- Best Practices
Crafting Your Own Application: The 4 Essential Building Blocks
Explore 4 app building blocks: Authentication, Authorization, Databases & Payments. Use existing solutions for faster development & user trust.
TL;DR: When building an application, there are four essential building blocks to consider: Authentication, Authorization, Databases/Data Handling, and Payments. This blog will emphasize how to leverage existing solutions to accelerate development and provides recommendations for services in each category, including Clerk.dev, SuperTokens, and Auth0 for authentication; Permit.io, OPAL, and OPA for authorization; PlanetScale, Supabase, and MongoDB for databases; and Stripe, PayPal, and Square for payments. Prioritizing user trust, data security, and a seamless user experience ensures long-term success.
Creating an application from scratch can be an exhilarating experience that brings ideas to life. However, understanding the crucial components and how they work together is key to building a successful application. In this blog post, we’ll explore the four essential building blocks that make up an effective application: Authentication, Authorization, Databases/Data Handling, and Payments. You need them, but you don’t need to build them from scratch.
In this blog, we will concentrate on leveraging existing solutions to significantly accelerate your application development process. Additionally, we will discuss some of the best options available to ensure a seamless and efficient experience.
Authentication is the process of verifying a user's identity, usually by requiring them to provide a unique set of credentials (e.g., username and password). This is a critical aspect of any application, as it ensures that only authorized users can access the system. Here are some common authentication techniques:
Password-based authentication: Users enter their username and password, which is then compared to the stored credentials.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA): In addition to a password, users must provide a second form of identification, such as a code sent to their phone.
Social logins: Users authenticate through a third-party service, such as Google or Facebook.
Passwordless authentication: Users will receive a link via email or an OTP code to their mobile device, to confirm their identity.
Implementing a secure authentication system is crucial for protecting user data and maintaining trust in your application. There are a few awesome services that allow you to do this:
Clerk.dev — A user management platform that provides secure authentication, user profiles, and seamless integration with modern applications.
SuperTokens — An extensible and customizable authentication solution offering secure session management, social logins, and passwordless options.
Auth0 — A robust and flexible identity platform offering customizable authentication, single sign-on, and advanced security features for web and mobile applications.
Once a user’s identity has been verified, the next step is determining what they’re allowed to do within the application. This is known as authorization. Essentially, authorization involves defining access controls and permissions for various user roles. Some common techniques include:
Role-based access control (RBAC): Users are assigned roles (e.g., admin, editor, or viewer) that determine the actions they can perform.
Attribute-based access control (ABAC): Access control is based on user attributes, such as job title, location, or department, which define the actions they can perform.
By clearly defining user roles and permissions, you can ensure that sensitive data and
functionality remains protected, while still allowing users to access the features they need.
As we develop our applications, it’s essential to rely on companies with proven expertise to handle complex tasks, allowing us to focus on seamlessly integrating their solutions into our applications. Here are a few excellent options to consider:
Permit.io — A comprehensive access control solution enabling policy-based authorization and simplified no-code permission management for application-level permissions.
OPAL (Open Policy Administration Layer) — OPAL is an open-source project for administrating authorization and access-control. It provides live updates to agents in response to policy and data changes, ensuring the speed required for real-time applications.
OPA (Open Policy Agent) — A general-purpose policy engine empowering unified, context-aware policy enforcement across the entire technology stack.
Databases / Data Handling
A core component of any application is its database and data handling capabilities. Databases store, manage, and retrieve data used by the application, while data handling encompasses the techniques and processes for working with that data. Key considerations for databases and data handling include:
Choosing the right database type: Decide between relational databases (e.g., MySQL, PostgreSQL) or NoSQL databases (e.g., MongoDB, Cassandra) based on your application’s data structure and access requirements.
Data modeling: Define how data is organized and stored, ensuring efficiency and scalability.
Data security: Implement measures to protect data from unauthorized access, tampering, or theft, such as encryption and secure backups.
Data validation and sanitization: Ensure data integrity by validating input, preventing SQL injection attacks, and maintaining a clean database.
Efficient and secure data handling is essential for maintaining a stable and reliable application, while also protecting user data. Here are some great databases to consider:
PlanetScale: A fully managed, globally distributed, MySQL-compatible database platform designed for high availability, scalability, and seamless application integration.
Supabase — A scalable, open-source alternative to Firebase offering real-time data synchronization and powerful APIs for backend development.
MongoDB — A flexible, document-based NoSQL database designed for high performance, horizontal scaling, and ease of use in modern applications.
If your application involves financial transactions, integrating a reliable payment system is crucial. A robust payment system will allow users to make transactions securely and efficiently, while also handling any related financial tasks. Key aspects of payment integration include:
Choosing a payment gateway: Select a reputable payment gateway provider that supports the currencies and payment methods your application requires.
Security and compliance: Ensure that your payment system adheres to industry security standards, such as PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), to protect sensitive payment data and maintain user trust.
User experience: Design a seamless and intuitive payment process that minimizes friction, making it easy for users to complete transactions.
Payment tracking and reporting: Implement a system for tracking and managing transactions, refunds, and disputes, as well as generating reports for financial analysis and bookkeeping.
Integrating a secure and efficient payment system not only improves the user experience but also helps build trust in your application, ultimately contributing to its success. Here are a few examples of companies that you can utilize to create a seamless payment experience in your application:
Stripe — A comprehensive payment processing platform offering a suite of tools for online and in-person transactions, subscription management, and fraud prevention.
PayPal — A widely-recognized digital payment service enabling secure online transactions, e-commerce integrations, and cross-border money transfers.
Square — A versatile payment solution catering to businesses of all sizes, providing payment processing, point-of-sale systems, and a suite of business management tools.
Creating a successful application requires a solid understanding of the essential building blocks: Authentication, Authorization, Databases/Data Handling, and Payments. By carefully considering these components and implementing them effectively, you can create a robust, secure, and user-friendly application that meets the needs of your target audience. As you continue to develop and refine your application, always prioritize user trust, data security, and a seamless user experience to ensure the long-term success of your project.