Handling Authentication In Vue Using Vuex

  • 2018-08-09 09:34 AM
  • 156

Handling Authentication In Vue Using Vuex. Traditionally, many people use local storage to manage tokens generated through client-side authentication. A big concern is always a better way to manage authorization tokens to allow us to store even more information on users.

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This is where Vuex comes in. Vuex manages states for Vue.js applications. It serves as a centralized store for all the components in an application, with rules ensuring that the state can only be mutated in a predictable fashion.

Sounds like a better alternative to always checking localStorage? Let’s explore it.

Table of Contents

  1. Prerequisites
  2. Setting up the application modules
  3. Setting up the server for authentication
  4. Setup Components
  5. Vuex Auth Module
  6. Hide Pages Behind Auth
  7. Conclusion

Prerequisites

  1. Knowledge of JavaScript
  2. Node installed on your local system
  3. Knowledge of Vue
  4. Have Vue CLI installed
  5. Have read Vue Authentication And Route Handling Using Vue-router

Setting up the application modules

For this project, we want to create a vue application that has vuex and vue-router. We will use the vue cli 3.0 to create a new vue project and select router and vuex from the options.

Run the following command to set it up:

$ vue create vue-auth

Follow the dialogue that shows up, add the necessary information and select the options we need and complete the installation.

Next, install axios:

$ npm install axios --save

Setup Axios

We will need axios across many of our components. Let’s set it up at the entry level so we do not have to import it every time we need it.

Open the ./src/main.js file and add the following:

[...]
import store from './store'
import Axios from 'axios'

Vue.prototype.$http = Axios;
const token = localStorage.getItem('token')
if (token) {
  Vue.prototype.$http.defaults.headers.common['Authorization'] = token
}
[...]

Now, when we want to use axios inside our component, we can do this.$http and it will be like calling axios directly. We also set the Authorization on axios header to our token, so our requests can be processed if a token is required. This way, we do not have to set token anytime we want to make a request.

When that is done, let’s set up the server to handle authentication.

Setting up the server for authentication

I already wrote about this when explaining how to handle authentication with vue-router. Check out the Setup Node.js Server section of this

Setup Components

The Login Component

Create a file Login.vue in the ./src/components directory. Then, add the template for the login page:

<template>
 <div>
   <form class="login" @submit.prevent="login">
     <h1>Sign in</h1>
     <label>Email</label>
     <input required v-model="email" type="email" placeholder="Name"/>
     <label>Password</label>
     <input required v-model="password" type="password" placeholder="Password"/>
     <hr/>
     <button type="submit">Login</button>
   </form>
 </div>
</template>

When you are done, add the data attributes that would bind to the HTML form:

[...]
<script>
  export default {
    data(){
      return {
        email : "",
        password : ""
      }
    },
  }
</script>

Now, let’s add the method for handling login:

[...]
<script>
  export default {
    [...]
    methods: {
      login: function () {
        let email = this.email 
        let password = this.password
        this.$store.dispatch(&apos;login&apos;, { email, password })
       .then(() => this.$router.push(&apos;/&apos;))
       .catch(err => console.log(err))
      }
    }
  }
</script>

We are using a vuex action — login to handle this authentication. We can resolve actions into promises so we can do cool things with them inside our component.

The Register Component

Like the component for login, let’s make one for registering users. Start by creating a file Register.vue in the components directory and add the following to it:

<template>
  <div>
    <h4>Register</h4>
    <form @submit.prevent="register">
      <label for="name">Name</label>
      <div>
          <input id="name" type="text" v-model="name" required autofocus>
      </div>

      <label for="email" >E-Mail Address</label>
      <div>
          <input id="email" type="email" v-model="email" required>
      </div>

      <label for="password">Password</label>
      <div>
          <input id="password" type="password" v-model="password" required>
      </div>

      <label for="password-confirm">Confirm Password</label>
      <div>
          <input id="password-confirm" type="password" v-model="password_confirmation" required>
      </div>

      <div>
          <button type="submit">Register</button>
      </div>
    </form>
  </div>
</template>

Let define the data attributes we will bind to the form:

[...]
<script>
  export default {
    data(){
      return {
        name : "",
        email : "",
        password : "",
        password_confirmation : "",
        is_admin : null
      }
    },
  }
</script>

Now, let’s add the method for handling login:

[...]
<script>
  export default {
    [...]
    methods: {
      register: function () {
        let data = {
          name: this.name,
          email: this.email,
          password: this.password,
          is_admin: this.is_admin
        }
        this.$store.dispatch(&apos;register&apos;, data)
       .then(() => this.$router.push(&apos;/&apos;))
       .catch(err => console.log(err))
      }
    }
  }
</script>

The Secure Component

Let’s make a simple component that would only display if our user is authenticated. Create the component file Secure.vue and add the following to it:

<template>
  <div>
    <h1>This page is protected by auth</h1>
  </div>
</template>

Update The App Component

Open ./src/App.vue file and add the following to it:

<template>
  <div id="app">
    <div id="nav">
      <router-link to="/">Home</router-link> |
      <router-link to="/about">About</router-link><span v-if="isLoggedIn"> | <a @click="logout">Logout</a></span>
    </div>
    <router-view/>
  </div>
</template>

Can you see the Logout link we set to only show up if a user is logged in? Great.

