Getting started

Build a OAuth2 provider using Django, Django OAuth Toolkit, and OAuthLib.

What we will build?

The plan is to build an OAuth2 provider from ground up.

On this getting started we will:

  • Create the Django project.
  • Install and configure Django OAuth Toolkit.
  • Create two OAuth2 applications.
  • Use Authorization code grant flow.
  • Use Client Credential grant flow.

What is OAuth?

OAuth is an open standard for access delegation, commonly used as a way for Internet users to grant websites or applications access to their information on other websites but without giving them the passwords. – Whitson Gordon


Django is a high-level Python Web framework that encourages rapid development and clean, pragmatic design. Built by experienced developers, it takes care of much of the hassle of Web development, so you can focus on writing your app without needing to reinvent the wheel. – Django website

Let’s get start by creating a virtual environment:

mkproject iam

This will create, activate and change directory to the new Python virtual environment.

Install Django:

pip install Django

Create a Django project:

django-admin startproject iam

This will create a mysite directory in your current directory. With the following estructure:

└── iam
    ├── iam
    │   ├──
    │   ├──
    │   ├──
    │   ├──
    │   └──

Create a Django application:

cd iam/
python startapp users

That’ll create a directory users, which is laid out like this:

├── iam
│   ├──
│   ├──
│   ├──
│   ├──
│   └──
└── users
    ├── migrations
    │   └──

If you’re starting a new project, it’s highly recommended to set up a custom user model, even if the default User model is sufficient for you. This model behaves identically to the default user model, but you’ll be able to customize it in the future if the need arises. – Django documentation

Edit users/ adding the code below:

from django.contrib.auth.models import AbstractUser

class User(AbstractUser):

Change iam/ to add users application to INSTALLED_APPS:


Configure users.User to be the model used for the auth application by adding AUTH_USER_MODEL to iam/


Create inital migration for users application User model:

python makemigrations

The command above will create the migration:

Migrations for 'users':
    - Create model User

Finally execute the migration:

python migrate

The migrate output:

Operations to perform:
  Apply all migrations: admin, auth, contenttypes, sessions, users
Running migrations:
  Applying contenttypes.0001_initial... OK
  Applying contenttypes.0002_remove_content_type_name... OK
  Applying auth.0001_initial... OK
  Applying auth.0002_alter_permission_name_max_length... OK
  Applying auth.0003_alter_user_email_max_length... OK
  Applying auth.0004_alter_user_username_opts... OK
  Applying auth.0005_alter_user_last_login_null... OK
  Applying auth.0006_require_contenttypes_0002... OK
  Applying auth.0007_alter_validators_add_error_messages... OK
  Applying auth.0008_alter_user_username_max_length... OK
  Applying auth.0009_alter_user_last_name_max_length... OK
  Applying auth.0010_alter_group_name_max_length... OK
  Applying auth.0011_update_proxy_permissions... OK
  Applying users.0001_initial... OK
  Applying admin.0001_initial... OK
  Applying admin.0002_logentry_remove_auto_add... OK
  Applying admin.0003_logentry_add_action_flag_choices... OK
  Applying sessions.0001_initial... OK

Django OAuth Toolkit

Django OAuth Toolkit can help you by providing, out of the box, all the endpoints, data, and logic needed to add OAuth2 capabilities to your Django projects.

Install Django OAuth Toolkit:

pip install django-oauth-toolkit

Add oauth2_provider to INSTALLED_APPS in iam/


Execute the migration:

python migrate

The migrate command output:

Operations to perform:
  Apply all migrations: admin, auth, contenttypes, oauth2_provider, sessions, users
Running migrations:
  Applying oauth2_provider.0001_initial... OK
  Applying oauth2_provider.0002_auto_20190406_1805... OK

Include oauth2_provider.urls to iam/ as follows:

from django.contrib import admin
from django.urls import include, path

urlpatterns = [
    path('o/', include('oauth2_provider.urls', namespace='oauth2_provider')),

This will make available endpoints to authorize, generate token and create OAuth applications.

Last change, add LOGIN_URL to iam/


We will use Django Admin login to make our life easy.

Create a user:

python createsuperuser

Username: wiliam
Email address:
Password (again):
Superuser created successfully.

OAuth2 Authorization Grants

An authorization grant is a credential representing the resource owner’s authorization (to access its protected resources) used by the client to obtain an access token. – RFC6749

The OAuth framework specifies several grant types for different use cases. – Grant types

We will start by given a try to the grant types listed below:

  • Authorization code
  • Client credential

These two grant types cover the most initially used use cases.

Authorization Code

The Authorization Code flow is best used in web and mobile apps. This is the flow used for third party integration, the user authorizes your partner to access its products in your APIs.

Start the development server:

python runserver

Point your browser to lets create an application.

Fill the form as show in the screenshot bellow and before save take note of Client id and Client secret we will use it in a minute.

