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Roles (RBAC) and Permissions

RBAC, short for role based access control, is a method where you assign each user a role. You can then determine what they have access to based on their role.

By default, PropelAuth provides you with three roles:

  • Owner
  • Admin
  • Member

Importantly, these roles apply only within the context of an organization. One of your users can be an Owner of organization A and a Member of organization B. Those roles dictate permissions within the organization - not globally.

Can I change the default roles?

Yes. In your dashboard, under Roles and Permissions, you can create roles that make sense for your product.

custom roles

How do users get assigned roles?

PropelAuth enables your end users to manage their own roles via their org management hosted page.

org management page

You can also manage your users roles yourself in the PropelAuth dashboard or via our APIs.

What can I do with roles?

PropelAuth's libraries treat these roles as a first-class concept on both the frontend and backend. You can then easily:

  • Reject an HTTP request if the user is not at least an Admin in this organization
  • Conditionally render the frontend based on the user's role in an organization
  • Limit who can send organization invitations based on their role

What are permissions?

Permissions are arbitrary strings associated with a role. For example, can_view_billing, ProductA::CanCreate, and ReadOnly are all valid permissions.

manage permissions

These permissions are associated with your roles. A user with the role Admin will also have all the permissions associated with the role Admin. You can then easily:

  • Reject an HTTP request if the user does not have the can_view_billing permission.
  • Conditionally render the frontend based on the user's permissions.

What is the difference between roles and permissions?

Roles and permissions both enable you to check what a user can and cannot do within your product. Your users will directly interact with their role (e.g. by inviting a coworker as an Admin within their organization). Your users will NOT directly interact with their permissions. A users' permissions are derived from their role.

One advantage of permissions over roles is it allows you to think about the concrete actions each role can do. Your codebase just has to check those concrete actions without worrying about the role.