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Permissions / Roles

Permissions and their groupings are defined in XML configuration files. The default files are found in the distribution configuration directory as permissionDefinitions.xml and sitePermissionDefinitions.xml. This configuration can be replaced or extended to create new permissions and roles.
Information Permissions and Roles
Support Status Full Support
Architecture Information Platform Architecture
Description Alfresco Community Edition provides a handful of out-of-the-box roles with different levels of permissions in the repository:
  • Consumer - can read content
  • Contributor - can create and upload content
  • Editor - can read and update content
  • Collaborator - can do everything except moving and deleting other users content
  • Coordinator - full access

There is also a special role called owner, which is assigned the creator of a piece of content. The owner has full access to content he or she has created. We can set up content permissions for users and groups by using these roles. If we are setting up permissions within a site, then we have four site roles to work with:

  • Site Consumer - can read content
  • Site Contributor - can create and upload content
  • Site Collaborator - can do everything except moving and deleting other users content
  • Site Manager - full access

Now, sometimes these roles are not enough to set up the permissions we need. We can then configure custom permissions (could also be referred to as custom roles). Before creating new permissions and roles it is a good idea to get familiar with the permissionDefinitions.xml file format. The element defining a basic low level right is called permission. Here are a couple of examples of out-of-the-box permissions:

...
<permissionSet type="sys:base" expose="all" >
   ...                     
   <permission name="_ReadProperties" expose="false" >
      <grantedToGroup permissionGroup="ReadProperties" />
   </permission>
   <permission name="_ReadChildren" expose="false" >
      <grantedToGroup permissionGroup="ReadChildren" />
   </permission>
   <permission name="_WriteProperties" expose="false" >
      <grantedToGroup permissionGroup="WriteProperties" />
   </permission>
   ...
</permissionSet>   
...

So we can see that each permission has a name and an expose attribute. By convention a low level permission name will always start with an underscore (_). The full name includes the type uri from the outer permissionSet, such as for example sys:base._ReadProperties.

The expose attribute tells Alfresco Community Edition if this permission should be visible in the user interface. Note that a permission does not map one-to-one with a menu item or UI action. For example, there is no permission for downloading content. Instead the permissions are focused on what operation you are allowed to execute on a content item (node) in the Repository. To download content you will need the _ReadContent permission.

When defining permissions we also specify what permission group they should be part of.

Every permission that we define needs to be associated with a type or an aspect from the content model that it applies to. This is managed by grouping the permission definitions in a so called permissionSet, which specifies the type or aspect via the type attribute, in this case the type is set to sys:base, which is the base type in Alfresco Community Edition out-of-the-box content model, so these low level permissions are applicable to all content nodes.

Examples of low level permissionGroups from the out-of-the-box ones:

...
<permissionSet type="sys:base" expose="all" >
   ... 
   <permissionGroup name="ReadProperties" expose="true" allowFullControl="false" />  
   <permissionGroup name="ReadChildren" expose="true" allowFullControl="false" />  
   <permissionGroup name="WriteProperties" expose="true" allowFullControl="false" />  
   <permissionGroup name="ReadContent" expose="false" allowFullControl="false" />  
   <permissionGroup name="WriteContent" expose="false" allowFullControl="false" /> 
   ...
</permissionSet>   
...

By convention there is one permission group per low level permission. The full name includes the type uri from the outer permissionSet, such as for example sys:base.ReadProperties.

We can find out how the public API methods map to the permission configuration by looking in the public-services-security-context.xml file. For example, the Content Service has the following access control set up:

