CanCan is an authorization library for Ruby on Rails which restricts what resources a given user is allowed to access. All permissions are defined in a single location (the Ability class) and not duplicated across controllers, views, and database queries.
In Rails 3, add this to your Gemfile.
In Rails 2, add this to your environment.rb file.
Alternatively, you can install it as a plugin.
rails plugin install git://github.com/ryanb/cancan.git
Next create a class called Ability in “models/ability.rb” or anywhere else in the load path. It should look similar to this.
class Ability include CanCan::Ability def initialize(user) if user.admin? can :manage, :all else can :read, :all end end end
The current_user is passed in to this method which is where the abilities are defined. See the “Defining Abilities” section below for more information.
The current user's permissions can be accessed using the “can?” and “cannot?” methods in the view and controller.
<% if can? :update, @article %> <%= link_to "Edit", edit_article_path(@article) %> <% end %>
See Checking Abilities for more information
The “authorize!” method in the controller will raise an exception if the user is not able to perform the given action.
def show @article = Article.find(params[:id]) authorize! :read, @article end
Setting this for every action can be tedious, therefore the load_and_authorize_resource method is provided to automatically authorize all actions in a RESTful style resource controller. It will use a before filter to load the resource into an instance variable and authorize it for each action.
class ArticlesController < ApplicationController load_and_authorize_resource def show # @article is already loaded and authorized end end
See Authorizing Controller Actions for more information
If the user authorization fails, a CanCan::AccessDenied exception will be raised. You can catch this and modify its behavior in the ApplicationController.
class ApplicationController < ActionController::Base rescue_from CanCan::AccessDenied do |exception| flash[:alert] = exception.message redirect_to root_url end end
See Exception Handling for more information.
As shown above, the Ability class is where all user permissions are defined. The current user model is passed into the initialize method so the permissions can be modified based on any user attributes. CanCan makes no assumption about how roles are handled in your application. See Role Based Authorization for an example.
The can method is used to define permissions and requires two arguments. The first one is the action you're setting the permission for, the second one is the class of object you're setting it on.
can :update, Article
You can pass an array for either of these parameters to match any one. In this case the user will have the ability to update or destroy both articles and comments.
can [:update, :destroy], [Article, Comment]
Use :manage to represent any action and :all to represent any class. Here are some examples.
can :manage, Article # has permissions to do anything to articles can :read, :all # has permission to read any model can :manage, :all # has permission to do anything to any model
You can pass a hash of conditions as the third argument to further define what the user is able to access. Here the user will only have permission to read active projects which he owns.
can :read, Project, :active => true, :user_id => user.id
See Defining Abilities with Hashes for more information.
Blocks can also be used if you need more control.
can :update, Project do |project| project.groups.include?(user.group) end
If the block returns true then the user has that ability for that project, otherwise he will be denied access. See Defining Abilities with Blocks for more information.
You will usually be working with four actions when defining and checking permissions: :read, :create, :update, :destroy. These aren't the same as the 7 RESTful actions in Rails. CanCan automatically adds some default aliases for mapping those actions.
alias_action :index, :show, :to => :read alias_action :new, :to => :create alias_action :edit, :to => :update
Notice the edit action is aliased to update. This means if the user is able to update a record he also has permission to edit it. You can define your own aliases in the Ability class.
alias_action :update, :destroy, :to => :modify can :modify, Comment can? :update, Comment # => true
The alias_action method is an instance method and usually called in initialize. See Custom Actions for information on adding other actions.
It is possible to fetch records which the user has permission to read using the accessible_by scope in Active Record.
@articles = Article.accessible_by(current_ability)
Since version 1.4 this is done automatically when loading resources in the index action, so one rarely needs to do it manually.
This will only work when abilities are defined using hash conditions, not blocks. See Fetching Records for more information.
Questions or Problems?
If you have any issues with CanCan which you cannot find the solution to in the documentation, please add an issue on GitHub or fork the project and send a pull request.
To get the specs running you should call bundle and then rake. Specs currently do not work in Ruby 1.9 due to the RR mocking framework.