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authentication-strategies.js

GitHub API authentication strategies for Browsers, Node.js, and Deno

Official Authentication Strategies

Personal Access Token authentication

Module: @octokit/auth-token

The simplest authentication strategy requires a user to create a personal access token at https://github.com/settings/tokens/new and pass it as the single argument to the createTokenAuth() function. You can pass in any other token such as an installation access token or a OAuth user access token, but there are dedicated strategies for the respective use cases which might be a better fit.

@octokit/auth-token is the default authentication strategy built into @octokit/core

const auth = createTokenAuth("1234567890abcdef1234567890abcdef12345678");
const { token } = await auth();

GitHub App or installation authentication

Module: @octokit/auth-app SDK: @octokit/app

A GitHub app has four different means of authentication.

  1. It can authenticate as itself using a JWT (JSON Web Token) derived from the app ID and a private key. JWT authentication is required to iterate through installations and repositories, use the marketplace APIs, or to create installation access tokens.
  2. It can authenticate as an installation using an installation access tokens. GitHub apps can be actors like GitHub users. They can create issues, manage teams, and much more. Installing a GitHub app grants access to a GitHub user account or organization, and either all or selected repositories. The installation inherits the app's permissions at this point, they will not be altered if the app's permissions change until the user/organization account owner accepts the new permissions. Installation access tokens expire after 1h, and they can be created with a subset of the installations permissions and accessible repositories.
  3. It can authenticate as OAuth App using Basic Authentication derived from the client ID and a client secret. Basic authentication is required to create, reset, refresh, scope, and delete OAuth user authentication tokens. See also OAuth App authentication
  4. It can authenticate as user using an OAuth user-to-server access token. A user-to-server token authenticates as both a user and the app/installation. It can be created using the OAuth web flow or OAuth Device flow. See also OAuth user authentication

OAuth app authentication

Module: @octokit/auth-oauth-app SDK: @octokit/oauth-app

An OAuth app has two different means of authentication.

  1. It can authenticate as OAuth App using Basic Authentication derived from the client ID and a client secret. Basic authentication is required to create, reset, refresh, scope, and delete OAuth user authentication tokens.
  2. It can authenticate as user using an OAuth user-to-server access token. A user-to-server token authenticates as both a user and the app/installation. It can be created using the OAuth web flow or OAuth Device flow. See also OAuth user authentication

There are differences between OAuth Apps and the OAuth features from GitHub Apps:

  • OAuth apps support scopes. Different scopes can be set each time a user-access token is created. They cannot be limited globally for the OAuth app.
  • GitHub apps have permissions. The are set when the app is registered. The app cannot access any repository until it is installed by a user. The installation inherits the app's permissions at the time of the installation. Permission changes need to be approved by the user.
  • OAuth apps create OAuth user access tokens which have work the same on all repositories
  • GitHub apps create OAuth user-to-server access tokens which inher both the app's user permissions as well as each installation's repository and user/organization permissions.
  • GitHub apps can enable expiration for its user-to-server access tokens. OAuth apps do not have such a feature.

OAuth user authentication

Module: @octokit/auth-oauth-user

OAuth user authentication be created by both OAuth Apps and GitHub Apps. OAuth Apps create OAuth user access tokens which are granted a set of scopes at the time of creation. GitHub apps create user-to-server tokens which authenticate as both a user and the app/installation. It can be created using the OAuth web flow or OAuth Device flow

There are differences between OAuth Apps and the OAuth features from GitHub Apps, see the list in OAuth app authentication.

Important: @octokit/auth-oauth-user requires your app's client_secret, which must not be exposed to users. If you are looking for an OAuth user authentication strategy that can be used on a client (browser, IoT, CLI), see OAUth user client authentication or Device authentication

OAuth user client authentication

🚧 TBD, see https://github.com/octokit/auth-oauth-user-client.js#readme

Device authentication

Module: @octokit/auth-oauth-device

Device flow authentication is a way to create OAuth user authentication. Unlike the web flow, there is no http redirect required in order to retrieve an OAuth code for the user access token exchange. It also does not require the client secret, which makes it a great solution for IoT devices or CLI applications.

Unfortunately the device flow cannot be used for browsers, as the APIs to request user/device codes and the user access token exchange are not enabled for cross-domain requests (CORS).

