jhericks jhericks - 3 months ago 25
Ajax Question

What's the best way to use HTTP Authentication in an Ajax Application that's not 100% AJAX

I have a standard HTML login page, which I would much rather use than the standard HTTP authentication pop-up provided by browsers. Today, I am using session cookies to keep track of the session after logging in, but I'd like to be stateless and pass the HTTP authentication every time. The web services I am hitting already support this, so this is a browser-only issue.

Adding authentication credentials is trivial in jQuery, but I don't know how to keep them around. If you go from the login page (a jsp) to the Home page (another jsp) you clearly don't keep the username and password fields from the login page. I know some browsers will store your HTTP authentication credentials if you enter them from the pop-up, but I don't know if they get stored when using an XHRRequest. If they do, is there much consistency among browsers?

Also, the user needs to be able to "sign out" of the application, too. If the browser stores the authentication credentials, is there a way to clear them using JavaScript.

I feel like I can't be the first person to try to solve this. Is there some jQuery plugin or something that already handles this? Or is it simply not possible to do what I'm trying to do?

Answer Source


The answer below was posted in 2012 and the links are mostly dead. However, since then, a more elegant standards-based approach to the same solution appeared using JSON Web Tokens. Here is a good blog post explaining how to use them.

Most answers miss the point, which is to avoid having any server-side session. I don't want any application state in the server. I'll award the bounty to answer that came closest, but the real credit goes to the rest-discuss group and Jon Moore for the correct answer and to Mike Amundsen for helping me to actually understand it.

The best answer I've gotten is to use a cookie, but not the typical automatic session id cookie given to you by most application servers. The cookie (which will automatically be sent with each subsequent request) is a user identifier and time signed by the server. You can include an expiration time with the cookie so it simulates the typical 30 minute session on a server (which means you have to push it forward with subsequent requests) as well as keeps the same cookie from being valid forever.

The XHR/AJAX part is a red herring. This will work whether you are doing XHR requests or an old-fashioned page-by-page web application. The main points are:

  • The cookie is automatically sent on subsequent requests so there's no special scripting required - it's just how browsers work already.
  • The server does not need to store any session for the user, so the user can hit any server in a cluster and not have to re-authenticate.
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