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Introduction

Almost all enterprise applications use authorization at some level. Authorization is used to check if a user is allowed to perform some specific operation in the application. ASP.NET Boilerplate defines a permission based infrastructure to implement authorization.

About IPermissionChecker

The Authorization system uses IPermissionChecker to check permissions. While you can implement it in your own way, it's fully implemented in the Module Zero project. If it's not implemented, NullPermissionChecker is used which grants all permissions to everyone.

Defining Permissions

A unique permission is defined for each operation that needs to be authorized. We need to define a permission before it is used. ASP.NET Boilerplate is designed to be modular, so different modules can have different permissions. A module should create a class derived from AuthorizationProvider in order to define it's permissions. An example authorization provider is shown below:

public class MyAuthorizationProvider : AuthorizationProvider
{
    public override void SetPermissions(IPermissionDefinitionContext context)
    {
        var administration = context.CreatePermission("Administration");

        var userManagement = administration.CreateChildPermission("Administration.UserManagement");
        userManagement.CreateChildPermission("Administration.UserManagement.CreateUser");

        var roleManagement = administration.CreateChildPermission("Administration.RoleManagement");
    }
}

IPermissionDefinitionContext has methods to get and create permissions.

A permission is defined with these properties:

  • Name: a system-wide unique name. It's a good idea to define a const string for a permission name instead of a magic string. We prefer to use . (dot) notation for hierarchical names but it's not required. You can set any name you like. The only rule is that it must be unique.
  • Display name: A localizable string that can be used to show the permission later in UI.
  • Description: A localizable string that can be used to show the definition of the permission later in UI.
  • MultiTenancySides: For the multi-tenant application, a permission can be used by tenants or the host. This is a Flags enumeration and thus a permission can be used on both sides.
  • featureDependency: Can be used to declare a dependency to features. Thus, this permission can be granted only if the feature dependency is satisfied. It waits for an object implementing IFeatureDependency. The default implementation is the SimpleFeatureDependency class. Example usage: new SimpleFeatureDependency("MyFeatureName")

Permissions can have parent and child permissions. While this does not affect permission checking, it helps to group the permissions in the UI.

After creating an authorization provider, we should register it in the PreInitialize method of our module:

Configuration.Authorization.Providers.Add<MyAuthorizationProvider>();

Authorization providers are registered to dependency injection automatically. An authorization provider can inject any dependency (like a repository) to build permission definitions using some other sources.

Checking Permissions

Using AbpAuthorize Attribute

The AbpAuthorize (AbpMvcAuthorize for MVC Controllers and AbpApiAuthorize for Web API Controllers) attribute is the easiest and most common way of checking permissions. Consider the application service method shown below:

[AbpAuthorize("Administration.UserManagement.CreateUser")]
public void CreateUser(CreateUserInput input)
{
    //A user can not execute this method if he is not granted the "Administration.UserManagement.CreateUser" permission.
}

The CreateUser method can not be called by a user who is not granted the permission "Administration.UserManagement.CreateUser".

The AbpAuthorize attribute also checks if the current user is logged in (using IAbpSession.UserId). If we declare an AbpAuthorize for a method, it only checks for the login:

[AbpAuthorize]
public void SomeMethod(SomeMethodInput input)
{
    //A user can not execute this method if he did not login.
}
AbpAuthorize attribute notes

ASP.NET Boilerplate uses the power of dynamic method interception for authorization. There are some restrictions for the methods using the AbpAuthorize attribute.

  • It cannot be used for private methods.
  • It cannot be used for static methods.
  • You can not use it for methods of a non-injected class (We must use dependency injection).

Also:

  • You can use it for any public method if the method is called over an interface (like Application Services used over interface).
  • A method should be virtual if it's called directly from a class reference (like ASP.NET MVC or Web API Controllers).
  • A method should be virtual if it's protected.

Note: There are four types of authorize attributes:

  • In an application service (application layer), we use the Abp.Authorization.AbpAuthorize attribute.
  • In an MVC controller (web layer), we use the Abp.Web.Mvc.Authorization.AbpMvcAuthorize attribute.
  • In ASP.NET Web API, we use the Abp.WebApi.Authorization.AbpApiAuthorize attribute.
  • In ASP.NET Core, we use the Abp.AspNetCore.Mvc.Authorization.AbpMvcAuthorize attribute.

This difference comes from inheritance. In the application layer it's completely ASP.NET Boilerplate's implementation and it does not extend any class. For MVC and Web API, it inherits from the Authorize attributes of those frameworks.

Suppress Authorization

You can disable authorization for a method/class by adding AbpAllowAnonymous attribute to application services. Use the AllowAnonymous attribute for MVC, Web API and ASP.NET Core Controllers, which is a native attribute of these frameworks.

Using IPermissionChecker

While the AbpAuthorize attribute is good enough for most cases, there are situations where we may want to check for a permission in a method's body. We can inject and use IPermissionChecker for that as shown in the example below:

public void CreateUser(CreateOrUpdateUserInput input)
{
    if (!PermissionChecker.IsGranted("Administration.UserManagement.CreateUser"))
    {
        throw new AbpAuthorizationException("You are not authorized to create user!");
    }

    //A user can not reach this point if he is not granted for "Administration.UserManagement.CreateUser" permission.
}

You can code any logic since IsGranted simply returns true or false (It has an Async version, too). If you simply check a permission and throw an exception as shown above, you can use the Authorize method:

public void CreateUser(CreateOrUpdateUserInput input)
{
    PermissionChecker.Authorize("Administration.UserManagement.CreateUser");

    //A user can not reach this point if he is not granted for "Administration.UserManagement.CreateUser" permission.
}

Since authorization is widely used, ApplicationService and some common base classes inject and define the PermissionChecker property. Thus, permission checker can be used without injecting application service classes.

In Razor Views

The base view class defines the IsGranted method to check if the current user has permission. Thus, we can conditionally render the view. Example:

@if (IsGranted("Administration.UserManagement.CreateUser"))
{
    <button id="CreateNewUserButton" class="btn btn-primary"><i class="fa fa-plus"></i> @L("CreateNewUser")</button>
}

Client Side (JavaScript)

In the client side, we can use the API defined in the abp.auth namespace. In most cases, we need to check if the current user has a specific permission (with permission name). Example:

abp.auth.isGranted('Administration.UserManagement.CreateUser');

You can also use abp.auth.grantedPermissions to get all granted permissions or abp.auth.allPermissions to get all available permission names in the application. Check abp.auth namespace on runtime for others.

Permission Manager

We may need the definitions of permissions. IPermissionManager can be injected and used in this case.