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Implementing OAuth for MVC Applications

MVC authorization includes the entire OAuth authorization flow. This page will explain how you can implement OAuth in ASP.NET Model-View-Controller (MVC) using LINQ to Twitter's MvcAuthorizer. Before jumping into code, you'll see a high-level view of how the whole process works.
High-Level Description of MVC Authorization
You'll see the details of how MVC authorization is implemented with LINQ to Twitter soon, but it might be useful to review how the whole process works. It might help you know where you're at in the process when looking at later details. Here's what happens during MVC authorization.

1. Some action in your code (login or a specific need to use a Twitter feature that requires authorization) initiates the authorization process.

2. Your code tells LINQ to Twitter to begin the authorization process.

3. LINQ to Twitter redirects the user to the Twitter authorization page.

4. The user authorizes your application.

5. Twitter redirects to a callback page in your application.

6. Your code tells LINQ to Twitter to complete the authorization process.

7. When authorization is complete, OAuth and Access tokens are available for you to store for this user.

Of all the previous steps, #1 and #7 are less defined. That's because those are the points that depend on how you design your application. After authorization, LINQ to Twitter can be used for any supported queries or side-effects.

Now that you have an idea of how the process works, let's look at an example of how you can code this with LINQ to Twitter.
Implementing MVC Authorization
This example is for a design that redirects the user to a unique controller, dedicated to the OAuth process, OAuthController. To get started, you'll need to instantiate an MvcAuthorizer with CredentialStore. CredentialStore must be populated with ConsumerKey and ConsumerSecret, which identify your application to Twitter. Heres how you can instantiate MvcAuthorizer:

    public class OAuthController : AsyncController
        public ActionResult Index()
            return View();

        public async Task<ActionResult> BeginAsync()
            //var auth = new MvcSignInAuthorizer
            var auth = new MvcAuthorizer
                CredentialStore = new SessionStateCredentialStore
                    ConsumerKey = ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["consumerKey"],
                    ConsumerSecret = ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["consumerSecret"]
The example above instantiates a SessionStateCredentialStore, which is an implementation of ICredentialStore. The actual credentials are being read from web.config, which is fine because they generally don't change for your application.

Tip: Since SessionStateCredentialStore stores credentials in Session state, you'll want to ensure you've set the mode to State Server or SQL Server, but not InProc to avoid intermittent loss of credentials.

After you have an MvcAuthorizer instance, begin the OAuth process by calling BeginAuthorizationAsync, like this:

            string twitterCallbackUrl = Request.Url.ToString().Replace("Begin", "Complete");
            return await auth.BeginAuthorizationAsync(new Uri(twitterCallbackUrl));
This code is under the MvcAuthorizer instatiation, inside of BeginAsync. Notice that I've taken the current URL, which points to the current controller and action method, and switched the text "Begin" for "Complete" for the twitterCallbackUrl. This lets LINQ to Twitter tell the Twitter API where to redirect the user after they have authorized your application. You call BeginAuthorizationAsync with this callback value and LINQ to Twitter will redirect the user to Twitter's authorization page, including the callback.

Setting the callback, as done in the previous section causes Twitter to redirect the user to the CompleteAsync action, instead of what the original URL was for the BeginAsync action. Once the redirect occurs, the code in CompleteAsync executes and lets you finish the OAuth process, like this:
        public async Task<ActionResult> CompleteAsync()
            var auth = new MvcAuthorizer
                CredentialStore = new SessionStateCredentialStore()

            await auth.CompleteAuthorizeAsync(Request.Url);

            // This is how you access credentials after authorization.
            // The oauthToken and oauthTokenSecret do not expire.
            // You can use the userID to associate the credentials with the user.
            // You can save credentials any way you want - database, 
            //   isolated storage, etc. - it's up to you.
            // You can retrieve and load all 4 credentials on subsequent 
            //   queries to avoid the need to re-authorize.
            // When you've loaded all 4 credentials, LINQ to Twitter will let 
            //   you make queries without re-authorizing.
            //var credentials = auth.CredentialStore;
            //string oauthToken = credentials.OAuthToken;
            //string oauthTokenSecret = credentials.OAuthTokenSecret;
            //string screenName = credentials.ScreenName;
            //ulong userID = credentials.UserID;

            return RedirectToAction("Index", "Home");
Here, you instantiate a new MvcAuthorizer, with a new instance of SessionStateCredentialStore. Since credentials are held in Session state, SessionStateCredentialStore automatically reads them. If all 4 credentials are available, LINQ to Twitter lets you perform queries without making the user go through the entire OAuth process again.

However, at this point in time, you have ConsumerKey, ConsumerSecret, and OAuthToken, but you still don't have AccessToken. Call CompleteAuthorizationAsync to get the AccessToken and you'll have all 4 tokens available.

As noted in the comments, after CompleteAuthorizeAsync is a good time to collect the data from Twitter and store it for this user. Then on subsequent queries for this user, you can load all 4 credentials to avoid making the user go through the entire OAuth process.

This code redirects to another controller/action and you can write any code you want to redirect to the destination of your choice. After you're authorized, you can use LINQ to Twitter like normal. Here's an example that queries the user's Home timeline:

        public async Task<ActionResult> HomeTimelineAsync()
            var auth = new MvcAuthorizer
                CredentialStore = new SessionStateCredentialStore()

            var ctx = new TwitterContext(auth);

            var tweets =
                (from tweet in ctx.Status
                 where tweet.Type == StatusType.Home
                 select new TweetViewModel
                     ImageUrl = tweet.User.ProfileImageUrl,
                     ScreenName = tweet.User.ScreenNameResponse,
                     Text = tweet.Text

            return View(tweets);
Here you can see the instantiation of MvcAuthorizer with a new instance of SessionStateCredentials. If you've already authorized, SessionStateCredentials will pick up credentials from Session state. If the user has just logged onto your application, check to see if you have stored credentials for them (previously, in your database) or send them to the OAuth page for the first time. If you already have their credentials, then load them into the ConsumerKey, ConsumerSecret, AccessToken, and AccessTokenSecret properties of SessionStateCredentials.

Then instantiate a TwitterContext with the MvcAuthorizer instance and use LINQ to Twitter like normal.
The high-level view explained how the MVC authorization process works. The next section on implementation showed one way to write code for Web authorization. It used a separate controller to simplify the OAuth process, redirecting back to another page to perform queries. Remember to store credentials in your database after CompleteAuthorizationAsync so you can load those credentials on subsequent sessions to create a better user experience.

Last edited Nov 29, 2013 at 7:28 PM by JoeMayo, version 3