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Version: v2.x

Roles & Session variables

Roles​

Every table/view can have permission rules for users based on their role.

By default, there is an admin role that can perform any operation on any table.

You can define roles and then create permissions for each of these roles:

Examples:

userA logged-in userCRUD on data that belongs to them
anonymousA not logged-in userOnly read from some tables/views
managerA user that has access to other user’s dataCRUD on all users data

See this page on how to configure permission rules.

Role-based schemas

For every role that you create, Hasura automatically publishes a different GraphQL schema that represents the right queries, fields, and mutations that are available to that role.

Dynamic session variables​

Permission rules can also refer to session variables. Session variables are key-value pairs returned from the authentication service for each request.

For example: If a user makes a request, the session token maps to a user-id. This user-id can be used in a permission to show that inserts into a table are only allowed if the user_id column has a value equal to that of user-id, the session variable.

When you are constructing permission rules, however, there might be several variables that represent the business logic of having access to data. For example, if you have a SaaS application, you might restrict access based on a client_id variable. If you want to provide different levels of access on different devices, you might restrict access based on a device_type variable.

Hasura allows you to create permission rules that can use any dynamic variable that is a property of the request. All your dynamic variables must follow the naming convention X-Hasura-*.

Examples:

ExampleRoleConditionPermission expression

Allow access to user's own row

user

user_id column is equal to session-user-id from a request

{
"user_id": {
"_eq": "X-Hasura-User-Id"
}
}

Allow project admins access to anything that belongs to the project

project-admin

project_id column is equal to project-id of the "session user"

{
"project_id": {
"_eq": "X-Hasura-Project-Id"
}
}
ABAC

Session variables are analogous to attributes in a typical attribute-based access control (ABAC) system.

Modelling Roles in Hasura​

General guidelines for modelling roles in Hasura.

Roles are typically modelled in two ways:

  1. Hierarchical roles: Access scopes are nested depending on available roles. Roles in GitHub for organisations is a great example of such modelling where access scopes are inherited by deeper roles:
Hierarchical roles
  1. Flat roles: Non-hierarchical roles with each role requiring an independent access scope to be defined.

Roles in Hasura have to be defined in the latter way i.e. in a flat, non-hierarchical model.

To convert the above hierarchical roles model into the one expected by Hasura, you will need to model roles as partially captured by the table below (showing access permissions for the user & org-member roles, repositories table and select operation):

RoleAccess PermissionsExample permission rule
user

Allow access to personally created repositories

{
"creator_id": {
"_eq": "X-Hasura-User-Id"
}
}
org-member

Allow access to personally created repositories and the organisation's repositories

{
"_or": [
{
"creator_id": {
"_eq": "X-Hasura-User-Id"
}
},
{
"organization": {
"members": {
"member_id": {
"_eq": "X-Hasura-User-Id"
}
}
}
}
]
}

Making role-based user information available​

Effective permission rules require that information about which roles have access to which objects is available when processing the permission rule. Different users with the same role or the same user with different roles may have access to different sets of rows of the same table.

In some cases this is straightforward - for example, to restrict access for authors to only their articles, a trivial row-level permission like "creator_id": {"_eq": "X-Hasura-User-Id"} will suffice. In others, like our example in the previous section, this user information (ownership or relationship) must be available for defining a permission rule.

These non-trivial use cases are to be handled differently based on whether this information is available in the same database or not.

Relationship information is available in the same database​

Let's take a closer look at the permission rule for the org-member rule in the example from the previous section. The rule reads as "allow access to this repository if it was created by this user or if this user is a member of the organisation that this repository belongs to".

The crucial piece of user information that is presumed to be available in the same database and that makes this an effective rule, is the mapping of users (members) to organizations.

Since this information is available in the same database, it can be easily leveraged via Relationships in permissions (see this reference for another example of the same kind).

Relationship information is not available in the same database​

When this user information is not available in the database that Hasura is configured to use, session variables are the only avenue to pass this information to a permission rule. In our example, the mapping of users (members) to organizations may not have been available in the same database.

To convey this information, a session variable, say X-Hasura-Allowed-Organisations can be used by the configured authentication to relay this information. We can then check for the following condition to emulate the same rule: is the organization that this repository belongs to part of the list of the organizations the user is a member of.

The permission for org-member role changes to this:

{
"_or": [
{
"creator_id": {
"_eq": "X-Hasura-User-Id"
}
},
{
"organization_id": {
"_in": "X-Hasura-Allowed-Organisations"
}
}
]
}
Array session variables in permission rules

Support for using session variables for array operators like _in, _nin, _has_any_keys, _has_all_keys is available in versions v1.0.0-beta.3 and above.

When you use array operators such as _in in the permissions builder in the Hasura console, it will automatically open an array for your values. If your session variable value is already an array, you can click the [X-Hasura-Allowed-Ids] suggestion to remove the brackets and set your session variable in its place.

Format of session variables​

Session variables are currently expected to be Strings and should be encoded as Postgres's literals for the relevant type.

For example, in the above example, let's say creator_id and organisation_id columns are of type integer, then the values of X-Hasura-User-Id and X-Hasura-Allowed-Organisations should be of type integer and integer[] (an integer array) respectively. To pass say a value 1 for X-Hasura-User-Id, it'll be "1" and if the allowed organisations are 1, 2 and 3, then X-Hasura-Allowed-Organisations will be "{1,2,3}". {} is the syntax for specifying arrays in Postgres.

The types and their formats are detailed here. When in doubt about the Postgres format for a type, you can always test it in the SQL window. To check if s is a valid literal for type t then, you can check it as follows:

select 's'::t;

If the above command returns data, then s is a valid literal of type t. For example, to check if {hello,world} is a valid format of type text[], you can run:

select '{hello,world}'::text[];
JSON format

In future, we'll add support for passing session variables as JSON values where possible (i.e, auth webhook and JWT but not in headers).

Additional Resources

Enterprise Grade Authorization - Watch Webinar.