Login Modules

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A login module enables users to log in to Q2A via an external identity provider, such as Open ID. The module can display some HTML alongside Q2A’s login and register links in the navigation menu, and/or on Q2A’s login and register pages. This HTML can use a variety of methods to obtain the user’s credentials, such as linking to a separate form or showing a pop-up via Javascript.

When your plugin logs in a user for the first time, a normal Q2A account is created for the user, and the user’s profile will be prepopulated using information you supply. This Q2A account is permanently connected to the external identity you supply, so that the user can log in using the same external identity in future. The user will also be able to log into their Q2A account using the standard Q2A login form, but only once they have set a password in their ‘My Account’ page.

In order to log in a user, your plugin calls function qa_log_in_external_user() at the appropriate time. The same call is used whether the user is registering for the first time or logging in to an existing account. Q2A takes care of handling each case as appropriate. The function qa_log_in_external_user() takes the following parameters in order:

  1. A $source string uniquely identifying your login method, such as 'facebook' or 'openid', up to 16 ASCII characters in length.

  2. An $identifier for the user supplied by the external identity provider, up to 1024 bytes in length, which will always be the same for that user. Generally this will be a numerical user ID, but it can also be a URL or any other unique identifier.

  3. An array $fields of optional additional information about the user, which can contain any of the following elements:

    • $fields['email'] for the user’s email address. Beginning in Q2A 1.5.4, this will be ignored if there is already a user in the database with the same email address.
    • $fields['confirmed'] can be true to indicate that the user has confirmed their email address.
    • $fields['handle'] for a suggested username. Q2A will modify this sensibly if it clashes with another user.
    • $fields['level'] for the user’s privilege level. Use one of the QA_USER_LEVEL_* constants defined at the top of qa-app-users.php, e.g. QA_USER_LEVEL_MODERATOR. If omitted, QA_USER_LEVEL_BASIC is assumed.
    • $fields['name'], $fields['location'], $fields['website'] and $fields['about'] for the user’s profile.
    • $fields['avatar'] for the user’s avatar picture. This should contain the raw JPEG/GIF/PNG image data. If necessary you can obtain this data from a URL using Q2A’s qa_retrieve_url() function.

Each time you call qa_log_in_external_user() for a particular user, you should pass the exact same values for $source and $identifier. This enables Q2A to determine whether the user already has an account - if so, $fields will be ignored.

The PHP class for a login module can contain the following functions (all are optional):

  • check_login() is called early on during every page request if a user is not currently logged in. This gives your module the opportunity to log in a user based on a browser cookie (like Facebook) or a parameter on the URL.

  • match_source($source) should return true if your module uses $source in calls to qa_log_in_external_user().

  • login_html($tourl, $context) allows your module to display some HTML for connecting with your external identity provider. For example, you could show an image which links to a login form. The Facebook Login plugin included with Q2A displays a login button using the Facebook Javascript API. However you choose to implement the login process, you should redirect the user to $tourl once the login is complete. The $context parameter tells you where the HTML will be displayed - 'menu' for the top right menu, 'login' for Q2A’s login page, and 'register' for Q2A’s register page.

  • logout_html($tourl) allows your module to display some HTML for logging out the user, to be displayed in the top right menu. Your logout_html() function is only called if the current Q2A user was logged in via qa_log_in_external_user() and your match_source() function returns true for the $source value that was used. The $tourl parameter contains the URL of the Q2A logout page, to which you must redirect the user once your own logout process is complete.

You may choose to request the user’s external login credentials on a page which is served by Q2A. In this case you would include both a login module and a page module in your plugin. The HTML displayed by the login module would link to your custom page, and the page module would display the appropriate form and call qa_log_in_external_user() when the form was submitted.

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