Now, let’s add the logic behind the log out:

<script>
  export default {
    computed : {
      isLoggedIn : function(){ return this.$store.getters.isLoggedIn}
    },
    methods: {
      logout: function () {
        this.$store.dispatch(&apos;logout&apos;)
        .then(() => {
          this.$router.push(&apos;/login&apos;)
        })
      }
    },
  }
</script>

We are doing two things — computing the authentication state of the user and dispatching a logout action to our vuex store when a user clicks the logout button. After the log out, we send the user to login page using this.$router.push(&apos;/login&apos;). You can change where the user gets sent to if you want.

That’s it. Let’s make the auth module using vuex.

Vuex Auth Module

If you read past the Setup Node.js Server section, you would notice we had to store user auth token in localStorage and we had to retrieve both the token and user information anytime we wanted to check if the user is authenticated. This works, but it is not really elegant. We will rebuild the authentication to use vuex.

First, let’s setup our store.js file for vuex:

import Vue from &apos;vue&apos;
import Vuex from &apos;vuex&apos;
import axios from &apos;axios&apos;

Vue.use(Vuex)

export default new Vuex.Store({
  state: {
    status: &apos;&apos;,
    token: localStorage.getItem(&apos;token&apos;) || &apos;&apos;,
    user : {}
  },
  mutations: {

  },
  actions: {

  },
  getters : {

  }
})

If you noticed, we have imported vue, vuex and axios, then asked vue to use vuex. This is because we mean serious business here.

We have defined the attributes of the state. Now the vuex state would hold our authentication status, jwt token and user information.

Create The Vuex login Action

Vuex actions are used to commit mutations to the vuex store. We will create a login action that would authenticate a user with the server and commit user credentials to the vuex store. Open the ./src/store.js file and add the following to actions object:

login({commit}, user){
    return new Promise((resolve, reject) => {
      commit(&apos;auth_request&apos;)
      axios({url: &apos;http://localhost:3000/login&apos;, data: user, method: &apos;POST&apos; })
      .then(resp => {
        const token = resp.data.token
        const user = resp.data.user
        localStorage.setItem(&apos;token&apos;, token)
        axios.defaults.headers.common[&apos;Authorization&apos;] = token
        commit(&apos;auth_success&apos;, token, user)
        resolve(resp)
      })
      .catch(err => {
        commit(&apos;auth_error&apos;)
        localStorage.removeItem(&apos;token&apos;)
        reject(err)
      })
    })
},

The login action passes vuex commit helper that we will use to trigger mutations. Mutations make changes to vuex store.

We are making a call to the server’s login route and returning the necessary data. We store the token on localStorage, then pass the token and user information to auth_success to update the store’s attributes. We also set the header for axios at this point as well.

We could store the token in vuex store, but if the user leaves our application, all of the data in the vuex store disappears. To ensure we allow the user to return to the application within the validity time of the token and not have to log in again, we have to keep the token in localStorage.It’s important you know how these work so you can decide what exactly it is you want to achieve.

We return a promise so we can return a response to a user after login is complete.

Create The Vuex register Action

Like the login action, the register action will work almost the same way. In the same file, add the following in the actions object:

register({commit}, user){
  return new Promise((resolve, reject) => {
    commit(&apos;auth_request&apos;)
    axios({url: &apos;http://localhost:3000/register&apos;, data: user, method: &apos;POST&apos; })
    .then(resp => {
      const token = resp.data.token
      const user = resp.data.user
      localStorage.setItem(&apos;token&apos;, token)
      axios.defaults.headers.common[&apos;Authorization&apos;] = token
      commit(&apos;auth_success&apos;, token, user)
      resolve(resp)
    })
    .catch(err => {
      commit(&apos;auth_error&apos;, err)
      localStorage.removeItem(&apos;token&apos;)
      reject(err)
    })
  })
},

This works similarly to login action, calling the same mutators as our login and register actions have the same simple goal — get a user into the system.

Create The Vuex logout Action

We want the user to have the ability to log out of the system, and we want to destroy all data created during the last authenticated session. In the same actions object, add the following:

logout({commit}){
  return new Promise((resolve, reject) => {
    commit(&apos;logout&apos;)
    localStorage.removeItem(&apos;token&apos;)
    delete axios.defaults.headers.common[&apos;Authorization&apos;]
    resolve()
  })
}

Now, when the user clicks to log out, we will remove the jwt token we stored along with the axios header we set. There is no way they can perform a transaction requiring a token now.

