python-social-auth uses an extendible pipeline mechanism where developers can introduce their functions during the authentication, association and disconnection flows.

The functions will receive a variable set of arguments related to the current process, common arguments are the current strategy, user (if any) and request. It’s recommended that all the function also define an **kwargs in the parameters to avoid errors for unexpected arguments.

Each pipeline entry can return a dict or None, any other type of return value is treated as a response instance and returned directly to the client, check Partial Pipeline below for details.

If a dict is returned, the value in the set will be merged into the kwargs argument for the next pipeline entry, None is taken as if {} was returned.

Authentication Pipeline

The final process of the authentication workflow is handled by an operations pipeline where custom functions can be added or default items can be removed to provide a custom behavior. The default pipeline is a mechanism that creates user instances and gathers basic data from providers.

The default pipeline is composed by:

    # Get the information we can about the user and return it in a simple
    # format to create the user instance later. On some cases the details are
    # already part of the auth response from the provider, but sometimes this
    # could hit a provider API.

    # Get the social uid from whichever service we're authing thru. The uid is
    # the unique identifier of the given user in the provider.

    # Verifies that the current auth process is valid within the current
    # project, this is where emails and domains whitelists are applied (if
    # defined).

    # Checks if the current social-account is already associated in the site.

    # Make up a username for this person, appends a random string at the end if
    # there's any collision.

    # Send a validation email to the user to verify its email address.
    # Disabled by default.
    # 'social_core.pipeline.mail.mail_validation',

    # Associates the current social details with another user account with
    # a similar email address. Disabled by default.
    # 'social_core.pipeline.social_auth.associate_by_email',

    # Create a user account if we haven't found one yet.

    # Create the record that associates the social account with the user.

    # Populate the extra_data field in the social record with the values
    # specified by settings (and the default ones like access_token, etc).

    # Update the user record with any changed info from the auth service.

It’s possible to override it by defining the setting SOCIAL_AUTH_PIPELINE. For example, a pipeline that won’t create users, just accept already registered ones would look like this:


Note that this assumes the user is already authenticated, and thus the user key in the dict is populated. In cases where the authentication is purely external, a pipeline method must be provided that populates the user key. Example:


It is also possible to define pipelines on a per backend basis by defining a setting such as SOCIAL_AUTH_TWITTER_PIPELINE. Backend specific pipelines will override the non specific pipelines (i.e. the default pipeline and SOCIAL_AUTH_PIPELINE).

Each pipeline function will receive the following parameters:
  • Current strategy (which gives access to current store, backend and request)
  • User ID given by authentication provider
  • User details given by authentication provider
  • is_new flag (initialized as False)
  • Any arguments passed to auth_complete backend method, default views pass these arguments:
    • current logged in user (if it’s logged in, otherwise None)
    • current request

Disconnection Pipeline

Like the authentication pipeline, it’s possible to define a disconnection pipeline if needed.

For example, this can be useful on sites where a user that disconnects all the related social account is required to fill a password to ensure the authentication process in the future. This can be accomplished by overriding the default disconnection pipeline and setup a function that checks if the user has a password, in case it doesn’t a redirect to a fill-your-password form can be returned and later continue the disconnection process, take into account that disconnection ensures the POST method by default, a simple method to ensure this, is to make your form POST to /disconnect/ and set the needed password in your pipeline function. Check Partial Pipeline below.

In order to override the disconnection pipeline, just define the setting:

    # Verifies that the social association can be disconnected from the current
    # user (ensure that the user login mechanism is not compromised by this
    # disconnection).

    # Collects the social associations to disconnect.

    # Revoke any access_token when possible.

    # Removes the social associations.

Backend specific disconnection pipelines can also be defined with a setting such as SOCIAL_AUTH_TIWTTER_DISCONNECT_PIPELINE.

Partial Pipeline

It’s possible to pause the pipeline to return to the user asking for some action and resume it later.

To accomplish this decorate the function that will cut the process with the @partial decorator located at social/pipeline/partial.py.

When it’s time to resume the process just redirect the user to /complete/<backend>/ or /disconnect/<backend>/ view. The pipeline will resume in the same function that cut the process.

@partial stores needed data into a database table name social_auth_partial. This table holds the needed information to resume it later from any browsers and drops the old dependency on browser sessions that made the move between broswsers impossible.

The partial data is idetified by a UUID token that can be used to store in the session or append to any URL using the partial_token parameter (default value). The lib will pick this value from the request and load the needed partial data to let the user continue the process.

The pipeline functions will get a current_partial instance that containes the partial token and the needed data that will be saved in the database.

To get the backend in order to redirect to any social view, just do:

backend = current_partial.backend

To override the default parameter name just define:


Check the example applications to check a basic usage.

