Add an Authorization Library

Add an Authorization Library

Published: Feb 9th, 2021

This is part of Joyful Rails, a list of recommendations to make developing your Rails app more productive and joyful.

In this article, we are talking about adding an authorization library.

After you add authentication to your application, you will probably start writing code that does different things depending on who the user is.

That is a good time to add an authorization library to make creating, testing, and maintaining that code much easier.

If have user authentication, your app knows who its users are. That’s great!

But you probably wanted to know who the users are so that you can allow them to do different things.

Determining what a user can do is the process of authorization.

What usually happens is you end up with code that looks like this:

if user.present? && post.author == user
post.update body: new_body
end

This is tricky to write, tricky to test, and ends up spread all over your app.

An authentication library helps you put that code all in one place, making it easy to understand, test, and maintain.

Use Pundit.

Cancan is another option and I am sure there are many more. I like Pundit enough that I haven’t explored any others.

Engineering leader with twenty years of experience in software startups