Child pages
  • WebProxy Portlet v2 Gateway SSO
Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata


WebproxyPortlet v2 Gateway SSO is a feature that allows uPortal to signon to any remote system even if the remote system does not share any authentication information with uPortal.  Gateway SSO will submit login information to the remote system and then redirect to that remote system.  Other SSO solution assume that uPortal has authenticated to some system, such as CAS and will then trust CAS to say the user is authenticated.  In this system, the authentication information is submitted to the remote system invisible to the user.  This solution has the inherent risks of sending user authentication information over the wire, rather than a security token, but this solution does not require external systems to implement CAS or another authentication system.  It is therefore nearly invisible to any external system to which uPortal would want to connect.


The workflow for accessing an external system through Gateway SSO is as follows (assuming that the portlet is configured and will be rendered on the user's page):

Rendering the portlet:

  1. The main portlet controller loops through each GatewayEntry associated with the portlet.
  2. Each GatewayEntry runs through each Interceptor associated with it to ensure that the entry is valid
  3. The main JSP render the gateway portlet (list of external systems to connect to).  Each GatewayEntry is rendered on the page, displaying the name, icon and if valid a link to the external system.  Invalid external systems display a message describing the issue (such as credentials not being configured).

Processing the gateway link:

  1. The user clicks on the link for the external system they wish to access.  By default this opens a new tab that returns a page with a Javascript AJAX handler to request connection information from the handling controller, but there is a portlet preference to replace the existing page. 
  2. The handling controller gathers all of the information stored in the HttpContentRequestImpl parameters configuration (basically a list of form fields and values) and readies them for return to the browser
  3. All configured Interceptors perform any substitutions on configuration data, such as inserting usernames and passwords.
  4. All configured IAuthenticationFormModifier modules run.  These can add additional parameter fields to the result and may perform additional custom logic (depending upon the implementation).  An example of an IAuthenticationFormModifier is a need to contact an external system to get a token that is submitted with the authentication form to the external system.  The custom logic can invoke the external system, parse out the token, and add it as a form field or modify the submit URL to include the token.
  5. If the GatewayEntry is flagged as requiring a secure URL (default true), the URL (proxiedLocation) is checked and altered to /HTTPSUrlRequiredButNotSpecified if it was not secure.
  6. The controller returns all of the gathered data to the browser (by default a JSON response with caching disabled).
  7. The Javascript Ajax handler builds an appropriate html form and submits it to the external system.  As part of this processing, any custom javascript files that are specified for the entry are also executed.  The external system then handles the call and will render whatever page a successful login would render.

Portlet Configuration

Gateway SSO must be defined in portlet.xml, like any other portlet. 

portlet.xml example

One interesting portlet preference is "openInNewPage".  True will direct the response after clicking on the link to a new tab in your browser; false will direct to the current tab.

The description of the portlet itself lives in the portlet definition file:



Each external systems to which you want to connect has its own GatewayEntry record.  This record contains the name and location of the Icon to represent the application.   It also contains a list of HttpContentRequestImpl records and any external logic to be executed.


In theory each GatewayEntry could have multiple HttpContentRequestImpl records associated with it; in practice, each GatewayEntry would only have one HttpContentRequestImpl record (see  WPP-80 - Refactor GatewayEntry to have single HttpContentRequestImpl Open ) .  This record contains the web address that will receive the form submission, the HTTP method type (GET, POST, PUT, DELETE), and a list of form fields to be included in the form submission.


FormFieldImpl contains the information about each field that will be included in the form submitted to the external system.  The relevant fields are:

  • name - the name of the HTML field.  proxiedLocation is a special value that alters the location the form POSTs to
  • value - the value of the HTML field.  This field is either a static value or a value that an Interceptor will recognize as being overridden.
  • secured - whether the field should be sent as input type of "text" or "password".  If secured is true, it sends as a password field.  In addition, if the secured field is an overridden field that is editable, the editable field will be obscured when editable and will be encrypted when stored.


Interceptors examine FormFieldImpl objects before they are returned to the JSP and perform a substitution if the field should be substituted.  The interceptor itself is responsible for knowing whether the value should be overridden.  For example,

Interceptor Substitution Example

The FormFieldImpl entry for loginOp shows a value of "login".  No current interceptors would match this.

