Add Basic Auth to Phoenix with Environment Variables

There are some situations where you want to block access to an environment such as when you're just staging a project.  

For this particular case, using a custom Basic Auth Plug that's conditional on environment variables may be all you need.

Let's get started by create a custom plug and then "plug" it into our system.

It's assumed that you want to restrict access to the entire application in a staging environment.

Basic Auth Plug

First create WEB/controllers/basic_auth.ex with this content:

(Remember to update MyAppWeb)

Configuration

Next, let's add some simple configuration to config/config.ex:

You can also use environment variables to keep these values out of your repo, but for this simple set up, let's just keep it as is.

Router Conditional

Open WEB/router.ex and add the plug to a pipeline:

This will check for the value of APP_DOMAIN and conditionally pipe the connection through the custom plug.

NOTE: Don't forget to actually set APP_DOMAIN in your staging environment.

Test Locally

You can optionally test the new Plug out by passing the environment variable's expected value when you start up the Phoenix server:

$ APP_DOMAIN=staging.myapp.com mix -S phx.server

Then you should see the basic auth prompt to enter the credentials.

Wrap up

This was a very simple strategy for restricting access to a staging environment without adding any dependencies.  

This can be expanding and improved upon in many ways but should serve as a basic starting point.

Troy Martin
Senior Engineer working with Elixir and JS.
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