FeathersJS Auth Recipe: Customizing the Login Response

The Auk release of FeathersJS includes a powerful new authentication suite built on top of PassportJS. The new plugins are very flexible, allowing you to customize nearly everything. This flexibility required making some changes. In this guide, we'll look at the changes to the login response and how you can customize it.

Changes to the Login Response

The previous version of feathers-authentication always returned the same response. It looked something like this:

{
  token: '<the jwt token>',
  user: {
    id: 1,
    email: 'my@email.com'
  }
}

The JWT also contained a payload which held an id property representing the user id. We found that this was too restrictive for some of our more technical apps. For instance, what if you wanted to authenticate a device instead of a user? Or what if you want to authenticate both a device and a user? The old plugin couldn't handle those situations. The new one does. To make it work, we started by simplifying the response. The default response now looks like this:

{
  accessToken: '<the jwt token>'
}

The JWT also contains a payload which has a userId property.

Based on the above, you can see that we still authenticate a user by default. In this case, the user is what we call the entity. It's the generic name of what is being authenticated. It's customizable, but that's not covered in this guide. Instead, let's focus on what it takes to add the user in the login response.

Customizing the Login Response

The /authentication endpoint is now a Feathers service. It uses the create method for login and the remove method for logout. Just like with all Feathers services, you can customize the response with the hook API. For what we want to do, the important part is the context.result, which becomes the response body. We can use an after hook to customize the context.result to return anything that we want:

app.service('/authentication').hooks({
  after: {
    create: [
      context => {
        context.result.foo = 'bar';
      }
    ]
  }
});

After a successful login, the context.result already contains the accessToken. The above example modified the response to look like this:

{
  accessToken: '<the jwt token>',
  foo: 'bar'
}

Accessing the User Entity

Let's see how to include the user in the response, as was done in previous versions. The /authentication service modifies the context.params object to contain the entity object (in this case, the user). With that information, you might have already figured out how to get the user into the response. It just has to be copied from context.params.user to the context.result.user:

app.service('/authentication').hooks({
  after: {
    create: [
      context => {
        context.result.user = context.params.user;

        // Don't expose sensitive information.
        delete context.result.user.password;
      }
    ]
  }
});

At this point, the response now includes the accessToken and the user. Now the client won't have to make an additional request for the user data. As is shown in the above example, be sure to not expose any sensitive information.

Wrapping Up

You've now learned some of the differences in the new feathers-authentication plugin. Instead of using two endpoints, it's using a single service. It also has a simplified response, compared to before. Now, you can customize the response to include whatever information you need.

Is anything wrong, unclear, missing? Leave a comment or edit this page.

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