Category: Hacking

Facebook Connect with JSecurity on Grails

April 18, 2010

Say you have a Grails application using JSecurity (now called Apache Shiro) for authentication. How do you provide an alternate mechanism to authenticate users using Facebook Connect?

Good thing! Grails has the Facebook Connect plugin so you can authenticate users without registering them to your system. But what you will want is to integrate the Facebook Connect Plugin with the JSecurity Plugin. That way, even though a user is actually authenticated using Facebook Connect, your JSecurity knows about the user and can assign roles and permissions to the user.

I assume you have both the Apache Shiro Plugin installed and authentication working properly. Now go ahead and install the and Facebook Connect Plugin by following the documentation.

In addition to the regular JSecurity Login form, you will have the Facebook Login button as follows:


<script type="text/javascript">
        function delayer() {
            window.location = "${createLink(controller:'auth', action: 'signin')}"
<div id="login_section">
    <h4>Login using Facebook Connect</h4> 
    <div class="login_form">
        <fb:login-button autologoutlink="false" onlogin="setTimeout('delayer()',100)">
	<fb:name uid="loggedinuser" useyou="false"></fb:name>
	<fb:profile-pic uid="loggedinuser" size="normal" />			
	<g:facebookConnectJavascript  />
</div> <!--Login Form Ends-->  

The above code snippet will display the Facebook login button. When the user clicks on the button, Facebook Connect’s login dialog is displayed. Once he user authenticates himself to Facebook, the delayer() javascript method is called which then redirects to the auth/signin grails action.

Now lets insert the following snippet of code into the signIn action.


def facebookConnectService
def signin = {
    if(!params?.username && !params?.password) {
        if(facebookConnectService.isLoggedIn(request)) {
            try {
                params.rememberMe = false
                params.username = "facebook"
                params.password = "randompassword"
            } catch (Exception e) {
                flash.error ="We are sorry. Please try again in a while."
                redirect(controller: 'home', action: 'index') 
    // Rest of the Code continues

where, facebookConnectService is the service class that is provided by the the Grails Facebook Connect plugin. We are just checking if the user is logged in to Facebook, and then setting values for username and password as per JSecurity’s needs.

The actual authentication of the user is done in grails-app/realms/ShiroDbRealm.groovy.

Now lets add a few lines to our ShiroDbRealm.groovy to handle our Facebook user:


def facebookConnectService

def authenticate(authToken) { "Attempting to authenticate ${authToken.username} in DB realm..."
        def username = authToken.username

        // Null username is invalid
        if (username == null) {
            throw new AccountException('Null usernames are not allowed by this realm.')

        def user = null
        def account = null
        if (username == "facebook") {
            def facebookUser = null
            try {
                facebookUser = getFacebookUser()
            } catch (Exception e) {
       	    try {
       	        user = User.findByUsername(facebookUser.username)
       	    } catch (Exception e) {

           if (!user) {
                facebookUser.passwordHash = new Sha1Hash("randompassword").toHex()
                if (facebookUser.validate()) {
	                user = true)
                } else {
                        facebookUser.errors.allErrors.each {
                            log.error it

                account = new SimpleAccount(user.username, user.passwordHash, "ShiroDbRealm")
                return account;

            } else {
                account = new SimpleAccount(user.username, user.passwordHash, "ShiroDbRealm")
                return account;
      // Rest of the Code continues

def getFacebookUser () {
        String userId = facebookConnectService.getFacebookClient().users_getLoggedInUser()
        java.lang.Iterable<java.lang.Long> userIds = new ArrayList<java.lang.Long>()
        Set<ProfileField> c = new HashSet<ProfileField>()

        def myresults = facebookConnectService.getFacebookClient().users_getInfo(userIds, c)
        def useObj = myresults.getJSONObject(0)
        User user = new User()
    	user.username = userId
    	user.firstName = useObj.getString("first_name")
    	user.lastName = useObj.getString("last_name") = useObj.getString("name")  	
    	user.displayName =
        Date date = new java.util.Date()
    	user.dateCreated = date
    	user.lastUpdated = date
    	user.lastVisited = date
        return user

Basically, if the user uses Facebook Connect, we are setting his username to ‘”facebook” and password to “randompassword” from the signin action. In the authenticate method, if the username is “facebook”, we are getting all the info of the user from facebook. If the user with that facebook id is already in our database, it is an existing user and is authenticated. If the user doesnt exist in our database, the new user is added to the databse with a username and password. The username and password is only for integrating Facebook Connect with JSecurity, and the user has no idea about it. Now even though the user is actually authenticated by Facebook, it still is a JSecurity user in our database, and will be treated just like any other user.

Please note that I have added a few properties like firstName, lastName, displayName etc to the User.groovy which is created by JSecurity. Feel free to add new properties to the User object if you want to capture more user info from Facebook for that user.