There are differences between OAuth Apps and the OAuth features from GitHub Apps, see the list in OAuth app authentication.

GitHub Action authentication

Module: @octokit/auth-action SDK: @octokit/action

GitHub actions provide a secrets.GITHUB_TOKEN variable which can be used to authenticate scripts run as part of a GitHub Action workflow.

Technically, secrets.GITHUB_TOKEN is an installation access token that has all repository permissions but only access to the current repositories. It expires after 6h or when the current workflow step is completed. It cannot be renewed as the app ID and private key credentials are not exposed.

Other Strategies

unauthenticated

Module: @octokit/auth-unauthenticated

This authentication strategy is useful to provide a helpful error message when no valid authentication can be provided. An example is an event handler for the installation webhook event when the action is delete or suspend. In this case the authorization for the installation has been revoked and no requests can be sent anymore. Instead of failing with a cryptic error message, @octokit/auth-unauthenticated can be used to explain that the access for the installation has been revoked.

callback

Module: @octokit/auth-callback

This authentication strategy accepts a single { callback } strategy option which returns either a falsy value or the string for a valid token. It's great for single-page web applications where a user can sign in/sign out without the need to re-instantiate a new octokit instance each time.

.netrc

Module: octokit-auth-netrc

Similar to token authentication, but reads the token from your ~/.netrc file

Example

// expects a personal access token to be set as `login` in the `~/.netrc` file for `api.github.com`
const { createNetrcAuth } = require("octokit-netrc-auth");
const auth = createNetrcAuth();
const { token } = await auth();

See octokit-auth-netrc for more details.

How authentication strategies work

All authentication strategies implement the same interface

const auth = authenticationStrategy(strategyOptions);
const authentication = await auth(authOptions);
auth.hook(request, route, parameters);

It can be used with an Octokit constructor by setting the authStrategy and auth constructor options. auth.hook is automatically applied to all requests sent by the octokit instance.

const octokit = new Octokit({
  authStrategy: authenticationStrategy,
  auth: strategyOptions,
});

const authentication = await octokit.auth(authOptions);

This interface an auth strategy to hook into a request lifecycle, implement request retries if necessary or transparent on-demand authentication creation.

For example, when implementing a GitHub App which acts on webhook events, a pre-authenticated octokit instance should be provided to the event handler. But an installation access token should not be created until a request is sent in that event handler.

In other cases, tokens might be invalid due to out-of-sync time between GitHub's API servers and yours. The time difference can be detected and corrected with an additional request.

authenticationStrategy(strategyOptions)

The authentication strategy is a synchronous method which returns the auth interface. strategyOptions can be optional, but must always be an object.

auth interface

The auth interface is an asynchronous function which accepts authOptions and resolves with an authentication object. authOptions can be optional, but must always be an object. The auth interface also provides an auth.hook interface which can be used to hook into the request lifecycle of @octokit/request (see options.request.hook) or octokit.request.

The authOptions.factory pattern

In some cases, auth(authOptions) needs to resolve with another auth interface, or octokit.auth(authOptions) with another octokit instance. For example, when using the GitHub App authentication strategy (@octokit/auth-app), the auth interface has an internal state that caches the installation access tokens it created for reusability

const appOctokit = new Octokit({
  authStrategy: createAppAuth
  auth: { appId, privateKey }
})

const installationAuthentication = appOctokit.auth({
  type: "installation",
  installationId
})

This internal state would get lost if a separate octokit instance would be created for an installation

const appOctokit = new Octokit({
  authStrategy: createAppAuth,
  auth: { appId, privateKey },
});

const installationOctokit = new Octokit({
  authStrategy: createAppAuth,
  auth: { appId, privateKey, installationId },
});

Instead, installationOctokit can be created from appOctokit.auth, and both can share the cached installation access tokens

const appOctokit = new Octokit({
  authStrategy: createAppAuth,
  auth: { appId, privateKey },
});

const installationOctokit = appOctokit.auth({
  type: "installation",
  installationId,
  factory: ({ octokitOptions, ...auth }) =>
    new Octokit({ ...octokitOptions, auth }),
});

Create your own Octokit authentication strategy module

Use create-octokit-project, follow instructions, and send a pull request to add your own strategy to this README

npm init octokit-project

Screenshot of a terminall running npm init octokit-project

License

MIT

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GitHub API authentication strategies for Browsers, Node.js, and Deno

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