Access Control (Authorization)

Authorization determines whether a user has sufficient privileges, for example, to access a specific resource or to perform an action. Authorization assumes previous successful authentication, ie that the user is logged in.

Installation and requirements

In the examples, we will use an object of class Nette\Security\User, which represents the current user and which you get by passing it using dependency injection. In presenters simply call $user = $this->getUser().

For very simple websites with administration, where user rights are not distinguished, it is possible to use the already known method as an authorization criterion isLoggedIn(). In other words: once a user is logged in, he has permissions to all actions and vice versa.

if ($user->isLoggedIn()) { // is user logged in?
	deleteItem(); // if so, he may delete an item


The purpose of roles is to offer a more precise permission management and remain independent on the user name. As soon as user logs in, he is assigned one or more roles. Roles themselves may be simple strings, for example, admin, member, guest, etc. They are specified in the second argument of SimpleIdentity constructor, either as a string or an array.

As an authorization criterion, we will now use the method isInRole(), which checks whether the user is in the given role:

if ($user->isInRole('admin')) { // is the admin role assigned to the user?
	deleteItem(); // if so, he may delete an item

As you already know, logging the user out does not erase his identity. Thus, method getIdentity() still returns object SimpleIdentity, including all granted roles. The Nette Framework adheres to the principle of “less code, more security”, so when you are checking roles, you do not have to check whether the user is logged in too. Method isInRole() works with effective roles, ie if the user is logged in, roles assigned to identity are used, if he is not logged in, an automatic special role guest is used instead.


In addition to roles, we will introduce the terms resource and operation:

  • role is a user attribute – for example moderator, editor, visitor, registered user, administrator, …
  • resource is a logical unit of the application – article, page, user, menu item, poll, presenter, …
  • operation is a specific activity, which user may or may not do with resource – view, edit, delete, vote, …

An authorizer is an object that decides whether a given role has permission to perform a certain operation with specific resource. It is an object implementing the Nette\Security\Authorizator interface with only one method isAllowed():

class MyAuthorizator implements Nette\Security\Authorizator
	public function isAllowed($role, $resource, $operation): bool
		if ($role === 'admin') {
			return true;
		if ($role === 'user' && $resource === 'article') {
			return true;

		// ...

		return false;

We add the authorizator to the configuration as a service of the DI container:

	- MyAuthorizator

And the following is an example of use. Note that this time we call the method Nette\Security\User::isAllowed(), not the authorizator's one, so there is not first parameter $role. This method calls MyAuthorizator::isAllowed() sequentially for all user roles and returns true if at least one of them has permission.

if ($user->isAllowed('file')) { // is user allowed to do everything with resource 'file'?

if ($user->isAllowed('file', 'delete')) { // is user allowed to delete a resource 'file'?

Both arguments are optional and their default value means everything.

Permission ACL

Nette comes with a built-in implementation of the authorizer, the Nette\Security\Permission class, which offers a lightweight and flexible ACL (Access Control List) layer for permission and access control. When we work with this class, we define roles, resources, and individual permissions. And roles and resources may form hierarchies. To explain, we will show an example of a web application:

  • guest: visitor that is not logged in, allowed to read and browse public part of the web, ie. read articles, comment and vote in polls
  • registered: logged-in user, which may on top of that post comments
  • admin: can manage articles, comments and polls

So we have defined certain roles (guest, registered and admin) and mentioned resources (article, comments, poll), which the users may access or take actions on (view, vote, add, edit).

We create an instance of the Permission class and define roles. It is possible to use the inheritance of roles, which ensures that, for example, a user with a role admin can do what an ordinary website visitor can do (and of course more).

$acl = new Nette\Security\Permission;

$acl->addRole('registered', 'guest'); // 'registered' inherits from 'guest'
$acl->addRole('admin', 'registered'); // and 'admin' inherits from 'registered'

We will now define a list of resources that users can access:


Resources can also use inheritance, for example, we can add $acl->addResource('perex', 'article').

