React + Node.js Express: User Authentication with JWT example

In this tutorial, we will learn how to build a full stack React.js + Express Authentication & Authorization example. The back-end server uses Node.js Express with jsonwebtoken for JWT authentication and Sequelize for interacting with MySQL database. The front-end will be created with React, React Router, Axios. We’ll also use Bootstrap and perform Form validation.

Related Posts:
React + Node.js + Express + MySQL example: Build a CRUD App
Node.js + MongoDB: User Authentication & Authorization with JWT


JWT (JSON Web Token)

Comparing with Session-based Authentication that need to store Session on Cookie, the big advantage of Token-based Authentication is that we store the JSON Web Token (JWT) on Client side: Local Storage for Browser, Keychain for IOS and SharedPreferences for Android… So we don’t need to build another backend project that supports Native Apps or an additional Authentication module for Native App users.

in-depth-introduction-jwt-token-based-authentication

There are three important parts of a JWT: Header, Payload, Signature. Together they are combined to a standard structure: header.payload.signature.

The Client typically attaches JWT in x-access-token header:

x-access-token: [header].[payload].[signature]

For more details, you can visit:
In-depth Introduction to JWT-JSON Web Token

React Express Authentication example

It will be a full stack, with Node.js Express for back-end and React.js for front-end. The access is verified by JWT Authentication.

  • User can signup new account, login with username & password.
  • Authorization by the role of the User (admin, moderator, user)

Let’s see the screenshots of our system:

– Anyone can access a public page before logging in:

react-express-authentication-jwt-example-public

– A new User can signup:

react-express-authentication-jwt-example-signup

– Form Signup validation will be like this:

react-express-authentication-jwt-example-signup-form-validation

– After signup is successful, User can login:

react-express-authentication-jwt-example-login

– After login, App directs the User to Profile page:

react-express-authentication-jwt-example-profile

– UI for Moderator login (the navigation bar will change by authorities):

react-express-authentication-jwt-example-authorization

– If a User who doesn’t have Admin role tries to access Admin/Moderator Board page:

react-express-authentication-jwt-example-unauthorization

Demo Video

This is full React + Node.js Express JWT Authentication & Authorization demo (with form validation, check signup username/email duplicates, test authorization with 3 roles: Admin, Moderator, User):

Flow for User Registration and User Login

The diagram shows flow of User Registration, User Login and Authorization process.

react-express-authentication-jwt-example-flow

There are 2 endpoints for authentication:

  • api/auth/signup for User Registration
  • api/auth/signin for User Login

If Client wants to send request to protected data/endpoints, it add legal JWT to HTTP x-access-token Header.

Back-end with Node.js Express & Sequelize

Overview

Our Node.js Express Application can be summarized in the diagram below:

node-js-jwt-authentication-mysql-architecture

Via Express routes, HTTP request that matches a route will be checked by CORS Middleware before coming to Security layer.

Security layer includes:

  • JWT Authentication Middleware: verify SignUp, verify token
  • Authorization Middleware: check User’s roles with record in database

If these middlewares throw any error, a message will be sent as HTTP response.

Controllers interact with MySQL Database via Sequelize and send HTTP response (token, user information, data based on roles…) to client.

Technology

  • Express 4.17.1
  • bcryptjs 2.4.3
  • jsonwebtoken 8.5.1
  • Sequelize 5.21.3
  • MySQL

Project Structure

This is directory structure for our Node.js Express application:

react-express-authentication-jwt-example-server-project-structure

config

  • configure MySQL database & Sequelize
  • configure Auth Key

routes

  • auth.routes.js: POST signup & signin
  • user.routes.js: GET public & protected resources

middlewares

  • verifySignUp.js: check duplicate Username or Email
  • authJwt.js: verify Token, check User roles in database

controllers

  • auth.controller.js: handle signup & signin actions
  • user.controller.js: return public & protected content

models for Sequelize Models

  • user.model.js
  • role.model.js

server.js: import and initialize neccesary modules and routes, listen for connections.

Implementation

You can find step by step to implement this Node.js App in the post:
Node.js – JWT Authentication & Authorization with JSONWebToken example

For MongoDB database:
Node.js + MongoDB: User Authentication & Authorization with JWT

Front-end with React, React Router

Overview

Let’s look at the diagram below.

react-express-authentication-jwt-example-react-components

– The App component is a container with React Router (BrowserRouter). Basing on the state, the navbar can display its items.

Login & Register components have form for data submission (with support of react-validation library). They call methods from auth.service to make login/register request.

auth.service methods use axios to make HTTP requests. Its also store or get JWT from Browser Local Storage inside these methods.

Home component is public for all visitor.

Profile component displays user information after the login action is successful.

BoardUser, BoardModerator, BoardAdmin components will be displayed by state user.roles. In these components, we use user.service to access protected resources from Web API.

user.service uses auth-header() helper function to add JWT to HTTP header. auth-header() returns an object containing the JWT of the currently logged in user from Local Storage.

Technology

We’re gonna use these modules:

  • React 16
  • react-router-dom 5
  • axios 0.19.2
  • react-validation 3.0.7
  • Bootstrap 4
  • validator 12.2.0

Project Structure

This is folders & files structure for this React application:

react-express-authentication-jwt-example-client-project-structure

With the explanation in diagram above, you can understand the project structure easily.

Implementation

You can find step by step to implement this React App in the post:
React JWT Authentication (without Redux) example

Using Hooks:
React Hooks: JWT Authentication (without Redux) example

Or Redux:
React Redux: JWT Authentication & Authorization example

Or Hooks + Redux:
React Hooks + Redux: JWT Authentication & Authorization example

react-redux-jwt-authentication-token-example-project-overview

Conclusion

Now we have an overview of React & Express Authentication example along with flow for login and registration.

We also take a look at Node.js Express server architecture for JWT Authentication using jsonwebtoken & Sequelize, as well as React.js project structure for building a front-end app working with JWT.

Next tutorials will show you more details about how to implement this interesting system:
Back-end
Front-end

This React Client also works well with back-end in the post:
Node.js + MongoDB: User Authentication & Authorization with JWT

This Node.js server also works well with front-end in the post:
React Redux: JWT Authentication & Authorization example
React Hooks: JWT Authentication (without Redux) example
React Hooks + Redux: JWT Authentication & Authorization example

Happy learning, see you again!

Further Reading

8 thoughts to “React + Node.js Express: User Authentication with JWT example”

      1. Hello – your node, express, jwt, mongo, and react tutorials work great. However, when I push the app to Heroku, I get a network error when I try to login or create an account. Any suggestions?

  1. It Works very well.

    the react part is very clear and well detailed. i ll change it to use react Hooks. but i learn something new Today in the backend part,”SEQUELIZE”.
    in my projects , i often use knex+objection , but today , i learn how to use Sequelize.

    Great Tutorial!!!
    THANK YOU so Much.

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