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Authorizing users and authenticating with Flow

Read, write, and admin capabilities over Flow catalogs and the collections that comprise them are granted to Flow users through capabilities.

Capabilities are granted in terms of prefixes within the Flow namespace. By default, each organization has a unique top-level prefix. For example, if you worked for Acme Co, your assigned organization prefix would be acmeCo/. You may further divide your namespace however you'd like; for example acmeCo/anvils and acmeCo/roadrunners. When you name a collection, you can customize the prefix, and capabilities can be configured at any prefix level. This allows you to flexibly control access to your Flow data.

The available capabilities are:

  • read: Allows the subject to read data from collections of the given prefix.

  • write: Allows the subject to read and write data from collections of the given prefix.

  • admin: Allows the subject to read and write data from collections of the given prefix, and to manage storage mappings, catalog specifications, and capability grants within the prefix. The admin capability also inherits capabilities granted to the prefix, as discussed below.

Subjects, objects, and inherited capabilities

The entity to which you grant a capability is called the subject, and the entity over which access is granted is called the object. The subject can be either a user or a prefix, and the object is always a prefix. This allows subjects to inherit nested capabilities, so long as they are granted admin.

For example, user X of Acme Co has admin access to the acmeCo/ prefix, and user Y has write access. A third party has granted acmeCo/ read access to shared data at outside-org/acmeCo-share/. User X automatically inherits read access to outside-org/acmeCo-share/, but user Y does not.

Default authorization settings

When you first sign up to use Flow, your organization is provisioned a prefix, and your username is granted admin access to the prefix. Your prefix is granted write access to itself and read access to its logs, which are stored under a unique sub-prefix of the global ops/ prefix.

Using the same example, say user X signs up on behalf of their company, AcmeCo. User X is automatically granted admin access to the acmeCo/ prefix. acmeCo/, in turn, has write access to acmeCo/ and read access to ops/acmeCo/.

As more users and prefixes are added, admins can provision capabilities using the CLI.

Authenticating Flow in the web app

You must sign in to begin a new session using the Flow web application. For the duration of the session, you'll be able to perform actions depending on the capabilities granted to the user profile.

You can view the capabilities currently provisioned in your organization on the Admin tab.

Authenticating Flow using the CLI

You can use the flowctl CLI to work with your organization's catalogs and drafts in your local development environment.

To authenticate a local development session using the CLI, do the following:

  1. Sign into the Flow web application.

  2. Click the Admin tab, scroll to the Access Token box, and copy the token.

  3. In the terminal of your local development environment, run:

    flowctl auth token --token=<copied-token>

The token will expire after a predetermined duration. Generate a new token using the web application and re-authenticate.

Provisioning capabilities

As an admin, you can provision capabilities using the CLI with the subcommands of flowctl auth roles.

For example:

  • flowctl auth roles list returns a list of all currently provisioned capabilities

  • flowctl auth roles grant --object-role=acmeCo/ --capability=admin --subject-user-id=userZ grants user Z admin access to acmeCo

  • flowctl auth roles revoke --object-role=outside-org/acmeCo-share/ --capability=read --subject-role=acmeCo/ would be used by an admin of outside-org to revoke acmeCo/'s read access to outside-org/acmeCo-share/.

You can find detailed help for all subcommands using the --help or -h flag.