Saturday, March 16, 2013

Differentiate generated Access Token & Consumer Key/Consumer Secret in WSO2 APIManager

This blog-post is mainly focus on API subscription process through API-Store  as described in here.
Say there's a hosted WSO2 APIStore instance running in an organization.Once an app developer login to APIStore as an API Subscribe, browse  for available APIs and when he decided to use a set of APIs from his developed external application[eg: mobile/web-based application],he will  add an application to map with his developing app and then he'll subscribe each API to his created application in the APIStore.

When the developer subscribe an API for an application,following three values will be generated on behalf of application.And importantly these three values are generated according to OAuth2 specification.

  • Access Token
The OAuth2 token which can be use to authenticate an API invocation.This token is only for the app developer [unless he shared the tokens with others(eg:3rd party users of his developed mobile app)] to use with API invocations from his developed application.[Note he can use above token only with subscribed APIs against the application through APIStore] 

  • Consumer Key  & Consumer Secret 
The generated consumer key and secret are to use from the client application [developer's app].The usage of these two values is,to authenticate app consumers against underlying consumed APIs from the developed application.For example an application consumer login to the developed mobile app.
Now to continue with app functions [which are exposed through subscribed APIs from the app],the logged app user need to have an access token to use.At this point one option is,app  developer can share his generated application access token with all the app consumers.But this is   not the good approach as it contains some limitations as ,if access token expires,access to the app  will fail among all users,if there's a malicious user as an API consumer,cannot revoke the token only for that user,difficult to differentiate API invocation statistics among API users.Thus best  approach is to keep separate access tokens for each app user.
Here the place consumer key and secret are required.These two values are to use with generating user tokens.App developer can hard-coded these two values in his developed app.Then from WSO2 APIManager,we have exposed an REST endpoint to generate such user-tokens with using consumer key/secret as described here. Thus,the app developer  can invoke this endpoint from his developed app and pass consumer key/secret  to the endpoint by adding  the related  implementation to the developed app.

 Hence in summary,only the above generated access token can be directly use to authenticate API invocations,while other consumer key & secret values are to generate such OAuth2 tokens.

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