...
<bean id="ContentService_security" class="org.alfresco.repo.security.permissions.impl.acegi.MethodSecurityInterceptor">
  <property name="authenticationManager"><ref bean="authenticationManager"/></property>
  <property name="accessDecisionManager"><ref local="accessDecisionManager"/></property>
  <property name="afterInvocationManager"><ref local="afterInvocationManager"/></property>
  <property name="objectDefinitionSource">
      <value>
         org.alfresco.service.cmr.repository.ContentService.getStoreTotalSpace=ACL_ALLOW
         org.alfresco.service.cmr.repository.ContentService.getStoreFreeSpace=ACL_ALLOW
         org.alfresco.service.cmr.repository.ContentService.getRawReader=ACL_METHOD.ROLE_ADMINISTRATOR
         org.alfresco.service.cmr.repository.ContentService.getReader=ACL_NODE.0.sys:base.ReadContent
         org.alfresco.service.cmr.repository.ContentService.getWriter=ACL_NODE.0.sys:base.WriteContent
         org.alfresco.service.cmr.repository.ContentService.isTransformable=ACL_ALLOW
         org.alfresco.service.cmr.repository.ContentService.getTransformer=ACL_ALLOW
         org.alfresco.service.cmr.repository.ContentService.getMaxSourceSizeBytes=ACL_ALLOW
         org.alfresco.service.cmr.repository.ContentService.getImageTransformer=ACL_ALLOW
         org.alfresco.service.cmr.repository.ContentService.transform=ACL_ALLOW
         org.alfresco.service.cmr.repository.ContentService.getTempWriter=ACL_ALLOW
         org.alfresco.service.cmr.repository.ContentService.*=ACL_DENY
      </value>
  </property>
</bean>   
...

Here we can see that getting the content for a node with ContentService.getReader, to for example download it, requires the sys:base.ReadContent permission.

There are also convenience groupings based on high level content operation type, such as read, write, delete:
...
<permissionSet type="sys:base" expose="all" >
   ... 
   <permissionGroup name="Read"  expose="true" allowFullControl="false">
        <includePermissionGroup type="sys:base" permissionGroup="ReadProperties"/>
        <includePermissionGroup type="sys:base" permissionGroup="ReadChildren"/>
        <includePermissionGroup type="sys:base" permissionGroup="ReadContent"/>
   </permissionGroup>
   <permissionGroup name="Write" expose="true" allowFullControl="false">
        <includePermissionGroup type="sys:base" permissionGroup="WriteProperties"/>
        <includePermissionGroup type="sys:base" permissionGroup="WriteContent"/>
   </permissionGroup>  
   ...
</permissionSet>   
...

Here we can also see a type attribute being used when including the low level permission groups. In this case the type attribute specifies from what permissionSet to include the permissionGroup. So far everything has been specified inside one permissionSet with type set to sys:base, so the permission groups will be included from it.

On top of the convenience groupings we have the groupings that could be said to represent roles, such as a Collaborator:

...
<permissionSet type="cm:cmobject" expose="selected">
   ... 
   <permissionGroup name="Consumer" allowFullControl="false" expose="true" >
       <includePermissionGroup permissionGroup="Read" type="sys:base" />
   </permissionGroup>
   <permissionGroup name="Contributor" allowFullControl="false" expose="true" >
       <includePermissionGroup permissionGroup="Consumer" type="cm:cmobject"/>
       <includePermissionGroup permissionGroup="AddChildren" type="sys:base"/>
       <includePermissionGroup permissionGroup="ReadPermissions" type="sys:base" />
   </permissionGroup>
   <permissionGroup name="Editor"  expose="true" allowFullControl="false" >
       <includePermissionGroup type="cm:cmobject" permissionGroup="Consumer"/>
       <includePermissionGroup type="sys:base" permissionGroup="Write"/>
       <includePermissionGroup type="cm:lockable" permissionGroup="CheckOut"/>
       <includePermissionGroup type="sys:base" permissionGroup="ReadPermissions"/>
   </permissionGroup>
   <permissionGroup name="Collaborator" allowFullControl="false" expose="true">
       <includePermissionGroup permissionGroup="Editor" type="cm:cmobject" />
       <includePermissionGroup permissionGroup="Contributor" type="cm:cmobject" />
   </permissionGroup>
   <permissionGroup name="Coordinator" allowFullControl="true" expose="true" />
   ...
</permissionSet>   
...

These "role" permission groups are what we work with from the user interface when setting up permissions. And they are applicable to all content of type cm:cmobject, which means files, folder, categories, links etc.

