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.

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.

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

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.

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.” If “Encrypt Passwords” is set (this is the default) only “password” type fields can be selected here. If you deselect the encryption preference, you can use any text field here, but not password fields. If you set this field to “required” (on the Manage Database Fields page) the user will be forced to type in their password when they edit their record. If the field is set to “not required” it will still be required in the login form.

Use Encrypted Password

You have the option to save the passwords as encrypted or unencrypted. If the passwords are encrypted, nobody will be able to know what the actual password is. This is to keep them secure in case of a breach. If you are using encrypted passwords, only a “password” type field may be used as the password field. If this is deselected, you may us any “text” type field for your password field. This may be preferable in situations where keeping the password encrypted is not needed, or if you want to use a regular text field for your password field, such as a member ID or other identifying field value. When deselected, the passwords are stored in plaintext and so will be visible. This would allow an admin to tell a user what their password is, for instance. Important: when changing this setting, you must save the settings twice: once to change this setting, then again to save the “password field” selection.

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 

Request your Private 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.

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.

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 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 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.

Support Discussions for Participant Login

  • We’re having a security issue in Firefox using the participant login feature. Our participants sign in to update their information using an order number as the username and a zip code as the password.

    No matter who signs in, it’s always pulling up the same record. Chrome and Safari work fine, but Firefox won’t pull up a separate record no matter what.

    The user does have to enter valid credentials for some record in the database. But, it always pulls up the same record.

    I can get you direct access to take a look in a private message.

    • This sounds like a caching issue, are you using some kind of caching or accelerator plugin? You should exempt the login page from page caching.

      • Thanks for the speedy reply! I think you’re correct.

        I just exempted the pages in question from our cache plugin and it appears to be working correctly now.

        Really appreciate your help.

  • Thank you for your excellent plugin!

    I was wondering, is there an option for administrator approval of edits to records before the changes are made public? That would be a massively beneficial feature to safeguard against any malicious edits.

    If this does not exist, is it possible that I make a financial donation for you to create it, please?

    • Yes, this is in the doumentation here: Approving Records

    • I’m in the process of designing an add-on to Participants Database that provides for an “undo” feture for record edits, and it occurs to me this plugin could also hold new edits back until they were approved. This add-on is in the design stages, and would be somewhat complex, so the development timeline would be several weeks.

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