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Permission Concept

Fine-grained permission for SCM-Manager v2

This documents describes a concept for a fine-grained permission managing via the SCMMv2 UI.


  • Provide at least the features of SCMMv1 including the scm-groupmanager and scm-userrepo plugins.
  • In addition, the permissions on repositories should be more fine-grained, for example a user that does not have the permission to check out a repository, but read its meta data.
  • An ideal solution would be generic. That is, not implementing explicit features such as the groupmanager or userrepo.
    SCMMv2 already evaluates fine-grained permissions, so why not allow our users to assign them?

Technical Foundations

Status Quo SCMv1

SCMMv1 's permissions are only related to Repositories:

  • Users can either have the Permission READ, WRITER or OWNER
  • globally (for all repositories) or
  • per Repository.

All other permissions are handled by distinguishing administrators from ordinary users. Admins can do everything, users nothing except for their repository permissions.

Some more permission-related features are added by plugins:

SCMMv2 Permission fundamentals

SCMMv2 introduces much more fine-grained permission checks under the hood. In the code permissions for all kinds of operations are designed as follows:

  • convention: subject:verb:item,
  • for example: configuration:read:git
  • or repository:write:42,
  • where item is the technical ID of the subject.

In addition, there are permissions that do not relate to an item, which are called "global permissions", for example configuration:list.

The challenge solved by this document is to provide a concept that allows SCMMv2 users to manage these permissions. That is, to assign those permissions to users and groups via the UI or REST API.

SCMMv2 implementation details

This is not a core part of the concept but might be interesting when implementing it.

SCMM uses the Apache Shiro security framework that allows for assigning permission strings (such as subject:verb:item) to users. These can also contain wildcards (*). For example

  • the permission * realizes the administrator,
  • user:read:* means reading is allowed on all users,
  • user:*:arthur means all operations are allowed on a specific user.

Then the application can check if a user has a permission. For example:

  • Does user admin have the permission for reading repository 42?
  • Admin has permission *
  • So: does he have permission user:read:*? Yes!

In order to get a little more type safe, SCM-Manager uses the Shiro-static-permissions (ssp) library that scans the classpath for annotations such as the following

  value = "user",
  globalPermissions = {"create", "list", "autocomplete"},
  permissions = {"read", "modify", "delete", "changePassword"})

and creates *Permissions classes that contain methods for checking each permission, for example like so;

When a user logs in, all different kinds of permissions (* if admin, permissions for repositories, from groups, some additional technical permissions such as autocomplete, etc.) are collected and added to the Shiro subject in the DefaultAuthorizationCollector class.

SCMMv2 Core permissions

Here are some more examples of permissions existing in SCMMv2 core, at the time of writing. Look for @StaticPermissions and note that there the annotation also declares defaults for permissions and globalPermissions.

  • Configuration
    • Global: list
    • Permissions: read,write
    • Items are global (core), git, hg, config (core plugins) and will be extended by further plugins.
  • Plugin
    • Global: read, manage
  • Group
    • Global: create, list, autocomplete
    • Permission: read, modify, delete
  • User
    • Global: create, list, autocomplete
    • Permissions: read, modify, delete, changePassword
    • Items are the user name of dynamically added users
  • Repository
    • Global: create
    • Permissions: read, modify, delete, healthCheck, pull, push, permissionRead, permissionWrite
    • Items are the technical ID of dynamically added repositories

Repository and global permissions

In order to fulfill the requirements, this concept describes

  • how to extend the existing repository permissions to be more fine-grained
  • a new dialog to assign global permissions on user or group level


Global permissions

The global permission component can be reached from either user and groups components navigations. The following mockup shows this in the user component:

Permissions mockup user

The layout of the permission component UI could look like this:

Permissions mockup global permissions

The UI

  • queries all available global permissions from the REST API (shiro strings),
  • gets the display name and descriptions using the shiro strings as keys (see i18n),
  • displays descriptions as tooltips,
  • and queries all user/group permissions to populate the check boxes.

