Happy #FaaSFriday today we are going to learn how to build our very own serverless authentication backend using Pure Ruby. Alex Ellis of OpenFaaS believes it would be useful to not rely on any gems that require Native Extensions (MySQL, ActiveRecord, bcrypt, etc…) so thats what I intend to do, This tutorial will use nothing byt pure ruby to keep containers small.

Before you continue reading I highly recommend you checkout OpenFaaS on Twitter and Star the OpenFaas repo on Github


This authentication platform as is should not be used in a production environment as password encryption is sub-optimal (i.e its plain SHA2 and not salted) but.. it could be changed easily something more suitable like bcrypt.

We make extensive use of Environment variables however You should use secrets read more about that here.

Now thats out of the way lets get stuck in.


As always in order to follow this tutorial there are pre-requisites.

  • You have a working OpenFaaS deployment
    • Mine is on Kubernetes, but you can also use Docker Swarm
  • You have an understanding of Ruby
  • You have access to a mySQL Database
  • You can make calls to an OpenFaaS Function

What is OpenFaas?

With OpenFaaS you can package anything as a serverless function – from Node.js to Golang to CSharp, even binaries like ffmpeg or ImageMagick.


Our serverless microblogging platform consists of 5 Functions


Our Register function will accept a JSON String containing a Username, Password, First Name, Last Name and E-Mail address. Once submitted we will check the Database for an existing Username and E-Mail if none is found we will add a new record to the database.


Our Login function will accept a JSON string containing a username and password, We will then return a signed JWT containing the username, first name, last name and e-mail.

Registering Users

In order to add posts we need to have users, Lets get started by registering our first user.

Run the following SQL Query to create the users table.

 password TEXT NOT NULL,
 first_name text NOT NULL,
 last_name int NOT NULL
CREATE UNIQUE INDEX users_id_uindex ON users (id);

Now we have our table lets create our first function.

$ faas-cli new faas-ruby-register --lang ruby

this will download the templates and create our first function. Open the Gemfile and add the ‘ruby-mysql’ gem

source 'https://rubygems.org'

gem 'ruby-mysql'

thats the only Gem we need for this function. ruby-mysql is a pure ruby implementation of a mySQL connector and suits the needs of our project. We will be using this gem extensively.

Now open up handler.rb and we add the following code.

require 'mysql'
require 'json'
require 'digest/sha2'

class Handler
    def run(req)
      @my = Mysql.connect(ENV['mysql_host'], ENV['mysql_user'], ENV['mysql_password'], ENV['mysql_database'])
      json = JSON.parse(req)
      if !user_exists(json["username"], json["email"])
        password = Digest::SHA2::new << json['password']
        stmt = @my.prepare('insert into users (username, password, email, first_name, last_name) values (?, ?, ?, ?, ?)')
        stmt.execute json["username"], password.to_s, json["email"], json["first_name"], json["last_name"]
        return "{'username': #{json["username"]}, 'status': 'created'}"
        return "{'error': 'Username or E-Mail already in use'}"

    def user_exists(username, email)
      @my.query("SELECT username FROM users WHERE username = '#{Mysql.escape_string(username)}' OR email = '#{Mysql.escape_string(email)}'").each do |username|
        return true
      return false

And thats our function, Lets have a look at some of this function in detail. In our runner I declared a class variable @my with our mySQL connection. I then parsed the JSON we passed to the function. I used a user_exists method to determine if a user exists in our database, if not I moved on to create a new user. I hashed the password with SHA2 and used a prepared statement to insert our new user.

Open your faas-ruby-register.yml and make it match the following, Please ensure you use your own image instead of mine if you are making modifications.

  name: faas

    lang: ruby
    handler: ./faas-ruby-register
    image: affixxx/faas-ruby-register
      mysql_host: HOST
      mysql_user: USERNAME
      mysql_password: PASSWORD    
      mysql_database: DB

Now lets deploy and test the function!

$ faas-cli build -f faas-ruby-register.yml # Build our function Container
$ faas-cli push -f faas-ruby-register.yml # Push our container to dockerhub
$ faas-cli deploy -f faas-ruby-register.yml # deploy the function
$ echo '{"username": "affixx", "password": "TestPassword", "email":"caontact@keiran.scot", "first_name": "keiran", "last_name":"smith"}' | faas-cli invoke faas-ruby-register
{'username': username, 'status': 'created'}
$ echo '{"username": "affixx", "password": "TestPassword", "email":"caontact@keiran.scot", "first_name": "keiran", "last_name":"smith"}' | faas-cli invoke faas-ruby-register
{'error': 'Username or E-Mail already in use'}

awesome register works. Lets move on.

