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The vertx-pac4j project is an easy and powerful security library for Vert.x 3 web applications which supports authentication and authorization, but also application logout and advanced features like CSRF protection. It's available under the Apache 2 license and based on the pac4j security engine.

Main concepts and components:

  1. A client represents an authentication mechanism. It performs the login process and returns a user profile. An indirect client is for UI authentication while a direct client is for web services authentication:

▸ OAuth - SAML - CAS - OpenID Connect - HTTP - OpenID - Google App Engine - LDAP - SQL - JWT - MongoDB - Stormpath - IP address

  1. An authorizer is meant to check authorizations on the authenticated user profile(s) or on the current web context:

▸ Roles / permissions - Anonymous / remember-me / (fully) authenticated - Profile type, attribute - CORS - CSRF - Security headers - IP address, HTTP method

  1. The SecurityHandler protects an url by checking that the user is authenticated and that the authorizations are valid, according to the clients and authorizers configuration. If the user is not authenticated, it performs authentication for direct clients or starts the login process for indirect clients

  2. The CallbackHandler finishes the login process for an indirect client

  3. The ApplicationLogoutHandler logs out the user from the application.

For vert.x 2 and previous, use vertx-pac4j 1.1.x - this codebase can be found at 1.1.x

How to use it?

First, you need to add a dependency on this library as well as on the appropriate pac4j submodules. Then, you must define the clients for authentication and the authorizers to check authorizations.

Define the CallbackHandler to finish authentication processes if you use indirect clients (like Facebook). Supply a CallbackHandlerOptions to configure the handler.

Use the SecurityHandler to secure the urls of your web application (using the clientName parameter for authentication and the authorizerName parameter for authorizations). Supply a SecurityHandlerOptions to configure the handler.

Just follow these easy steps:

1) Add the required dependencies (vertx-pac4j + pac4j-* libraries)

You need to add a dependency on the vertx-pac4j library (groupId: org.pac4j, version: 4.0.0-SNAPSHOT) as well as on the appropriate pac4j submodules (groupId: org.pac4j, version: 2.3.1): the pac4j-oauth dependency for OAuth support, the pac4j-cas dependency for CAS support, the pac4j-ldap module for LDAP authentication, ...

All released artifacts are available in the Maven central repository.

2) Define the configuration (Config + Clients + XXXClient + Authorizer)

Each authentication mechanism (Facebook, Twitter, a CAS server...) is defined by a client (implementing the org.pac4j.core.client.Client interface). All clients must be gathered in a org.pac4j.core.client.Clients class.

All the Clients and the authorizers must be gathered in a Config object (which can be itself build in a org.pac4j.core.config.ConfigFactory).
For example:

final OidcClient oidcClient = new OidcClient();
oidcClient.addCustomParam("prompt", "consent");

final SAML2ClientConfiguration cfg = new SAML2ClientConfiguration("resource:samlKeystore.jks", "pac4j-demo-passwd", "pac4j-demo-passwd", "resource:metadata-okta.xml");
final SAML2Client saml2Client = new SAML2Client(cfg);

final FacebookClient facebookClient = new FacebookClient("fbId", "fbSecret");
final TwitterClient twitterClient = new TwitterClient("twId", "twSecret");
final FormClient formClient = new FormClient("http://localhost:8080/theForm.jsp", new SimpleTestUsernamePasswordAuthenticator());
final IndirectBasicAuthClient basicAuthClient = new IndirectBasicAuthClient(new SimpleTestUsernamePasswordAuthenticator());
final CasClient casClient = new CasClient("http://mycasserver/login");
final ParameterClient parameterClient = new ParameterClient("token", new JwtAuthenticator("salt"));
Config config = new Config("http://localhost:8080/callback", oidcClient, saml2Client, facebookClient,
                                  twitterClient, formClient, basicAuthClient, casClient, parameterClient);
config.addAuthorizer("admin", new RequireAnyRoleAuthorizer("ROLE_ADMIN"));
config.addAuthorizer("custom", new CustomAuthorizer());

"http://localhost:8080/callback" is the url of the callback endpoint (see below). It may not be defined for REST support / direct clients only.

