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In order to better understand example please read how it works document first.

Lets create a simple access control system that is responsible of permissions application for articles.

Access control rules we want to implement:

  • Anonymous user can read only published articles.
  • Only logged-in user can create, edit, delete, publish articles

Defining access query params


Based on the rules we've found that there are only 2 actors that system has to handle:

  • logged-in user - represented by logged-in string
  • anonymous user - or in other words not logged-in user - represented by built-in Anonymous principal

Lets represent them in the code

import {Principal as _Principal} from '@pallad/access-control';

export type Principal = 'logged-in' | _Principal.Anonymous // Anonymous is already defined in @pallad/access-control

Obtaining principal

Principal is a person or something else that interacts with the system.

Anonymous user is the one that we usually know nothing about.

logged-in user is a person that can authenticate itself. Usually it happens through login form. Once user is logged then we set a cookie in the browser, return JWT token or use any other kind of mechanism to provide a way to authenticate further access to the system.

In order to identify that user is logged in we need to ask authentication system whether request is authenticated. The security of entire access control system relies on this particular point the most. Once authentication system is insecure your entire access control becomes insecure also.

For sake of tutorial here is simplified way to obtain principal for access control. In real-life application you will need more sophisticated methods to obtain principals.

import {BasicPrincipal} from '@pallad/access-control';
import {Principal} from './AccessQueryElements.ts';

function getPrincipalFromRequest(req: express.Request): Principal {
// Just for tutorial purposes!
// Obviously very insecure way to identify principal
// Never use it in real life application
if (req.headers.authorization === 'itsme') {
return 'logged-in';
return BasicPrincipal.Anonymous.INSTANCE;


Action is just a string that indicates actions possible in our access control system.

export type Action = 'read' | 'read-draft' | 'create' | 'update' | 'delete' | 'publish';


Subject defines possible subjects on which we want to perform actions. Since we're handling only articles then one entry in union type is needed.

export type Subject = 'article';

Defining policies

From previous chapter we know that Policy is a function that gets AccessQuery object as an argument and based on it makes a vote.

Let's define AccessControl object so we can register policies in it.

import {AccessControl} from '@pallad/access-control';
import {Principal, Action, Subject} from './AccessQueryElements';

export const accessControl = new AccessControl<Principal, Action, Subject>(); // uses types defined above

Now we can register our policy. This one will handle only anonymous users and allows only for read action on subject article

import {Principal as _Principal} from '@pallad/access-control';
.registerPolicy(({action, subject, principal}) => {
if ( {
return action === 'read' && subject === 'article';

Time to take care of logged in users.

import {Action} from './AccessQueryElements';
const allowedActionsForArticle = new Set<Action>([

.registerPolicy(({action, subject, principal}) => {
if (principal === 'logged-in') {
return allowedActionsForArticle.has(action) && subject === 'article';

Note that we've defined set of allowed actions for articles and test whether action is defined in the Set of actions for article.

This is a good idea to prevent accidentally allowing actions that might be added in the future but should not be necessarily available for subject of articles. There is better way to handle that with @pallad/access-control but for sake of tutorial it is easier to understand it that way.


The simplest way to use access control is to call it directly:

if (
await accessControl.isAllowed({
action: 'read',
subject: 'article',
principal: principal
) {
// access allowed
} else {
// access denied

Or throwing AccessDeniedError automatically when access is denied

await accessControl.assertIsAllowed({
action: 'read',
subject: 'article',
principal: principal

Usage with express

Just call it from middleware

import wrapAsync = require('express-async-handler');
app.use('/articles', asyncWrapp(async(req, res) => {
await accessControl.assertIsAllowed({
action: 'read',
subject: 'article',
principal: principal
// return list of articles

Another way is to create middleware factory that asserts permissions and allows another middlewares to handle rest of the logic of the endpoint.

import {Action, Subject} from "./AccessQueryElements";

function requireAccess(action: Action, subject: Subject): express.RequestHandler {
return (req, res, next) => {
principal: getPrincipalFromRequest(req)
.then(() => {
}, next);
requireAccess('create', 'article'),
(req, res) => {
// you can safely handle article creation

Usage with Service Layer

Service Layer is a pretty well known in IT an architectural pattern. You can read about it more:

Controlling access in service layer is very easy and recommended way.

All we need to do is to pass principal to every service method that is suppose to perform some access control checks. Service should be able to define rest of access query parameters like action and subject

export class ArticleService {
constructor(private accessControl: OurAccessControl, private articleRepository: ArticleRepository) {

async findAll(principal: Principal) {
// throws an error once access is denied
await this.accessControl.assertIsAllowed({
action: 'read',
subject: 'article',

// does not throw an error, just checks whether access is allowed
const canReadDraft = await this.accessControl.isAllowed({
action: 'read-draft',
subject: 'article',

return this.articleRepository.findAll({
onlyPublished: !canReadDraft

async create(principal: Principal, input: Article.Input) {
await this.accessControl.assertIsAllowed({
action: 'create',
subject: 'article'

return this.articleRepository.create(input);