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Joel Gee Roy
Joel Gee Roy

Posted on • Updated on

Syncing user data: Hasura & Auth0 for authenticated database access

Adding authenticated database access to your project can be a cool but tedious task. In this blog post (and the next), I'll try and explain how to add an authenticated database to your project. The article assumes (dangerously) that you have no experience with hasura or auth0 or node.js. If you've worked with both Hasura and auth0, you can go straight to the integration.

In this post, we'll focus on syncing user data across the identity provider (Auth0) and the GraphQL engine (Hasura). Whenever a user creates/ updates an account on Auth0, we'll make sure the necessary changes are reflected on a users table in our database.

Why authenticate users?

Most of my projects involve a database and when it is at a sideproject level, I didn't really care about the authentication bit. For a Todo app, A database URL is used to talk to the DB directly and primary keys like user_id is used to query from a unified table like tasks. The problem with this approach is that when the project gets out there, hoarding all those github stars, malicious users could easily query the DB using it's URL and pretend to be other another user just using their user_id. We could prevent this by implementing a robust identity management system and some access control at the database level. Let's see how we can implement exactly that.

Create Hasura app

Create a new Hasura cloud account here if you don't already have one. Once you have logged in to the Hasura dashboard, create a new project. Choose the free tier. Once the project is created, Click on Launch Console. This will open up a new tab where you can interact with the Hasura console.

We need a provider to host our PostgreSQL database. We will be using Heroku for this tutorial. While the Hasura console is booting up go to Heroku and create an account.

After the console opens up, click the Data tab at the top
Hasura dashboard: Data
Click on Create Heroku Database. You'll be shown some prompts regarding Hasura's connection to Heroku; approve the connections
Connecting hasura to heroku
Once the database is created, click on public on the Data Manager tab to the left. Create a table using the Create table button and add the necessary attributes (click on + Frequently used columns to add common columns)
Adding a table
Here we create a users table with attributes: id, name, federated_id. Make sure id and federated_id are set as unique.

Setting federated_id as unique will generate some necessary indexes that we'll require later. Finalize table creation by clicking Add table.
Table properties
Don't worry about adding data into this table just yet. We'll set up an automated flow so that the users table is automatically updated when a user signs up with Auth0.

Create Auth0 app

Create an account and then log in to Auth0. On the dashboard, Click Applications under Applications in the left sidebar
Auth0 Applications
Click on the Create Application button and enter the name of the application, let's call it Mini twitter. If you're using a framework like Next.js on the frontend, select Regular Web Applications as the application type. Select technology that you're using (this will let Auth0 recommend settings and instructions on how to set up the application); In our case, select Next.js

Securing Hasura instance with Auth0

Now we'll connect our Auth0 application to the Hasura project. To get started, get your auth0 project domain from Applications > Applications > Settings > Domain
Setting up application
By default, Hasura creates an admin secret to secure the project GraphQL endpoint. We now need to instruct Hasura to use Auth0 public keys. The config for the JWT can be easily created by using the tool here.
Setting up JWT
Paste in the domain name you got from the Auth0 dashboard and generate the config. Copy the generated config, go to hasura dashboard, click on the gear icon on the project. The project settings will now open up. Click on Env vars on the left side and add a new env var HASURA_GRAPHQL_JWT_SECRET. Paste in the config you copied into the field, click on Add.
Setting hasura secret

Syncing users

Now we need to make sure that the users who log in through Auth0 are synced with the user data on the database managed by Hasura. When th user signs up with their email and password, we want to make sure that a new row is added to the users table in Hasura DB. We'll implement the syncing using Auth0 actions. In the Auth0 dashboard, click Actions on the left sidebar and click on Library. This page will show all the actions that you've created. Click on the Build Custom button.

Enter a name for the action, like login-ping. Select the trigger as Login / Post Login. Choose the Node 16 runtime.
Creating an Auth0 action

Now click on the Custom tab and then click on the newly created action. A code editor will open up. Paste the following code into the editor.

