Product Support

Participant Login

Provides username/password access to edit a Participants Database record.

Product Setup

To configure the plugin for use, start by making sure your “Participant Record Page” is correctly configured by visiting the “Record Form” tab in the main Participants Database settings. This tells the login form which page to go to when the login is accepted.

Setting up the Participant Record Page

Configure the Login Form

On the Participant Login settings page, you can configure the form to show one or two fields that the user will need to fill in to access their editable record. The first field is called the “Username” field, and it is used as the primary identifier. This can be an email address, an ID number of some kind, or really anything that can be used to uniquely identify the user.

The second field is called the “Password” field, but it can also be anything you want. It is usually used to verify the user, especially if the Username field is something that would be generally known, such as an email address. It is also possible to set up the form to use only a single input field by unchecking the “Require Password” checkbox. When this is unchecked, only the Username field will be shown in the form. You might do this if your username field was something only the user would know, such as an ID number.

When selecting the field to use for the password field, it is important understand that “password” type fields store the password in encrypted form, which means an administrator cannot know what the password is. If you need to be able to tell people what their password is, use a text-line field for your password field, then you will be able to look up their password because it will be stored in plaintext.

Create Your Login Page

Once you have configured the login form, you should create a page that will be the login page. On that page, place the [pdb_login] shortcode to show the login form. It is possible to use a custom template for the login form if you need.

This shortcode will accept the following attributes to configure how it looks and works:

  • template for using a custom template
  • record_page to set the page (use the page name or ID) that the user goes to after successfully logging in; that page must have the [pdb_record] shortcode.
  • login_button_text to set the text on the submit button for the login form

Persistent Login

When using the “Extended Access” preference, the user is automatically forwarded to the record edit page from the login page for 24 hours after successfully logging in. This period can be changed using a code filter.

Logout

To end the persistent login before it expires, you can use a logout link. You may need to use this if you have users that must have access to more than one record. The logout URL is simply the login URL with “?pdb-logout” appended to it. For example, if your Participants Database login page is at /pdb-login, your logout link would look like this:

/pdb-login?pdb-logout

If you are not using pretty permalinks, you need to do it slightly differently. For example, if your login page is on a page with an ID of 2034, your logout link would look like this:

/?p=2034&pdb-logout

It’s a good idea to put the logout link in a menu somewhere where the user can find it.

Product Settings

Login Form Settings

Username Field

Selects the field that holds the username. This could be an email address, a made-up username, or even a member ID number. If the password is not required, this will be the only field shown. This field should hold a value that uniquely identifies the record. If more than one record matches the value, the first record found will be used.

Username Not Found Feedback Message

Message to show if the username does not match any record.

Username Field Extra Attributes

This setting provides a way to add attributes to the username input element. This can be used to add client-side validation to the input, which can be helpful to users typing in the correct thing for the input. It can also be used to add simple javascript interactivity to the input.

This setting uses the same format as the “attributes” setting in the field definition: name::value,name::value etc. Because the comma is used to separate attributes, you must use the HTML entity , to represent the comma if it is in the value.

To set up a client-side validation, use the required and pattern attributes. The link provides the details on using the pattern attribute. Here is a simple example setting:

pattern::[a-z]{3,20},required,title::username must be all lowercase letters between 3 and 20 characters

That pattern will only accept lowercase letters and the length of the input must be at least 3 characters and no more than 20. You can use the “title” attribute to add a message to the pop-up that is seen when the validation fails.

Require Password

If this is checked, both the username and the password must match an existing record for the login to be accepted. If unchecked, no password will be required, and a correct entry into the username field will take the user to the record edit screen. Be careful with this, it could allow data to be changed by unauthorized persons.

Password Field

This is where you set the field that is used for your”password.” This field can be a “Text Line” type or a “Password” type field. If the field you want to use does not appear in the selector, you should either create it if it doesn’t exist or change its form element type to one that is valid for this setting.

If you select a text-line field for this, it will be stored in the database as plaintext. This will often be the case if you are using something like a customer ID for this field. If you use a “password” type field, the password will be encrypted in the database when the user saves their password.

It is important to understand that you cannot switch from or to a password field after the record data has been entered. Changing the field type cannot encrypt or decrypt passwords, so if there is data in this field, it will become incompatible with the field type. If the password field is empty, that is OK, the password will be saved in the correct format when the user enters it.

Login Button Text

This is where you can set the text that is shown on the login form submit button.

Bad Password Feedback Message

Message shown if the password doesn’t match the value in the database.

If checked, a cookie is stored on the user’s browser when they successfully log in, so tha when they are directed to the record edit page, the URL does not show the private ID of the record. This can also be used to allow the user to bypass the login for a while if the setting below is set.

