React is a very popular and growing JavaScript library. When we think in the context of MVC architecture, React comprises the View in MVC architecture. For managing application state, we may need to rely on other JavaScript state management libraries like Redux or if you are using React v16+, so you can use React's Context API in combination with useReducer hook to serve our state management purpose.

Good architecture makes the system easy to understand, easy to develop, easy to maintain, and easy to deploy. The ultimate goal is to minimize the lifetime cost of the system and to maximize programmer productivity. - Robert C. Martin

React is evolving, yet still lacks guidelines when it comes to architecting the applications. But when we have to design enterprise-level applications, the most important thing that should be covered is clean architecture so that it's easy for developers to understand and collaborate.

Let's take an example of an application, where every user will have multiple roles and permissions to access the application. Of course, such applications can have condition-based logic for different roles and permissions.
Any React application can start well until we start adding condition-based logic on top of it. Soon it can start getting worse upon adding granular checks for roles and permissions for user access.
Holding all this logic and keeping track of roles and permissions is a cumbersome task when used with normal conditional checks or switch statements.

How did we architect this flow?

In one of our applications, we've dealt with roles and permissions-based user flow. In addition, we've token-based authorization in the same application so we were storing the token in localStorage just to keep track of the authorized user. And all the user details like permissions, roles, email and all basic info were stored in context (user context).


To verify whether the logged-in user has specific role/permission to access specific route/action item, we have implemented several hooks like useHasPermissions & useHasRoles which were returning a boolean value if the current user has those specific roles/permissions.
To check those specific permissions/roles, the hooks useHasPermissions or useHasRoles need the current user context. So here we have two approaches, either we can directly access the user context into these hooks or we can create a separate hook as useCurrentUser which will act as a consumer for user context.

In our application, we've used the 2nd approach that is implemented separate hook as useCurrentUser instead of accessing context at other places. The useCurrentUser hook will return the logged-in user. So from now onwards, throughout the lifetime of our application, whenever we have to access the logged-in user, instead of accessing context directly, we can simply call useCurrentUser hook and get the current user details.

Refer to the 👆🏼 above example

Here we are having 4 different types of Roles SuperAdmin, Admin, Customer, Employee.
Also, there are a few sets of permissions that have been assigned to specific roles, based on permissions we've action buttons enabled on the landing screen post-login flow.

You can even change permissions in getPermissions util located in utils/roles.js file and observed the behavior for different role users.

Working of useHasPermissions hook:


The main task of the useHasPermissions hook is to verify and return the boolean flag if the currently logged-in user has the permission which the app needs. We can either pass permission as string or an array of permissions.
This hook gets the current user context with the help of the useCurrentUser hook. And checks for the permission(s) needed with the permissions from user context.

How to use useHasPermissions hook ?

const canComment = useHasPermissions(['CAN_READ', 'CAN_ADD_COMMENT']);  // checks for multiple permissions
const canRead = useHasPermissions('CAN_READ'); // checks for single permission

Working of useHasRoles hook:

The working of useHasRoles is similar to useHasPermissions, it will just verify the Roles instead of Permissions.

const hasAdminRole = useHasRoles(['ADMIN']); // checks for multiple roles
const hasSuperAdminRole = useHasRoles('SUPER_ADMIN'); // checks for single role

Using useHasRoles as AuthGuard

In the above example, instead of verifying the role to enable/disable the action button, we are checking whether a user has access to a specific route or not. Here, we've implemented ProtectedRoute as higher-order component (HOC) which will act as AuthGuard for our application. It will only allow the authorized users to access the specific route.

Along with acting as Auth Guard, it helps in claiming a specific route. There might be few routes in the application that should be accessed by users having specific roles. To claim route for specific roles, we just need to pass prop as claimWithRole as a role or an array of roles to ProtectedRoute.

As in the above example, we have the /admin route which can be accessed by the user having roles ADMIN/SUPER_ADMIN.

So if you try to log in using customer and click on the Go to Admin link, then it will show the message as You do not have specific roles/permissions to access this route.

Note: As here we've added claiming routes by Roles only, you can even claim a route by permissions. Just need to add few lines of code to check for desired permissions.

Hope this article was able to throw light on setting up roles and permissions-based architecture in React applications.