Provides username/password access to edit a Participants Database record.
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.
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
- login_button_text to set the text on the submit button for the login form
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.
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:
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:
It’s a good idea to put the logout link in a menu somewhere where the user can find it.
Login Form Settings
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.
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.
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.
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
Show Lost Password Link
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
One-Time-Use 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.
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:
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.
You will need to understand a bit about how custom templates are set up, ready this article for the details:
Once you have the template in the correct location, you can use that template in the login form with this shortcode: