NOTE: Updated in November 2013.
I recently took over a project that used Apache Shiro for web application security. Shiro was previously known as JSecurity (and briefly also called Ki). Not having used Shiro before, I needed to do some research and learn the basics. This blog entry is designed to assist other developers in applying Shiro to a web application. Please understand that I'm just a beginner in using Shiro. Any mistakes in my explanations or code are my responsibility. If you do notice that something is wrong, please post a comment.
From the Shiro web site:
Apache Shiro is a powerful and easy-to-use Java security framework that performs authentication, authorization, cryptography, and session management.
(http://shiro.apache.org - accessed January 2011)
In March 2009, JSecurity's developers changed the JSecurity name to Ki and then to Shiro for various reasons. So you may hear/read about reference to all three names. According to the Apache Software Foundation: "Ki entered the Apache Incubator in June, 2008" (http://incubator.apache.org/projects/ki.html, accessed on April 5, 2009). In September 2010, Shiro became a Apache Top Level Project. The current release (January 2011) of Shiro is 1.1.0.
Shiro provides powerful capabilities with minimal setup--if you're able to use Shiro's configuration defaults in your project. But even if you're not able to use the defaults, you can provide your configuration to Shiro or you can extend one or more of the Shiro classes to customize how it works.
Tutorial Description and Setup
Part 1 of this tutorial starts with a basic web application that has no security. You can download an archived Maven web project here. The project uses Maven to manage dependencies. If you're not familiar with Maven, see the references below. Eclipse has an excellent Maven plugin (see: http://www.sonatype.com/books/m2eclipse-book/reference/index.html ). You should be able to unzip the download and then import the Maven project directly into Eclipse. The project's name is nosecurity. If you don't use Eclipse, just unzip the downloaded file (nosecurity.zip) and copy the source code to your own Java IDE.
You must also download the separate Apache Derby database as I'm going to show you how to use Shiro when your web application is storing usernames and passwords in a database. Note that Shiro comes with support for many other kinds of storage mechanisms. Unzip this download on your computer and make a note of the path to the folder securityDB.
The no security web application includes an index.jsp page and a separate folder (named secure) that has two web pages (users.jsp and index.jsp). The pages under the secure folder are supposed to be available only to logged in (authenticated) users. Under the src/main/java folder are packages with the data access, model, and Servlet classes.
Testing The Database Connection
After you've got everything setup you can test the application's connection to Derby by running the TestConnectionFactory class that is in the dao package. This class is just a standard Java class with a main method. In the main method, it uses the ConnectionFactory class to get a connection to the Derby database, then displays some information about Derby, and shows the results of querying the users table. The users table is where the project is storing the usernames and passwords for the tutorial. Note you will need to change the path to securityDB in class ConnectionFactory, method getConnection and in the context.xml file under the META-INF folder.
Running The Tutorial
After confirming that the project can connect to the Derby database, you can build and deploy the web application to a Java Servlet container and web server such as Tomcat. The tutorial was tested on Tomcat version 7. Remember if you're using Eclipse, you'll need the Maven Eclipse plugin so that all the dependent jars will be provided to the project. See the reference below for how to get the Maven Eclipse plugin.
You can also use the Maven Tomcat plugin (see reference below for how to install Maven if you've don't already have Maven) to run the web application. Just open a command window and navigate to where you unzipped the nosecurity.zip download. Make sure you're in the nosecurity directory. Then do the following:
mvn clean tomcat7:run-war
Once you see INFO: Starting Servlet Engine: Apache Tomcat/7.0.47 in the command window, open your web browser and go to this URL: http://localhost:8080/nosecurity/. You should see the contents of the index.jsp. To stop the Tomcat server type control-c in the command window.
Since this web application has no security you should be able to click on all the links and all the web pages should display, including the secure/users.jsp which displays the records from the users table that is the Derby database.
I realize this seems like a lot of setup just to get a simple web application to run. But I want to ensure that you can run this web application that uses a Derby database to store user information. In future tutorials, I'll be adding to this web application features from Shiro to enable security. So it's important that you get the basic web application working correctly in your development environment so that if you run into problems in the future tutorials you'll be able to more easily determine the cause.
In part 2 of this tutorial, I'll add basic security using Shiro to the web application to prevent users who have not logged in from viewing the pages in the secure folder.
- No Security Example Application, http://www.brucephillips.name/jsecurity_examples/nosecurity_mvn.zip
- Apache Shiro http://shiro.apache.org/
- Apache Shiro API, http://shiro.apache.org/static/current/apidocs/
- Apache Shiro Mailing Lists, http://shiro.apache.org/mailing-lists.html
- Apache Derby, http://db.apache.org/derby/
- Apache Tomcat, http://tomcat.apache.org/
- Jetty, http://jetty.mortbay.org/jetty5/index.html
- Maven: The Definitive Guide, http://www.sonatype.com/books/maven-book/reference/public-book.html
- Developing with Eclipse and Maven, http://www.sonatype.com/books/m2eclipse-book/reference/index.html