Postman is a pretty neat tool that gives you a very nice way develop, document and test APIs.

In my day job I’ve been using this to develop some pretty extensive GraphQL based micro service APIs, document them, and share them with scientists around the world. Postman made this really easy, so I’ve started putting together a similar collection to demonstrate the Known API.

It’s early days right now, but it demonstrates the basics, such as:

  • Getting a feed
  • Getting post types available
  • Getting logged in user details
  • Creating a Status, Photo upload and blog post
  • Getting the syndication options available for each type

All of these APIs are authenticated against the OAuth2 Server that’s built in to Known, and Postman will happily manage this exchange for you once you’ve set up your local environment.

You should be able to use these calls to build your own clients, and indeed, it’s these API calls that my Known IOS client makes use of.

Anyway, take a look!

» Visit the project on Github...

I’ve previously written about how Known has built in support for OAuth2 and Open ID connect (both as a client and as a server). Well, over the past few weeks I’ve been doing some work to make this even more useful.

So, I thought I’d quickly jot down some notes as to what you can do with this functionality, and why you might find it cool.

Turn your Known site into an identity provider

The first thing you can do is use the OAuth2 server built in to Known to turn your site into an identity provider.

This means you will be able to create “apps”, allowing users on your site to be able to use third party applications and apps to make authenticated API calls.

It also means you can easily create a “login with” button, allowing your users to log into other sites using their Known profile on your site.

Connect your Known site to an identity provider

The next thing you can do is connect your site to another third party IDP using OAuth2, and allow those users to log in to your site.

This third party IDP could be your organisation’s single sign on service, a third party one, or another Known site.

If the IDP you’re connecting to supports OpenID connect, you can also enable the Federation feature.

What this does is let users with a valid OpenID Token retrieved from the IDP to make authenticated API calls on any Known sites that share that IDP, regardless of whether the user has used that site before.

Primarily, this functionality is designed for a modern micro service architecture world – so for example, you might have a React front end that needs to talk to one or more data sources over GraphQL, including getting blog data from a Known site. All of these services live in different containers, in distributed locations, with different local databases.

But…

Federation…

Something I’ve been pondering recently is whether this functionality might be able to let you do something pretty neat.

Consider, a Known site can be both a client and a server, and both issue and receive public key signed and verifiable OpenID Connect tokens for their users.

Each token knows where it comes from and can state who issued it.

This raises the possibility of being able to establish reciprocal links between sites – each Known (or other site – it’s an open protocol after all) could be both a client and server of each other.

With a bit of UX massaging, this could potentially let the users of each of these sites flow between each site in the network, and getting all the functionality of the local users.

Sure I’m not the first to be thinking this way, but it’s something to play with, and certainly will work a lot more seamlessly than the previously mooted PGP signed login (although I still think that’s pretty cool).

Just a quick one, you’ve been coding up your REST api, and are trying to use a Bearer authorization token (as obtained from an OAuth2 handshake), and it’s just not working.

If you send your access token as a GET or POST value things work fine however.

You point your head at httpbin.org and to see what your client is sending, and low and behold, the bearer token is present and correct.

You scratch your head and dump the contents of $_SERVER to a log, and to your surprise, nothing. No Authorization header is present!

To save you many a frustrating hour, here’s the answer. Turns out that Apache will strip any authorisation header it doesn’t recognise, which is basically anything that’s not basic auth.

So, you need to put it back in yourself. Do so by putting the following into your .htaccess