Third-party Caveats

Wherein you arrange for your lawyer to get access to your "documents", then revoke that access.

All tutorials require Vanadium installation, and must run in a bash shell.
Further, please download this script then source it:

source ~/Downloads/

This command wipes tutorial files and defines shell environment variables. If you start a new terminal, and just want to re-establish the environment, see instructions here.


Earlier you learned how to add caveats to a blessing to restrict its validity. For example, one can make a blessing expire after a few minutes, or restrict it to work only when accessing a particular method on a service. These conditions are validated by the server before allowing the client to invoke a method.

This tutorial introduces third-party caveats. The restrictions encoded in the caveat are validated by a third party that issues a proof of validity called a discharge. In this context the third party is called a discharger.

The server simply verifies the discharges accompanying a request instead of having to validate arbitrary conditions.

This tutorial will use a third-party caveat and a particular discharger to demonstrate a revocable blessing.

Tutorial sequence

Imagine that Alice is your lawyer, and you want her to access your data stored in Google Drive.

Vanadium is too new to be supported by Google Drive, so we'll use a stand-in - your fortune service. Your stand-in will, however, demand real authentication via Google.

You will:

The twist here is that Alice never needs a Google account, and you give her access without contacting Google.

Google is contacted, however, to confirm her access and to revoke it.

Seek a blessing

Set up some credentials:

$V_BIN/principal create --with-passphrase=false --overwrite \
    $V_TUT/cred/cheapDrive cheapDrive
$V_BIN/principal create --with-passphrase=false --overwrite \
    $V_TUT/cred/alice alice
$V_BIN/principal create --with-passphrase=false --overwrite \
    $V_TUT/cred/$USER $USER

Now you (really you) will use your Google account to seek a blessing:

$V_BIN/principal \
    --v23.credentials $V_TUT/cred/$USER \
    seekblessings --from

A browser will start up, log you into Google, ask you to approve Vanadium access to your identity (details here), and show you a web form.

In the Blessing Name section, in the extension field (read about extensions here) please enter:


Leave everything else in its default state, click BLESS, and close the browser window.

The appendix provides a summary of what just happened.

Examine it

If all went well, you've just stored a blessing from to your credentials directory ($V_TUT/cred/$USER).

Examine the blessing's name as follows:

blessingName=`$V_BIN/principal \
    --v23.credentials $V_TUT/cred/$USER \
    get default -names`
echo $blessingName

It should look like:${yourEmailAddress}:docs

Blessing names are unforgeable. Anyone who recognizes (the blessing root) will know that someone blessed with a name in this form has either directly authenticated with Google as ${yourEmailAddress}, or was blessed by someone who did.

By default, this blessing comes with a third-party caveat that enables revocation.

Report the caveat on this blessing using a command introduced earlier:

$V_BIN/principal \
    --v23.credentials $V_TUT/cred/$USER \
    get forpeer -caveats=$blessingName ...

The output should be something like

Requires discharge from /

This reports the address of the caveat's discharger.

The discharger issues a discharge - proof that the third-party caveat is valid. In this case the third-party caveat is a revocation caveat and therefore the discharger issues a discharge only if the corresponding blessing has not been revoked. The revoked state is simply a bit in a database behind the discharger.

This discharger is consulted on every attempt to use the blessing (modulo discharge caching).

This will be demonstrated shortly.


As mentioned above, CheapDrive is going to run a server, and various clients will try to use it.


In previous tutorials, the server's principal in one form or another blessed clients. Those blessed automatically recognize their blessers, and blessers honor the blessings they issue.

In this tutorial the communicating peers won't be blessing each other.

As a Vanadium principal will ignore communication from an unrecognized peer, we have to arrange for recognition.

Your recognized roots

List the principals that $USER recognizes:

$V_BIN/principal \
    --v23.credentials $V_TUT/cred/$USER \
    get recognizedroots

This command shows that principal $USER recognizes two principals - itself, and

Self recognition of of the name corresponding to the value of $USER was established with the principal create command above. This is an example of a self-blessing. Recognition of happened as a result of seeking a blessing from

Now, let you, as $USER, recognize CheapDrive so that you can make requests to it later:

$V_BIN/principal \
    --v23.credentials $V_TUT/cred/cheapDrive \
    get default | \
        $V_BIN/principal \
            --v23.credentials $V_TUT/cred/$USER \
            recognize -

This command says:

Extract the blessing cheapDrive presents to clients, and then arrange for $USER to recognize the principal that created said blessing.

In this case, the blessing creator was CheapDrive itself.

Confirm that cheapDrive now appears in the list of roots recognized by $USER:

$V_BIN/principal \
    --v23.credentials $V_TUT/cred/$USER \
    get recognizedroots

The key reported for cheapDrive should match the output of this command:

$V_BIN/principal \
    --v23.credentials $V_TUT/cred/cheapDrive \
    get publickey -pretty

Alice's recognized roots

Likewise, let Alice recognize CheapDrive:

$V_BIN/principal \
    --v23.credentials $V_TUT/cred/cheapDrive \
    get default | \
        $V_BIN/principal \
            --v23.credentials $V_TUT/cred/alice \
            recognize -

Alice now recognizes CheapDrive. CheapDrive has not blessed Alice. Nothing has happened that could be construed as delegation.

