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Simple, instant HTTP Basic Authentication for applications using Clearance

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The goal of this project is simple, instant HTTP Basic Authentication for any controller in Rails 3 applications using Clearance for user authentication. You can use Clearance's default, session based authentication in the user facing parts of your application, and use HTTP Basic Auth when connecting to it's API.

It has two parts:

  1. A middleware which intercepts requests to your application API and performs a HTTP Basic Authentication by wrapping your application in a Rack::Auth::Basic block. It supplies the provided credentials to the User.authenticate method and sets an env variable.

  2. An overriden current_user helper method for controllers, which reads the variable set in the middleware.


First, add the gem to your Gemfile, along with clearance:

gem 'clearance', '~> 0.9.1'
gem 'clearance_http_auth'

Second, include the module in your ApplicationController (or in a specific controller) after you include Clearance::Authentication:

class ApplicationController < ActionController::Base
  include Clearance::Authentication
  include Clearance::HttpAuth

There is no step three. When you hit your application API with the same credentials as when logging in the browser, you should be in:

$ curl -i -X GET  -u http://localhost:3000/books.xml
$ curl -i -X POST -u -H "Content-Type: application/xml" http://localhost:3000/books.xml \
       -d "<book><author>Kafka</author><title>Metamorphosis</title></book>"

By default, the middleware intercepts only requests to JSON and XML formats. You can add more formats in your config/application.rb:

config.clearance_http_auth.api_formats << 'csv'


The project originally grew out of a simple monkeypatch:

Comments and patches are welcome. Fork, add tests for features and don't break any existing ones, send a pull request.

Karel Minarik (

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