Extended Access

This sets the cookie to stay valid for 24 hours, allowing them to bypass the login for that period of time. This requires the the “Use Cookie” setting be selected as well. When a user with such a cookie visits the Participant Login page, they will be immediately redirected to their record edit screen. The 24-hour period can be changed to another value by using a code filter.

Password Recovery Settings

Provides a way to send the direct link to the user’s record so their password can be changed or recovered. This requires the the “Resend Private Link” functionality in Participants Database be correctly configured. This does not send the password or set a new password, it functions in the normal way for Participants Database: it provides the recipient with a private link to edit their record. They may use that link to change their password if they wish.

Lost Password Form Shortcode

This shortcode is used to generate the lost password form. This setting allows you to customize the shortcode, primarily so that a custom template may be used. the default value here is [pdb_request_link].

Password recovery works by emailing the user a “private link” which can be used to access their record edit page, bypassing the login form. When checked, this setting will change the private ID every time it is used to access the record edit page. This keeps the private link secure because it can only be used once. Don’t use this if your users need to be able to use a static URL to access their record edit page. This setting has the effect of changing the private ID code every time the record is saved.

F.A.Q.

Is it possible to use the login form to show a list of records?

If you want to only show the list of records to people who are registered, you can set the destination of the login form to the page with the list shortcode. You can use the “record_page” attribute in the shortcode to direct the user to any page, for example:

[pdb_login record_page="show-list"]
How does the "brute-force" protection work?

Every time the form is tried, the attempt is recorded with a timestamp and and the user’s IP. If there are over 10 attempts in a hour from a single IP, that IP is not allowed any more attempts for an hour.

Can I change the number of login attempts are allowed before the IP is shut out?

Yes, it quires the use of a filter callback. The number of attempts allowed is filtered by pdb-login_max_attempts and defaults to 10. The time within which this number of attempts is allowed is filtered by pdb-login_attempt_timeframe and defaults to 1 hour in seconds, or 3600.

What if someone loses or forgets their password?

The plugin uses the “Resend Private Link” function that Participants Database uses. There is a setting to include the link in the login form. If someone doesn’t know their password, when they click the link and enter their identifying information (usually an email) a “private link” is sent to them that they can use to access their record. They can change their password at that time if they wish.

How secure is the login form?

The login form provides a reasonable amount of security for non-critical applications. While security is very important to the design and operation of Participants Database, the plugin is not recommended for storing high-value information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, passwords, etc.

The level of security when using this plugin is largely determined by it’s configuration by the administrator. Security is always a trade-off between convenience and how hard it is to break in. If you opt for convenience, it will be at the expense of security, that’s just how it works.

This plugin is designed to be useful in low-security situations where things link single-field logins and plaintext passwords are desirable. The security can be enhanced by using encrypted strong passwords, and hard-to-guess usernames that are not publicly viewable.

How do I use encrypted passwords?

The first thing to do is to use a “Password” type field for your designated password field in the Participant Login settings.

If you want to use encrypted passwords, you will need to give the user the opportunity to create one. The way this usually works is when the record is created, either by a signup submission or in the backend, the user will receive an email (given that this is properly configured) with their “private link” that takes them to their editable record. They can enter a password at that time, then after that, they can use the PDB login form to access their record.

It is also possible to include the password field in the signup form so that the user can set their password when they sign up.

The use of encrypted passwords is not compatible with the use of plaintext passwords, so if there are records in the database that already have a value for the designated password field, changing the field type to or from a password type field can cause problems. If you do that, the data will become invalid, and cannot be used to validate a login.

If you were using plaintext passwords and decide you need to change to using encrypted passwords, you must have your users go to their record using the private link, then enter a password. After that, they can use the password in the login form.

Is there any way to find out what someone's password is?

If you are using encrypted passwords, there is no way to know what the password is. In that case, the user must set a new password. If you are using plaintext passwords, then yes, no problem, the password will be visible to an administrator. The password will also be visible to the user when they edit their record.

How can I prevent the private ID from being seen in the URL after they log in?

In the Participant Login settings enable the “Use Cookie” setting. Now, when someone uses the login form, they will be directed to the record edit form without any indication of the record ID or private ID in the URL.

Is it possible to direct the user to a different page depending on a value in their record?

Yes, there is a filter that is used to get the URL of the page the user goes to after they successfully log in. The filter is ‘pdb-login_after_validate_submission’ and it passes in the user’s record and whether it was validated or not. (This means this can also be used to change where they go if the login wasn’t valid.)

I have created a simple plugin that demonstrates how this can be done:

Redirect PDB Login

You can download this demo plugin and make the changes needed to work for your situation.