Notice that you can define specific matchers via the addMatcher(name, Matcher) method.

3) Protect urls (SecurityHandler)

You can protect (authentication + authorizations) the urls of your J2E application by using the SecurityHandler and defining the appropriate mapping. It has the following behaviour:

  1. If the HTTP request matches the matchers configuration (or no matchers are defined), the security is applied. Otherwise, the user is automatically granted access.

  2. First, if the user is not authenticated (no profile) and if some clients have been defined in the clients parameter, a login is tried for the direct clients.

  3. Then, if the user has a profile, authorizations are checked according to the authorizers configuration. If the authorizations are valid, the user is granted access. Otherwise, a 403 error page is displayed.

  4. Finally, if the user is still not authenticated (no profile), he is redirected to the appropriate identity provider if the first defined client is an indirect one in the clients configuration. Otherwise, a 401 error page is displayed.

The following parameters are available (via a SecurityHandlerOptions instance you pass into your SecurityHandler constructoe):

  1. clients (optional): the list of client names (separated by commas) used for authentication:
  • in all cases, this filter requires the user to be authenticated. Thus, if the clients is blank or not defined, the user must have been previously authenticated
  • if the client_name request parameter is provided, only this client (if it exists in the clients) is selected.
  1. authorizers (optional): the list of authorizer names (separated by commas) used to check authorizations:
  • if the authorizers is blank or not defined, no authorization is checked
  • the following authorizers are available by default (without defining them in the configuration):
    • isFullyAuthenticated to check if the user is authenticated but not remembered, isRemembered for a remembered user, isAnonymous to ensure the user is not authenticated, isAuthenticated to ensure the user is authenticated (not necessary by default unless you use the AnonymousClient)
    • hsts to use the StrictTransportSecurityHeader authorizer, nosniff for XContentTypeOptionsHeader, noframe for XFrameOptionsHeader, xssprotection for XSSProtectionHeader, nocache for CacheControlHeader or securityHeaders for the five previous authorizers
    • csrfToken to use the CsrfTokenGeneratorAuthorizer with the DefaultCsrfTokenGenerator (it generates a CSRF token and saves it as the pac4jCsrfToken request attribute and in the pac4jCsrfToken cookie), csrfCheck to check that this previous token has been sent as the pac4jCsrfToken header or parameter in a POST request and csrf to use both previous authorizers.
  1. matchers (optional): the list of matcher names (separated by commas) that the request must satisfy to check authentication / authorizations

  2. multiProfile (optional): it indicates whether multiple authentications (and thus multiple profiles) must be kept at the same time (false by default).

    Pac4jAuthProvider authProvider = new Pac4jAuthProvider(); SecurityHandlerOptions options = new SecurityHandlerOptions().withClients(clientNames); if (authName != null) { options = options.withAuthorizers(authName); } router.testGet(url).handler(new RequiresAuthenticationHandler(vertx, config, authProvider, options));

4) Define the callback endpoint only for indirect clients (CallbackHandler)

For indirect clients (like Facebook), the user is redirected to an external identity provider for login and then back to the application. Thus, a callback endpoint is required in the application. It is managed by the CallbackHandler which has the following behaviour:

  1. the credentials are extracted from the current request to fetch the user profile (from the identity provider) which is then saved in the web otherSession

  2. finally, the user is redirected back to the originally requested url (or to the defaultUrl).