Repository permissions

The repository permission are already implemented and can be reached via Repositories | Permissions. Right now, it allows for assigning the roles READ, WRITE, OWNER as in SCMMv1 (see above). Internally they are mapped to shiro permissions (see PermissionType).

The UI is extended like so:

Permissions mockup repository permissions

Existing repository dialog

  • queries all available repository permissions (shiro strings) and roles from the REST API,
  • queries all user/group permissions of the repository (shiro strings) and aggregates them to roles to populate the drop downs.
  • Note that the permissions are always stored as shiro strings not roles.
  • A new Advanced button per user or group entry opens a modal dialog

New modal dialog

  • The modal dialog shows all available repository permissions (shiro strings)
  • via the shiro string the display name and descriptions are found (see i18n),
  • displays descriptions as tooltips,
  • the individual user/group permission of the repo are used to populate the check boxes


Note that the examples here are not specified in HAL/HATEOAS for brevity.

Global permissions

Assigning global permissions must be implemented for either user and groups! Both use the same available permissions.

The following shows user as an example.

Available global permissions

  • URL: /globalPermissions
  • HTTP Method: GET
  • Payload example:
  "permissions": [

Assigned global permissions

  • URL: /users/{id}/permissions/
  • HTTP Method: GET/PUT
  • Payload example:
  "permissions": [

Repository permissions

Available repository permissions

  • URL: /repositoryPermissions (similar to /repositoryTypes)
  • HTTP Method: GET
  • Payload example:
  "roles": [
      "name": "Reader",
      "verbs": [ "read", "pull" ]
      "name": "Owner",
      "verbs": [ "*" ]
  "verbs": [ "read", "pull",  "push", "..", "*" ]

Assigned repository permissions

Already implemented in PermissionRootResource. Needs to be adpated from roles (WRITE) to shiro permissions (repository:read:42).

  • URL: /repositories/{namespace}/{name}/permissions
  • HTTP Method: GET
  • Payload example:
  "permissions": [
      "name": "trillian",
      "permissions": [ "read", "pull" ],
      "groupPermission": false
      "name": "owners",
      "permissions": [ "*" ],
      "groupPermission": true

This example shows the user trillian having the READER role and the group owners having the OWNER role. Note that

  • the * permission also implies all new permissions (e.g. defined by plugins or added in future versions)

and therefore has different semantics as listing all currently available permissions.

  • the permissions passed to the REST API correspond to the verbs of the repository permission. It is stored as repositories:<verb stored via REST API>:<ID of the repository identified by namespace and name>.
  • GET also returns links to individual URIs (e.g. /repositories/{namespace}/{name}/permissions/trillian) that can be used for updating permissions via PUT requests.
  • On PUT, the REST API needs to validate that each entry in permissions does not contain :!
    Otherwise we might allow for "permission injection", allowing to set permissions on other or all repositories.

Java API

The biggest technical challenges for this concept are the questions:

  • Where do we get the available permission from?
  • How do we assign these permissions?
  • How are these permissions evaluated?

Where each questions needs to be answered for

  • global and
  • repository


Global permissions

In order to implement this for global permissions an existing mechanism of SCM-Manager can be used: The SecuritySystem, implemented by the DefaultSecuritySystem.

List available permissions

The DefaultSecuritySystem reads all permissions.xml files from classpath, which also works for plugins (see Proof Of Concept).

These can be queried using securitySystem.getAvailablePermissions().

For SCMMv2 we could extend this mechanism by

  • simplifying the permissions.xml to contain only <permission><value>, because <display-name> and <description> need to be internationalized, see i18n.
  • extend the ssp library to generate permissions.xml files from @StaticPermissions annotations. The annotations should be extended to support a list of permissions that are not written to permissions.xml (e.g. user:autocomplete)

Assign permissions

The SecuritySystem also provides means to assign, store and load permissions to users or groups using Shiro string permissions like so:

AssignedPermission groupPermission = new AssignedPermission("configurers", true,"configuration:*");
AssignedPermission userPermission = new AssignedPermission("arthur", "group:*");
securitySystem.addPermission(userPermission);"All permissions: {}", securitySystem.getAllPermissions()); // Contains the permissions just added

See also the Proof Of Concept.

