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JSON Web Token vs Passport: What are the differences?

JSON Web Token (JWT) and Passport are two authentication mechanisms commonly used in web applications. Let's explore the key differences between JSON Web Token and Passport in more detail:

  1. Functionality: JWT is a secure method for transmitting JSON-based information, commonly used for authentication and authorization. Passport is a Node.js middleware that offers a flexible authentication framework with support for different strategies, including JWT and OAuth.

  2. Token-based vs Strategy-based: JSON Web Token (JWT) is a token-based authentication mechanism. When a user logs in successfully, they receive a JWT that is then included in subsequent requests to authenticate and authorize the user. Passport, on the other hand, is a strategy-based authentication mechanism. It allows developers to choose from a variety of authentication strategies (e.g., local, OAuth, JWT) and implement the corresponding logic for each strategy.

  3. Standardization: JSON Web Token (JWT) follows a standardized format defined by RFC 7519. It ensures interoperability across different systems and programming languages, making it widely adopted and supported. Passport, on the other hand, is not a specific standard but a middleware that provides an abstraction layer for implementing authentication in Node.js applications. Passport supports multiple authentication strategies and provides a consistent interface for handling authentication logic.

  4. Extensibility: JSON Web Token (JWT) is highly extensible and allows developers to include custom claims and metadata within the token payload. This flexibility enables the addition of application-specific information to the token. Passport, on the other hand, provides a pluggable architecture that allows developers to create custom authentication strategies. It offers a wide range of pre-built strategies but also allows for the creation of custom strategies to meet specific application requirements.

  5. Integration: JSON Web Token (JWT) can be used independently or integrated with various frameworks and libraries. It is a popular choice for securing APIs and web services and can be easily integrated into different programming languages and frameworks. Passport, on the other hand, is specifically designed for integration with Node.js applications. It provides middleware and hooks that seamlessly integrate with popular Node.js frameworks like Express, making it easier to handle authentication in the application.

  6. Scalability and Performance: JSON Web Token (JWT) can be stateless, which makes it scalable as it does not require server-side storage for session management. However, the server needs to verify the integrity and validity of each token, which can impact performance for high-volume applications. Passport's performance depends on the chosen authentication strategy, like local authentication which may require server-side session management and introduce additional overhead.

In summary, JSON Web Token (JWT) and Passport are authentication mechanisms used in web applications, but they differ in their approach and functionality. JWT is a standardized token-based authentication mechanism that is widely supported and used for transmitting authentication information. Passport, on the other hand, is a flexible and extensible middleware that provides a strategy-based authentication framework for Node.js applications.

Advice on JSON Web Token and Passport
Needs advice

Currently, Passport.js repo has 324 open issues, and Jared (the original author) seems to be the one doing most of the work. Also, given that the documentation is not proper. Is it worth using Passport.js?

As of now, StackShare shows it has 29 companies using it. How do you implement auth in your project or your company? Are there any good alternatives to Passport.js? Should I implement auth from scratch?

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I would recommend Auth0 only if you are willing to shell out money. You can keep up with their free version only for a very limited time and as per our experience as a growing startup where budget is an issue, their support was not very helpful as they first asked us to sign a commercial agreement even before helping us t o find out whether Auth0 fits our use case or not! But otherwise Auth0 is a great platform to speed up authentication. In our case we had to move to alternatives like Casbin for multi-tenant authorization!

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What is JSON Web Token?

JSON Web Token is an open standard that defines a compact and self-contained way for securely transmitting information between parties as a JSON object. This information can be verified and trusted because it is digitally signed.

What is Passport?

It is authentication middleware for Node.js. Extremely flexible and modular, It can be unobtrusively dropped in to any Express-based web application. A comprehensive set of strategies support authentication using a username and password, Facebook, Twitter, and more.

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Sep 29 2020 at 7:36PM


PythonSlackG Suite+17
What are some alternatives to JSON Web Token and Passport?
It is an authorization framework that enables a third-party application to obtain limited access to an HTTP service, either on behalf of a resource owner by orchestrating an approval interaction between the resource owner and the HTTP service, or by allowing the third-party application to obtain access on its own behalf.
Spring Security
It is a framework that focuses on providing both authentication and authorization to Java applications. The real power of Spring Security is found in how easily it can be extended to meet custom requirements.
A set of unified APIs and tools that instantly enables Single Sign On and user management to all your applications.
Azure Active Directory
It is a comprehensive identity and access management solution that gives you a robust set of capabilities to manage users and groups. You can get the reliability and scalability you need with identity services that work with your on-premises, cloud, or hybrid environment.
It is an Open Source Identity and Access Management For Modern Applications and Services. It adds authentication to applications and secure services with minimum fuss. No need to deal with storing users or authenticating users. It's all available out of the box.
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