View Source Actors & Authorization

Authorization in Ash involves three things:

  • actor - the entity (i.e user, organization, device) performing a given action
  • authorize? - a flag that tells Ash to run authorization.
  • authorizers - the extensions on a resource that can modify or forbid the action.

Setting actor and authorize?

All functions in Ash that may perform authorization and/or wish to use the actor accept an actor and an authorize? option. For example:

Building a changeset/query/input is the best time to provide the actor option

Ash.Changeset.for_create(Post, %{title: "Post Title"}, actor: current_user, authorize?: true)

If calling a function without changeset/query/input, you can provide the actor option at that point.

Ash.count!(Post, actor: current_user, authorize?: true)

Functions created with the code interface also accept an actor option.

MyDomain.create_post!(Post, authorize?: true)

Set the actor on the query/changeset/input

The hooks on a query/changeset/input to an action may need to know the actor, so you need to set the actor when building them, not when calling the action.


|> Ash.Query.for_read(:read, actor: current_user)


|> Ash.Query.for_read!(:read)
|>!(actor: current_user)

Default value of authorize?

The default value of authorize? is determined by by the authorization configuration of the relevant domain. By default, authorize? is set to true (and so can be ommitted in all of the examples above). If a resource has no authorizers, then all requests will be allowed.


Authorizers are in control of what happens during authorization. Generally, you won't need to create your own authorizer, as the builtin policy authorizer Ash.Policy.Authorizer works well for any use case. See the Policies guide for more.

Domain Authorization Configuration


Requires that an actor is set for all requests.

Important: nil is still a valid actor, so this won't prevent providing actor: nil. It only requires that the option itself is provided.


When to run authorization for a given request.

  • :by_default sets authorize?: true if the authorize? option was not set (so it can be set to false). This is the default.
  • :always forces authorize?: true on all requests to the domain.
  • :when_requested sets authorize?: true whenever an actor is set or authorize?: true is explicitly passed. This is the default behavior.