Action based authorization middleware.


Action based authorization middleware

The authorized package is available on npm.

$ npm install authorized

Import an authorization manager.

var auth = require('authorized');

Provide getters for your application roles.

auth.role('admin', function(reqdone) {
  done(null, req.user && req.user.admin);

Roles can use <entity>.<relation> syntax.

// getters for entity.relation type roles are called with the entity 
auth.role('organization.owner', function(orgreqdone) {
  if (!req.user) {
  } else {
    done(null, !!~org.owners.indexOf(;

Provide getters for your application entities.

auth.entity('organization', function(reqdone) {
  // assume url like /organizations/:orgId 
  var match = req.url.match(/^\/organizations\/(\w+)/);
  if (!match) {
    done(new Error('Expected url like /organizations/:orgId'));
  // pretend we're going to the db for the organization 
  process.nextTick(function() {
    // mock org 
    var org = {id: match[1], owners: ['user.1']};
    done(null, org);

Now define what roles are required for your actions.

auth.action('add members to organization', ['admin', 'organization.owner']);
auth.action('delete organization', ['admin']);

To perform the provided action, a user must have at least one of the given roles. In the first case, a user must be admin or organization.owner to add members to an organization. In the second case, a user must be admin to be able to delete an organization.

Note that entity and role getters can be added in any order, but you cannot configure actions until all entity and role getters have been added.

Now you're ready to generate authorization middleware.

var middleware = auth.can('add members to organization');

This middleware can be used in Connect/Express apps in your route definitions.

var assert = require('assert');
var express = require('express');
var app = express();
    auth.can('add members to organization'),
    function(reqresnext) {
      // you can safely let the user add members to the org here 
      // you can also access entities, roles, and actions for your view 
      var view = auth.view(req);
      assert.strictEqual(view.has('admin'), false);
      assert.strictEqual(view.has('organization.owner'), true);
      // this is implicit since this middleware is only called if true 
      assert.strictEqual(view.can('add members to organization'), true);
      // pretend we added a member to the org 
      res.send(202, 'member added');

If you have a view that might allow a user to perform multiple actions, you can create middleware that allows the view to be rendered if any of a list of actions are allowed. In this case, the view will also have access to which specific actions are allowed so you can conditionally render page elements.

    auth.can('add members to organization', 'delete organization'),
    function(reqresnext) {
       * We've reached this point because the user can either add members or
       * delete the organization.
      var view = auth.view(req);
       * To determine which actions are allowed, call the `can` method (or
       * inspect all of `view.actions`).
      res.render('manage.html', {
        actions: view.actions

If the auth manager decides a user is not authorized to perform a specific action, an UnauthorizedError will be passed down the middleware chain. To provide specific handling for this error, configure your application with error handling middleware.

app.use(function(errreqresnext) {
  if (err instanceof auth.UnauthorizedError) {
    res.send(401, 'Unauthorized');
  } else {
var auth = require('authorized');

The authorized module exports a Manager instance with the methods below.


role(role, getter)

  • role string - Role name (e.g. 'organization.owner').
  • getter function(req, done) - Function that determines if the current user has the given role. This function will be called with the request object and a callback. The callback has the form function(Error, boolean) where the first argument is any error value generated while checking for the given role and the second is a boolean indicating whether the user has the role.

Register a getter for a role. If the role is a string of the form entity.relation, a getter for the entity must be registered with the entity method. Roles without . are "simple" roles (e.g. "admin") and no entity is looked up. Throws ConfigError if called with an invalid role name.

entity(type, getter)

  • type {string} - Entity type (e.g. 'organization').
  • getter {function(req, done) - Function called to get an entity from the provided request. The done function has the form function(Error, Object) where the first argument is any error value generated while getting the entity and the second is the target entity.

Register a getter for an entity. Throws ConfigError if called with invalid arguments.

action(name, roles)

  • name string - Action name (e.g. 'add member to organization').
  • roles Array.<string>Roles allowed to perform this action. If the current user has any one of the supplied roles, they can perform the action (e.g. ['admin', 'organization.owner']).

Specify the roles that a user must have to perform the named action. Throws ConfigError if the provided roles have not yet been registered with the role method.


  • action string Action name (e.g. 'add members to organization'). May also be called with multiple action arguments. Supplying '*' is an alternative to specifying all actions.

Create action based authorization middleware. Returns a middleware function with the signature function(IncomingMessage, ServerResponse, function). An UnauthorizedError will be passed to following middleware when the user is not authorized to perform the given action. Throws ConfigError if the provide action has not been registered with the action method.


  • req Object - The request object.

Get cached authorization info for a request. Returns a View instance for accessing authorization info for the given request.



  • action string - Action name.

Returns a boolean indicating whether the given action may be performed.


  • type string - The entity type.

Returns the cached entity Object (or null if none found).


  • role string - The role name.

Returns a boolean indicating whether the current user has the given role.


Freeze the view. This prevents entities, actions, and roles from being modified.


Thrown on configuration error.


Passed down the middleware chain when a user is not authorized to perform an action.

This package is strictly about authorization. For a full-featured authentication package, see PassportJS.

Inspiration is drawn here from connect-roles. One major difference is that this is all async (you don't have to determine if a user can perform an action synchronously).

See the unit and integration tests for more detail on how authorized is used.

To run the linter and tests:

npm test

During development, the linter and tests can be run continously:

npm run watch