Simple RBAC

  1. The user model
  2. The authentication
  3. Checking permissions: structure
  4. Checking permissions: usage
  5. Going further: access context

If you need simple Role based access control without the long RBAC process then this article is just for you. Lets jump to the point.

The user model

On your user table make a column named 'roles'. Create the model accordingly. It will be named "User" here.

When you add users you can assign them a role among 'admin', 'user', 'staff' etc etc.

The authentication

In the file "protected/components/UserIdentity.php" write something like:

class UserIdentity extends CUserIdentity
    private $id;

    public function authenticate()
        else if($record->password!==md5($this->password))
            $this->setState('roles', $record->roles);            
        return !$this->errorCode;
    public function getId(){
        return $this->id;

The important line is $this->setState('roles', $record->roles); It adds user roles to their session. You can fetch the role of the current user with Yii::app()->user->getState('roles') or simply Yii::app()->user->roles.

Checking permissions: structure

Modify or create the "WebUser.php" file under the "protected/components" directory so that it overloads the checkAccess() method.

class WebUser extends CWebUser
	 * Overrides a Yii method that is used for roles in controllers (accessRules).
	 * @param string $operation Name of the operation required (here, a role).
	 * @param mixed $params (opt) Parameters for this operation, usually the object to access.
	 * @return bool Permission granted?
	public function checkAccess($operation, $params=array())
		if (empty($this->id)) {
			// Not identified => no rights
			return false;
		$role = $this->getState("roles");
		if ($role === 'admin') {
			return true; // admin role has access to everything
		// allow access if the operation request is the current user's role
		return ($operation === $role);

You can define your own logic in this checkAccess() methods.

Make sure this class is used by Yii. The config file "protected/config/main.php" must contain:

'components' => array(
	// ...
	'user' => array(
		'class' => 'WebUser',

[CWebUser::checkAccess()] usually connects to the authorization system loaded in Yii. Here we are replacing it with a simple system that just deals with roles instead of the hierarchical system defined by the derivatives of [CAuthManager]. See the official tutorial, Role-Based Access Control for details.

Checking permissions: usage

  • In your PHP code, use Yii::app()->user->checkAccess('admin') to check if the current user has the 'admin' role. The call Yii::app()->user->checkAccess('staff') will return true if the user has the role "staff" or "admin".
  • In your controller, you can filter with accessRules() using the "roles" attribute of the rule.

See examples below.

How to filter access to actions

The controller must contain:

public function filters()
	return array(
		'accessControl', // perform access control for CRUD operations

public function accessRules()
	return array(
			'roles'=>array('staff', 'devel'),
		array('deny',  // deny all users

Here the "admin" action of the controller has restricted access: only those with roles "staff" or "devel" can access it.

As described in the API doc of CAccessRule, the "roles" attribute will in fact call Yii::app()->user->checkAccess().

How to display a different menu according to roles

You can also use just one menu for all users based upon different roles. for example

$user = Yii::app()->user; // just a convenience to shorten expressions
		array('label'=>'Users', 'url'=>array('/manageUser/admin'), 'visible'=>$user->checkAccess('staff')),
		array('label'=>'Your Ideas', 'url'=>array('/userarea/ideaList'), 'visible'=>$user->checkAccess('normal')),
		array('label'=>'Login', 'url'=>array('/site/login'), 'visible'=>$user->isGuest),
		array('label'=>'Logout ('.Yii::app()->user->name.')', 'url'=>array('/site/logout'), 'visible'=>!$user->isGuest)

Going further: access context

A very usual need is to allow a user to update its own data but not other's. In this case, the user's role is meaningless without the context: the data that will be modified.

This is why [CWebUser::checkAccess()] has an optional "$param" parameter. Now suppose we want to check is a user has the right to update a Post record. We can write:

if (Yii::app()->user->checkAccess('normal', $post)) {

Of course WebUser::checkAccess() must be extended to use this "$params" parameter. This will depend on your application's logic. For instance, it could be as simple as granting access iff $post->userId == $this->id.