Omniauth and Google Apps

Today I struggled to get OmniAuth and Google apps to work properly together. I just wanted to add authentication to my application and restrict access to only my Google Apps domain users. I was hoping it would be straight forward since I could use Google’s OpenID service.

Turns out it wasn’t that hard, but the lack of documentation made me lost a couple hours. I therefore updated OmniAuth’s wiki and wrote this quick post so hopefully you won’t waste time looking for simple details.


You actually only need to add 2 gems to your Gemfile:

gem 'omniauth-openid'
gem 'ruby-openid-apps-discovery'

Now, the second gem is the one I didn’t know about. The gem is actually provided by Google itself. It turns out, Google Apps use a custom discovery protocol. They monkey patched the popular OpenID Ruby libraries so you can just drop in their gem and their discovery system will magically work.


You need to require 4 files to get everything setup properly:

require 'omniauth-openid'
require 'openid'
require 'openid/store/filesystem'
require 'gapps_openid'

The first one is the omniauth extension for OpenID, the second one is the main Ruby OpenID library (needed so we can set our SSL cert). The third one allows us to store temporary data on disk instead of keeping it in memory (optional). And finally, the last one is Google’s magical gem to get their discovery system working.

Because we are going to communicate via SSL, we want to make sure that the OpenID library uses our certs to verify the SSL communications:

OpenID.fetcher.ca_file = "/absolute/path/to/ssl_cacert.pem"

(Obviously, you need to change the path to your own cert)

We are almost done with the setup, we just need two more things:

  • make sure you are using a session.
  • setup OmniAuth

I’m using Sinatra, so I’ll load the Rack::Session middleware before I set Omniauth:

use Rack::Session::Cookie, :secret => 'supers3cr3t'

(Rails turns that option by default, so you don’t need to worry about it)

Then I can finally setup OmniAuth:

use OmniAuth::Builder do
  provider :open_id,  :name => 'admin',
                      :identifier => '',
                      :store =>'/tmp')

There are two important things to notice. First, because I set the provider’s name to be ‘admin’, the magical paths provided by OmiAuth will use that name (/auth/admin). Secondly, and more importantly, notice how I added the name of my Google Apps domain at the end of the identifier:

'' + your_domain_name


In Sinatra, your just need to define the routes OmniAuth would use (same goes for Rails, just use the router for that).

By default, omniauth now offers you a /auth/admin endpoint that will push the user through Google Apps authentication. Once the authentication is over, the user will be redirected to the following endpoint:

# Callback URL used when the authentication is done
post '/auth/admin/callback' do
  auth_details = request.env['omniauth.auth']
  session[:email] =['email']
  redirect '/auth/admin/welcome'

You can access the authentication details from request.env['omniauth.auth'] and redirect the user to another page, like the admin landing page for instance.

get '/auth/admin/welcome' do
  if session[:email]
    erb :welcome_boss
    redirect '/auth/admin'

On the landing page, you need to verify that the user is logged in, in this case, during the previous step, we added the email of the user to her session. We can therefore verify the presence of that information to confirm the authentication status. If the user is authenticated, then we’ll render an ERB template otherwise we’ll redirect her back to the login page.

We should also provide an endpoint in case the authentication failed:

get '/auth/failure' do
  # do whatever you want here.

Note that by default, in dev mode, Omniauth won’t redirect the user there. To enable this behavior, use the following snippet (works with any rack app, Rails, Sinatra or whatever):

OmniAuth.config.on_failure = { |env|


Using Google Apps for authentication with OmniAuth is trivial as long you know two things:

  • the identifier url: '' + your_domain_name
  • Google’s discovery service gem

This blog post was written using omniauth 1.1.1, omniauth-openid 1.0.1, rack-openid 1.3.1 and ruby-openid-apps-discovery 1.2.0. This might not apply to you if you come from the future :)

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