Configure single sign-on with JSON web token

JSON web token (JWT) is a technique that can be used for single sign-on (SSO) between a custom application and another application. In this case JWT can be used for SSO to an Aha! idea portal so that users of your web application can login to the portal and submit ideas using their application credentials.

JWT SSO can only be used for private idea portals.

SSO can be enabled for a portal under Settings > Account > Configure idea portals. Choose the portal for which you want to enable SSO. On the Single sign-on tab choose the JSON Web Token identity provider. Copy the Secret key from this page — you will need to use it in your code.


The JWT single sign-on process

When a user authenticates using SSO they go through the following process:

  1. The user navigates to your private ideas portal, e.g.
  2. Aha! recognizes that your account is configured to use JWT. 
  3. The user's browser is redirected to your application using the Remote login URL that you configured on the Configure ideas portal screen.
  4. Your application recognizes that it has received a JWT authentication request.
  5. Your application authenticates the user.
  6. Your application builds a JWT response and redirects the user back to your ideas portal using the URL, including the JWT response.
  7. Aha! validates the JWT response. If this user has never accessed the ideas portal before a new portal user record is created.
  8. The user is granted access to the private ideas portal.

Note that all of the communication between Aha! and your application happens via URL parameters in the user's browser and there is no direct communication between the systems.

Building the JWT response

When it receives a JWT authentication request your application must wait for a JWT response. The response should include a HS256-encoded token containing these fields:

  • iat - The integer time the response was created in seconds since the Unix epoch.
  • jti - A randomly created token that uniquely identifies this response.
  • first_name - the first name of the user that was authenticated.
  • last_name - the last name of the user that was authenticated.
  • email - the email address of the user that was authenticated. The email address is used to uniquely identify the user within the Aha! ideas portal.

Here is sample Ruby code to generate a response:

iat =
jti = "#{iat}/#{rand(36**64).to_s(36)}"

payload = JWT.encode({
  :iat => iat,
  :jti => jti,
  :first_name => "John",
  :last_name => "Doe",
  :email => "",
}, secret_key)

redirect_to "https://#{subdomain}{payload}"

Redirecting the user to a specific page

The request to the SSO page will contain a parameter named "return_to". If this parameter is included in the JWT response then the user will be redirected to that page after the login process completes. e.g.

redirect_to "https://#{subdomain}{payload}&return_to=/ideas/APP-I-469" 

Single sign-out

Single sign-out allows the user to sign out of one application and be automatically signed out of both applications. Single sign-out is optional.

There are two parts of single sign-out:

  1. Sign-out from the idea portal. Enter a "Remote logout" URL in the JWT configuration. When the user logs out of the idea portal they will be redirected to this URL. Your application should detect the access of this URL and also log the user out of the application.
  2. Sign-out from your application. When the user logs out of your application you should redirect them to  the "/portal_session/logout" URL of the ideas portal. This will log the user out of the ideas portal as well. The user will be redirected back to your application to log in again.


For those who prefer a SAML Single Sign-On process, Aha! also provides this capability. 



Was this article helpful?
2 out of 3 found this helpful