The simple way to add GitHub OAuth to your Elixir/Phoenix Apps!




The easiest way to add GitHub OAuth authentication to your Elixir/Phoenix Apps.

Build Status contributions welcome HitCount

Why? 🤷

We needed a much simpler and extensively documented way to add "Sign-in with GitHub" capability to our Elixir App(s).

We created this package because everyone @dwyl uses GitHub so using GitHub OAuth makes sense for our internal (and external) tools. By making it into a well-documented and tested reusable module other people can benefit from it.

What? 💭

An Elixir package that seamlessly handles GitHub OAuth Authentication/Authorization in as few steps as possible.
Following best practices for security & privacy and avoiding complexity by having sensible defaults for all settings.

Who? 👥

This module is for people building apps using Elixir/Phoenix who want to ship the "Sign-in with GitHub" feature faster and more maintainably.

It's targeted at complete beginners with no prior experience/knowledge of auth "schemes" or "strategies".
Just follow the detailed instructions and you'll be up and running in 5 minutes.

How? 💻

Add GitHub Auth to your Elixir/Phoenix project by following these 5 simple steps:

If you get stuck setting up your App, checkout our working demo:
The demo is deployed on Heroku:

1. Add the hex package to deps 📦

Open your project's mix.exs file and locate the deps (dependencies) section.
Add a line for :elixir_auth_github in the deps list:

def deps do
    {:elixir_auth_github, "~> 1.0.3"}

Once you have added the line to your mix.exs, remember to run the mix deps.get command in your terminal to download the dependencies.

2. Create a GitHub App and OAuth2 Credentials 🆕

Create a GitHub Application if you don't already have one, generate the OAuth2 Credentials for the application and save the credentials as environment variables accessible by your app.

Note: There are a few steps for creating a set of GitHub APIs credentials, so if you don't already have a GitHub App, we created the following step-by-step guide to make it quick and relatively painless:
Don't be intimidated by all the buzz-words; it's quite straightforward. And if you get stuck, ask for help!

By the end of this step you should have these two environment variables set:


⚠️ Don't worry, these keys aren't valid (they were revoked before we published this guide).
They are just here for illustration purposes.

💡 Tip: We tend to use an .env file to manage our environment variables on our localhost and then use whichever system for environment variables appropriate for our deployment. e.g: Heroku For an example .env file with the environment variables required by elixir-auth-github see: .env_sample

3. Create 2 New Files

Create two files in order to handle the requests to the GitHub OAuth API and display data to people using your app.

3.1 Create a GithubAuthController in your Project

In order to process and display the data returned by the GitHub OAuth2 API, we need to create a new controller.

Create a new file called lib/app_web/controllers/github_auth_controller.ex

Add the folowing code to the file:

defmodule AppWeb.GithubAuthController do
  use AppWeb, :controller

  @doc """
  `index/2` handles the callback from GitHub Auth API redirect.
  def index(conn, %{"code" => code}) do
    {:ok, profile} = ElixirAuthGithub.github_auth(code)
    |> put_view(AppWeb.PageView)
    |> render(:welcome, profile: profile)

This function is invoked as the callback when the person has successfully authenticated with GitHub.

The code does 2 things:

  • Request the person's profile data from GitHub based on the code sent by GitHub's callback request.
  • Renders a :welcome view displaying some profile data to confirm that login with GitHub was successful.

Note: we are placing the welcome.html.eex template in the template/page directory to save having to create any more directories and view files. You are free to organise your code however you prefer. 👍

3.2 Create welcome template 📝

Create a new file with the following path: lib/app_web/templates/page/welcome.html.eex

And type (or paste) the following code in it:

<section class="phx-hero">
  <h1> Welcome <%= %>!
  <img width="32px" src="<%= @profile.avatar_url %>" />
  <p> You are <strong>signed in</strong>
    with your <strong>GitHub Account</strong> <br />
    <strong style="color:teal;"><%= %></strong>

Invoking ElixirAuthGithub.github_auth(code) in the GithubAuthController index function will make an HTTP request to the GitHub Auth API and will return {:ok, profile} where the profile is the following format:

  site_admin: false,
  disk_usage: 265154,
  access_token: "8eeb143935d1a505692aaef856db9b4da8245f3c",
  private_gists: 0,
  followers_url: "",
  public_repos: 291,
  gists_url: "{/gist_id}",
  subscriptions_url: "",
  plan: %{
    "collaborators" => 0,
    "name" => "pro",
    "private_repos" => 9999,
    "space" => 976562499
  node_id: "MDQ6VXNlcjE5NDQwMA==",
  created_at: "2010-02-02T08:44:49Z",
  blog: "",
  type: "User",
  bio: "Learn something new every day.",
  following_url: "{/other_user}",
  repos_url: "",
  total_private_repos: 5,
  html_url: "",
  public_gists: 29,
  avatar_url: "",
  organizations_url: "",
  url: "",
  followers: 2778,
  updated_at: "2020-02-01T21:14:20Z",
  location: "London",
  hireable: nil,
  name: "Nelson",
  owned_private_repos: 5,
  company: "@dwyl",
  email: "",
  two_factor_authentication: true,
  starred_url: "{/owner}{/repo}",
  id: 194400,
  following: 173,
  login: "nelsonic",
  collaborators: 8

