created_at2021-04-05 03:11:47.589231
updated_at2021-04-05 03:11:47.589231
descriptionA library that integrates with actix-web to provide structure and implementation of authentication in an opinionated but still highly flexible way




One way to design a web backend is to split it into three parts: the API layer (for reusable actions used in the presentation layer), data layer (for interacting with the database), and presentation layer (for handling requests). This crate aims to provide the API layer for authentication. Example routes are provided in the examples folder, so you can get the presentation layer as well, although you are almost certainly going to want to make some changes so it is not included in the crate by default.


  • Easy: Makes it easy to add authentication to your web application by providing structure and doing the hard parts for you
  • Flexible: not opinionated on what your URL structure, UI, or database looks like
  • Fast: fully async, and does not require a database query unless logging in or registering (e.g. normal authenticated requests verify without a database query)
  • Stateless: no need for server pinning with this library, only cryptography is used to verify sessions, so it's fine if a user sporadically switches backend servers


Roughly speaking, there are three steps in using this library: create the data layer, integrate with Actix-Web, make the routes, and make the frontend. You can view a complete example here.

Create the Data Layer

To create a data layer, you must create a Rust struct to hold the information that you want to associate with each user, except the password hash which is stored separately. You must store the email in this struct. An example struct follows:

// !!!!!WARNING: anything in your account type is visible to users as it is encoded as a JWT!!!!!
#[derive(Serialize, Deserialize, Debug)]
pub struct ExampleAccount {
    pub username: String, //example of custom data to include with one's account type
    pub email: String,

impl Account for ExampleAccount {
    fn email(&self) -> &str {

As you can see, after the struct is created, the Account trait is implemented to allow actix-plus-auth to access the email, and to signal that this struct represents an account. The Account trait, due to JWT (Json Web Token) serialization and deserialization, requires that the serde Serialize and DeserializeOwned traits are implemented. To implement DeserializeOwned simply have a struct that owns all of its types (e.g. no reference members) and then derive Deserialize. Additionally, the Account trait requires the Debug trait. Of course, you can implement other traits as you see fit.

Note that anything in your account type is visible to users as it is encoded as a JWT for session storage. DO NOT PUT PRIVATE INFORMATION IN THE ACCOUNT TYPE.

Once the account struct is created, a data provider struct is needed. A data provider struct implements the operations that fetch and store this account type from a database. To create a data provider struct, simply implement the DataProvider trait:

pub trait DataProvider: Clone {
    type AccountType: Account;

    ///Adds a new account to the database, then returns that account back. You may need to clone the account when implementing this function. If another account exists with this email, then the function should return some sort of error.
    async fn insert_account(
        account: Self::AccountType,
        password_hash: String,
    ) -> ResponseResult<Self::AccountType>;

    /// Fetches the account with the given email from the database, case-insensitively. Note that a lowercase email should be passed to this function, but the matching email as stored in the database may be in any case.
    async fn fetch_account(
        email: &str,
    ) -> ResponseResult<Option<(Self::AccountType, String)>>;

Note that the async_trait crate is used to facilitate async functions in this trait, and you must use it when implementing this trait as well. Also, note that the insert_account and fetch_account functions take &self and not &mut self, and that DataProvider requires Clone. The model in this library is that a single data store is shared across many instances of your data provider, and references to those instances, like a normal database connection pool (e.g. as in sqlx). When your data provider is cloned, make sure to internally reference the same data such that if a change is made on the clone it can be read back from the original (or other clones) and visa-versa. The best way to implement this is to use a database library (such as sqlx) that already works in this way.

Congratulations! You have now created the data layer, which is 95% of the work to use this library.

An example data provider is not shown here as it will vary wildly between different database backends.

Integrate with Actix-Web

Once your data layer is created, you can move on to integrating with Actix Web. To do this, create an instance of actix_plus_auth::AuthenticationProvider<T: DataProvider> via the new function. To do this, you'll need a secret and an instance of your data provider:

let auth = AuthenticationProvider::new(
    "some secret, you should use a real one"
        .map(|u| *u)

The secret is used to verify JWTs, so it should be both secret (if it is leaked then users can forge a JWT for any account on your service) and unchanging (if it changes, existing sessions will be invalidated). If it is leaked, you should change it, and review your logs for any possible abuse. AuthenticationProvider is generic over a provided DataProvider-implementing struct, and it will infer the account type from your DataProvider implementation, also generically.