CheapDrive's recognized roots

Finally, let CheapDrive recognize

$V_BIN/principal \
    --v23.credentials $V_TUT/cred/$USER \
    get default |
        $V_BIN/principal \
            --v23.credentials $V_TUT/cred/cheapDrive \
            recognize -

This last command relies on the fact that $USER's default blessing came from

These recognition steps will make more sense shortly. The recognition graph, excluding self-recognition, is shown below.

Current recognition graph


In previous tutorials communicating parties blessed each other.

That won't be the case here. CheapDrive won't bless anyone.

Instead, CheapDrive will configure, via a command line flag, a Permissions Authorizer that allows a specific Google user (you) to securely access CheapDrive's service.

Use the $blessingName you sought above to define a Permissions specification for reading:

perms=`echo {\"R\": {\"In\": [\"$blessingName\"]}}`
echo $perms

Finally, start a server with those permissions.

kill_tut_process TUT_PID_SERVER
$V_TUT/bin/server \
    --v23.credentials $V_TUT/cred/cheapDrive \
    --endpoint-file-name $V_TUT/server.txt \
    --perms "$perms" &

Make requests

Make a request as You:

$V_TUT/bin/client \
    --v23.credentials $V_TUT/cred/$USER \
    --server `cat $V_TUT/server.txt`

This request succeeds because the server was configured to accept your blessing, and because the server recognizes the root of that blessing (

Now make a request as (your lawyer) Alice:

This request should fail.

$V_TUT/bin/client \
    --v23.credentials $V_TUT/cred/alice \
    --server `cat $V_TUT/server.txt`

This fails because Alice lacks the proper blessing.

Bless Alice

Extend your blessing to Alice using the extension lawyer:

$V_BIN/principal \
    --v23.credentials $V_TUT/cred/$USER \
    get default | \
        $V_BIN/principal \
            --v23.credentials $V_TUT/cred/$USER \
            bless --with=- --for=24h $V_TUT/cred/alice lawyer | \
                $V_BIN/principal \
                   --v23.credentials $V_TUT/cred/alice \
                   set forpeer - cheapDrive

Take a look at Alice's new blessing name:

$V_BIN/principal get peermap \
    --v23.credentials $V_TUT/cred/alice | grep cheapDrive

The choice of lawyer as part of the name here will be shared only with CheapDrive servers, since that was the argument of forpeer.

This blessing, and its hint that Alice is your lawyer, will not be presented to any other peer that Alice interacts with.

Now Alice can examine your CheapDrive data:

$V_TUT/bin/client \
    --v23.credentials $V_TUT/cred/alice \
    --server `cat $V_TUT/server.txt`

As long as Alice doesn't lose her credentials data, her requests will continue to work - until you revoke the blessing.

Revoke the blessing

Visit, and click SHOW BLESSINGS.

Find the blessing you created in the Seek a Blessing step above, and click its Revoke button.

Alice should no longer be able to read, i.e. this command should fail:

$V_TUT/bin/client \
    --v23.credentials $V_TUT/cred/alice \
    --server `cat $V_TUT/server.txt`


We're done with the server.

kill_tut_process TUT_PID_SERVER

The blessing you obtained above, which you've just rendered useless, nevertheless still consumes a tiny bit of disk space in $V_TUT/cred/$USER. Feel free to delete that, along with $V_TUT and everything below it.

The record of the revoked blessing at will eventually be removed from Google's servers. Its not possible to un-revoke it, so there's no reason to keep it.

If you wish to revoke the OAuth access you gave to Vanadium (it was only needed to create a blessing for this tutorial), visit your Google settings, click on Vanadium, and click Revoke access.



Skip recognition

Start the tutorial again, and skip some of the recognitions steps.

Do the failures make sense?

Seek multiple blessings

Use a different extension for each one.

In this way, you can retain a blessing for your own use, while revoking the docs blessing.

The intern

Can Alice give her intern Bob access to your data?

Does revocation of Alice's access also turn off Bob's access?


Seeking a blessing

Here's what happened above when you sought a blessing.

The principal program implicitly started listing on an endpoint, then encoded that endpoint as a parameter in a URL based on the --from argument, then launched a browser loading that URL. The principal program then waited for a Vanadium RPC to appear on the endpoint.

Behind the URL is an identity provider, an instance of Vanadium's identityd, self-blessed with the name

A web server associated with that provider told the browser to send its user - you - to Google for login, then to an OAuth grant screen. After completing that, it gave you a form for creating a blessing. When you clicked Bless, the form was submitted, and the provider sent an RPC with the resulting blessing to the aforementioned endpoint, to be stored in $V_TUT/cred/$USER.

For details, see this document describing the Vanadium identity service.

The extension

In the context of extending a blessing, the extension is just the string appended to the existing blessing name to create the name given to the new blessing.

It's handy to think of this as a categorization mechanism, like directories.

Above you used docs as the extension in a blessing you intended to extend to Alice so that she could access your documents.

If the blessing had been intended to allow access to your email, you might have used the extension email.

When you further extended the blessing to Alice, you specified lawyer as the extension, so her blessing ending with docs:lawyer.

If Alice extended that blessing to her intern Bob, it would likely end with docs:lawyer:intern:bob. You might also extend a blessing to family or friends, as Alice did in earlier tutorials.

Blessing names show up in server logs, facilitating access analysis.