/**
 * Handler that will be called during the execution of a PostUserRegistration flow.
 *
 * @param {Event} event - Details about the context and user that has registered.
 */
const axios = require("axios");

exports.onExecutePostLogin = async (event) => {
  const federated_id = event.user.user_id;
  const username = event.user.nickname;
  const email = event.user.email;

  const admin_secret = event.secrets.HASURA_SECRET;
  const url = "https://YOUR_HASURA_ENDPOINT";
  const query = `mutation ($federated_id: String!, $email: String, $username: String) {
        insert_users(objects: {federated_id: $federated_id, email: $email, username: $username}, on_conflict: {constraint: users_federated_id_key}) {
            affected_rows
        }
    }`;

  const variables = {
    federated_id: federated_id,
    email: email,
    username: username,
  };

  const config = {
    headers: {
      "content-type": "application/json",
      "x-hasura-admin-secret": admin_secret,
    },
  };

  const data = JSON.stringify({
    query: query,
    variables: variables,
  });

  await axios.post(url, data, config);
};


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Edit the url with the URL of the Hasura graphql endpoint. You can get this from the Hasura dashboard
Hasura GraphQL endpoint
Click on the key icon on the left side of the editor to add the HASURA_SECRET environment variable. Copy the x-hasura-admin-secret and set it as the HASURA_SECRET variable. Click Deploy.

Custom JWT claims

Earlier we secured the Hasura graphql endpoint. This means that we have to do some additional steps to make sure our requests get accepted by Hasura. Hasura evaluates the request sender's role to determine the permissions allowed to the user. Furthermore, the user-id is also evaluated to enable a more granular permission system. Thus we need to embed the role and user_id in the user token that we'll be using to gain access to Hasura.

To embed the user details in the token, we are going to create another custom action login-hasura-token with a Login / Post Login trigger. Add the following code into the action editor.

/**
 * Handler that will be called during the execution of a PostLogin flow.
 *
 * @param {Event} event - Details about the user and the context in which they are logging in.
 * @param {PostLoginAPI} api - Interface whose methods can be used to change the behavior of the login.
 */
exports.onExecutePostLogin = async (event, api) => {
  api.idToken.setCustomClaim("https://hasura.io/jwt/claims", {
    "x-hasura-default-role": "user",
    "x-hasura-allowed-roles": ["user"],
    "x-hasura-user-id": event.user.user_id,
  });
};
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Adding actions to the authentication flow

To add the actions to the authentication flow, on the Auth0 dashboard, click on Actions and then Flows on the left sidebar.
Auth0 action flow
The action that we've coded is designed to be executed after a user logs in. Click on the Login option. A flow chart showing the login flow will be shown. Add the newly created actions by selecting them from the menu on the right. Drag the actions and place them into the flow chart. Make sure login-ping is placed first. Click on apply.
Setting up Auth0 action flow

Testing authentication flow

Let's test if a new user sign-up adds the user data into the DB. On the sidebar, click on Getting Started then click Try it out -> in the Try your Login box dialog box.
Auth0 getting started section
You'll be redirected to a login page, switch to sign up mode, and enter an email and a password. You should be redirected to a screen that tells you the sign-up has been successful. Now go to your Hasura console and see if the user details have been added to the table.

Conclusion

In this post, we saw how we can sync the data in Auth0 with the data in our database. But we're not done. We still need to enable access controls to ensure that authenticated users won't be allowed access to the data of other users. We'll implement this in the next post.


References

  1. Hasura Docs
  2. Hasura Docs: Auth0 JWT integration
  3. Auth0 Docs: Integration with hasura

Top comments (1)

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flashrob01 profile image
Rob L. • Edited on

Thanks for initiating this, Joel!

A problem though- I've done everything in this tutorial step by step, including properly creating the Hasura / Heroku / Auth0 accounts.

However, at the last step, after running the tests for the Actions on Auth0; even though Auth0 is saying the test passed because I successfully logged in, no user information is getting passed to my newly created external Heroku/ Hasura - postgres database. It remains empty, with no errors triggered anywhere.

Anyone else experienced this?

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