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Login with OAuth 2.0 Authorization Code Grant

Single sign on services allows your users to log into multiple services and apps with a single account. This page describes how to implement a service which authenticates users using the identity provider and the OAuth 2.0 Authorization Code grant.

As a prerequisite for this tutorial you need to request credentials from an administrator of the IDP or run the identity-provider locally. (See tutorial)

Why OAuth 2.0?

OAuth 2.0 is an internet standard protocol and allows easy adoption by using existing libraries. It also enables fast integration of other services that use the same protocol.

How does it work?

A user is represented by access tokens.

In order to get an access token for an user, the service or app needs to have the user login to the identity provider.

The identity provider will only forward any form of user identity if the service has a valid client id and client secret.

Task 1: Create client_id and client_secret

It's important to have finished the previous tutorial and an identity provider up and running. First, you'll need to generate client_id and client_secret from it.

To get those, you need to login to the identity provider with an admin account. There, access the admin pages and enter Clients page, for the default deployment on localhost this is http://localhost:3000/admin/clients.

There, add a new oauth2 client and take note of client_id and client_secret. You can go back to the page later to replace the client_secret - but this will invalidate a previous one.

Task 2: Setup passport strategy

For node there's a simple module available for passport to use OAuth 2.0.

In a first step you need to configure the passport-oauth2 strategy. Insert the client id and secret as generated in task 1. You should replace the addresses with the correct ones - you can use http://localhost:3000 for local testing.

// how the identity provider can be reached from the users browser
var server = 'http://your.ip.address:3000';
// how the identity provider can be reached from this server - could be a docker instance name
var serverInternal = 'http://localhost:3000';
// how this service is reachable from the users browser
var callbackServer = 'http://your.ip.address:3001';

// oauth 2 configuration for the passport strategy
var oauth2_config = {
    tokenURL: serverInternal + '/oauth2/token',
    authorizationURL: server + '/oauth2/dialog/authorize',
    // insert client id and secret as created in task 1
    clientID: 'client-id-as-generated',
    clientSecret: 'client-secret-as-generated',
    callbackURL: callbackServer + '/auth_code/callback'

It's also required to make an adjustment to the OAuth 2.0 strategy to get proper user profiles.

var passport = require('passport');
var OAuth2Strategy = require('passport-oauth2');
var request = require('request');

OAuth2Strategy.prototype.userProfile = function (accessToken, done) {
    var options = {
        url: serverInternal + '/oauth2/user_info',
        headers: {
            'User-Agent': 'request',
            'Authorization': 'Bearer ' + accessToken,

    request(options, callback);

    function callback(error, response, body) {
        if (error || response.statusCode !== 200) {
            return done(error);
        var info = JSON.parse(body);
        return done(null, info.user);

And then you need to tell passport to use that particular strategy. The strategy will take care of using the authorization code to get access and refresh tokens.

    new OAuth2Strategy(
        function (req, accessToken, refreshToken, params, profile, done) {
            // do something with the profile
            done(null, profile);

Task 3: setup endpoints

With express it is straightforward to setup the login redirection, and the associated callback.

    // start the login process using passport-oauth2 strategy

    // callback when the authorization server (idp) provided an authorization code
        passport.authenticate('oauth2', {failureRedirect: '/auth_code/error'}),
        function (req, res) {

You will still need to put a link on a page somewhere that sends the user to /auth_code/oauth.

<!DOCTYPE html>
    <a href="/auth_code/oauth">Authorization Code Flow</a>

The complete Sample

There's also a sample implementation available as part of the code of identity-provider repository.

See /oauth2-client/routes/auth-code-flow.js and /oauth2-client/views/auth_code.ejs for this example. The code at /oauth2-client also contains implementations of implicit grant flow and resource password owner flow.


oAuth API is partialy (for now) documented with swagger