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Joshua I. Miller


WWW::Authen::Simple - Cookie based session and authentication module using database backend. Also provides group based authorization.


 use WWW::Authen::Simple;

 my $simple = WWW::Authen::Simple->new(
                db => $DBI_handle,
                cookie_domain => 'cookie_domain'
 # Alternitively, any of the methods to set variables may also be
 # used directly in the constructor
 $simple->logout() if $cgi->param('logout');
 $simple->login( $cgi->param('login'), $cgi->param('pass') );
 if ($simple->logged_in()) {
    if ($simple->in_group('Admin','rw')) {
    } else {
 } else {
    print redirect('/login.pl');


WWW::Authen::Simple provides another way to do cookie based sessions and authentication. It's goal is to provide a very simple API to handle sessions and authentication.

The database layout has been abstracted, so you should be able to fit this into whatever database layout you currently use, or use the provided default to base your application.

NOTE: the database abstraction is configured by a hash. If changes to it's structure are needed, you currently have to rebuild the entire hash, and pass it in (ie. there is no API to make it easy to change yet).


 DBI and an appropriate DBD driver for your database
 Digest::MD5 (standard perl module)

In most common situations, you'll also want to have:

 A web server (untested on windows, but it should work)
 cgi-bin or mod-perl access
 Perl: Perl 5.00503 or later must be installed on the web server.


The module can be installed using the standard Perl procedure:

    perl Makefile.PL
    make test
    make install    # you need to be root

Windows users without a working "make" can get nmake from:



$simple = WWW::Authen::Simple->new();

This creates a new Simple object. Optionally, you can pass in a hash with configuration information. See the method descriptions for more detail on what they mean.

       cookie_domain => 'www.somedomain.com', # required
       db => $DBI_handle, # required
       expire_seconds => 3600, # optional. default 3600
       cleanup_seconds =>  43200, # optional. default 43200 
       debug => 0, # optional. default 0
       conf => $config_hash_ref, # optional. defaults hardcoded.
$simple->db( $DBIx_PDlib_object );

Required. Database Handle from DBIx::PDlib;

Required. The Domain your authenticating into. Needed to store the cookie info.

$simple->login( $login, $password );

If $login and $password are undef (not set / not passed in), it checks the users cookies for a valid ticket. Otherwise, checks the username/password against the database.


   (0,$login) : inactive account, user doesn't exist,
                password doesn't match, or invalid ticket
   (1,$login,$uid) : login successful
   (-1,$login) : login expired
   (0,0) : no user/pass sent, no cookies exist.

Logs the current user out by nulling out their session ticket in the database.


Returns 1 if the user is logged in. Returns undef is login() was called, but the user failed authentication. Returns 0 (zero) if the login() hasn't been called yet.


Get the current session user id.


Get the current session username.


Returns an array of all groups names and group id's the user belongs to.


$group can be the group name, or the group id.

$rw (optional) can be:

   1  : Read access for the group.
   2  : Write access for the group.
   3  : Both read and write access for the group.
   r  : Read access for the group.
   w  : Write access for the group.
   rw : Both read and write access for the group.

If called without the $rw option, it returns the raw access bits (will be true if the user is in the group and has any level of access: read, write, or both).

If called with the $rw option, returns true if the user is in the group, and has that level of access. Returns false otherwise.

$simple->debug( [0|1|2] );

Optional. Sets the debugging bit. 1 turns it on, 0 turns it off. 2 will print out verbose messages to STDERR.


Cleans out the old sessions from the session database. Should be called once in a while from a cron script. The frequency of calls to this is up to you, and it's need depends on how heavy your usage is. If you never call cleanup(), it won't be the end of the world... things will keep working just fine.


How old a session entry should be before it get's cleaned out. Defaults to 43200 seconds (12 hours).


$conf is optional. Set's the config hash if it's passed in.

Returns the config hash.

Config hash is structured like so:

  $conf = {
    session_table   => {
        _table  => 'sessions',  # table name
        login   => 'username',  # username field
        address => 'address',   # remote address field
        ticket  => 'ticket',    # session ticket field
        point   => 'point',     # timestamp point field
    user_table  => {
        _table  => 'Users',     # table name
        uid     => 'uid',       # user unique id field
        login   => 'login',     # username field
        passwd  => 'passwd',    # password field
        status  => 'disabled',  # status field
        # sub ref to determine if status value is active
        _active_status  => sub { return 1 if ($_[0] != 1); },
        # sub ref to determine if status value is disabled
        _disabled_status    => sub { return 1 if ($_[0] == 1); },
    # group statement is used to get the groups. It should
    # fetch a groupname, groupid, and an accessbit.
    # If you don't want to use the accessbit field, just stick
    # the groupid field there as well.
    # %uid% will be replaced with a quoted uid value for the user.
    # here's an alternate statement, to give you some ideas:
    #   SELECT groupname, gid, gid FROM Users WHERE uid = %uid%
    group_statement => 'SELECT g.Name, ug.gid, ug.accessbit
                        FROM Groups g, UserGroups ug
                        WHERE ug.uid = %uid%',
    # subroutine ref used to encrypt password for db storage
    'crypt' => sub { return Digest::MD5::md5_base64($_[0]); }


"examples" subdirectory of this distribution.

Averist.pm: http://www.nongnu.org/averist/ : A more flexable session/auth module.

CGI::Session: http://search.cpan.org/dist/CGI-Session

Apache::Session: http://search.cpan.org/dist/Apache-Session

CGI::Session::Auth: http://search.cpan.org/dist/CGI-Session-Auth


Tests need written.

Session storage abstraction.

Authentication method abstraction.


Josh I. Miller, <jmiller@purifieddata.net>

Seth T. Jackson, <sjackson@purifieddata.net>


Copyright 2003 by Seth Jackson

This library is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.