The following parameters are available (via the CallbackHandlerOptions class):

  1. defaultUrl (optional): it's the default url after login if no url was originally requested (/ by default)

  2. multiProfile (optional): it indicates whether multiple authentications (and thus multiple profiles) must be kept at the same time (false by default)

  3. renewSession (optional): it indicates whether the web otherSession must be renewed after login, to avoid otherSession hijacking (true by default). Currently vert.x does not provide a otherSession renewal mechanism so this flag affects nothing, but it has been left in place for consistency.

    final CallbackHandlerOptions = new CallbackHandlerOptions().setDefaultUrl("/loginSuccess").setMultiProfile(false); final CallbackHandler callbackHandler = new CallbackHandler(vertx, config, options); router.testGet("/callback").handler(callbackHandler);"/callback").handler(BodyHandler.create().setMergeFormAttributes(true));"/callback").handler(callbackHandler);

5) Get the user profile (VertxProfileManager)

You can testGet the profile of the authenticated user using VertxProfileManager.testGet(true) (false not to use the otherSession, but only the current HTTP request). You can test if the user is authenticated using VertxProfileManager.isAuthenticated(). You can testGet all the profiles of the authenticated user (if ever multiple ones are kept) using VertxProfileManager.getAll(true).

Note that the above are all standard ProfileManager methods but the VertxProfileManager is an implementation which is integrated with vertx-web including otherSession and user support.

ProfileManager<CommonProfile> profileManager = new VertxProfileManager<>(new VertxWebContext(rc));
Optional<CommonProfile> profile = profileManager.testGet(true);

The retrieved profile is at least a CommonProfile, from which you can retrieve the most common properties that all profiles share. But you can also cast the user profile to the appropriate profile according to the provider used for authentication. For example, after a Facebook authentication:

FacebookProfile facebookProfile = (FacebookProfile) commonProfile;

6) Logout

You can log out the current authenticated user using the ApplicationLogoutHandler. It has the following behaviour (configured via an ApplicationLogoutHandlerOptions object):

  1. after logout, the user is redirected to the url defined by the url request parameter if it matches the logoutUrlPattern

  2. or the user is redirected to the defaultUrl if it is defined

  3. otherwise, a blank page is displayed.

To perfom the logout, you must call the /logout url. A blank page is displayed by default unless an url request parameter is provided. In that case, the user will be redirected to this specified url (if it matches the logout url pattern defined) or to the default logout url otherwise.

The following parameters can be defined on the ApplicationLogoutHandlervia an ApplicationLogoutHandlerOptions object:

  • defaultUrl (optional): the default logout url if the provided url parameter does not match the logoutUrlPattern (by default: /)
  • logoutUrlPattern (optional): the logout url pattern that the logout url must match (it's a security check, only relative urls are allowed by default).


final ApplicationLogoutHandlerOptions options = new ApplicationLogoutHandlerOptions();
router.testGet("/logout").handler(new ApplicationLogoutHandler(vertx, options, config));

7) CAS Single Sign-out

The pac4j standard DefaultCasLogoutHandler, used when implementing CAS single sign-out, is not vert.x-compatible owing to its underlying approach for modifying a different session. When working with vertx-pac4j, the VertxCasLogoutHandler should be used in its place. The VertxCasLogoutHandler implementation should be wired into the CasConfiguration to replace default single sign-out handling provided by DefaultCasLogoutHandler.

Two Store implementations have been provided in this project - one based on a Vert.x LocalMap called VertxLocalMapStore and one for use in clustered scenarios making use of Vert.x-provided clustering, the VertxClusteredMapStore.


The demo webapp: vertx-pac4j-demo is available for tests and implement many authentication mechanisms: Facebook, Twitter, form, basic auth, CAS, SAML, OpenID Connect, Strava, JWT...

Release notes

See the release notes. Learn more by browsing the vertx-pac4j Javadoc and the pac4j Javadoc.

Supported versions

vertx-pac4j 3.0.1 has been tested with vert.x 3.4.1 and 3.4.2, and pac4j 2.0.0 and 2.1.0. We would expect subsequent pac4j 2.x and vert.x 3.3.x and 3.4.x releases to be essentially drop-in replacements.

Need help?

If you have any question, please use the following mailing lists:


The version 4.0.0-SNAPSHOT is under development.

Maven artifacts are built via Travis: Build Status and available in the Sonatype snapshots repository. This repository must be added in the Maven pom.xml file for example:

    <name>Sonatype Nexus Snapshots</name>