Alternative Dropwizard token authentication

Out of the box, the Dropwizard auth module comes with OAuth and Basic Authentication. The documentation for implementing the related Authenticator and Authorizer is simple enough to follow, but there wasn’t much about how to implement an alternative mechanism for authentication, which I needed to do.

It turned out to be fairly fairly straightforward to write a new AuthFilter which used a non standard header for authorisation. I based the implementation on the existing OAuthCredentialAuthFilter filter. I just had to change the getCredentials header to read the header value I wanted to use.

Getting your priorities right

The authentication worked fine. Then I implemented authorisation as well. Remember:

Authentication is the mechanism for identifying the user (e.g. username + password)

Authorisation is the mechanism for determining what they are allowed to do (e.g. role membership)

I created an Authorizer implementation as per the user guide, annotated some resource methods with @RolesAllowed and even remembered to register the RolesAllowedDynamicFeature. However on testing and on running the application, DropWizard appeared to be checking the role membership BEFORE authenticating. Resulting in a 403 access denied, as the roles had not been loaded.

Time for some head scratching, debugging, and trying to register things in different order (no change) until I remembered noticing this line at the top of the AuthFilter I based mine on:


Once I added that to my custom AuthFilter, everything started happening in the correct order.

Today’s lesson: always get your priorities right!

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