20 Oct

AWS S3 file upload from client side

Last week I pushed a new feature on production which involve file upload on AWS S3. When you are uploading file to S3 from frontend there is always a risk of exposing your AWS secrets to user, so you have following options to avoid this risk

  1. Involve server as middleware and upload via server API, you will have more control over it
  2. Allow users to upload directly to S3 anonymously

I don’t like both of above methods, as involving middleware you are uploading file twice frontend → server, server → s3 bucket and I don’t really want server to do this heavy lifting of uploading files to S3 on user behalf, while allowing user anonymous upload you are giving a blank check to you S3 bucket i.e. anyone in the world can upload to your s3 bucket, this was also not acceptable to me as this could have very swear consequences. I wanted to have bit more control over uploads while not compromising security issues, so I used AWS Security Token Service to generate secrets (access_key, access_secret) which lived temporarily and have limited access as you define it.

Configure an IAM user on AWS console to generate temporary secrets

In order to generate temporary secrets you need following configurations on AWS console

  1. create a new IAM user
  2. create a policy to allow upload on S3 bucket
  3. create a role for you IAM user to assume Security Token Service

Watch this video for configurations

Now, you can generate AWS STS with this ruby code

aws_sts = AWS::STS::Client.new(
          access_key_id: ENV['AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID'],
          secret_access_key: ENV['AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY']
        ).assume_role(
          role_arn: ENV['AWS_ROLE_ARN'],
          role_session_name: 'session_name',
          duration_seconds: 12*60*60)
// this will generate access_key, access_secret
aws_sts.credentials

AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID and AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY are credentials you download after creating user and AWS_ROLE_ARN is value which I copied at the end of video

Enable ACL uploading to S3

You will be able to successfully upload files with secrets generated with above code, Since we have used a separate user to generate STS then only this user will be able to access file. To make this file accessible by other user as well you must send ACL: 'public-read' in request body or header while uploading file to S3. you can read more about ACL

I hope this help you improve your file upload as well. If you need any help please do ping me on twitter @alihaider907.

25 Nov

Newbies Introduction to Ruby on Rails

Note: This tutorial is intended to newbies only who want to kick-start web development with Ruby on Rails. I will just share links to different resources and give tips based on my experience which may help you starting development with Ruby on Rails.

Installation and Prerequisites

Just like any other framework ruby on rails framework has its own development environment, before diving into installations of environment I would recommend if you have  planned to use Window operating system for ruby on rails development please read Rails Development on Windows. Seriously and switch to linux/unix based operating system. If you still insist to carry on with Windows go ahead with my Best wishes.

You can find complete installation guide of Ruby on Rails on GoRails website (there are other websites too). I will recommend installing RVM instead of rbenv and installing it from source.  GoRails guides also include installing Git, MySQL/Postgres complete the installation process. You might get errors while installation please do check your OS and version before starting installation process.

Ruby Language

Once you have set up your installations and environment start with ruby language basics I would recommend The Little Book of Ruby by Huw Collingbourne. Don’t memorise anything just practice basic syntax, data structures, condition statements, loops modules and Classes. Since we have already installed ruby as well as created a project of rails (in above GoRails guide) your can either go to project root and open a console or write your program in a .rb file and run it with ruby keyword as mentioned in book.

Ruby on Rails Framework

You are familiar with Ruby language basics now it is time to start getting your hands on Ruby on Rails. You will find numerous tutorial on getting started with Rails, but RUBY ON RAILS TUTORIAL by Michael Hartl is the most comprehensive guide for newbies. It covers details at granular level starting from Zero to Deployment it includes everything. There are other good resources as well like RailsCastsDriftingRuby, RailsTutorial, but if you are newbie I would highly recommend finishing Ruby on Rails Tutorial book by Micheal Hartl thoroughly first and then look elsewhere like RailsCasts (very good for topic specific tutorials) as it will make your Rails framework understanding in-depth.

Development Environment

Development environment contains your machine, tools, settings, configurations etc. Make your development environment as smooth as possible use .bashrc, tumx, terminal settings aliases to amplify your concentration. Have strong grip over terminal commands. Choose any suitable text editor I personally use Sublime Text in development and vim or emacs in production mode. Look at StackOverFlow’s survey for Most Popular Developer Environments by Occupation.

Be Open Source 

Ruby on Rails is an open source framework and it has very large open source community, as a beginner you will get lots of help from open source community in term of different gems, git, gist, stack overflow etc. Don’t forget to contribute back once you have a good grip.

Follow Tech Talks

Ruby and Ruby on Rails framework has large community of developers across the world. There are many conferences being held across the world on Ruby language and Ruby on Rails framework both. RubyConf and RailsConf are two of the most popular conferences in Ruby on Rails world. Do follow tech talks in these conferences particularly from speakers David Heinemeier, Sean Griffin, Mike Perham, Aaron Patterson and people who are at the forefront of Ruby language and Ruby on Rails framework development. Look at 11 TOP INTERNATIONAL RUBY ON RAILS CONFERENCES AND EVENTS 2017. Also one particularly article I really like every Rails developer to read is The Rails Doctrine by DHH.

Never Stop Learning

Once you have develop basics of ruby on rails I would recommend having some DevOps and Front end frameworks like ReactJS, VueJS  skills as well. Do explore topics like High Availability, Consistency, Scaling RDBS, NoSQL etc and  regularly read engineering blogs of tech giants like Google, Twitter, Microsoft and Amazon etc.

If you are newbie to Ruby on Rails development and want any suggestions or help do ping me on twitter @alihaider907.

Happy Learning 😛