SharePoint supports Forms Based Authentication. I suspect this isn’t news to anyone – if nothing else, I’ve posted about articles describing setting it up.
However, what SharePoint doesn’t do is give you a way of administering these users. In those articles about setting it up they all recommend using the Visual Studio ‘Configure Website’ tool. This works, but it isn’t pretty, and I wouldn’t want customers using it!
Now, it is a shame the SharePoint doesn’t have this facility – we’ve got the membership provider framework abstracting the actual storage of user details (SQL database? Active Directory? Flat file? Who cares? It all looks the same through the provider’s interface). Further, the membership provider interface gives you admin functions that you might want – like list, create, delete, update.
Thus, it seems to me that an obvious thing to provide is a user interface for administering the contents of that MembershipProvider. Sadly, it doesn’t. I suppose the problem is that a developer could extend the membership provider interface or something, but it is a pain. I figured that I can’t be the only person suffering this pain, so I decided to check on Codeplex.
(Don’t get me started on the performance of the codeplex site.)
The Community Kit for SharePoint has an FBA management, well, sub-project, I guess. I tried installing it, but soon found myself asking the same question as Wouter Van Vugt – what is the quality of this project? I mean, it installed okay, but I immediately got a NullReferenceException when I tried to use it. Looking into the code, I found some oddities too – like why is the list of users being filtered to those assigned rights to a site? Surely this should just be administered at the site collection level (well, technically, at the web-app level, but they’re usually the same thing)? That just seems an unnecessary complexity. And the Datasource control used for this lacks create, update and delete – so no clever Gridview usage.
There is also another codeplex project – Forms Base Authentication Tools and Utils for SharePoint 2007 – but it’s been in beta for over a year, and has very little activity, so I don’t know what the state of this is.
All of which, ultimately, brings me around to the idea that I’ll have to write my own (though I’m checking to see if Wouter started to do that, as he seems to have come to the same conclusion). And, actually, the crux of it isn’t a SharePoint thing – such a facility would be easy if there was a DataSource control that wrapped the MembershipProvider. I may just write a datasource to do this.