How can I add a CAPTCHA to the login form?

It is possible to add reCAPTCHA protection to the login form if you have the PDb reCAPTCHA add-on installed and working. You need to use a custom template, I have provided an example of the template you can use for this.

pdb-login-recaptcha.php

You will need to understand a bit about how custom templates are set up, ready this article for the details:

Using Participants Database Custom Templates

Once you have the template in the correct location, you can use that template in the login form with this shortcode:

[pdb_login template=recaptcha]

Support Discussions for Participant Login

  • Hi Roland:
    I retried purchasing the Participant addon “login” for our new web site (in development). The checkout process continues to present my current and correct email address and password and then indicate it is incorrect.
    Is it possible to send me a copy directly and I will, most certainly, forward a check for purchase?
    I need to activate the web site during the coming month.
    By the way, just wanted you to know, The Participant database has workd, both at my chapter, and our SAR State Society web site unfailing for over two years. We use it for Patriot Application process tracking. and chapter membership information history.
    Bill

  • Hi Roland:
    I have used your Participants DB plugin in two sites in our South Carolina State Society over the past three years for different objectives. I am in the process of developing a new web site for our State Society and assume that I cannot copy the “Login” addon plugin to the new site.

    I attempted to order a new copy of the “Login” addon at multiple times today without success. Checkout indicated there was some kind of a “Token” issue. If you could send me the addon, I will forward the $10 payment to the address you indicate.

    God Bless you and your family.

    Bill

    • Thanks, Bill, I also got your email. Ordering is now possible, but you must use PayPal to make your payment, I’m still working on getting the CC processor working.

  • Yes, this is posssible, you will need to use a custom template for this, and it will require that you have some coding knowledge.

    When the login form is successfully submitted, the plugin shows the [pdb_record] shortcode. You will need to create a custom template for that shortcode to use there. In that template, you will need to add code that looks at the user’s record and determines what to show based on that. I have an example of a template that does something like that: pdb-record-usertype.php

    A useful thing to know is that the $this->participants_values property (you will see it used in the example) is an associative array of all the record’s values.

    Take a close look at this article for instructions on how to use custom templates: Participants Database Custom Templates

  • I hope I am not being dense. I want to use login information i.e. Username and Password to decide whether to execute a page or to display a “Not a member” or similar message. (Maybe an invitation to Join) Can you walk me through the process? Does a short code handle that or is there programming involved? I understand HTML, CSS some PHP and some JavaScript. I don’t mind looking up what I need to know. I can use the File manager to copy files and modify If needed.

  • Hello, It appears that our participant login plug-in stopped working when we upgraded to WordPress 5.8.3 Have heard of others with the same problem? I did “check for updates” but WP responded that we had the latest version of the plug-in. Are planning to support 5.8?

    • I am running 5.8.3 here an not seeing any problems, not have I received any reports like this. Can you be more specific about what’s happening?

      • In the dashboard, when I open one of the pages that contain the shortcodes provided and used to display the screens (eg. mailing list signup, etc) I am seeing an error. It is a very thin red strip along the page and seems to read that it “failed to load the plug-in.” When I go to the page on the actual website. The template for the page loads but the participant db block is blank.
        As an example
        https://www.ddmbachicago.org/pdb-signup/

        Sorry, I could not get my screen snip of the “page” within the dashboard to load here showing the red line/banner that reads something like “failure to load plugin”

        • I don’t see a specific reason for the problem, I suggest you delete and reinstall the plugin. If you have a configuration that you want to keep, you need to delete the plugin using FTP or the File Manager instead of the delete link on the Plugins page. Once that’s done, re-install the plugin using the WP plugin installer.

          To find the specific reason for the failure, we would need to see the exact text of the error message, or possibly the php error log.

  • can i protect all pages with username and password.?
    i mean even creating new record which called signup in the plugin.

    i am using it as internal crm as no outside users sign up.

    • The plugin uses shortcodes, so you can use any kind of plugin that will password protect pages, or even WordPress’ built-in password protection. Participants Database doesn’t do that.

  • I have been using the participant database for a few years now. It is somewhat difficult to set up at first. The documentation can be hard to follow at times. Some better examples would be helpful. Nonetheless, after a long time I was able to get it to what I needed at the time. However, this newest plugin “Participant Login” is incredibly frustrating and simply does not work. I have spent hours on this and I keep getting “no records returned”. I am about to give up entirely on the plugin.

    • For the benefit of other users, this problem was a special case, and happened because the records were uploaded directly to the database. This bypassed the plugin’s import code, and the records were missing the “private_id” value that is necessary to securely locate a record.

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