More info:

You can use this data however you see fit. (obviously treat it with respect, only store what you need and keep it secure)

4. Add the /auth/github/callback to router.ex

Open your lib/app_web/router.ex file and locate the section that looks like scope "/", AppWeb do

Add the following line:

get "/auth/github/callback", GithubAuthController, :index

That will direct the API request response to the GithubAuthController :index function we defined above.

Example: /lib/app_web/router.ex#L20

5. Update PageController.index

In order to display the "Sign-in with GitHub" button in the UI, we need to generate the URL for the button in the relevant controller, and pass it to the template.

Open the lib/app_web/controllers/page_controller.ex file and update the index function:


def index(conn, _params) do
  render(conn, "index.html")


def index(conn, _params) do
  oauth_github_url = ElixirAuthGithub.login_url_with_scope(["user:email"])
  render(conn, "index.html", [oauth_github_url: oauth_github_url])

5.1 Update the page/index.html.eex Template

Open the /lib/app_web/templates/page/index.html.eex file and type (or paste) the following code:

<section class="phx-hero">
  <h1>Welcome to Awesome App!</h1>
  <p>To get started, login to your GitHub Account: <p>
  <a href="<%= @oauth_github_url %>">
    <img src="" alt="Sign in with GitHub" />

Note: we are using an <img> button for code brevity.
We suggest you use the SVG+CSS approach described below. 👇

6. Run the App!

Run the app with the command:

mix phx.server

Visit the home page of the app where you will see a "Sign in with GitHub" button: http://localhost:4000


Once the user authorizes the App, they will be redirected back to the Phoenix App and will see welcome message:


Congratulations! You have GitHub Oauth in your Elixir App! 🎉

If you got stuck setting up your App, check out our working demo:
The demo is deployed on Heroku:


Auth Step:




Optimised SVG+CSS Button

In step 5.1 above, we suggest using an <img> for the Sign in with GitHub button.

But even though this image appears small 357 × 61 px it is 9kb:


We could spend some time in a graphics editor optimising the image, but we know we can do better by using our CSS skills! 💡

The following code re-creates the <img> using the GitHub logo SVG and CSS for layout/style:

<div style="display:flex; flex-direction:column; width:180px; margin-left:20px">
  <link href="">
  <a href="<%= @oauth_github_url %>"
    style="display:inline-flex; align-items:center; min-height:30px;
      background-color:#24292e; font-family:'Roboto',sans-serif;
      font-size:14px; color:white; text-decoration:none;">
    <div style="margin: 1px; padding-top:5px; min-height:30px;">
    <svg height="18" viewBox="0 0 16 16" width="32px" style="fill:white;">
      <path fill-rule="evenodd" d="M8 0C3.58 0 0 3.58 0 8c0 3.54 2.29 6.53 5.47
      1.08.58 1.21 1.87.87 0-.87.31-1.59.82-2.15-.08-.2-.36-1.02.08-2.12
      0 0 .67-.21 1.32-.27 2-.27.68 0 1.36.09 2 .27 1.53-1.04 2.2-.82 2.2-.82.44 1.1.16 1.92.08 1.27.82 2.15 0 3.07-1.87 3.75-3.65 1.48 0 1.07-.01 1.93-.01 2.2 0
      . 8.013 0 0016 8c0-4.42-3.58-8-8-8z"/>
    <div style="margin-left: 5px;">
      Sign in with GitHub

The result looks better than the <img> button:


It can be scaled to any screen size so it will always look great!
Using we see that our SVG+CSS button is only 1kb: byte-size-of-github-button

That is an 87.5% bandwidth saving on the 9kb of the .png button. And what's more it reduces the number of HTTP requests which means the page loads even faster.

This is used in the Demo app: lib/app_web/templates/page/index.html.eex


The biggest advantage of having an SVG+CSS button is that you can translate the button text!
Since the text/copy of the button is now just text in standard HTML, the user's web browser can automatically translate it!
e.g: French 🇬🇧 > 🇫🇷


This is much better UX for the 80% of people in the world who do not speak English fluently. The single biggest engine for growth in startup companies is translating their user interface into more languages. Obviously don't focus on translations while you're building your MVP, but if it's no extra work to use this SVG+CSS button and it means the person's web browser can automatically localise your App!


The SVG+CSS button is more accessible than the image. Even thought the <img> had an alt attribute which is a lot better than nothing, the SVG+CSS button can be re-interpreted by a non-screen device and more easily transformed.

Useful Links and Further Reading