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The UX of UUIDs | Unkey

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses strategies for enhancing the usability and efficiency of unique identifiers in applications, such as making them easily copyable, adding meaningful prefixes, and using more efficient encoding methods like base58. It also provides an example implementation of a function that generates unique IDs with prefixes.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] How to build authentic communication in your team

1. What is the key to building trust and collaboration in a team?

  • Authentic communication is the key to building trust and collaboration in a team.

[02] Unique identifiers and their importance

1. Why are unique identifiers essential in applications?

  • Unique identifiers play a crucial role in all applications, from user authentication to resource management, as they provide a reliable way to ensure that each item, user, or piece of data has a unique identity.
  • By maintaining uniqueness, applications can effectively manage and organize information, enabling efficient operations and facilitating data integrity.

2. What is the problem with using standard UUIDs?

  • While using a standard UUID will satisfy all security concerns, there are ways to improve the user experience when working with unique identifiers.

[03] Enhancing the usability of unique identifiers

1. How can we make unique identifiers more easily copyable?

  • One way to enhance the usability of unique identifiers is by removing the hyphens from UUIDs, allowing users to simply double-click on the identifier to copy it. This eliminates the need for manual selection and copy-pasting, improving the user experience.

2. How can we help users differentiate between different environments or resources within the system?

  • We can add a meaningful prefix to the unique identifiers, similar to how Stripe uses prefixes like sk_live_ for production environment secret keys or cus_ for customer identifiers. This ensures clarity and reduces the chances of confusion, especially in complex systems with multiple environments.

3. What is the benefit of using base58 encoding for unique identifiers?

  • Instead of using a hexadecimal representation, we can consider encoding unique identifiers more efficiently using base58. Base58 encoding uses a larger character set and avoids ambiguous characters, resulting in shorter identifier strings without compromising readability.
  • Base58 encoding can store significantly more states than hexadecimal, improving collision resistance.

4. How can we reduce the length of unique identifiers while maintaining an acceptable level of uniqueness?

  • Not all identifiers need to have a high level of collision resistance. By reducing the entropy of the identifiers, we can generate shorter IDs while still maintaining an acceptable level of uniqueness.
  • However, we need to be careful and ensure the system is protected against ID collisions, which can be easily handled in the database layer.

[04] Implementation example

1. How does the author's implementation of unique identifiers work?

  • The author provides an example implementation of a function that generates unique IDs with prefixes.
  • The function takes a typed prefix and then generates the ID using the nanoid library, which provides a more efficient encoding than standard UUIDs.
  • The prefixes are defined in a separate object, ensuring that the same prefix is always used for the same type of ID.

2. How are API keys handled in the author's implementation?

  • API keys are also a type of identifier, and the author applies the same strategies used for unique identifiers to API keys.
  • This includes adding a prefix to the API keys to help users identify the purpose of the key, and enforcing secure limits to prevent collisions.
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