Email validation

There’s a pipeline to validate email addresses, but it relies a lot on your project.

The pipeline is at social_core.pipeline.mail.mail_validation and it’s a partial pipeline, it will return a redirect to a URL that you can use to tell the users that an email validation was sent to them. If you want to mention the email address you can get it from the session under the key email_validation_address.

In order to send the validation python-social-auth needs a function that will take care of it, this function is defined by the developer with the setting SOCIAL_AUTH_EMAIL_VALIDATION_FUNCTION. It should be an import path. This function should take three arguments strategy, backend and code. code is a model instance used to validate the email address, it contains three fields:

code = '...'
Holds an uuid.uuid4() value and it’s the code used to identify the validation process.
email = '...'
Email address trying to be validate.
verified = True / False
Flag marking if the email was verified or not.

You should use the code in this instance to build the link for email validation which should go to /complete/email?verification_code=<code here>. If you are using Django, you can do it with:

from django.core.urlresolvers import reverse
url = strategy.build_absolute_uri(
    reverse('social:complete', args=(strategy.backend_name,))
) + '?verification_code=' + code.code

On Flask:

from flask import url_for
url = url_for('social.complete', backend=strategy.backend_name,
              _external=True) + '?verification_code=' + code

This pipeline can be used globally with any backend if this setting is defined:


Or individually by defining the setting per backend basis like SOCIAL_AUTH_TWITTER_FORCE_EMAIL_VALIDATION = True.

Extending the Pipeline

The main purpose of the pipeline (either creation or deletion pipelines) is to allow extensibility for developers. You can jump in the middle of it, do changes to the data, create other models instances, ask users for extra data, or even halt the whole process.

Extending the pipeline implies:

  1. Writing a function
  2. Locating the function in an accessible path (accessible in the way that it can be imported)
  3. Overriding the default pipeline definition with one that includes newly created function.

The part of writing the function is quite simple. However please be careful when placing your function in the pipeline definition, because order does matter in this case! Ordering of functions in SOCIAL_AUTH_PIPELINE will determine the value of arguments that each function will receive. For example, adding your function after social_core.pipeline.user.create_user ensures that your function will get the user instance (created or already existent) instead of a None value.

The pipeline functions will get quite a lot of arguments, ranging from the backend in use, different model instances, server requests and provider responses. To enumerate a few:

The current strategy instance.
The current backend instance.
User ID in the provider, this uid should identify the user in the current provider.
response = {} or object()
The server user-details response, it depends on the protocol in use (and sometimes the provider implementation of such protocol), but usually it’s just a dict with the user profile details in such provider. Lots of information related to the user is provided here, sometimes the scope will increase the amount of information in this response on OAuth providers.
details = {}
Basic user details generated by the backend, used to create/update the user model details (this dict will contain values like username, email, first_name, last_name and fullname).
user = None
The user instance (or None if it wasn’t created or retrieved from the database yet).
social = None
This is the associated UserSocialAuth instance for the given user (or None if it wasn’t created or retrieved from the DB yet).

Usually when writing your custom pipeline function, you just want to get some values from the response parameter. But you can do even more, like call other APIs endpoints to retrieve even more details about the user, store them on some other place, etc.

Here’s an example of a simple pipeline function that will create a Profile class instance, related to the current user. This profile will store some simple details returned by the provider (Facebook in this example). The usual Facebook response looks like this:

    'username': 'foobar',
    'access_token': 'CAAD...',
    'first_name': 'Foo',
    'last_name': 'Bar',
    'verified': True,
    'name': 'Foo Bar',
    'locale': 'en_US',
    'gender': 'male',
    'expires': '5183999',
    'email': 'foo@bar.com',
    'updated_time': '2014-01-14T15:58:35+0000',
    'link': 'https://www.facebook.com/foobar',
    'timezone': -3,
    'id': '100000126636010',

Let’s say we are interested in storing the user profile link, the gender and the timezone in our Profile model:

def save_profile(backend, user, response, *args, **kwargs):
    if backend.name == 'facebook':
        profile = user.get_profile()
        if profile is None:
            profile = Profile(user_id=user.id)
        profile.gender = response.get('gender')
        profile.link = response.get('link')
        profile.timezone = response.get('timezone')

Now all that’s needed is to tell python-social-auth to use our function in the pipeline. Since the function uses user instance, we need to put it after social_core.pipeline.user.create_user:

    'path.to.save_profile',  # <--- set the path to the function

So far the function we created returns None, which is taken as if {} was returned. If you want the profile object to be available to the next function in the pipeline, all you need to do is return {'profile': profile}.