JSONWebToken for Pharo


thanks to the inquiry of Sven I published an implementation of JSONWebToken to smalltalkhub. It is available at

http://smalltalkhub.com/#!/~NorbertHartl/JSONWebToken <http://smalltalkhub.com/#!/~NorbertHartl/JSONWebToken>

For those who don't know JSONWebToken or short JWT pronounced "jot" is a token format suitable for authentication and authorization. The token consist of a header, a payload and a signature. The header defines crypto algorithms, compression and other things needed to read a token on reception. The payload is called a claim set which is basically a dictionary with well-known and custom keys. If we think about OAuth or OpenId the values contained map directly to JWT claims. For OpenID connect which is an identification mechanism on top of OAuth the usage of JWT is one of the building blocks. 

What are the advantages in using JWT?

- it defines a header for encoding the content so it is quite flexible in the ways compression and encryption of the key is done
- defines a payload which maps arbitrary keys and there is a set of well-known keys that implementations of OAuth, OpenID can understand
- defines a signature that makes it easy to trust the information contained or to give the token to someone who is not trusted
- token format is a single line string so it can be used e.g. in HTTP authentication headers

A problem JWT can solve:

In our company we have a lot of little REST servers serving some duties. To minimize the chaos I want to have a central authentication and authorization point. If we assume having 20 images running and we look at typical way how authorization works:

there is image A (Authentication), image S (Service) und client C. Client C wants to use the service S

1. client C authenticates and retrieves authorization information from A (or from S which redirects him to A)
2. client C hands out the authorization information to S
3. S needs to check at A if the information is valid (client C could have modified it or generated it)
4. S grants C access

Taking the assumption of having 20 service images, every image would need to get back to A in order to check authorization information. The more services images you have the more load it will put on A. In a JWT use case scenario the same would look like

1. client C authenticates and receives a JWT containing authorization information. The token is signed by A
2. client C hands out JWT to service S
3. S checks the signature of A and knows that the authorization information contained is valid. 
4. S grants C access



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