Zend_Acl provides lightweight and flexible access control list (ACL) functionality and privileges management. In general, an application may utilize such functionality to control access to certain protected objects by other requesting objects.
For the purposes of this documentation,
a Resource is an object to which access is controlled.
a Role is an object that may request access to a Resource.
Through the specification and use of an access control list (ACL), an application may control how requesting objects (Roles) are granted access to protected objects (Resources).
In Zend_Acl, creating a Resource is very simple. Zend_Acl provides
Zend_Acl_Resource_Interface to facilitate developers' creating Resources. A class need only
implement this interface, which consists of a single method,
getResourceId(), in order
for Zend_Acl to consider the object to be a Resource. Additionally,
included with Zend_Acl as a basic Resource implementation for developers to extend where desirable.
Zend_Acl provides a tree structure to which multiple Resources (or "areas under access control") can be added. Since Resources are stored in such a tree structure, they can be organized from the general (toward the tree root) to the specific (toward the tree leaves). Queries upon a specific Resource will automatically search the Resource's hierarchy for rules assigned to ancestor Resources, allowing for simple inheritance of rules. For example, if a default rule is to be applied to each building in a city, one would simply assign the rule to the city, instead of assigning the same rule to each building. Some buildings may require exceptions to such a rule, however, and this is achieved easily in Zend_Acl by assigning such exception rules to each such building that requires an exception to the rule. A Resource may inherit from only one parent Resource, though this parent Resource can have its own parent Resource, and so on.
Zend_Acl also supports privileges upon Resources (e.g., "create", "read", "update", "delete"), and the developer can assign rules that affect all privileges or specific privileges upon a Resource.
Like with Resources, creating a Role is also very simple. Zend_Acl provides
Zend_Acl_Role_Interface to facilitate developers' creating Roles. A class need only
implement this interface, which consists of a single method,
getRoleId(), in order
for Zend_Acl to consider the object to be a Role. Additionally,
included with Zend_Acl as a basic Role implementation for developers to extend where desirable.
In Zend_Acl, a Role may inherit from one or more Roles. This is to support inheritance of rules among Roles. For example, a user Role, such as "sally", may belong to one or more parent Roles, such as "editor" and "administrator". The developer can assign rules to "editor" and "administrator" separately, and "sally" would inherit such rules from both, without having to assign rules directly to "sally".
Though the ability to inherit from multiple Roles is very useful, multiple inheritance also introduces some degree of complexity. The following example illustrates the ambiguity condition and how Zend_Acl solves it.
Example #1 Multiple inheritance between Roles
The following code defines three base Roles - "
admin" - from which other Roles may inherit. Then, a Role identified by
someUser" is established and inherits from the three other Roles. The order in
which these Roles appear in the
$parents array is important. When necessary,
Zend_Acl searches for access rules defined not only for the queried Role (herein,
someUser"), but also upon the Roles from which the queried Role inherits
member", and "
addRole(new Zend_Acl_Role('guest')) ->addRole(new Zend_Acl_Role('member')) ->addRole(new Zend_Acl_Role('admin')); $parents = array('guest', 'member', 'admin'); $acl->addRole(new Zend_Acl_Role('someUser'), $parents); require_once 'Zend/Acl/Resource.php'; $acl->add(new Zend_Acl_Resource('someResource')); $acl->deny('guest', 'someResource'); $acl->allow('member', 'someResource'); echo $acl->isAllowed('someUser', 'someResource') ? 'allowed' : 'denied';
Since there is no rule specifically defined for the "
someUser" Role and
someResource", Zend_Acl must search for rules that may be defined for Roles that
someUser" inherits. First, the "
admin" role is visited, and there
is no access rule defined for it. Next, the "
member" role is visited, and
Zend_Acl finds that there is a rule specifying that "
member" is allowed access to
If Zend_Acl were to continue examining the rules defined for other parent Roles, however, it
would find that "
guest" is denied access to "
fact introduces an ambiguity because now "
someUser" is both denied and allowed
access to "
someResource", by reason of having inherited conflicting rules from
different parent Roles.
Zend_Acl resolves this ambiguity by completing a query when it finds the first rule that is
directly applicable to the query. In this case, since the "
member" Role is
examined before the "
guest" Role, the example code would print
When specifying multiple parents for a Role, keep in mind that the last parent listed is the first one searched for rules applicable to an authorization query.
