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Introduction to API Clients

Published by Rob Watt on June 24, 2016

Last updated on June 25, 2018

OrderCloud uses the term API Clients to identify various access points to your marketplace's data. These access points have properties that control what parties can use it, how they can gain access, and for how long that access remains valid.

Creating API Clients

Like anything else on the OrderCloud platform, API Clients can be managed via our RESTful API. Whenever a new marketplace is created on OrderCloud, a default API Client is created along with a Full Access Seller user. You can use this initial context to create anything else in OrderCloud, including more API Clients.

Naming Your API Client

Choosing the right name for your API Client is important. By picking something descriptive, future developers will better understand when they should be utilized.

Defining User Access

You can control which parties in your marketplace can access each of your API Clients using any combination of the following three properties:

  • AllowSeller - All Seller Users can use the API Client

  • AllowAnySupplier - Supplier Users in any Supplier company can use the API Client

  • AllowAnyBuyer - Buyer Users in any Buyer company can use the API Client

In addition to the properties above, you can create API Client assignments to enable further control. For example, allowing a specific Buyer company access while blocking others. Each assignment references an API Client ID paired with a Buyer or Supplier ID. AllowAnyBuyer and AllowAnySeller will nullify direct assignments for their respective company type, so be sure set those properties to false if you need that level of control.

Client Secrets and OAuth

Adding a Client Secret to an API Client changes how you'll interact with the OrderCloud OAuth server. If a Client Secret exists, it is required on all OAuth grant types (yes, even Password).

Normally this configuration is used for automated systems that require access to your OrderCloud data. This is because it enables the use of OAuth's Client Credentials grant type.

You will quickly realize that a Client Secret by itself is not sufficient enough for OrderCloud to grant you access to the API. Every user in OrderCloud can have their own unique level of data access. In order to know what an authenticated party can read from or write to, every interaction must come from a User Context.

The DefaultContextUserName property is for exactly that. It let's OrderCloud know what user context to provide when authentication occurs using the Client Credentials grant type. As far as OrderCloud knows, you are the default context user when using this grant type.

Read more about supported OAuth workflows here here.

Anonymous Shopping (Guest Checkout)

Now that you understand how to enable the Client Credentials grant type you may think that this is all you would need in order to enable Anonymous Shopping - or what some call "Guest Checkout". This is incorrect, as anonymous shoppers should not be treated as if they are the default context user. They need to be treated as a temporary "copy" of the default context user.

This is where the IsAnonBuyer property comes in. When enabled, many of the Me Perspective features are limited so that details about the default context user, like email address, cannot be altered. Additionally, the access_token will be encoded with an orderid which provides the anonymous user access to that order only.

It is important to note that adding a Client Secret is not necessary to enable Anonymous Shopping. In fact, it is not recommended to require a Client Secret for any client-side application.

Read more about Anonymous Shopping here.

Token Durations

Once a party has the appropriate level of access to your marketplace - it's important to control how long that access will last. This is controlled by two properties: AccessTokenDuration and RefreshTokenDuration. The most important of the two is AccessTokenDuration - this is how long an access_token acquired using a specific API Client ID will live (in minutes).

Once the primary access_token expires, if the API Client is configured with a longer lasting RefreshTokenDuration, the original OAuth response will return a corresponding refresh_token. This can be used to acquire a fresh access_token and maintain user authentication until the refresh_token expires. Long lasting token durations are not recommended for systems with a high level of data access in your marketplace as shorter token durations are more secure.

Using Multiple API Clients

In general, we encourage creating a new API Client for each system or isolated piece of functionality. This allows for quicker identification of bottlenecks in your solution, as every authenticated request will have the API Client that was used embedded in the Authorization header.

Using API Clients like this also strengthens security. For example, if one system is compromised you can block access by deactivating its API Client or generating a new one without affecting availability of other systems in your solution.

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