There are even more specific permission definitions for just file types and folder types:

...
<permissionSet type="cm:content" expose="selected">
   <permissionGroup name="Coordinator" extends="true" expose="true"/>
   <permissionGroup name="Collaborator" extends="true" expose="true"/>
   <permissionGroup name="Contributor" extends="true" expose="true"/>
   <permissionGroup name="Editor" extends="true" expose="true"/>
   <permissionGroup name="Consumer" extends="true" expose="true"/>
   <permissionGroup name="RecordAdministrator" extends="true" expose="false"/>
</permissionSet>
<permissionSet type="cm:folder" expose="selected">
   <permissionGroup name="Coordinator" extends="true" expose="true"/>
   <permissionGroup name="Collaborator" extends="true" expose="true"/>
   <permissionGroup name="Contributor" extends="true" expose="true"/>
   <permissionGroup name="Editor" extends="true" expose="true"/>
   <permissionGroup name="Consumer" extends="true" expose="true"/>
   <permissionGroup name="RecordAdministrator" extends="true" expose="false"/>
</permissionSet>
...

Here we can see another new attribute called extends being used. It can be used when we just want to extend an already existing permission group definition.

It is also worth having a look at the Alfresco Share site permissions defined in the sitePermissionDefinitions.xml file, they look like this:

...
<permissionSet type="st:site" expose="selected">
   <permissionGroup name="SiteManager" allowFullControl="true" expose="true" />
   
   <permissionGroup name="SiteCollaborator" allowFullControl="false" expose="true">
      <includePermissionGroup permissionGroup="Collaborator" type="cm:cmobject" />
   </permissionGroup>
   
   <permissionGroup name="SiteContributor" allowFullControl="false" expose="true">
      <includePermissionGroup permissionGroup="Contributor" type="cm:cmobject" />
   </permissionGroup>
   
   <permissionGroup name="SiteConsumer" allowFullControl="false" expose="true">
      <includePermissionGroup permissionGroup="Consumer" type="cm:cmobject" />
      <includePermissionGroup permissionGroup="ReadPermissions" type="sys:base" />
   </permissionGroup>
</permissionSet>
...

Here we can see that the site permissions (roles) basically just re-uses the standard permission groups. However, the permissionSet is targeted only at type st:site, and will not be applicable outside of a site. Also, note that the Editor role will not be available when working with site content.

Now, let's define a custom permission for publishing web content classified with the ACME Content Model (more info). We will assume we have a document library action that can be used to publish web content as follows:

<action id="alfresco.tutorials.permissions.publishToWeb"
        icon="webpublish"
        type="javascript"
        label="alfresco.tutorials.permissions.publishToWeb.label">
    <param name="function">onPublishToWeb</param>
    <permissions>
        <permission allow="true">WebPublishPermission</permission>
    </permissions>
</action>

As we can see, the document library action will only be available to someone having the WebPublishPermission. This custom permission is defined as follows:

<?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8'?>
<!DOCTYPE permissions PUBLIC '-//ALFRESCO//DTD PERMISSIONS//EN' 'permissionSchema.dtd'>
<permissions>
    <namespaces>
        <namespace uri="http://www.alfresco.org/model/system/1.0" prefix="sys"/>
        <namespace uri="http://www.alfresco.org/model/content/1.0" prefix="cm"/>
        <namespace uri="http://www.acme.org/model/content/1.0" prefix="acme"/>
    </namespaces>

    <permissionSet type="acme:document" expose="selected">
        <!-- Permission group for base WebPublish permission -->
        <permissionGroup name="WebPublishPermission" expose="false" allowFullControl="false"/>
        <!-- Permission group representing Web Publishing role -->
        <permissionGroup name="WebPublisher" allowFullControl="false" expose="true">
            <includePermissionGroup permissionGroup="WebPublishPermission" type="acme:document"/>
        </permissionGroup>

        <!-- Base WebPublish permission -->
        <permission name="_WebPublishPermission" expose="false">
            <grantedToGroup permissionGroup="WebPublishPermission"/>
        </permission>
    </permissionSet>
</permissions>

The Web Publishing permission is defined inside a permissionSet for the acme:document type, so the permission will only be available when we Manage Permissions for a content node that has this type applied. Inside the permission set we define the permission groups first and then the specific permission, the order is important. Note that only the WebPublisher permission group is exposed and will be available when setting permissions from the Manage Permissions dialog in Share. The permission that we use in the document library action definition has to be the low level permission group (i.e. WebPublishPermission) that encloses the basic permission.

