real time, because the role database is consulted every time a script is invoked.

I see this as the payoff for putting in a little bit of time up front to investigate the problem, and plan a good solution. Another factor that contributed to this project's success is the use of Ruby on Rails for back-end data management. I envision that in the future, we'll have suites of application components such as this that adapt to the needs of our users on the front end. And behind the scenes, we'll quickly deploy management applications with tools such as Rails.

Robb Shecter is a software engineer at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. He's responsible for Web application development and software engineering processes. He's particularly interested in programming languages and software design. He can be reached at



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