Authorization code application registration

Export Client id and Client secret values as environment variable:

export ID=vW1RcAl7Mb0d5gyHNQIAcH110lWoOW2BmWJIero8
export SECRET=DZFpuNjRdt5xUEzxXovAp40bU3lQvoMvF3awEStn61RXWE0Ses4RgzHWKJKTvUCHfRkhcBi3ebsEfSjfEO96vo2Sh6pZlxJ6f7KcUbhvqMMPoVxRwv4vfdWEoWMGPeIO

Now let’s generate an authentication code grant with PKCE (Proof Key for Code Exchange), useful to prevent authorization code injection. To do so, you must first generate a code_verifier random string between 43 and 128 characters, which is then encoded to produce a code_challenge:

import random
import string
import base64
import hashlib

code_verifier = ''.join(random.choice(string.ascii_uppercase + string.digits) for _ in range(random.randint(43, 128)))
code_verifier = base64.urlsafe_b64encode(code_verifier.encode('utf-8'))

code_challenge = hashlib.sha256(code_verifier).digest()
code_challenge = base64.urlsafe_b64encode(code_challenge).decode('utf-8').replace('=', '')

Take note of code_challenge since we will include it in the code flow URL. It should look something like XRi41b-5yHtTojvCpXFpsLUnmGFz6xR15c3vpPANAvM.

Export code_verifier value as environment variable, it should be something like:


To start the Authorization code flow go to this URL which is the same as shown below:

Note the parameters we pass:

  • response_type: code
  • code_challenge: XRi41b-5yHtTojvCpXFpsLUnmGFz6xR15c3vpPANAvM
  • code_challenge_method: S256
  • client_id: vW1RcAl7Mb0d5gyHNQIAcH110lWoOW2BmWJIero8
  • redirect_uri:

This identifies your application, the user is asked to authorize your application to access its resources.

Go ahead and authorize the web-app

Authorization code authorize web-app

Remember we used as redirect_uri you will get a Page not found (404) but it worked if you get a url like:

This is the OAuth2 provider trying to give you a code. in this case uVqLxiHDKIirldDZQfSnDsmYW1Abj2.

Export it as an environment variable:

export CODE=uVqLxiHDKIirldDZQfSnDsmYW1Abj2

Now that you have the user authorization is time to get an access token:

curl -X POST -H "Cache-Control: no-cache" -H "Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded" "" -d "client_id=${ID}" -d "client_secret=${SECRET}" -d "code=${CODE}" -d "code_verifier=${CODE_VERIFIER}" -d "redirect_uri=" -d "grant_type=authorization_code"

To be more easy to visualize:

curl -X POST \
    -H "Cache-Control: no-cache" \
    -H "Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded" \
    "" \
    -d "client_id=${ID}" \
    -d "client_secret=${SECRET}" \
    -d "code=${CODE}" \
    -d "code_verifier=${CODE_VERIFIER}" \
    -d "redirect_uri=" \
    -d "grant_type=authorization_code"

The OAuth2 provider will return the follow response:

  "access_token": "jooqrnOrNa0BrNWlg68u9sl6SkdFZg",
  "expires_in": 36000,
  "token_type": "Bearer",
  "scope": "read write",
  "refresh_token": "HNvDQjjsnvDySaK0miwG4lttJEl9yD"

To access the user resources we just use the access_token:

curl \
    -H "Authorization: Bearer jooqrnOrNa0BrNWlg68u9sl6SkdFZg" \
    -X GET http://localhost:8000/resource

Client Credential

The Client Credential grant is suitable for machine-to-machine authentication. You authorize your own service or worker to change a bank account transaction status to accepted.

Point your browser to lets create an application.

Fill the form as show in the screenshot below, and before saving take note of Client id and Client secret we will use it in a minute.

Client credential application registration

Export Client id and Client secret values as environment variable:

export ID=axXSSBVuvOyGVzh4PurvKaq5MHXMm7FtrHgDMi4u
export SECRET=1fuv5WVfR7A5BlF0o155H7s5bLgXlwWLhi3Y7pdJ9aJuCdl0XV5Cxgd0tri7nSzC80qyrovh8qFXFHgFAAc0ldPNn5ZYLanxSm1SI1rxlRrWUP591wpHDGa3pSpB6dCZ

The Client Credential flow is simpler than the Authorization Code flow.

We need to encode client_id and client_secret as HTTP base authentication encoded in base64 I use the following code to do that.

>>> import base64
>>> client_id = "axXSSBVuvOyGVzh4PurvKaq5MHXMm7FtrHgDMi4u"
>>> secret = "1fuv5WVfR7A5BlF0o155H7s5bLgXlwWLhi3Y7pdJ9aJuCdl0XV5Cxgd0tri7nSzC80qyrovh8qFXFHgFAAc0ldPNn5ZYLanxSm1SI1rxlRrWUP591wpHDGa3pSpB6dCZ"
>>> credential = "{0}:{1}".format(client_id, secret)
>>> base64.b64encode(credential.encode("utf-8"))

Export the credential as an environment variable


To start the Client Credential flow you call /token/ endpoint directly:

curl -X POST -H "Authorization: Basic ${CREDENTIAL}" -H "Cache-Control: no-cache" -H "Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded" "" -d "grant_type=client_credentials"

To be easier to visualize:

curl -X POST \
    -H "Authorization: Basic ${CREDENTIAL}" \
    -H "Cache-Control: no-cache" \
    -H "Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded" \
    "" \
    -d "grant_type=client_credentials"

The OAuth2 provider will return the following response:

    "access_token": "PaZDOD5UwzbGOFsQr34LQ7JUYOj3yK",
    "expires_in": 36000,
    "token_type": "Bearer",
    "scope": "read write"

Next step is first tutorial.