How to Implement a Client

According to the OpenID Connect (OIDC) Core document, a Relying Party is an ‘OAuth 2.0 Client application requiring End-User Authentication and Claims from an OpenID Provider’. The goal of this document is to show how you can build a RP using the PyOIDC library.

There are a couple of choices you have to make, but we’ll make them as we walk through the message flow.

Before I start you should know that the basic code flow in OpenID Connect consists of a sequence of request-responses, namely these:

  • Issuer discovery using WebFinger
  • Provider Info discovery
  • Client registration
  • Authentication Request
  • Access Token Request
  • Userinfo Request

In the example below I will go through all the steps and will use the basic Client class because it provides interfaces to all of them. So lets start with instantiating a client:

from oic.oic import Client
from oic.utils.authn.client import CLIENT_AUTHN_METHOD

client = Client(client_authn_method=CLIENT_AUTHN_METHOD)

The first choice is really not yours. It’s the OpenID Connect Provider (OP) that has to decide on whether it supports dynamic provider information gathering and/or dynamic client registration.

If the OP doesn’t support client registration then you have to statically register your client with the provider. Typically this is accomplished using a web page provided by the organization that runs the OP. I Can’t help you with this since each provider does it differently. What you eventually must get from the provider is a client id and a client secret.

If the provider does not support dynamic OP information lookup, then the necessary information will probably appear on some web page somewhere. Again, turn to the provider. Going through the dynamic process below you will learn what information to look for.

Issuer discovery

OIDC uses webfinger to to do the OP discovery. In very general terms this means that the user that accesses the RP provides an identifier. There are a number of different syntaxes that this identifier can adhere to. The most common is probably the e-mail address syntax. It’s something that looks like an e-mail address (local@domain) but is not necessarily one.

At this point in time let us assume that you will instantiate an OIDC RP.

As stated above, depending on the OP and the return_type you will use, some of these steps may be left out or replaced with an out-of-band process.

Using pyoidc this is how you would do it:

uid = ""
issuer =

The discover method will use webfinger to find the OIDC OP given the user identifier provided. If the user identifier follows another syntax/scheme the same method can still be used, you just have to preface the ‘uid’ value with the scheme used. The returned issuer must, according to the standard, be an https url, but some implementers have decided differently on this, so you may get a http url.

Provider Info discovery

When you have the provider info URL you want to get information about the OP, so you query for that:

provider_info = client.provider_config(issuer)

A description of the whole set of metadata can be found here:

The resulting provider_info is a dictionary, hence you can easily find the necessary information:

>> provider_info["issuer"]
>> provider_info["authorization_endpoint"]

The provider info is also automatically stored in the client instance.:

>> client.provider_info["scopes_supported"]
['openid', 'profile', 'email']

For the simple Client it is expected it will only talk to one OP during its lifetime.

Now, you know all about the OP. The next step would be to register the client with the OP.

Client registration

To do that you need to know the ‘registration_endpoint’. And you have to decide on a couple of things about the RP.

Things like:

  • redirect_uris
    REQUIRED. Array of Redirection URI values used by the Client.
  • response_types
    OPTIONAL. JSON array containing a list of the OAuth 2.0 response_type values that the Client is declaring that it will restrict itself to using. If omitted, the default is that the Client will use only the code Response Type.
  • contacts
    OPTIONAL. Array of e-mail addresses of people responsible for this Client.

The whole list of possible parameters can be found here:

The only absolutely required information is the redirect_uris

Provide the parameters as arguments to the method:

args = {
    "redirect_uris": [''],
    "contacts": [""]

registration_response = client.register(
    provider_info["registration_endpoint"], **args)

or a combination of the two.

Provided the registration went flawlessly you will get the registration response (an instance of RegistrationResponse) as a result. The response will also be stored in the client instance (registration_response attribute) and some of the parameters will be unpacked and set as attributes on the client instance.


The basic Client class is expected to only talk to one OP. If your service needs to talk to several OPs that are a couple of patterns you could use. One is to instantiate one RP per OP, another to keep the OP specific information like provider information and client registration information outside the RP and then setup the RP every time you want to talk to a new OP.

Now back to the static variant. If you can not do the Provider discovery dynamically you have to get the information out-of-band and then configure the RP accordingly. And this is how you would do that:

from oic.oic.message import ProviderConfigurationResponse

op_info = ProviderConfigurationResponse(
    version="1.0", issuer="",
    ... and so on )

# or
# op_info = ProviderConfigurationResponse(**info)
# if you have the provider info in the form of a dictionary

client.provider_info = op_info

Likewise if the client registration has been done out-of-band:

from oic.oic.message import RegistrationResponse

info = {"client_id": "1234567890", "client_secret": "abcdefghijklmnop"}
client_reg = RegistrationResponse(**info)


Authorization query

Once the client knows about the OP and the OP knows about the client we can start doing business, that is get information about users.