Once you have an AuthenticationProvider, you simply need to make it available to each route. This is done via Actix Web's state system:

HttpServer::new(move || { //move your auth variable into the closure
        .data(auth.clone()) //clone the closure's copy for each Actix Web worker, this is why clones of a data provider must refer to the same data even when cloned 

Lastly, as this system relies on cookies with the secure flag set, you must enable TLS/HTTPS for it to work. A simple self-signed certificate is sufficient for development. Refer to Actix Web documentation for details on enabling TLS.

Make the Routes

Once an AuthenticationProvider is registered with Actix Web, routes for login, registration, and logout must be created. AuthenticationProvider provides functions that facilitate most of the heavy lifting for these operations, except for logout which is to be implemented entirely by the user.


pub async fn register(
    account: DataProviderImpl::AccountType,
    password: &str,
) -> ResponseResult<RegistrationOutcome<DataProviderImpl::AccountType>> {

Above is the signature of the registration function. To put it simply, it accepts a reference to the authentication provider, the password to register with, and an instance of your account type. It then returns a ResponseResult (from the actix-plus-error crate, used to propagate internal server errors such as those from the user-provided data layer) with a RegistrationOutcome instance which has three variants:

///The non-error outcomes of registration. Error outcomes are used when a genuine error takes place — e.g. the database is not reachable (represented by the functions on your DataProvider implementation returning an error).
pub enum RegistrationOutcome<AccountType: Account> {
    ///The account is now in the database, and is given here.
    ///The provided email is not a valid email
    //The provided email is already taken


pub async fn login(
    email: &str,
    password: &str,
) -> ResponseResult<LoginOutcome<DataProviderImpl::AccountType>>

Above is the signature of the login function. To put it simply, it accepts a reference to to the authentication provider, an email, and a username (as provided by the user) and returns a ResponseResult (from the actix-plus-error crate, used to propagate internal server errors such as those from the user-provided data layer) with a LoginOutcome instance which has two variants:

///The non-error outcomes of logging in. Error outcomes are used when a genuine error takes place — e.g. the database is not reachable (represented by the functions on your DataProvider implementation returning an error).
pub enum LoginOutcome<AccountType> {
    ///The credentials were correct, so the account  and a cookie that should be set in the response to the login route are provided.
    Successful(AccountType, Cookie<'static>),
    //The provided credentials do not correspond to a valid account.

If InvalidEmailOrPassword is returned then this information should be passed in your response in whatever way you see fit. If Successful is returned, then the provided cookie should be set on your HTTP response. Additionally, in the successful scenario, you may set additional cookies to share data with your frontend. Note that, following best practices for cookie-based token storage, the token cookie is HTTP only, so Javascript code can't access it. See here for an example.


To logout, simply delete the actix-plus-auth-token cookie, along with any other cookies that you may have set in your login. You do not need to call into the library to delete a session or anything, as the library is stateless:

async fn logout(request: HttpRequest) -> Response {
    let mut response = HttpResponse::Ok();
    if let Some(mut session_cookie) = request.cookie("actix-plus-auth-token") { //you must delete this cookie
        session_cookie.set_path("/"); //this is needed to ensure that the cookie deletion goes through
        session_cookie.set_secure(true); //this is needed to ensure that the cookie deletion goes through
    if let Some(mut username_cookie) = request.cookie("username") { //delete optional user-added cookie

Authenticating in Other Routes

In another route, you can simply call current_user(req: &HttpRequest) on AuthenticationProvider to get the current user. This function returns Err(ResponseError) that encodes a 401 Not Authorized (via the actix-plus-error crate), so if you use the same crate you can simply propagate with ? to keep code concise:

async fn private_page(request: HttpRequest, auth: Data<ExampleAuthProvider>) -> Response {
    let account = auth.current_user(&request)?;
    Ok(HttpResponse::Ok() //you can do anything here, including more traditional JSON/REST/etc. routes
        .body(format!("Hello {}", account.username))

Make the Frontend

When making the frontend, there are some considerations to ensure that cookies are included with HTTP requests. Specifically, credentials should be set to 'same-origin' (both for requests to login, logout, and registration; and for general authenticated requests):

 let response = await fetch('/login', {
    method: 'POST',
    credentials: 'same-origin',
    headers: {
       'Content-Type': 'application/json'
    body: JSON.stringify({
        email: document.getElementById('email').value,
        password: document.getElementById('password').value,


  • Email Verification
  • SQLx example
Commit count: 19

cargo fmt