[RUBY] Implement LTI authentication in Rails

What is LTI certification?

There is a standard called LTI certification. LTI is an acronym for the word Learning Tools Interoperability, which means a standard for exchanging authentication information between learning support tools.

It's a fairly niche technology that has a specific field among authentication technologies, so many people may not know it. Before I specialized in educational technology, I didn't even know the word LTI.

Below is an explanatory diagram of the LTI certification officially issued by IMS GLOBAL.

Personally, I understand that it is a kind of OAuth after all, but the application we develop is Learning Tools, the main tool that is the basis of authentication is Learning Platform, and Learning Tools is an extension of Learning Platform. Instead of providing it, you will get your credentials from the Learning Platform. This has the advantage that users can use various apps properly without switching users. At this time, Learning Tools is also called LTI Tool Provider, and Learning Platform is also called LTI Consumer.

But the question is how to implement this. In fact, because of its niche technology, it lacks documentation, and even if you search on the net, there are not many implementation examples published. So, in this article, I would like to introduce the actual practice of LTI authentication using Ruby on Rails.

Implementation example

Library installation

First, install the required libraries.

$ bundle add devise
$ bundle add ims-lti
$ bundle add oauth

The advantage of using Rails is that there is a library for lti authentication. This time, we will implement it using ʻims-lti`.

Authentication key registration

Create a lti_settings.yml file under config. Please describe the following contents (use a safe character string for the consumer key and LTI secret as appropriate).


  __consumer_key__: '__lti_secret__'

  __consumer_key__: '__lti_secret__'

Once created, add the settings to load it to config / application.rb.


config.lti_settings = Rails.application.config_for(:lti_settings)

Creating a controller

Let's create ltis_controller and describe the following contents

require 'oauth/request_proxy/action_controller_request'

class LtisController < ApplicationController
  skip_before_action :verify_authenticity_token, only: :launch

  def lti_launch
    #The received consumer key is config/lti_settings.Check if it's in yml
    if not Rails.configuration.lti_settings[params[:oauth_consumer_key]]
      render :launch_error, status: 401
    shared_secret = Rails.configuration.lti_settings[params[:oauth_consumer_key]]
    authenticator = IMS::LTI::Services::MessageAuthenticator.new(request.url, request.request_parameters, shared_secret)
    #Check if the signature is valid
    if not authenticator.valid_signature?
      render :launch_error, status: 401
    #check if the message is too old
    if DateTime.strptime(request.request_parameters['oauth_timestamp'],'%s') < 5.minutes.ago
      render :launch_error, status: 401
    #Save LTI information in session
    session_data = {
      "fullname" => authenticator&.message&.lis_person_name_full,
      "email" => authenticator&.message&.lis_person_contact_email_primary,
      "user_id" => authenticator&.message&.user_id,
      "context_id" => authenticator&.message&.context_id,
      "context_title" => authenticator&.message&.context_title,
      "tool_consumer_instance_name" => authenticator&.message&.tool_consumer_instance_name
    session['lti-authenticator'] = session_data

You can easily authenticate by passing the request sent to MessageAuthenticator and the key information held here in advance. If the authentication is successful, the application side authentication is implemented by sign_in using the devise library.

Finally, let's define the endpoint to launch lti_launch.


  match 'lti/launch' => 'ltis#lti_launch', via: [:get, :post], as: :lti_launch

Settings on the Learning Platform side

Once this is done, the Learning Platform can write the authentication information described in lti_settings.yml in advance and set it to transition to the specified endpoint. This method differs depending on the individual Learning Platform, so I will omit it.

(Supplement) If a cross origin error occurs in Rails during LTI transition

Please add the following contents to config / application.rb


    config.lti_settings = Rails.application.config_for(:lti_settings)
    config.action_dispatch.default_headers['Referrer-Policy'] = 'unsafe-url'
    config.action_controller.forgery_protection_origin_check = false
    config.action_controller.allow_forgery_protection = false


Rails LTI Tool Provider IMS LTI

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