The request you then want to make is the authentication request.


This might be slightly confusing. In OAuth2 (RFC 6749) the initial request is called authorization request and you do it at the authorization endpoint. In OIDC the request is renamed to authentication request. For historical reasons I’ve kept the name authorization request for the method that handles that request.

Before doing the request you have to decide on a couple of things:

  • which response type you want to use. You can read up on response types in the OAuth2 RFC.
  • the scope. The list of scopes must contain ‘openid’. There is a list of extra scopes that OIDC defines which can be found in the specification.
  • whether to use HTTP ‘GET’ or ‘POST’. Either one is allowed. ‘GET’ is default.

Authorization Code Flow

From the list redirect_uris you have to pick one to use for this request. Given you have all that, you now can send the request:

from oic import rndstr
from oic.utils.http_util import Redirect

session["state"] = rndstr()
session["nonce"] = rndstr()
args = {
    "client_id": client.client_id,
    "response_type": "code",
    "scope": ["openid"],
    "nonce": session["nonce"],
    "redirect_uri": client.registration_response["redirect_uris"][0],
    "state": session["state"]

auth_req = client.construct_AuthorizationRequest(request_args=args)
login_url = auth_req.request(client.authorization_endpoint)

return Redirect(login_url)
  • state is used to keep track of responses to outstanding requests (state).
  • nonce is a string value used to associate a Client session with an ID Token, and to mitigate replay attacks.

Since you will need both these arguments later in the process you probably want to store them in a session object (assumed to look like a dictionary). Also even if you initiate one Client instance per OP you probably won’t do it per user so you have to keep the state and nonce variables that belong to a user together and separate from other users.

Eventually a response is sent to the URL given as the redirect_uri.

You can parse this response by doing:

from oic.oic.message import AuthorizationResponse

# If you're in a WSGI environment
response = environ["QUERY_STRING"]

aresp = client.parse_response(AuthorizationResponse, info=response,

code = aresp["code"]
assert aresp["state"] == session["state"]

aresp is an instance of an AuthorizationResponse or an ErrorResponse. The latter if an error was returned from the OP. Among other things you should get back in the authentication response is the same state value as you used when sending the request. If you used the response_type=’code’ then you should also receive a grant code which you then can use to get the access token:

args = {
    "code": aresp["code"]

resp = client.do_access_token_request(state=aresp["state"],

‘scope’ has to be the same as in the authentication request.

If you don’t specify a specific client authentication method, then client_secret_basic is used.

The response you get back is an instance of an AccessTokenResponse or again possibly an ErrorResponse instance.

If it’s an AccessTokenResponse the information in the response will be stored in the client instance with state as the key for future use. One of the items in the response will be the ID Token which contains information about the authentication. One parameter (or claim as it is also called) is the nonce you provide with the authentication request.

And then the final request, the user info request:

userinfo = client.do_user_info_request(state=aresp["state"])

Using the state, the client library will find the appropriate access token and based on the token type choose the authentication method.

userinfo in an instance of OpenIDSchema or ErrorResponse. Given that you have used openid as the scope, userinfo will not contain a lot of information, actually only the sub parameter.

Implicit Flow

When using the Implicit Flow, all tokens are returned from the Authorization Endpoint; the Token Endpoint is not used.


from oic import rndstr
from oic.utils.http_util import Redirect

session["state"] = rndstr()
session["nonce"] = rndstr()
args = {
    "client_id": client.client_id,
    "response_type": ["id_token", "token"],
    "scope": ["openid"],
    "state": session["state"],
    "nonce": session["nonce"],
    "redirect_uri": client.registration_response["redirect_uris"][0]

auth_req = client.construct_AuthorizationRequest(request_args=args)
login_url = auth_req.request(client.authorization_endpoint)

return Redirect(login_url)

As for the Authorization Code Flow, the authentication part will begin with a redirect to a login page and end with a redirect back to the registered redirect_uri.

Since the response will be returned as a fragment you need some special code to catch that information. How you do that depends on your setup.

Again the response can be parsed by doing:

from oic.oic.message import AuthorizationResponse

aresp = client.parse_response(AuthorizationResponse, info=response,

assert aresp["state"] == client.state

Now aresp will not contain any code reference but instead an access token and an ID token. The access token can be used as described above to fetch user information.

Using the Implicit Flow instead of the Authorization Code Flow will save you a round trip but at the same time you will get an access token and no refresh_token. So in order to get a new access token you have to perform another authentication request.