OAuth 2.0 defines several possible authorization flows depending on the type of client you are authorizing (e.g. web application, browser-based app or mobile apps). The web application client is the only authorization flow supported by this module.

A typical web application authorization flow involves the following roles:

  • Client (i.e. a third-party application in this case your Invenio instance).
  • Resource server (i.e. the remote service).
  • Resource owner (i.e. the user).

The web application authorization flow is used to e.g. allow sign in with service X. The end result of a completed authorization flow is an access token which allows the client to access a resource owner’s resources on the resource server.

Before the authorization flow is started, the client must be registered with the resource server. The resource server will provide a client key and client secret to the client. Following is an example of the authorization flow with ORCID:

  1. The resource owner (i.e. the user) clicks “Sign in with ORCID”:

    GET /oauth/login/orcid/ HTTP/1.1

    The client redirects the user to the resource server’s authorize URL.

    HTTP/1.1 302 FOUND
    Location: https://orcid.org/oauth/authorize?response_type=code&
      client_id=<CLIENT KEY>&

Note, following query parameters in the authorize URL:

  • response_type - Must be code for web application flow (named authorization code grant).
  • client_id - The client key provided by the resource server when the client was registered.
  • redirect_uri - The URL the resource server will redirect the resource owner back to after having authorized the request. Usually the redirect URL must be provided when registering the client application with the resource server.
  • scope - Defines the level of access (defined by the resource server)
  • state - A token to mitigate against cross-site request forgery (CRSF). In Invenio this state is a JSON Web Signature (JWS) that by default expires after 5 minutes.
  1. The resource server asks the user to sign-in (if not already signed in).

  2. The resource server asks the resource owner to authorize or reject the client’s request for access.

  3. If the resource owner authorizes the request, the resource server redirects the resource owner back to the client web application (using the redirect_uri provided in step 1):

    HTTP/1.1 302 FOUND
    Location: https://localhost/oauth/authorized/orcid/?code=<CODE>&

    Included in the redirect is a one-time auth code which is typically only valid for short time (seconds), as well as the state token initially provided.

  4. The client now exchanges the one time auth code for an access token using the resource server’s access token URL:

    POST https://pub.orcid.org/oauth/token HTTP/1.1
    Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded
    client_id=<CLIENT KEY>&
    client_secret=<CLIENT SECRET>

    The resource server replies with an access token:

    {"access_token": "<ACCESS TOKEN>"}

    The client stores the access token, and can use it to make authenticated requests to the resource server:

    GET https://api.example.org/ HTTP/1.1
    Authorization: Bearer <ACCESS TOKEN>

Further reading: