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Date: Sun, 4 Oct 2015 12:00:03 +0300
From: Solar Designer <solar@...nwall.com>
To: discussions@...sword-hashing.net
Subject: Re: [PHC] Interest in specification of modular crypt format

On Mon, Sep 28, 2015 at 01:15:15AM +0300, Solar Designer wrote:
> On Sun, Sep 27, 2015 at 04:46:48PM -0400, Anthony Ferrara wrote:
> > On Sep 27, 2015 2:52 PM, "Solar Designer" <solar@...nwall.com> wrote:
> > > For PHP and such, I think this pretty much implies the encoding will
> > > also need to use RFC Base64.  Then it's just sprintf of some decimal
> > > numbers and some base64()'s.  So my point remains that Thomas' proposed
> > > encoding is neither here nor there.
> > 
> > Completely fair. I am less concerned around the encoding of the salt than
> > the encoding and specification of the parameters. If a high level api is
> > provided for generating the salt, then awesome. That helps a lot. Though I
> > would still suggest keeping it readable.
> 
> Regarding crypt B64 vs. RFC Base64, Alexander Cherepanov has just
> pointed out to me that there are in fact major issues with common
> base64 decoders.

Alexander Cherepanov has since posted about it in here.

> Thomas had hinted at that, but I didn't realize just
> how bad things actually were.  So I withdraw that suggestion for now.

So it looks like we've chosen to use a verbose encoding:

https://github.com/P-H-C/phc-string-format/blob/master/phc-sf-spec.md

and it looks like we've switched to (almost) RFC Base64:

"The B64 encoding is the standard Base64 encoding (RFC 4648, section 4)
except that the padding  =  signs are omitted, and extra characters
(whitespace) are not allowed"

As much as I am for compact encodings, I think if we chose to go verbose
anyway, we should not omit the padding '=' signs.  Just to make it
easier to use standard encoding/decoding functions.

A reason to omit them is to ensure that '=' are only seen between
parameter names and values, but this is not necessary for parsing.
Even something like this may be parsed unambiguously:

$id$param1=123,param2=B64here==,param3=B64there=$salt==$hash=

It's not pretty, but it's simpler to create and parse when you already
have base64 encoding/decoding functions.  Unfortunately, those decoding
functions on their own typically won't ensure strict syntax (they're
about as broken as strtoul() in this respect, or maybe slightly worse
even), but that may be a reason for us not to choose RFC Base64 rather
than to omit padding, I think.

Alexander

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