Adding Authentication in Rails 6 with Rodauth

In this tutorial, we’ll show how to add fully functional authentication and account management functionality into a Rails 6 app, using the Rodauth authentication framework. Rodauth has many advantages over the mainstream alternatives such as Devise, Sorcery, Clearance, and Authlogic, see my previous article for an introduction.

We’ll be working with a fresh Rails app that has basic posts CRUD and Bootstrap installed:

$ git clone rodauth_blog
$ cd rodauth_blog
$ bin/setup

Installing Rodauth

Let’s start by adding the rodauth-rails gem to our Gemfile:

$ bundle add rodauth-rails

Next, we’ll run the rodauth:install generator provided by rodauth-rails:

$ rails generate rodauth:install

# create  db/migrate/20200820215819_create_rodauth.rb
# create  config/initializers/rodauth.rb
# create  config/initializers/sequel.rb
# create  app/lib/rodauth_app.rb
# create  app/controllers/rodauth_controller.rb
# create  app/models/account.rb

This will create the Rodauth app with default authentication features, configure Sequel which Rodauth uses for database interaction to reuse Active Record’s database connection, and generate a migration that will create tables for the loaded Rodauth features. Let’s run the migration:

$ rails db:migrate

# == CreateRodauth: migrating ====================================
# -- create_table(:accounts)
# -- create_table(:account_password_hashes)
# -- create_table(:account_password_reset_keys)
# -- create_table(:account_verification_keys)
# -- create_table(:account_login_change_keys)
# -- create_table(:account_remember_keys)
# == CreateRodauth: migrated ===========================

If everything was installed successfully, we should be able to open the /create-account page and see Rodauth’s default registration form.

Rodauth create account page

Rodauth configuration generated by rodauth-rails provides several routes for authentication and account management:

$ rails rodauth:routes

# /login                   rodauth.login_path
# /create-account          rodauth.create_account_path
# /verify-account-resend   rodauth.verify_account_resend_path
# /verify-account          rodauth.verify_account_path
# /logout                  rodauth.logout_path
# /remember                rodauth.remember_path
# /reset-password-request  rodauth.reset_password_request_path
# /reset-password          rodauth.reset_password_path
# /change-password         rodauth.change_password_path
# /change-login            rodauth.change_login_path
# /verify-login-change     rodauth.verify_login_change_path
# /close-account           rodauth.close_account_path

Let’s use this information to add some main authentication links to our navigation header:

<!-- app/views/application/_navbar.html.erb -->
<!-- ... --->
<% if rodauth.logged_in? %>
  <div class="dropdown">
    <%= link_to, "#", class: "btn btn-info dropdown-toggle", data: { toggle: "dropdown" } %>
    <div class="dropdown-menu dropdown-menu-right">
      <%= link_to "Change password", rodauth.change_password_path, class: "dropdown-item" %>
      <%= link_to "Change email", rodauth.change_login_path, class: "dropdown-item" %>
      <div class="dropdown-divider"></div>
      <%= link_to "Close account", rodauth.close_account_path, class: "dropdown-item text-danger" %>
      <%= link_to "Sign out", rodauth.logout_path, method: :post, class: "dropdown-item" %>
<% else %>
    <%= link_to "Sign in", rodauth.login_path, class: "btn btn-outline-primary" %>
    <%= link_to "Sign up", rodauth.create_account_path, class: "btn btn-success" %>
<% end %>
<!-- ... --->

Rodauth doesn’t define the #current_account method, so let’s copy-paste the example provided in the rodauth-rails README:

# app/controllers/application_controller.rb
class ApplicationController < ActionController::Base
  before_action :current_account, if: -> { rodauth.logged_in? }


  def current_account
    @current_account ||= Account.find(rodauth.session_value)
  rescue ActiveRecord::RecordNotFound
  helper_method :current_account

Now our application will show login and registration links when the user is not logged in:

Rodauth login and registration links

While logged in users will see some basic account management links:

Rodauth account management links

Requiring authentication

Now that we have working authentication, we’ll likely want to require the user to be authenticated for certain parts of our application. In our case, we want to authenticate the posts controller.

We could add a before_action callback to the controller, but Rodauth allows us to do this inside the Rodauth app’s route block, which is called before each Rails route. This way we can keep our authentication logic contained in a single place.

# app/lib/rodauth_app.rb
class RodauthApp < Rodauth::Rails::App
  # ...
  route do |r|
    # ...
    if r.path.start_with?("/posts")

Now visiting the /posts page will redirect the user to the /login page if they’re not logged in.

Rodauth login required

We’ll also want to associate the posts to the accounts table:

$ rails generate migration add_account_id_to_posts account:references
$ rails db:migrate
# app/models/account.rb
class Account < ApplicationRecord
  has_many :posts
  # ...

And scope them to the current account in the posts controller:

# app/controllers/posts_controller.rb
class PostsController < ApplicationController
  # ...
  def index
    @posts = current_account.posts.all
  # ...
  def create
    @post =
    # ...
  # ...
    def set_post
      @post = current_account.posts.find(params[:id])
    # ...

Adding new fields

To have something other than an email address to display our users, let’s require users to enter their name during registration. This will also give us an opportunity to see how Rodauth can be configured.