At this point there is no other permissions (roles) available for acme:document content, so we might want to define ACME specific roles for Contributor, Collaborator etc. Otherwise the users will not be able to work with the ACME document content in the way they are used to with cm:content. So let's add more roles for the acme:document type as follows:

<?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8'?>
<!DOCTYPE permissions PUBLIC '-//ALFRESCO//DTD PERMISSIONS//EN' 'permissionSchema.dtd'>
<permissions>
    <namespaces>
        <namespace uri="http://www.alfresco.org/model/system/1.0" prefix="sys"/>
        <namespace uri="http://www.alfresco.org/model/content/1.0" prefix="cm"/>
        <namespace uri="http://www.acme.org/model/content/1.0" prefix="acme"/>
    </namespaces>

    <permissionSet type="acme:document" expose="selected">
        <permissionGroup name="WebPublishPermission" expose="false" allowFullControl="false"/>
        <permissionGroup name="WebPublisher" allowFullControl="false" expose="true">
            <includePermissionGroup permissionGroup="WebPublishPermission" type="acme:document"/>
        </permissionGroup>

        <!-- Out-of-the-box content specific roles. -->
        <permissionGroup name="AcmeCoordinator" allowFullControl="true" expose="true" />
        <permissionGroup name="AcmeCollaborator" allowFullControl="false" expose="true">
            <includePermissionGroup permissionGroup="Collaborator" type="cm:cmobject" />
        </permissionGroup>
        <permissionGroup name="AcmeEditor" allowFullControl="false" expose="true">
            <includePermissionGroup permissionGroup="Editor" type="cm:cmobject" />
        </permissionGroup>
        <permissionGroup name="AcmeContributor" allowFullControl="false" expose="true">
            <includePermissionGroup permissionGroup="Contributor" type="cm:cmobject" />
        </permissionGroup>
        <permissionGroup name="AcmeConsumer" allowFullControl="false" expose="true">
            <includePermissionGroup permissionGroup="Consumer" type="cm:cmobject" />
        </permissionGroup>

        <permission name="_WebPublishPermission" expose="false">
            <grantedToGroup permissionGroup="WebPublishPermission"/>
        </permission>
    </permissionSet>
</permissions>

Here we have added ACME specific roles for the out-of-the-box standard roles. If we got this new permission model in a file called for example customPermissionDefinitions.xml, then it can be bootstrapped into the Repository with the following Spring bean definition:

<bean id="org.alfresco.tutorial.customPermissionDefinitions" parent="permissionModelBootstrap">
  <property name="model" value="alfresco/module/${project.artifactId}/model/customPermissionDefinitions.xml"/>
</bean>

<!-- Override to add the new custom Web Publish permission -->
<bean id="baseJsonConversionComponent" abstract="true">
  <property name="nodeService" ref="NodeService"/>
  <property name="publicServiceAccessService" ref="PublicServiceAccessService" />
  <property name="namespaceService" ref="NamespaceService" />
  <property name="fileFolderService" ref="FileFolderService" />
  <property name="lockService" ref="LockService" />
  <property name="permissionService" ref="PermissionService" />
  <property name="contentService" ref="ContentService" />
  <property name="userPermissions">
      <list>
          <value>Unlock</value>
          <value>CancelCheckOut</value>
          <value>ChangePermissions</value>
          <value>CreateChildren</value>
          <value>Delete</value>
          <value>Write</value>
          <value>WebPublishPermission</value>
      </list>
  </property>
</bean>

The WebPublishPermission will unfortunately not be known to the Document Library and the action until we add it to the list of userPermissions by overriding the baseJsonConversionComponent bean as in the above code snippet.

The UI labels for the ACME roles are controlled by the following properties:

roles.webpublisher=Web Publisher
roles.acmecoordinator=ACME Coordinator
roles.acmecollaborator=ACME Collaborator
roles.acmeeditor=ACME Editor
roles.acmecontributor=ACME Contributor
roles.acmeconsumer=ACME Consumer

That is all that is needed to add new custom permissions.

Deployment - App Server
  • tomcat/shared/classes/alfresco/extension - Permission model XML file and Spring context file loading it
Deployment - SDK Project
  • repo-amp/src/main/amp/config/alfresco/module/repo-amp/context/bootstrap-context.xml - Spring bean loading permission model
  • repo-amp/src/main/amp/config/alfresco/module/repo-amp/model/customPermissionDefinitions.xml - Custom permission model
  • You will also need a Share AMP to set labels for permission roles
More Information
Sample Code

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