My Collection question

Colin Clark colinbdclark at
Tue Jan 5 17:00:32 UTC 2010

Hey all,

Excellent thread. Here's a quick comment about the issue of  
identifying users. I'll respond to the other technical questions in a  

On 5-Jan-10, at 10:55 AM, James William Yoon wrote:

>> 1. Joan wrote about this but it is also related to the user  
>> collections - how do we identify an user in Engage, will there be a  
>> login page or we will use some other mechanism to authenticate users?
> I believe the designers are still working on this one.
> Yes--we were discussing this issue at the end of last year, and  
> we're still trying to determine the easiest way for users to retain  
> their sessions, while being mindful of the different contexts of use  
> of the mobile app (especially wrt to whether the device is the  
> user's own or a museum loan). Stay tuned!

Okay, so we'll let the idea of login and user authentication bake a  
little longer. In the meantime, we need some way to weave together the  
experience of browsing and collecting artifacts. A user should be able  
to freely browse, view and collect, without the system forgetting what  
they've been up to.

Justin, James, and I brainstormed a few implementation strategies for  
this. Here's what we're thinking so far:

* When a user first adds an artifact to their personal collection, we  
create a unique user ID. A Couch UUID should be sufficient for this.  
Other than an ID, we won't have any other identifying information.

* We'll create a cookie that stores this unique ID so that we are able  
to remember the user's collection. By default, let's keep the cookie  
around for a sufficiently long time so that users with their own  
devices will be able continue to use their collection for the  
foreseeable future. Justin has created a simple API that wraps the  
jQuery cookie plugin for doing this sort of thing:

* Once we've got this simple implementation in place, we can consider  
the prospect of having a unique URL parameter that is used by museum- 
loaned devices, ensuring that the user cookie is cleared at the end of  
the browser session.

This approach should be sufficient for the use case of sending an  
email to the user so they can access their collection on their home  
computer if desired. The design work for this is still underway, so  
from a technical perspective we can worry about this a bit further  
down the road.

What do you think?


Colin Clark
Technical Lead, Fluid Project

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