Since we’ll need to edit the registration form, let’s first copy Rodauth’s HTML templates into our Rails application:

$ rails generate rodauth:views

# create  app/views/rodauth/_field.html.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth/_field_error.html.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth/_login_field.html.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth/_login_display.html.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth/_password_field.html.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth/_submit.html.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth/_login_form.html.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth/_login_form_footer.html.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth/_login_form_header.html.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth/login.html.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth/multi_phase_login.html.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth/logout.html.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth/_login_confirm_field.html.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth/_password_confirm_field.html.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth/create_account.html.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth/_login_hidden_field.html.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth/verify_account_resend.html.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth/verify_account.html.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth/reset_password_request.html.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth/reset_password.html.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth/_new_password_field.html.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth/change_password.html.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth/change_login.html.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth/close_account.html.erb

We can now open the create_account.erb template and add a new name field:

<!-- app/views/rodauth/create_account.erb -->
<%= form_tag rodauth.create_account_path, method: :post do %>
  <!-- new "name" field -->
  <div class="form-group">
    <%= label_tag "name", "Name" %>
    <%= render "field", name: "name", id: "name" %>

  <%= render "login_field" %>
  <%= render "login_confirm_field" if rodauth.require_login_confirmation? %>
  <%= render "password_field" if rodauth.create_account_set_password? %>
  <%= render "password_confirm_field" if rodauth.create_account_set_password? && rodauth.require_password_confirmation? %>
  <%= render "submit", value: "Create Account" %>
<% end %>

Since the user’s name won’t be used for authentication, let’s store it in a new profiles table, and associate the profiles table to the accounts table.

$ rails generate model Profile account:references name:string
$ rails db:migrate
# app/models/account.rb
class Account < ApplicationRecord
  has_one :profile
  # ...

We now need our Rodauth app to actually handle the new name parameter. We’ll validate that it’s filled in and create the associated profile record after the account is created.

# app/lib/rodauth_app.rb
class RodauthApp < Rodauth::Rails::App
  configure do
    # ...
    before_create_account do
      # Validate presence of the name field
      throw_error_status(422, "name", "must be present") unless param_or_nil("name")
    after_create_account do
      # Create the associated profile record with name
      Profile.create!(account_id: account_id, name: param("name"))
    after_close_account do
      # Delete the associated profile record
      Profile.find_by!(account_id: account_id).destroy
    # ...

Now we can update our navigation header to use the user’s name instead of their email address:

-     <%= link_to, "#", class: "btn btn-info dropdown-toggle", data: { toggle: "dropdown" } %>
+     <%= link_to, "#", class: "btn btn-info dropdown-toggle", data: { toggle: "dropdown" } %>

Displayed new account name

Sending emails asynchronously

Rodauth will send emails as part of account verification, email change, password change, and password reset. By default, these emails will be sent synchronously via an internal mailer, but for performance reasons we should send these emails asynchronously inside a background job.

Since we’ll want to modify Rodauth’s default email templates eventually, let’s create our own mailer with the default templates:

$ rails generate rodauth:mailer

# create  app/mailers/rodauth_mailer.rb
# create  app/views/rodauth_mailer/email_auth.text.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth_mailer/password_changed.text.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth_mailer/reset_password.text.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth_mailer/unlock_account.text.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth_mailer/verify_account.text.erb
# create  app/views/rodauth_mailer/verify_login_change.text.erb
class RodauthMailer < ApplicationMailer
  def verify_account(recipient, email_link)
    # ...
  def reset_password(recipient, email_link)
    # ...
  def verify_login_change(recipient, old_login, new_login, email_link)
    # ...
  def password_changed(recipient)
    # ...

Now, to have our mailer automatically called by Rodauth and to deliver emails in the background, let’s uncomment the following lines in our Rodauth app:

# app/lib/rodauth_app.rb
class RodauthApp < Rodauth::Rails::App
  configure do
    # ...
    create_reset_password_email do
      RodauthMailer.reset_password(email_to, reset_password_email_link)
    create_verify_account_email do
      RodauthMailer.verify_account(email_to, verify_account_email_link)
    create_verify_login_change_email do |login|
      RodauthMailer.verify_login_change(login, verify_login_change_old_login, verify_login_change_new_login, verify_login_change_email_link)
    create_password_changed_email do
    send_email do |email|
      db.after_commit { email.deliver_later }
    # ...

We enqueue the email deliveries after the database transaction commits, to ensure that any database changes made before Rodauth called into our mailer have been applied when the background job is picked up.

Closing words

In this tutorial we’ve gradually built out a complete authentication and account management flow using the Rodauth authentication framework. It supports login & logout, account creation with email verification and a grace period, password change & password reset, email change with email verification, and close account functionality. We’ve seen how to require authentication for certain routes, add new fields to the registration form, and send authentication emails asynchrously.

I’m personally very excited about Rodauth, as it has an impressive featureset and a refreshingly clean design, and also it’s not tied to Rails. I’ve been working hard on rodauth-rails to make it as easy as possible to get started with in Rails, so hopefully it will help Rodauth gain more traction in the Rails community.

Janko Marohnić

Janko Marohnić

Ruby-off-Rails evangelist, Roda & Sequel fan, Rails critic, author of Shrine, test.vim and numerous other open source libraries.

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