An ACL can represent any set of physical or virtual objects that you wish. For the purposes of demonstration, however, we will create a basic Content Management System ACL that maintains several tiers of groups over a wide variety of areas. To create a new ACL object, we instantiate the ACL with no parameters:
Until a developer specifies an "allow" rule, Zend_Acl denies access to every privilege upon every Resource by every Role.
Content Management Systems will nearly always require a hierarchy of permissions to determine the authoring capabilities of its users. There may be a 'Guest' group to allow limited access for demonstrations, a 'Staff' group for the majority of CMS users who perform most of the day-to-day operations, an 'Editor' group for those responsible for publishing, reviewing, archiving and deleting content, and finally an 'Administrator' group whose tasks may include all of those of the other groups as well as maintenance of sensitive information, user management, back-end configuration data and backup/export. This set of permissions can be represented in a Role registry, allowing each group to inherit privileges from 'parent' groups, as well as providing distinct privileges for their unique group only. The permissions may be expressed as follows:
|Name||Unique permissions||Inherit permissions from|
|Staff||Edit, Submit, Revise||Guest|
|Editor||Publish, Archive, Delete||Staff|
|Administrator||(Granted all access)||N/A|
For this example,
Zend_Acl_Role is used, but any object that implements
Zend_Acl_Role_Interface is acceptable. These groups can be added to the
Role registry as follows:
addRole($roleGuest); // Staff inherits from guest $acl->addRole(new Zend_Acl_Role('staff'), $roleGuest); /* alternatively, the above could be written: $acl->addRole(new Zend_Acl_Role('staff'), 'guest'); //*/ // Editor inherits from staff $acl->addRole(new Zend_Acl_Role('editor'), 'staff'); // Administrator does not inherit access controls $acl->addRole(new Zend_Acl_Role('administrator'));
Now that the ACL contains the relevant Roles, rules can be established that define how Resources may be accessed by Roles. You may have noticed that we have not defined any particular Resources for this example, which is simplified to illustrate that the rules apply to all Resources. Zend_Acl provides an implementation whereby rules need only be assigned from general to specific, minimizing the number of rules needed, because Resources and Roles inherit rules that are defined upon their ancestors.
In general, Zend_Acl obeys a given rule if and only if a more specific rule does not apply.
Consequently, we can define a reasonably complex set of rules with a minimum amount of code. To apply the base permissions as defined above:
addRole($roleGuest); $acl->addRole(new Zend_Acl_Role('staff'), $roleGuest); $acl->addRole(new Zend_Acl_Role('editor'), 'staff'); $acl->addRole(new Zend_Acl_Role('administrator')); // Guest may only view content $acl->allow($roleGuest, null, 'view'); /* alternatively, the above could be written: $acl->allow('guest', null, 'view'); //*/ // Staff inherits view privilege from guest, but also needs additional privileges $acl->allow('staff', null, array('edit', 'submit', 'revise')); // Editor inherits view, edit, submit, and revise privileges from staff, // but also needs additional privileges $acl->allow('editor', null, array('publish', 'archive', 'delete')); // Administrator inherits nothing, but is allowed all privileges $acl->allow('administrator');
null values in the above
allow() calls are used to indicate
that the allow rules apply to all Resources.
We now have a flexible ACL that can be used to determine whether requesters have permission
to perform functions throughout the web application. Performing queries is quite simple using
isAllowed('guest', null, 'view') ? "allowed" : "denied"; // allowed echo $acl->isAllowed('staff', null, 'publish') ? "allowed" : "denied"; // denied echo $acl->isAllowed('staff', null, 'revise') ? "allowed" : "denied"; // allowed echo $acl->isAllowed('editor', null, 'view') ? "allowed" : "denied"; // allowed because of inheritance from guest echo $acl->isAllowed('editor', null, 'update') ? "allowed" : "denied"; // denied because no allow rule for 'update' echo $acl->isAllowed('administrator', null, 'view') ? "allowed" : "denied"; // allowed because administrator is allowed all privileges echo $acl->isAllowed('administrator') ? "allowed" : "denied"; // allowed because administrator is allowed all privileges echo $acl->isAllowed('administrator', null, 'update') ? "allowed" : "denied"; // allowed because administrator is allowed all privileges