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How cookies and partitions are handled in Shift

Faye
Faye
  • Updated

Ever been curious about how Shift maintains your login sessions across workspaces and apps or why some extensions may not function as expected in your secondary workspaces? If so, you're in the right place! In this article, we'll delve deeper into the role of cookies and partitions within Shift, shedding light on how they impact your Shift configuration.

The Purpose of Cookies

In web-based applications and browsers, cookies store user preferences, login status, and other information that enhances the user experience. For Shift, which integrates various web services, cookies help maintain session information for each integrated service. This helps to independently maintain the login state and preferences for each account or service.

The Purpose of Partitioning

Partitioning, in a technical sense, often refers to the practice of isolating data for different domains or services. This is particularly important in Shift, where users can be logged into multiple accounts (like different email providers, social media, or productivity tools). By partitioning data, Shift can enhance user privacy and security. This means that data and activity from one account (like a Gmail account) are kept separate from another (like a Slack account), reducing the risk of cross-contamination of data and ensuring that the activity in one service does not inadvertently affect another. This approach allows users to be logged into multiple accounts of the same service simultaneously without interference.

Understanding Partitions and Cookie profiles in Shift

Shift utilizes a sophisticated system of partitions or cookie profiles to enhance user experience and privacy. This system plays a crucial role, especially when using different email accounts and Chrome extensions within Shift. Here's a breakdown of how it works:

Primary partition

  • Definition: The Primary Partition is the individual cookie profile associated with your primary Shift account. It's automatically created when you set up a Shift account

  • Functionality: All the first instances of apps added to the sidebar are tied to your Primary account and fall under this Primary Partition

  • Chrome extensions: certain extensions will only work within the Primary partition. For more details, please refer to the section: Impact on Extensions in Shift 

  • Examples: 

    • If your primary email is john@outlook.com, and you open YouTube within this account or any first app instance, it will use john@outlook.com's login credentials

    • If are in your primary workspace you sign into a Google service (ie Google Chat) it will default to the Primary email. If you need to sign into a Google service app with a different email than the email linked to the workspace you are in, you’ll need to add another instance of the app. This creates a separate partition, which allows you to sign in to a different email

 

Secondary and other partitions

  • Multiple accounts: Any email accounts added after your primary email are considered secondary, tertiary, etc. Each of these accounts will have its distinct partitions/cookie profiles, separate from the Primary Partition

  • App instances: Secondary emails and the second instances of added apps have different partitions. They are not grouped under the same secondary partition as the primary one. This means that each secondary email and each additional instance of an app have their own individual partitions

  • Tab behavior: When you open a tab within a secondary email (e.g., john.smith@gmail.com), it will operate with the information from the secondary partition. For instance, visiting Pinterest.com from this tab will prompt you to log in with the secondary email

Note: The Google/Microsoft Apps, located at the top right corner of Shift will always be linked to the email address of the Workspace you are in.

Impact on extensions in Shift

  • Global Extensions: In Shift v9, all extensions are global, meaning signing into an extension applies across all added emails and apps

  • Limitation with certain extensions: However, specific extensions like Salesforce, HubSpot, Mailtrack, Boomerang, Mixmax, Streak, and Copper are only functional with the Primary Partition. These extensions cannot be used with secondary and other email accounts due to the distinct partitioning system in Shift

Note: This is a technical limitation within Shift; there is no plan to work on this as it would require an infrastructural change

Partitions in browser usage within Shift

  • Primary Partition in Tabs: Tabs opened in the primary email or the first instances of apps will fall under the Primary Partition. Any website accessed through these tabs will interact with the Primary Partition’s data

  • Secondary Partition in Tabs: Conversely, tabs opened in secondary email accounts will operate with the data from their respective secondary partitions

Conclusion

The partitioning system in Shift ensures a high degree of separation between different accounts and app instances, enhancing security and privacy. However, it's important to be aware of the limitations this system may pose, particularly regarding the use of certain extensions across different email accounts. As Shift continues to evolve, we look forward to further refinements in this area to enhance user experience.


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