The FormFieldImpl entry for username shows a valud of "{prefs.myzimbra.uid}", which the UserPreferencePreInterceptor would recognize as a PortletPreference and would substitute the value found for this field if UserPreferencePreInterceptor is configured for this HttpContentRequestImpl.


IPreInterceptor is an interface that all Interceptors must implement.  Interceptors substitute values into FormFieldImpl objects.  Multiple interceptors can be associated with HttpContextRequestImpl objects.  It has two methods:

  • intercept() - substitutes the configured value for another, if necessary
  • validate() - returns true if all of the information needed to perform a substitution is available, otherwise false


UserPreferencePreInterceptor overrides FormFieldImpl values with values that are stored in PortletPreferences.  When this interceptor runs, it looks for FormFieldImpl values that match the regex.  By default, your portlet will use the regex of "\\{prefs\\.[\\w.]+\\}", but this can be changed in of the portlet.  An example of a valid FormFieldImpl value would be "{prefs.myzimbra.uid}".  

These portlet preferences can be edited by the user.  The portlet must be configured to support Edit mode.  All FormFieldImpl values that match the preferences regex will be displayed for the user to edit as preferences and will be persisted.  Secured fields will be encrypted in the database and will be obscured on the Portlet's Edit page.  To use this interceptor, the encryption password must be set for the bean "stringEncryptionService" in applicationContext.xml.


UserInfoUrlParameterizingPreInterceptor overrides FormFieldImpl values with the values stored in UserInfo.  uPortal can be configured to store your uPortal login and password, making them available to userInfo.  If uPortal is configured this way (refer to the uPortal manual for exposing user attributes to a portlet), this interceptor will send the same uid and password that you used to authenticate to uPortal to the external system.  Since uPortal and the external system do not share an authentication system, it is still possible for the two systems to get out of sync.  An example of a valid FormFieldImpl value would be "{}"

Custom Java logic

Java Beans that implement IAuthenticationFormModifier can be embedded in your Gateway SSO to support more complicated scenarios.  The user can create their own Java Bean that implements the IAuthenticationFormModifier interface and include it in the portlet definition.  The IAuthenticationFormModifier classes can add or remove fields from the form or change the url the form posts to. 

For example, say you have an external system to which you wish to login.  Before you actually login, however, you need to retrieve a token from another system and include it in the submitted form or on the form's action field.  You can write a custom logic bean that will retrieve that value and include it as a field in the submission.

This is how you might add IAuthenticationFormModifier to your portlet definition file

Including ExternalLogic in your portlet



IAuthenticationFormModifier is an interface that must be implemented by any classes that wish to hook into the IAuthenticationFormModifier process.  It has the method:

  • void modifyHttpContentRequest(HttpContentRequestImpl contentRequest, PortletPreferences preferences)

Your implementation can be as simple or as complicated as needed and can add form fields, change the Url to submit to, etc.  PortletPreferences are available to your bean.

Custom JavaScript code

The gateway page can be configured to obtain and execute a custom javascript file to perform whatever behaviors are necessary for the single sign-on.  For example, the window name can be changed to match some particular value.  The javascript has full access to the form that will be submitted and can perform whatever custom logic is desired.  The javascript is loaded and executed using an eval() javascript statement, so troubleshooting is a bit more difficult as you cannot set breakpoints in the javascript. To add custom javascript to the execution, specify its location in the GatewayEntry bean; e.g.

Specifying custom javascript for sign-on\

Security Considerations

  • uPortal should use HTTPS for its connections to the browser to insure user passwords are not intercepted in transit to the user's browser
  • If using UserPreferencePreInterceptor, the encryption key must be changed from the default (an error message is displayed in the log files if the key is the default value)
  • The target URLs to submit to (proxiedLocation) should be HTTPS (required by default)
  • The HTTP response including sensitive user information is set to request not caching the response.  However the user's passwords are not encrypted in transit other than the encryption used by HTTPS.  If greater security is required, you can encrypt the password for the gateway form response and add a javascript library to decrypt it, though this does not add much security since sophisticated users can figure this out.
  • No labels