Create The Mutations

Like I mentioned earlier, mutators are used to change the state of a vuex store. Let’s define the mutators we had used throughout our application. In the mutators object, add the following:

mutations: {
  auth_request(state){
    state.status = &apos;loading&apos;
  },
  auth_success(state, token, user){
    state.status = &apos;success&apos;
    state.token = token
    state.user = user
  },
  auth_error(state){
    state.status = &apos;error&apos;
  },
  logout(state){
    state.status = &apos;&apos;
    state.token = &apos;&apos;
  },
},

Create The Getters

We use getter to get the value of the attributes of vuex state. The role of our getter in the situation is to separate application data from application logic and ensure we do not give away sensitive information.

Add the following to the getters object:

getters : {
  isLoggedIn: state => !!state.token,
  authStatus: state => state.status,
}

You would agree with me that this is a neater way to access data in the store ☺️.

Hide Pages Behind Auth

The whole purpose of this article is to implement authentication and keep certain pages away from a user who is not authentication. To achieve this, we need to know the page the user wants to visit and equally have a way to check if the user is authenticated. We also need a way to say if the page is reserved for only authenticated user or unauthenticated user alone or both. These things are important considerations which, luckily, we can achieve with vue-router.

Defiing Routes For Authenticated And Unauthenticated Pages

Open the ./src/router.js file and import what we need for this setup:

import Vue from &apos;vue&apos;
import Router from &apos;vue-router&apos;
import store from &apos;./store.js&apos;
import Home from &apos;./views/Home.vue&apos;
import About from &apos;./views/About.vue&apos;
import Login from &apos;./components/Login.vue&apos;
import Secure from &apos;./components/Secure.vue&apos;
import Register from &apos;./components/Register.vue&apos;

Vue.use(Router)

As you can see, we have imported vue, vue-router and our vuex store setup. We also imported all the components we defined and set vue to use our router.

Let’s define the routes:

[...]
let router = new Router({
  mode: &apos;history&apos;,
  routes: [
    {
      path: &apos;/&apos;,
      name: &apos;home&apos;,
      component: Home
    },
    {
      path: &apos;/login&apos;,
      name: &apos;login&apos;,
      component: Login
    },
    {
      path: &apos;/register&apos;,
      name: &apos;register&apos;,
      component: Register
    },
    {
      path: &apos;/secure&apos;,
      name: &apos;secure&apos;,
      component: Secure,
      meta: { 
        requiresAuth: true
      }
    },
    {
      path: &apos;/about&apos;,
      name: &apos;about&apos;,
      component: About
    }
  ]
})

export default router

Our route definition is simple. For routes requiring authentication, we add extra data to it to enable us identify it when the user tries to access it. This is the essence of the meta attribute added to the route definition. If you are asking ”Can I add more data to this meta and use it?” then I’m pleased to tell you that you are absolutely right 😁.

Handling Unauthorized Access Cases

We have our routes defined. Now, let’s check for unauthorized access and take action.
In the router.js file, add the following before the export default router:

router.beforeEach((to, from, next) => {
  if(to.matched.some(record => record.meta.requiresAuth)) {
    if (store.getters.isLoggedIn) {
      next()
      return
    }
    next(&apos;/login&apos;) 
  } else {
    next() 
  }
})

From the article on using vue router for authentication, you can recall we had a really complex mechanism here that grew very big and got very confusing. Vuex has helped us simplify that completely, and we can go on to add any condition to our route. In our vuex store, we can then define actions to check these conditions and getters to return them.

Handling Expired Token Cases

Because we store our token in localStorage, it can remain there perpetually. This means that whenever we open our application, it would automatically authenticate a user even if the token has expired. What would happen at most is that our requests would keep failing because of an invalid token. This is bad for user experience.

Now, open ./src/App.vue file and in the script, add the following to it:

export default {
  [...]
  created: function () {
    this.$http.interceptors.response.use(undefined, function (err) {
      return new Promise(function (resolve, reject) {
        if (err.status === 401 && err.config && !err.config.__isRetryRequest) {
          this.$store.dispatch(logout)
        }
        throw err;
      });
    });
  }
}

We are intercepting axios call to determine if we get 401 Unauthorized response. If we do, we dispatch the logout action and the user gets logged out of the application. This takes them to the login page like we designed earlier and they can log in again.

We can agree that this will greatly improve the user’s experience ☺️.

Conclusion

From the previous article, you can see the significant changes that get made to our present application based the introduction of vuex. Now, we do not rely on checking the token all the time and having messing conditionals everywhere we go. We can simply use the vuex store to manage authentication state and proceed to check state in our application using only a few lines of code.

I hope this helps you build better applications.

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