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Getting Started with Node.js #2: Using OAuth2 in MEAN applications

Once you have an application based on MEAN you may want to secure the API end-points. At Xorcode we use OAuth2 for securing REST API end-points. OAuth can be cumbersome for web applications, though it is perfect for native desktop and mobile applications.

This article would not exist if it wasn't for willwh from the #node.js channel on FreeNode who asked how to connect MEAN to an iOS application.

In order to make this tutorial lesson easier to understand we have created a branch of MEAN which you can checkout and toy around with.

Clone our MEAN repository

In order to use OAuth2 with MEAN we first need to modify package.json to include the relevant Node.js modules that we need to use in order to enable support for OAuth authentication.

File: package.json
{
  "dependencies": {
    "passport-http": "latest",
    "passport-http-bearer": "latest",
    "passport-oauth2-client-password": "latest",
    "oauth2orize": "latest",
    "debug": "~0.7.2"
  }
}

We also added the debug module since it’s used by oauth2orize and we decided to use the same pattern for our additions to mean.

Update the dependencies in your mean project:

$ npm install

Creating supporting Models

OAuth needs to store tokens somewhere so we’ll create the required Mongoose schemas for use with oauth2orize and Passport.

The OAuthClient model serves as the foundation of this data structure. Each AccessToken and RequestToken is bound to a client and a user. When a client (web/mobile/desktop) requests permissions to access a user’s data, it identifies itself with its key.

RequestTokens are used during the interchange between the client and the server as a request for an AccessToken takes place.

AccessTokens are the final result of the OAuth2 transaction. They serve as the “password” used by the client to access the user’s data.

Adding CRUD for OAuth Clients

The only part of OAuth that our application’s users can directly interact with are the Clients. In Twitter and Facebook terms, these are “Applications.” We have created the necessary scaffolds for you:

These controllers with their accompanying views are basic. Feel free to modify them to your needs. You may for instance want to add verification of the redirect URI by adding a redirectUri field to the OAuthClient schema, that way you can ensure that clients cannot be used to redirect to a site that may have nefarious intent.

We also need to modify some existing files in mean:

This will set up our client-side routes and make sure that the application responds properly when we want to edit/view clients.

Finally we need to add some routes to our router.

File: config/routes.js
    //Client Routes
    var clients = require('../app/controllers/clients');
    app.get('/clients', clients.all);
    app.post('/clients', auth.requiresLogin, clients.create);
    app.get('/clients/:clientId', clients.show);
    app.put('/clients/:clientId', auth.requiresLogin, auth.client.hasAuthorization, clients.update);
    app.del('/clients/:clientId', auth.requiresLogin, auth.client.hasAuthorization, clients.destroy);

Once we have this up and running, we’re ready to create clients.

The OAuth2 Permissions Dialog

Once a user wants to connect to our service from somewhere – like a mobile application – we need to get their permission first.

If you are familiar with Twitter or Facebook, you know that these sites ask for your permission when you want to connect them to another site or application. We will do the same for our users.

OAuth2 Express Middleware

In order to integrate OAuth2 into our application we need to make several modifications to existing files as well as add a few new files. First up we will modify our Passport middleware.

We need to add Passport strategies for basic authentication, client password authentication, and bearer authentication.

Once we have added the passport strategies, we need to add a few new routes to allow clients to interact with our OAuth end-points.

File: config/routes.js
    var oauth2 = require('./middlewares/oauth2');
    app.get('/oauth/authorize', auth.requiresLogin, oauth2.authorization, oauth2.dialog);
    app.post('/oauth/authorize/decision', auth.requiresLogin, oauth2.server.decision());
    app.post('/oauth/token', oauth2.token);

These three new routes use our oauth2orize server.

The server definition contains definitions for grants, exchanges, and authorization hooks for Passport and Express.

Common functionality

The OAuth2 code that we have added share some common functionality. We have added these shared methods in a file that you can drop into your project.

These methods are used by the OAuth2 key generator.

Testing your implementation

In order to make sure that you have set everything up correctly, we recommend that you test things out locally before deploying to a server. We have supplied a very basic Express server with which you can test your implementation before you deploy to a server somewhere.

Create a new client and modify the OAuth2 configuration in server.js with the key and secret of your new client.

This example assumes that your main mean server runs on port 3000 and that your testing server runs on port 4000.

Start your main server:

$ DEBUG=oauth2orize,oauth2 node server.js
  oauth2orize register parser code request +0ms
  oauth2orize register responder code response +2ms
  oauth2orize register parser token request +1ms
  oauth2orize register responder token response +0ms
  oauth2orize register exchanger authorization_code authorization_code +0ms
  oauth2orize register exchanger password password +1ms
Express app started on port 3000

Then start the testing server:

$ cd scripts
$ npm install
$ NODE_DEBUG=true node server.js
listening on port 4000

Once the server’s up and running you can navigate to http://localhost:4000/ to test your implementation by clicking on the “Authenticate with Service” link. Clicking the link will take you to the OAuth dialog of your main mean application.

You should see something like this in your console log:

  oauth2orize parse:request +42s
  oauth2orize parse:request +0ms
  oauth2 authorization:  +0ms pEdDoXEgEpSbkAzN http://localhost:4000/callback
  oauth2 authorization:  +3ms null { clientSecret: 'unpYdLS16rlS7ITa1vVOD7hwJ8ZRzTkV',
  clientKey: 'pEdDoXEgEpSbkAzN',
  name: 'Web',
  _id: 52115d123265413b29000001,
  __v: 0,
  created: Sun Aug 18 2013 19:47:30 GMT-0400 (EDT) }

Once you click “Allow” you should be taken back to the testing server where your access token should be printed.

The console output on your testing server should look like this:

OAuth2 Node Request
Simple OAuth2: Making the HTTP request { uri: 'http://localhost:3000/oauth/token',
  method: 'POST',
  headers: { Authorization: 'Basic cEVkRG9YRWdFcFNia0F6Tjp1bnBZZExTMTZybFM3SVRhMXZWT0Q3aHdKOFpSelRrVg==' },
  form: 
   { code: 'dEErLArE919sZ38E',
     redirect_uri: 'http://localhost:4000/callback',
     grant_type: 'authorization_code',
     client_id: 'pEdDoXEgEpSbkAzN',
     secret: 'unpYdLS16rlS7ITa1vVOD7hwJ8ZRzTkV' } }
Simple OAuth2: checking response body {"access_token":"PE6XthpfpWcc8Veu6DC6ZLJ9lwLoqljmZ10nDMvtdFHkEKbCxyvlUBLNpTKC4Vb2cNUM2kUJqJJj9djaYbrpEWAdMBJnxWzJTUiayA9I45FBwEOxGifG9R2E9x3xiXHf52F5rAYRMQdKne1qfPe8uloxNIJ23u14bupRA3W5d3JXt8zQEcXV1Rc3C8rIbIGwMPUO8MKdW2CRwk6jDp4ksMGThpK7MpYVITxrDdvpAI11CRtiyX320AZ6I5lnwv3f","token_type":"bearer"}

You are now ready to use the access token through the Bearer strategy.

Our next article will explain how to secure particular parts of your application with the methods you have learned in this lesson.

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