Using OAuth to connect with Github using Node.js

I am working on a rewrite of markdown writer, my playground for working with backbone.js and HTML5 offline capabilities. There are a few new features which I am building in to what is currently a very basic app.

One of them is enabling you to log in using Github and save your offline articles to a Gist. To do this I have had to connect with Github using OAuth2.

Create a Github Application

Github Application Settings

You can set up a Github application by clicking on the Register new application button on your applications settings page.

EveryAuth and Express

I researched several options for implementing OAuth and eventually settled on using EveryAuth because it integrates well in to ExpressJs which is what I am using as a platform to run this application.

Github Application Page

There has been a lot to understand as I haven’t looked at OAuth before, but I found Github’s developer guide a good place to start. I’m not going to go in to the specifics now but here are the key ingredients to integrating with express.

Require and Set up everyauth

var everyauth = require('everyauth')
;

everyauth.debug = true;
everyauth.github
  .appId("APP_ID")
  .appSecret("APP_SECRET")
  .entryPath('/auth/github')
  .callbackPath('/auth/github/callback')
  .scope('gist')
  .findOrCreateUser( function (sess, accessToken, accessTokenExtra, ghUser) {
      // user functionality
  })
  .redirectPath('/');

Include the middleware

// Configuration
app.configure(function(){
    ...

    app.use(express.session({ secret: 'your secret here' }));
    app.use(everyauth.middleware());

    ...
});

Local Development on OSX Mountain Lion

Enable Application

I hit a wall when I had authorised the app on Github and it sent the code back to the callback url specified on the Applications page. You can specify redirect_uri parameter but as the spec points out, you are limited to redirecting to urls on the same domain (or https/http unlike the usual same domain policy).

CALLBACK: http://foo.com

GOOD: https://foo.com
GOOD: http://foo.com/bar
BAD:  http://foo.com:8080
BAD:  http://oauth.foo.com:8080
BAD:  http://bar.com

If you try the error you get looks something like this: http://markdown-writer.herokuapp.com/auth/github/callback?error=redirect_uri_mismatch.

I updated the callback url within the application on Github to use localhost:3001 (also using the port I am running my node process on). This seems to do the trick for now but once this goes live this setting will need to stay pointing at the live site I expect.

Reverse Proxy

The solution on my machine was to set up a reverse proxy through Apache. I can temporarily map the live url to my local machine and point it at my local running node.js application.

NB Enable Virtual Hosts for recent Mountain Lion updated macs

If you have recently updated to Mountain Lion you might need to re-enable the vhosts Include on line #477 of your /private/etc/apache2/httpd.conf

# Virtual hosts
Include /private/etc/apache2/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf

Add a new VirtualHost config

As pointed out in this useful article your apache needs to to have the mod_proxy, and mod_proxy_http modules loaded. If you are using Mountain Lion these are loaded ☺ and you should be able to just continue.

Add a similar VirtualHost config to your httpd-vhosts.conf file

<VirtualHost *:80>
    ServerAdmin dave@the-taylors.org
    ServerName markdown-writer.herokuapp.com
    ServerAlias markdown-writer.herokuapp.com

    ProxyRequests off

    <Proxy *>
        Order deny,allow
        Allow from all
    </Proxy>

    <Location />
        ProxyPass http://localhost:3000/
        ProxyPassReverse http://localhost:3000/
    </Location>
</VirtualHost>

Restart Apache

Do a restart of your local Apache server (requires to be run as root)

$ sudo apachectl restart

Update Hosts file

Edit your /etc/hosts file and point your live url to your local machine.

127.0.0.1       markdown-writer.herokuapp.com

Test Application

And then as long as your local node app is running you should be able to visit the url specified in the VirtualHost config.

Still a Work in Progress

I’m still working on this so I’ll try and post further steps once I have sussed out the full journey. It’s exciting how accessible it is to be able to achieve something like this.

Please, please, please let me know if there is an easier way of doing this!

Work with me

Dave is a cohesive team member, widely popular with his colleagues and always inspiring quality, exploration and innovation. One of the true ‘greats’ we’ve had the pleasure to work with

I believe in community, in inspiration and creativity. I believe it's an inspired team and a laser focus on the user's experiece that will produce the best results. I want to help frontend teams live inspired, be productive and scale better.