Paper Cuts

Today I removed a few sharp edges from Paper Trail, the web application I use to keep track of my reading. It’s cheering to cross a couple of items off the issues list, although there always seem to be new ones to replace them.

Removing authentication

As a single-user application, the idea of having an entire authentication system in Paper Trail always seemed ridiculous. Obviously some form of authentication was required, so I threw together a simple and horribly insecure system based on Ryan Bates’ Super Simple Authentication.

That has now been replaced by a single naïve check—was the request made over SSL or not? Clearly this depends on the web server only allowing authenticated users to access the site via HTTPS, but since no one other than myself needs to access the site securely, this seems a reasonable approach, albeit not one that would work for any application requiring multiple users to authenticate. Regardless, it’s cheering to be able to simultaneously increase security and reduce the codebase.

Dropping accents with URLify

One thing that Paper Trail needed right from the start was a way to simply and cleanly replace letters with diacritics, e.g. replacing “é” with “e”. On a couple of occasions I’ve wanted to use the small conversion library I wrote in other applications, so extracting it into an external library was a natural move. It’s called URLify, and its tiny public API is explained in the README.

Multiple authors

The other major piece of functionality added since the initial launch was support for multiple authors, which was actually completed some months ago. Thus far I’ve only used it for All the President’s Men, although I suspect it will be more useful in the future as I start finishing—and not just starting—various books in my technical library.

Last updated 23rd Aug 2009

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