Easy Authentication in Elixir & Phoenix with the pow & pow_assent libraries

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Setting up authentication in new Phoenix web apps

I always enjoy starting new web projects, its a nice clean slate and an opportunity for you to create a solution that's hopefully better designed and engineered than the other projects I've worked on... and there are all sorts of interesting things to think about and research, and there's no technical debt to deal with (yet), and there are no pending deadlines, and so on.

But here's the thing, as soon as I start setting up the new Elixir / Phoenix project, my excitement fades pretty quickly, because, in my mind, project setup should take a matter of minutes, but in reality project setups takes much longer than I expect, because... well, it's not something I do every day, so I always have to shake off the dust, do a bit of research to see if there are any new "best practices", or new libraries I should look at and so on.

So what?

Ok, so why am I talking about this?

Well, because sometimes we make these initial setups harder than they have to be, and I want to look at one particular aspect of setting up a new project, that I suspect many of us do the hard way, I know I have.

The thing I want to look at is handling authentication in a new phoenix project... And I want to consider the question: "how should I handle authentication? roll my own or use a library"

Check out the above screencast to see my take on handling authentication in Elixir / Phoenix web applications.

Spoiler alert

Do you want to know the gist of the screencast?

Even thought it's "easy", you probably shouldn't write your own authentication system, you should just use the excellent pow and pow_assent libraries. I make the case for using these libraries and show you how in just a matter of minutes you can:

  1. Create a new Phoenix project
  2. Setup authentication
  3. Add simple route based authorization
  4. Setup password resets
  5. Setup social logins (ie login with Twitter, Facebook, Github, etc)

If you like pow & pow_assent, please reach out to the primary author, Dan Schultzer and thank him for all his hard work.

Additionally, if you can, please consider sponsoring Dan's open source-work, either personally or through your employer. I believe open source authors are truly underappreciated, but we can change that if we all chip in just a little bit.