Now you are good to go. Deploy and test the app.

Soon, you will notice that this will work in development, but there is a bug in the Current revision of Grails Facebook Connect Plugin in production environment, due to which it it cannot find the FacebookConnectConfig.groovy in prod. Go and download the source for Facebook Connect Grails plugin and modify the afterPropertiesSet method under services/FacebookConnectService.groovy in the grails-facebook-connect-0.1 project.


void afterPropertiesSet() {
    // check if there is a compiled class for the Facebook connect config groovy script
    // this will be the case when an application is bundled in a WAR
    def config = null
    try {
        config = Class.forName("FacebookConnectConfig").newInstance()
    } catch(Exception  e) {
    if (config != null) {
        // compiled config class found, we must be running as a WAR 
        facebookConnectConfig = new ConfigSlurper().parse(config.getClass())
    } else {
        // no compiled class exists for the config, we must be running the Grails built-in web server
        GroovyClassLoader loader = new GroovyClassLoader(getClass().getClassLoader())
        Class clazz = loader.parseClass(new File("grails-app/conf/FacebookConnectConfig.groovy"))
        facebookConnectConfig = new ConfigSlurper().parse(clazz)

Now use the patched plugin in your app and that should work!

Shoud you use Facebook Connect?:
Based on my few months of experience, users are pretty hesitant to login to a site using Facebook Connect. In my case, less than 10% of the users used Facebook Connect on my site, and it certainly wasn’t worth the effort I put into making it work and mantaining it. Its kind of clunky at times too. I don’t think I am never gonna use it again just for the sake of authentication. So, make sure it really adds some value to your application and users, before you decide to integrate it in your app coz you thought its cool.

Download Youtube video

January 11, 2009

How to download Youtube videos has been done by a number of bloggers in a number of languages. I just wanted to try it out myself in Erlang, but I had no idea where to start.

Now that I’ve decided to start, let me grab an Eddie Vedder song from Youtube:

And lets sniff the HTTP traffic using Wireshark to see what actually happens when we watch a Youtube video. The browser made a conection to Youtube and before it started streaming the video, the input URL got redirected to a different Youtube URL (Depending on whether Youtube is caching the video or not, it could in turn probably be redirected to a different Cache server or a different IP):

No.     Time        Source                Destination           Protocol Info
     96 3.295105    xx.xx.xx.xx        HTTP     GET /get_video?video_id=gct6BB6ijcw&t=OEgsToPDskJ6n06uQXzbbyp7xAnxK6pN&el=detailpage&ps= HTTP/1.1

No.     Time        Source                Destination           Protocol Info
    115 3.879454    xx.xx.xx.xx         HTTP     GET /get_video? HTTP/1.1

Upon playing with the new URL in the browser, I realized that the URL that Youtube gets the video from is

The param “video_id” is the same as the param “v” in the original URL. So we only need to find the value for the param “t”.
Lets look at the HTML source for

and see if it contains the value for the parameter “t”. Luckily, grepping for “&t=”, I found this in the source:


The value of “t” in the HTML source and the value of “t” in the redirect URL is different, but I found that both values of “t” seemed to work when appended to the URL. Oh well, I tried it again just to make sure and realized that the value of the parameter “t” changes for every request, but all values seem to work(Probably it is timestamp dependent!).

So we have a plan now:
1. Get a Youtube video URL and make a HTTP request to it.
2. Get the body of the reponse and find the value of “t” using regex pattern matching.
3. Generate the proper redirect URL using the two parameters “video_id” and “t”.
4. Make a http request to the new URL and stream the bytes and write to a file with “.flv” extension.

Here is the full source code in Erlang: 


download(URL) ->
    {ok, {_Status, _Header, Body}} = http:request(URL),
    Video_URL = get_video_download_url(URL, Body),

stream_video(Video_URL) ->
    io:format("Downloading video from ~p~n", [Video_URL]),
    {ok, {_Status, _Header, Body}} = http:request(Video_URL),
    file:write_file("myvideo.flv", Body),
    io:format("Download complete!").

get_video_download_url(URL, Body) ->
    Matcher = "&t=[A-Za-z0-9-_]*",
    {match, Start, Length} = regexp:first_match(Body, Matcher),
    T = string:substr(Body, Start, Length),
    {ok, New, _No} = regexp:sub(URL, "watch\?v=", "get_video?video_id="),
    New ++ T.

Lets run it from the Erlang shell:

1> c(video_downloader.erl).
2> inets:start().
3> video_downloader:download("").
Downloading video from "
Download complete!ok

Go to your current directory and use any Flv Viewer to see if the downloaded file is a working video or convert it to format of your choice and watch it offline.

I would love to give an Erlang twist to it by spawning a few concurrent processes to download videos, but this is not quite a good example to do it from by localbox – too much of Disk IO, Network IO and slow Internet connection.