In this chapter, I would talk about how to leverage Flask JWT to tokenize your member’s or user’s identity and use it to authenticate. It’s a super common and helpful way of data interexchange and user experience enhancement. It’s adaptable in any sector, such as digital marketing, eCommerce, SaaS, media, and data business.
Table of Contents: Use Flask JWT to Tokenize User Identities
- Why your API needs Token Authentication
- What is Flask JWT
- Tokenization Roadmap
- Token Column, Encode and Decode
- A Token required function – wraps and decode
- Full Python Script of Flask JWT Sample
Why your API needs Token Authentication
As a developer or digital inventory seller, making sure the user identity authentication runs seamlessly is one of the most important daily tasks to secure the business or applications. Furthermore, a data inventory seller doesn’t want to see anyone who can access the API without limit or under a system of tracking. It’s just simply why we need API token authentication from a security and business perspective.
Meanwhile, for user experiences, you hope your API users can log in to their API accounts by just adding a token in the API endpoint. Or through an API token, they are able to be getting access to relevant parsed data, connect it with the applications, and enjoy personalized user experiences. It’s a seamless, fast, and secure way.
All in all, tokenizing the user identity is crucial, helpful, and efficient in the data interexchange and communication, whatever sectors you are working in. In particular, we are stepping into the cookieless and larger wall-garden era.
What is Flask JWT
Before elaborating on the JWT, first thing first, we need to know what is flask. Essentially, Flask is a python based micro-framework used to build rest API. The core idea of the Flask framework is to keep things simple but extensible. It allows developers to add custom extensions for database integration, authentication, session management, and all the other backend systems based on preferences.
Previously I talked about Flask to build a Shopify bot application. If you are interested, please check out this piece.
JSON Web Tokens (JWT) are a secure and compact way to transmit data between two parties with the help of JSON objects. So essentially if your application is built by using Flask, JWT is a popular option for you to build a token_required API or user access.
JSON uses two different structure types for transmitting data. One is Serialized. This type is used when you’re transferring information to the network via every request and response. It contains a payload, header, and signature.
The other is Deserialized. This type is used when you’re reading/writing information to the token. It contains a payload and header.
I tried to compare it with YAML previously, please check out this piece if you like to explore more.
As mentioned, JWT is for user authentication as the first original purpose. So basically there are three primary steps in the whole generation roadmap.
- Create a token column in the user database built by using sqlalchemy
- Encode a new sign-up user token from the user registration action
- Build a token_required function that can be applied to any Flask routes that require user authentication you want
Token column, Encode and Decode
I would take sqlalchemy for example. First thing first, we need to add a column for storing the unique token every user has. For the naming, we can set “token” for instance. But it depends on your preference. For more details regarding the Flask database, I’ll release another article.
No 2 step is to add the JWT encode method in the new user sign-up route. It’s because we want to assign a unique API token for any new users when they finish registrations. Here I select just the invitation code we send to the user for sign-up as the token encoding reference. You can either use another reference point or make it more complex by using multip reference points.
Last but not least, we use the database user class method to add the new token to the new user. It’s unique to her or him.
Token Required – wraps and decode
Now it’s ready to build the token-required function. We need this because we need to assign it to any routes we need user authentication. The purpose is just as well as the login_required.
In this function, the key component is to decode the token and see if the value is matching to the one created when the newly signed up before.
Before coming into the decoding section, we need to import a module that functools and wraps.
The wraps function is a part of the functools module of Python. It wraps and updates the wrapper function of the decorator by copying the attributes such as _name__, __doc__, the docstring, etc.
def decorate(*args, **kwargs):
You can use wraps as a decorator to fix docstrings and names of decorated functions. Why does this matter? This sounds like a weird edge case at first, but if you’re writing an API or any code that someone other than yourself will be using, then this could be important. The reason is that when you use Python’s introspection to figure out someone else’s code, a decorated function will return the wrong information.
First thing first, we need to add a token parameter on our API endpoint and name it, such as a token. When people call the API, they add their unique tokens in this parameter, like www.abe.com?token=12324343
token = request.args.get('token')
Then, we can create a condition if the token is missing or invalid, or correct. For example, for the correct status, the decoded token must match the public_id created when the user signed up. So we could query the database by filtering out the user public_id.
If the id is not matching with the decoded token, the response message is invalid. Or if the API endpoint lacks the token, the response message is the token is missing. So it ensures anyone who uses the API has been authenticated.
Full Python Script Samples of Flask JWT
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Q1: What is Flask JWT Token?
A: Flask JWT Token is a package for Flask, a micro web framework for Python, that provides JSON Web Token (JWT) authentication.
Q2: Why should I use Flask JWT Token?
A: Flask JWT Token allows you to implement secure authentication and authorization in your Flask applications using JWTs, which are a secure and compact way to transmit information between parties.
Q3: How do I install Flask JWT Token?
A: You can install Flask JWT Token by using pip, the Python package installer. Simply run the command ‘pip install flask-jwt-token’ in your terminal or command prompt.
Q4: How do I use Flask JWT Token for authentication?
A: To use Flask JWT Token for authentication, you need to generate JWTs for your users upon successful login and include those tokens in subsequent requests. Flask JWT Token provides convenient decorators and functions to handle this process.
Q5: Can Flask JWT Token handle token expiration?
A: Yes, Flask JWT Token supports token expiration. You can set an expiration time when generating JWTs, and Flask JWT Token will automatically validate the expiration of incoming tokens.
Q6: Is Flask JWT Token compatible with other Flask extensions?
A: Yes, Flask JWT Token is designed to work seamlessly with other Flask extensions. It provides integration points for common Flask extensions like Flask-RESTful and Flask-SQLAlchemy.
Q7: Can Flask JWT Token handle token revocation?
A: Flask JWT Token does not natively support token revocation. However, you can implement token revocation by maintaining a blacklist of revoked tokens in your application and checking against that blacklist before accepting a token.
Q8: Does Flask JWT Token support token refresh?
A: Yes, Flask JWT Token supports token refresh. You can generate a refresh token along with the access token and use the refresh token to obtain a new access token when the current one expires.
Q9: Are there any security considerations when using Flask JWT Token?
A: Yes, there are some security considerations when using Flask JWT Token. It is important to properly secure your JWT secret key, use HTTPS for transmitting tokens, and validate the integrity and authenticity of incoming tokens.
Q10: Where can I find more information about Flask JWT Token?
A: You can find more information about Flask JWT Token in the official documentation, which includes detailed usage examples and explanations of various features.