Logging In

Now we have a user in our database we need to log them in, This will require generating a JWT token so we need to generate an RSA Keypair. On a unix based system run the following commands.

$ openssl genpkey -algorithm RSA -out private_key.pem -pkeyopt rsa_keygen_bits:2048
$ openssl rsa -pubout -in private_key.pem -out public_key.pem

Now we have our keypair we need a base64 representation of the text, using a method of your choice get a base64 representation.

Lets generate our new function with faas-cli

$ faas-cli new faas-ruby-login --lang ruby

Before we start working on the function lets get the faas-ruby-login.yml file ready

  name: faas

    lang: ruby
    handler: ./faas-ruby-login
    image: affixxx/faas-ruby-login
      public_key: BASE64_RSA_PUBLIC_KEY
      private_key: BASE64_RSA_PRIVATE_KEY
      mysql_host: mysql
      mysql_user: root
      mysql_database: users

Now we can write the function. This one is a little more complex than registration. So open the faas-ruby-login/handler.rb file and replace it with the following.

require 'mysql'
require 'jwt'
require 'digest/sha2'

class Handler
    def run(req)
      my = Mysql.connect(ENV['mysql_host'], ENV['mysql_user'], ENV['mysql_password'], ENV['mysql_database'])
      token = nil
      req = JSON.parse(req)
      username = Mysql.escape_string(req['username'])
      my.query("SELECT email, password, username, first_name, last_name FROM users WHERE username = '#{username}'").each do |email, password, username, first_name, last_name|
        digest = Digest::SHA2.new << req['password']
        if digest.to_s == password
          user = {
            email: email,
            first_name: first_name,
            last_name: last_name,
            username: username

          token = generate_jwt(user)
          return "{'username': '#{username}', 'token': '#{token}'}"
          return "{'error': 'Invalid username/password'}"
      return "{'error': 'Invalid username/password'}"

    def generate_jwt(user)
      payload = {
        nbf: Time.now.to_i - 10,
        iat: Time.now.to_i - 10,
        exp: Time.now.to_i + ((60) * 60) * 4,
        user: user

      priv_key = OpenSSL::PKey::RSA.new(Base64.decode64(ENV['private_key']))

      JWT.encode(payload, priv_key, 'RS256')

The biggest difference between this function and our register function is of course the JWT generator. JWT (JSON Web Tokens) are an open, industry standard RFC 7519 method for representing claims securely between two parties.

Our payload obviously contains our user hash after we fetched this from the database, However there are some other fields required.

nbf: Not Before, Our token is not valid before this timestamp. We subtract 10 seconds from the timestamps to account for clock drift.

iat: Issued at, This is the time we issued the token, Again we set this to 10 seconds in the past to account for time drift.

exp: Expiry, this is when our token will no longer be, we have it set to 14400 seconds (4 hours).

Lets test our login function!

$ echo '{"username": "affixx", "password": "TestPassword"}' | faas invoke faas-ruby-login
{'username': 'affixx', 'token': 'eyJhbGciOiJSUzI1NiJ9.eyJuYmYiOjE1MjY1OTMyMTgsImlhdCI6MTUyNjU5MzIxOCwiZXhwIjoxNTI2NjA3NjI4LCJ1c2VyIjp7ImVtYWlsIjoiY2FvbnRhY3RAa2VpcmFuLnNjb3QiLCJmaXJzdF9uYW1lIjoia2VpcmFuIiwibGFzdF9uYW1lIjoic21pdGgiLCJ1c2VybmFtZSI6ImFmZml4eCJ9fQ.qchkmOk8dsrw7SL6Rhi0nHyIlaHX4pzUNXXAQMEOb6IU0n1uT9AJEhFVptZ7tueriaTauY1zmYjKm79pd_UfekVICU4EMbGKt8bQaWrmlqpSel88PyQwolI_bYZqybW2TwWYsdwHcGgGgfb8A8ssk9y6YhktviKdofQYPUmLmaB5uljFHkMvNIg-ByJQpTYmCnMfAC-JF6mOsh65dKCP3qz78HiSX3gHODG1Gk1OJbePVpyDNmw7pGrO97c7kUgTWs5wVmD7Kgs697tAkPz65pFDavwZHSvdzpPEZ47Bh8NCGfWe73KYpceCjmOZK6tuawIx0MM4YP0XWke7kOtKkg'}

Success! lets check the token on JWT.io


Success we have a valid JWT.

What happens with an invalid username/password

$ echo '{"username": "affixx", "password": "WrongPassword"}' | faas invoke faas-ruby-login
{'error': 'Invalid username/password'}

Exactly as expected!

Thats all folks!

Thanks for reading this tutorial!

As always the code for this tutorial is available on github, there are also extra tools available!