How do I integrate Oso into my app?

There are two main steps to adding Oso.

First, you express authorization logic as declarative rules, written in Polar and stored in Oso policy files.

Second, you install the Oso library for your application language/framework, and add the is_allowed checks to wherever it is most suitable for your use case. For example, it is common to have checks at the API layer – for example checking the HTTP request, and the path supplied – as well as checks on the data access, e.g. when your application is retrieving data from the database.

For more detailed discussion on where to integrate Oso in your application depending on your requirements, please visit our guide, Add Oso to an App.

What data does Oso store?

When you load policy files into Oso, Oso stores in memory the rules defined in the policy. In addition, Oso stores any registered classes on the Oso instance.

In the course of executing a query, Oso caches any instances of classes/objects that it sees, but it clears these when the query finishes.

Oso does not, for example, store any data about the users, what groups they are in, or what permissions have been assigned to them. The expectation is that this data lives in your application, and that Oso accesses it as needed when evaluating queries.

Because of this, it is rare to need to change policies while the application is running. For example, if you need to revoke a user’s access because they leave the company or change roles, then updating the application data will immediately flow through to policy decisions and achieve the desired outcome.

Changes to policy should be seen as the same as making source code changes, and can be implemented through existing deployment processes.

Can I query Oso arbitrarily?

Absolutely, you can!

We use allow as convention to make it easy to get started with Oso. However, all Oso libraries additionally expose a query_rule method, which enables you to query any rule you want.

Beyond this, you can even query using inputs that are not yet set by passing in variables. However, this is currently an experimental feature, and full documentation is coming soon.

How does Oso access my application data?

When a policy contains an attribute or method lookup, e.g., actor.email, the policy evaluation pauses and Oso returns control to the application. It creates an event to say “please lookup the field email on the object instance with id 123”. (The Oso library stores a lookup from instance IDs to the concrete application instance.)

What happens next depends on the specific language, but it will use some form of dynamic lookup – e.g., a simple getattr in Python, or reflection in Java.

The application returns the result to the policy engine, and execution continues.

What is the best practice for managing policy files in a way that’s maintainable in the long-run?

This is a common question from those who have used policy languages or rules engines before. Corollary questions may be:

  • Can I have multiple policy files?

  • How do I stop policy files from getting out of control?

The answer, of course, varies by use case, but we suggest the following rules of thumb:

  • Yes, you can and should have multiple policy files. All rules loaded into Oso live in the same namespace; you can reference rules in other policy files without importing.

  • We encourage you to think of your policy files the same way you think about source code. You should refactor large rules into smaller rules, where each rule captures a self-contained piece of logic.

  • You can organize source files according to the components they refer to.

What are the performance characteristics of Oso?

Oso is designed to be lightweight and to have a limited performance footprint. The core library is written in Rust, and is driven directly by your application. There are no background threads, no garbage collection, no IO to wait on. Each instruction takes about 1-2 us, and typical queries take approximately 1-20 ms.

For a more detailed discussion of the performance characteristics of Oso, please see the performance page.

Use cases, i.e., When should I use Oso, and when should I use something else?

The foundation of Oso is designed to support a wide variety of use cases, though given Oso’s focus on application integration there are some use cases that are currently a more natural fit than others. For a more detailed discussion of this topic, please see our use cases page.

What languages and frameworks do you support?

We currently support Python, Node.js, Go, Rust, Ruby, and Java, and are actively working on supporting more languages. We have framework integrations for Flask, Django and SQLAlchemy. The easiest place to try Oso in your language of choice is the Quickstart.

Vote & track your favorite language and framework integrations at our GitHub repository, and sign up for our newsletter in the footer anywhere on our docs if you’d like to stay up to speed on the latest product updates.

What operating systems do you support?

We currently support Linux, macOS, and Windows.

What license does Oso use?

Oso is licensed under the Apache 2.0 license.

How does pricing work?

Oso is freely available as an open source product and will always be free and open source.

We are also working on a commercial product that will be built around the core open source product. If you are interested in support for Oso or the commercial product, please contact us.

Who builds and maintains Oso?

Oso is built by Oso! We are headquartered in New York City and remotely with engineers across two continents, and we are hard at work on new features and improvements. If you have feedback or ideas about how we can make the product better, we would be delighted to hear from you. Please feel free to reach out to us at engineering@osohq.com.

Connect with us on Slack

If you have any questions, or just want to talk something through, jump into Slack. An Oso engineer or one of the thousands of developers in the growing community will be happy to help.