And now the most important thing. We will define between them rules determining who can do what:

// everything is denied now

// let the guest view articles, comments and polls
$acl->allow('guest', ['article', 'comment', 'poll'], 'view');
// and also vote in polls
$acl->allow('guest', 'poll', 'vote');

// the registered inherits the permissions from guesta, we will also let him to comment
$acl->allow('registered', 'comment', 'add');

// the administrator can view and edit anything
$acl->allow('admin', $acl::All, ['view', 'edit', 'add']);

What if we want to prevent someone from accessing a resource?

// administrator cannot edit polls, that would be undemocractic.
$acl->deny('admin', 'poll', 'edit');

Now when we have created the set of rules, we may simply ask the authorization queries:

// can guest view articles?
$acl->isAllowed('guest', 'article', 'view'); // true

// can guest edit an article?
$acl->isAllowed('guest', 'article', 'edit'); // false

// can guest vote in polls?
$acl->isAllowed('guest', 'poll', 'vote'); // true

// may guest add comments?
$acl->isAllowed('guest', 'comment', 'add'); // false

The same applies to a registered user, but he can also comment:

$acl->isAllowed('registered', 'article', 'view'); // true
$acl->isAllowed('registered', 'comment', 'add'); // true
$acl->isAllowed('registered', 'comment', 'edit'); // false

The administrator can edit everything except polls:

$acl->isAllowed('admin', 'poll', 'vote'); // true
$acl->isAllowed('admin', 'poll', 'edit'); // false
$acl->isAllowed('admin', 'comment', 'edit'); // true

Permissions can also be evaluated dynamically and we can leave the decision to our own callback, to which all parameters are passed:

$assertion = function (Permission $acl, string $role, string $resource, string $privilege): bool {
	return /* ... */;

$acl->allow('registered', 'comment', null, $assertion);

But how to solve a situation where the names of roles and resources are not enough, ie we would like to define that, for example, a role registered can edit a resource article only if it is its author? We will use objects instead of strings, the role will be the object Nette\Security\Role and the source Nette\Security\Resource. Their methods getRoleId() resp. getResourceId() will return the original strings:

class Registered implements Nette\Security\Role
	public $id;

	public function getRoleId(): string
		return 'registered';

class Article implements Nette\Security\Resource
	public $authorId;

	public function getResourceId(): string
		return 'article';

And now let's create a rule:

$assertion = function (Permission $acl, string $role, string $resource, string $privilege): bool {
	$role = $acl->getQueriedRole(); // object Registered
	$resource = $acl->getQueriedResource(); // object Article
	return $role->id === $resource->authorId;

$acl->allow('registered', 'article', 'edit', $assertion);

The ACL is queried by passing objects:

$user = new Registered(/* ... */);
$article = new Article(/* ... */);
$acl->isAllowed($user, $article, 'edit');

A role may inherit form one or more other roles. But what happens, if one ancestor has certain action allowed and the other one has it denied? Then the role weight comes into play – the last role in the array of roles to inherit has the greatest weight, first one the lowest:

$acl = new Nette\Security\Permission;


$acl->allow('admin', 'backend');
$acl->deny('guest', 'backend');

// example A: role admin has lower weight than role guest
$acl->addRole('john', ['admin', 'guest']);
$acl->isAllowed('john', 'backend'); // false

// example B: role admin has greater weight than role guest
$acl->addRole('mary', ['guest', 'admin']);
$acl->isAllowed('mary', 'backend'); // true

Roles and resources can also be removed (removeRole(), removeResource()), rules can also be reverted (removeAllow(), removeDeny()). The array of all direct parent roles returns getRoleParents(). Whether two entities inherit from each other returns roleInheritsFrom() and resourceInheritsFrom().

Add as a Service

We need to add the ACL created by us to the configuration as a service so that it can be used by the object $user, ie so that we can use in code for example $user->isAllowed('article', 'view'). For this purpose, we will write a factory for it:

namespace App\Model;

class AuthorizatorFactory
	public static function create(): Nette\Security\Permission
		$acl = new Nette\Security\Permission;
		$acl->addRole(/* ... */);
		$acl->addResource(/* ... */);
		$acl->allow(/* ... */);
		return $acl;

And we will add it to the configuration:

	- App\Model\AuthorizatorFactory::create

In presenters, you can then verify permissions in the startup() method, for example:

protected function startup()
	if (!$this->getUser()->isAllowed('backend')) {
		$this->error('Forbidden', 403);
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