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Minimal authorization through OO design and pure Ruby classes
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README.md

Pundit

Build Status

Pundit provides a set of helpers which guide you in leveraging regular Ruby classes and object oriented design patterns to build a simple, robust and scaleable authorization system.

Installation

gem "pundit"

Include Pundit in your application controller:

class ApplicationController < ActionController::Base
  include Pundit
  protect_from_forgery
end

Optionally, you can run the generator, which will set up an application policy with some useful defaults for you:

rails g pundit:install

Policies

Pundit is focused around the notion of policy classes. We suggest that you put these classes in app/policies. This is a simple example:

class PostPolicy
  attr_reader :user, :post

  def initialize(user, post)
    @user = user
    @post = post
  end

  def create?
    user.admin? or not post.published?
  end
end

As you can see, this is just a plain Ruby class. As a convenience, we can inherit from Struct:

class PostPolicy < Struct.new(:user, :post)
  def create?
    user.admin? or not post.published?
  end
end

Pundit makes the following assumptions about this class:

  • The class has the same name as some kind of model class, only suffixed with the word "Policy".
  • The first argument is a user. In your controller, Pundit will call the current_user method to retrieve what to send into this argument
  • The second argument is some kind of model object, whose authorization you want to check. This does not need to be an ActiveRecord or even an ActiveModel object, it can be anything really.
  • The class implements some kind of query method, in this case create?. Usually, this will map to the name of a particular controller action.

That's it really.

Supposing that you have an instance of class Post, Pundit now lets you do this in your controller:

def create
  @post = Post.new(params[:post])
  authorize @post
  if @post.save
    redirect_to @post
  else
    render :new
  end
end

The authorize method automatically infers that Post will have a matching PostPolicy class, and instantiates this class, handing in the current user and the given record. It then infers from the action name, that it should call create? on this instance of the policy. In this case, you can imagine that authorize would have done something like this:

raise "not authorized" unless PostPolicy.new(current_user, @post).create?

You can pass a second arguent to authorize if the name of the permission you want to check doesn't match the action name. For example:

def publish
  @post = Post.find(params[:id])
  authorize @post, :update?
  @post.publish!
  redirect_to @post
end

You can easily get a hold of an instance of the policy through the policy method in both the view and controller. This is especially useful for conditionally showing links or buttons in the view:

<% if policy(@post).create? %>
  <%= link_to "New post", new_post_path %>
<% end %>

Ensuring policies are used

Pundit adds a method called verify_authorized to your controllers. This method will raise an exception if authorize has not yet been called. You should run this method in an after_filter to ensure that you haven't forgotten to authorize the action. For example:

class ApplicationController < ActionController::Base
  after_filter :verify_authorized, :except => :index
end

Scopes

Often, you will want to have some kind of view listing records which a particular user has access to. When using Pundit, you are expected to define a class called a policy scope. It can look something like this:

class PostPolicy < Struct.new(:user, :post)
  class Scope < Struct.new(:user, :scope)
    def resolve
      if user.admin?
        scope
      else
        scope.where(:published => true)
      end
    end
  end

  def create?
    user.admin? or not post.published?
  end
end

Pundit makes the following assumptions about this class:

  • The class has the name Scope and is nested under the policy class.
  • The first argument is a user. In your controller, Pundit will call the current_user method to retrieve what to send into this argument.
  • The second argument is a scope of some kind on which to perform some kind of query. It will usually be an ActiveRecord class or a ActiveRecord::Relation, but it could be something else entirely.
  • Instances of this class respond to the method resolve, which should return some kind of result which can be iterated over. For ActiveRecord classes, this would usually be an ActiveRecord::Relation.

You can now use this class from your controller via the policy_scope method:

def index
  @posts = policy_scope(Post)
end

Just as with your policy, this will automatically infer that you want to use the PostPolicy::Scope class, it will instantiate this class and call resolve on the instance. In this case it is a shortcut for doing:

def index
  @posts = PostPolicy::Scope.new(current_user, Post).resolve
end

You can, and are encouraged to, use this method in views:

<% policy_scope(@user.posts).each do |post| %>
  <p><% link_to @post.title, post_path(post) %></p>
<% end %>

Just plain old Ruby

As you can see, Pundit doesn't do anything you couldn't have easily done yourself. It's a very small library, it just provides a few neat helpers. Together these give you the power of building a well structured, fully working authorization system without using any special DSLs or funky syntax or anything.

Remember that all of the policy and scope classes are just plain Ruby classes, which means you can use the same mechanisms you always use to DRY things up. Encapsulate a set of permissions into a module and include them in multiple policies. Use alias_method to make some permissions behave the same as others. Inherit from a base set of permissions. Use metaprogramming if you really have to.

Generator

Use the supplied generator to generate policies:

rails g pundit:policy post

Closed systems

In many applications, only logged in users are really able to do anything. If you're building such a system, it can be kind of cumbersome to check that the user in a policy isn't nil for every single permission.

We suggest that you define a filter that redirects unauthenticated users to the login page. As a secondary defence, if you've defined an ApplicationPolicy, it might be a good idea to raise an exception if somehow an unauthenticated user got through. This way you can fail more gracefully.

class ApplicationPolicy
  def initialize(user, record)
    raise Pundit::NotAuthorizedError, "must be logged in" unless user
    @user = user
    @record = record
  end
end

Manually retrieving policies and scopes

Sometimes you want to retrieve a policy for a record outside the controller or view. For example when you delegate permissions from one policy to another.

You can easily retrieve policies and scopes like this:

Pundit.policy!(user, post)
Pundit.policy(user, post)

Pundit.policy_scope!(user, Post)
Pundit.policy_scope(user, Post)

The bang methods will raise an exception if the policy does not exist, whereas those without the bang will return nil.

License

Licensed under the MIT license, see the separate LICENSE.txt file.

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