Evaluating permissions

The evaluation of permissions assigned via the SecuritySystem is already implemented in the DefaultAuthorizationCollector.

Dynamically add new items to available permissions

Adding items (e.g. new users) dynamically during runtime is not implemented by the SecuritySystem and in order to keep this simple we do not plan to support it, yet. See considered alternatives.

Repository Permissions

For repository permissions we need to implement a new mechanism for discovering available permissions . Assigning is already implemented (on role level, e.g. WRITE), which needs to be adapted to shiro permission level (e.g. repository:read:42).

List available permissions

We need to implement a new mechanism for discovering available permssions. Let's call it RepositoryPermissionResolver. It can work similar to the DefaultSecuritySystem (see global permissions). It reads all repository-permissions.xml files from classpath, which makes it extensible for plugins.

This obsoletes the PermissionType enum.


Assign permissions

This is already implemented in RepositoryManagers. Needs to be adapted from roles (WRITE) to shiro permissions (repository:read:42).

Evaluating permissions

Same here: Already implemented in DefaultAuthorizationCollector. Needs to be adapted from roles to shiro permissions.

The Admin flag/role

In addition to the fine-grained permission management described in this concept, we could just keep the admin flag (or role) that add the permission * to a user. It's already implemented and a well-known concept from SCMMv1.

Permission for managing permissions

Once permissions can be managed, an additional permission is necessary that answers the question: Who is allowed to manage permissions?

This permission has to be checked before permissions are read or written. It should be implemented in the DefaultSecuritySystem, instead of the assertIsAdmin() method.

For now, it is sufficiently to create a Permission permission (using @StaticPermissions) with global verbs read and write. That is,

  • permission:read
  • permission:write


Internationalization can be handled using the following conventions:

  • All permission i18n are described in plugins.json (also for core), see i18n for Plugins
  • That way the UI for users and groups can find all the translation in the same file
  • Convention for i18n keys: permissions.<shiro-String>, containing displayName and description each.


  "permissions": {
    "repository:read": {
      "displayName": "All Repositories (read)",
      "description": "Read access to all repositories"

Group Manager Plugin

One shortcoming of limiting the global permission concept to verbs (not items) is that the functionality of the scm-groupmanager-plugin is not included. That is, we need to migrate our implement it for SCMMv2. Most likely it's less effort to implement a new plugin, because we need a new SCMMv2 UI and can use the SecuritySystemto set thegroup:*:`.

The following needs to be implemented:

  • UI (core): Provide an extension point in the groups UI Navigation
  • UI: Use the extension point to add link to new dialog for adding group managers
  • UI: New Dialog similar to the repository permission dialog that allows for adding user as group managers
  • REST API for CRUD of group admins
  • Extend the available group plugins by a permission group:manage permission (permission.xml) including i18n in plugins.json.
  • Check if the user has this permission! Unfortunately this cannot be done with GroupPermissions (generated via ssp), but via SecurityUtils.getSubject().checkPermission(permission);
  • For storing the permission, make use of the SecuritySystem to set the group:*:<id> permissions.

Considered alternatives

This chapter documents some other approaches that were considered but rejected and the reasons for rejecting them.

  • Manage subject, verbs and items.
    This is the most flexible approach from a user perspective and SCMMv2 provides a mechanism for evaluating permissions on the fine-grained subject:verb:item level, why not allow our users to make use of it?
    The first approach of this concept followed this approach, but it was considered to cause to much effort during implementation. So we decided to keep it more simple, and skip the item part. This suffices most use cases.
  • A global permissions page (not per user, similar to the Jenkins Matrix Authorization Strategy Plugin).
    Leads to a crowded UI, when there are a lot of subjects and verbs (see Jenkins). When adding items would cause an Microsoft Excel-like UX, which is not desirable.
  • Manage only subjects and verbs, not items.
    Would simplify the UI and reduce the effort but the also the features and would not fulfill our requirements in terms of userrepo or groupmanager plugins. Those could still be implemented separately. Still, as SCMMv2 provides a mechanism for evaluate permissions on the fine-grained subject:verb:item level, why not allow our users to make use of it?

