To use API endpoints, the external application has to authenticate itself, so that Part-DB knows which user is accessing the data and which permissions the application should have during the access. Authentication is always bound to a specific user, so the external applications is acting on behalf of a specific user. This user limits the permissions of the application so that it can only access data, which the user is allowed to access.

The only method currently available for authentication is to use API tokens:

API tokens

An API token is a long alphanumeric string, which is bound to a specific user and can be used to authenticate as this user when accessing the API. The API token is passed via the Authorization HTTP header during the API request, like the following: Authorization: Bearer tcp_sdjfks.....

Everybody who knows the API token can access the API as the user, which is bound to the token. So you should treat the API token like a password and keep it secret. Only share it with trusted applications.

API tokens can be created and managed on the user settings page in the API token section. You can create as many API tokens as you want and also delete them again. When deleting a token, it is immediately invalidated and can not be used anymore, which means that the application can not access the API anymore with this token.

Token permissions and scopes

API tokens are ultimately limited by the permissions of the user, which belongs to the token. That means that the token can only access data, that the user is allowed to access, no matter the token permissions.

But you can further limit the permissions of a token by choosing a specific scope for the token. The scope defines which subset of permissions the token has, which can be less than the permissions of the user. For example, you can have a user with full read and write permissions, but create a token with only read permissions, which can only read data, but not change anything in the database.

In general, you should always use the least possible permissions for a token, to limit the possible damage, which can be done with a stolen token or a bug in the application. Only use the full or admin scope, if you really need it, as they could potentially be used to do a lot of damage to your Part-DB instance.

The following token scopes are available:

  • Read-Only: The token can only read non-sensitive data (like parts, but no users or groups) from the API and can not change anything.
  • Edit: The token can read and write non-sensitive data via the API. This includes creating, updating and deleting data. This should be enough for most applications.
  • Admin: The token can read and write all data via the API, including sensitive data like users and groups. This should only be used for trusted applications, which need to access sensitive data and perform administrative actions.
  • Full: The token can do anything the user can do, including changing the user’s password and creating new tokens. This should only be used for highly trusted applications!!

Please note, that in early versions of the API, there might be no endpoints yet, to really perform the actions, which would be allowed by the token scope.

Expiration date

API tokens can have an expiration date, which means that the token is only valid until the expiration date. After that the token is automatically invalidated and can not be used anymore. The token is still listed on the user settings page, and can be deleted there, but the code can not be used to access Part-DB anymore after the expiration date.

Get token information

When authenticating with an API token, you can get information about the currently used token by accessing the /api/tokens/current endpoint. It gives you information about the token scope, expiration date and the user, which is bound to the token and the last time the token was used.