Authorize in the UI

Using Oso to control UI components

The access control rules that you use to authorize data access in your application’s backend often have implications for the frontend as well. For example, you may want to hide a button that links to another page if the current user doesn’t have access to that page. Or perhaps you’d like to display an “edit” button only if the user is actually allowed to edit the resource in question.

In this guide we’ll explain how you can use Oso to implement these kinds of features in your app.

Note

We don’t currently provide a version of Oso that runs in the browser. This guide covers how to query for information in the backend that can be sent to your frontend service.

Getting a user’s authorized actions

When you’re deciding what to display to a user in the frontend, it can be useful to know all the actions that the user is allowed to take on a resource, rather than checking if a single action is allowed. In this case, you can use the authorized_actions(actor, resource) method to get a list of a user’s authorized actions and return them to your frontend.

Let’s look at an example. Imagine we have a GitHub-like app that gives users access to repositories. The page to view a specific repository looks like this:

image

On this page, we may want to hide the “Issues” or “Settings” links depending on whether the user is allowed to view issues or adjust repository settings.

In this situation, you can use the authorized_actions() method. The method returns a list of actions that a user is authorized to take on a specific resource. In our example, we can call authorized_actions() in the route handler for the “Show repository” view to get the user’s allowed actions for the current repo:

app.py
def repos_show(org_id, repo_id):
    # Get repo
    repo = Repository.query.get(repo_id)

    # Authorize repo access
    current_app.oso.authorize(repo, action="READ")

    # Get allowed actions on the repo
    actions = current_app.base_oso.authorized_actions(
        get_current_user(), repo
    )
    # Send allowed actions to template (or frontend)
    return render_template(
        "repos/show.html",
        repo=repo,
        org_id=org_id,
        actions=actions,
    )

In our demo app, when we call Oso.authorized_actions() with the user mike@monsters.com, we get back:

actions = ['read', 'list_roles', 'delete', 'list_issues']

But when we call with a different user, sully@monsters.com, we get:

actions = ['read', 'list_issues']

The authorized actions for each user are determined by the Oso policy. In this case, our policy has the following rules:

main.polar
resource Repository {
  permissions=["read", "list_roles", "delete", "list_issues"];
  roles=["contributor", "maintainer", "admin"];

  # Repository contributors can read and list issues for the repo
  "read" if "contributor";
  "list_issues" if "contributor";

  # Repository admins can list roles and delete the repo
  "list_roles" if "admin";
  "delete" if "admin";

  # Repository admins are contributors by default
  "contributor" if "admin";
}

# ...

The users Mike and Sully have the following attributes:

  • Mike is the admin of the “Paperwork” repository, so he can list roles and delete the repo, in addition to reading and listing issues
  • Sully is a member of the “Paperwork” repository, so he can only read the repo and list issues

Based on these user attributes and our policy, we can see why Mike is allowed to take more actions on the repository than Sully.

Using allowed actions in the frontend

Since Mike has permission to "list_roles" and "delete" the repo, he should be able to see the “Manage Access” and “Delete” buttons, but Sully should not. We can implement this with a simple check in our template:

{% if "list_roles" in actions %}
<div>
  <a href={{ url_for('routes.repo_roles_index', org_id=org_id, repo_id=repo.id) }}>
    <h4 class="text-primary">
      <b>
        <pre>Manage Access</pre>
      </b>
    </h4>
  </a>
</div>
{% endif %}
{% if "delete" in actions %}
<br />
<form action={{ url_for('routes.repos_show', org_id=org_id, repo_id=repo.id) }} method="POST">
  <button class="btn btn-primary" type="submit" name="delete_repo" value="">
    Delete Repository
  </button>
</form>
{% endif %}

Now when Sully logs in, the buttons are hidden:

image

Our example uses Flask templates for the UI, but the allowed actions could be sent to the frontend to make UI decisions in React, Vue or any other client UI framework.

Set up a 1x1 with an Oso Engineer

Our team is happy to help you get started with Oso. If you'd like to learn more about using Oso in your app or have any questions about this guide, schedule a 1x1 with an Oso engineer.


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