Implemented Permissions

This chapter documents the permissions implemented in SCM-Manager core and a lot of plugins that can be assigned to users and groups using the GUI/API. Be aware, that this is only a snapshot and may not track each change in a plugin or the core. To get the concrete list of permissions for a concrete version of the core or a plugin, take a look at the corresponding permissions.xml, repository-permissions.xml and plugins.json files.

Global Permissions

plugin permission description
core repository:read,pull:* read all repositories
core repository:read,pull,push:* write all repositories
core repository:* own all repositories
core repository:create Create repositories
core user:* administer users
core group:* administer groups
core configuration:list basic permission for all configuration permissions; needed to see config menu item
core configuration:read,write:global administer core configuration
core configuration:read,write:* administer overall configuration (including all plugins)
git configuration:read,write:git administer global git settings
git repository:git:* administer repository specific git settings
hg configuration:read,write:hg administer global mercurial settings
hg repository:hg:* administer repository specific mercurial settings
svn configuration:read,write:svn administer global subversion settings
svn repository:svn:* administer repository specific subversion settings
authormapping repository:authormapping:* read and modify author mappings for all repositories
auth-ldap configuration:read,write:ldap administer ldap server
cas configuration:read,write:cas administer cas server
statistic repository:computeStatistics:* recompute statistics for all repositories
jenkins configuration:read,write:jenkins administer global jenkins server
jenkins repository:jenkins:* administer repository specific jenkins servers
jira configuration:read,write:jira administer global jira server
jira repository:jira:* administer repository specific jira servers
pathwp repository:pathwp:* administer write protected paths for all repositories
branchwp repository:branchwp:* administer write protected paths for all repositories
tagprotection configuration:read,write:tagprotection administer globally protected tags
script script:read,modify,execute read, modify and execute scripts
webhook configuration:read,write:webhook administer web hooks
webhook repository:webhook:* administer web hooks for all repositories
redmine configuration:read,write:redmine administer global redmine server
redmine repository:redmine:* administer repository specific redmine servers
notify repository:notify:* administer notify settings for all repositories
support support:information read support relevant information
support support:information,logging read support relevant information and enable trace log
mail configuration:read,write:mail administer mail server
groupmanager group:manage:* assign group managers
ssh user:readAuthorizedKeys:* read authorization keys for all users
ssh user:readAuthorizedKeys,writeAuthorizedKeys:* configure authorization keys for all users

Repository Permissions

plugin verb description
core read read metadata of repository
core modify modify metadata of repository
core delete delete repository
core pull pull/checkout repository
core push push/commit to repository
core permissionRead read permissions of repository
core permissionWrite modify permissions for repository
core * change everything for repository ("owner")
git git administer git settings for repository
hg hg administer mercurial settings for repository
svn svn administer subversion settings for repository
review createPullRequest create pull requests
review readPullRequest read pull requests
review commentPullRequest write comments in pull requests and delete/edit own comments
review modifyPullRequest edit/delete pull requests and comments
review mergePullRequest merge/reject pull requests
authormapping authormapping modify author mappings
jenkins jenkins administer jenkins server for repository
jira jira administer jira server for repository
pathwp pathwp administer write protected paths for repository
redmine redmine administer redmine server for repository
notify notify administer notify settings for repository
branchwp branchwp administer write protected paths for repository
webhook webhook administer web hools for repository

Repository Roles

The verbs for roles are merged internally, so that a resulting role will have all verbs specified by any plugin. Mind that a OWNER has overall permissions, including all possible permissions for all plugins.

plugin role verbs
core READ read, pull
core WRITE read, pull, push
core OWNER *
review READ readPullRequest
review WRITE createPullRequest, readPullRequest, commentPullRequest, mergePullRequest
statistic READ readStatistics