Authenticate (SSO) Vanilla users with a CakePHP 2 application using Vanilla’s jsConnect Plugin

Using your existing CakePHP website to authenticate users into a Vanilla forum (so they don’t have to setup another account) is fairly simple…once you know how:

In your Cake site:

  1. Download the PHP jsConnect client library as described here
  2. Create a ‘vanilla’ directory in app/Vendor and copy into it functions.jsconnect.php from the download in 1.
  3. In UsersController.php add:
     array('file' => 'vanilla' . DS . 'functions.jsconnect.php')
  4. Paste index.php from the download in 1 into View/Users and rename it as vanilla_authenticate.ctp. Edit so that it contains only:
    // 1. Get your client ID and secret here. These must match those in your jsConnect settings.
    $clientID = "your_client_id_from_js_connect_plugin_settings_page";
    $secret = "your_secret_from_js_connect_plugin_settings_page";
    // 3. Fill in the user information in a way that Vanilla can understand.
    $user['uniqueid'] = $user_data['your_cake_id_field'];
    $user['name'] = $user_data['your_cake_username_field'];
    $user['email'] = $user_data['your_cake_email_field'];
    $user['photourl'] = $user_data['your_cake_avatar_field'];
    // 4. Generate the jsConnect string.
    // This should be true unless you are testing. 
    // You can also use a hash name like md5, sha1 etc which must be the name as the connection settings in Vanilla.
    $secure = true; 
    WriteJsConnect($user, $_GET, $clientID, $secret, $secure);
  5. In UsersController.php, add a vanilla_authenticate action:
    public function vanilla_authenticate(){
        if ($this->Auth->loggedIn()){
             //user is logged in so pass necessary data through to view
             $this->layout = 'ajax';
             $user_data = $this->Auth->user();
             $this->set('user_data', $user_data);
  6. Again in UsersController.php, modify your login action:
    public function login() {
        if ($this->request->is('post')) {
            //Do your normal login business which includes the line
            $this->redirect($this->Auth->redirectUrl()); //after successful login
        //add following to handle get request from jsConnect
    	    //we need to redirect to vanilla after login so change redirectURL
    	    $this->Auth->redirectUrl(''); //big thanks to @hgtonight for this snippet

In your Vanilla forum:

  1. Download and enable the jsConnect plugin (at the moment, the advice is to use 1.03 as 1.4.1 is still buggy, reporting a ‘regex’ error);
  2. In the jsConnect plugin settings:
    • autogenerate (using the button at the bottom) a ClientID and Secret;
    • the Site Name: Your Cake Site – this will appear as ‘Sign in with {site name}’ when users go to the Vanilla forum
    • Authenticate URL:
    • Sign In URL:
    • Register URL:

Well, that’s what worked for me anyway….

Vanilla Community’s x00 tells me that you can avoid the complicated redirect in Cake Step 6 above (and replace with:


if you use the jsConnect AutoSignIn Plugin…but I haven’t tried this yet.

Good luck.

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