The SharePoint REST API is touted as being the tool to provide inter-platform integration with SharePoint Online. However, outside of .NET the authentication piece is not so straightforward. App authentication solves this issue for registered apps but I want to show how remote user authentication can be achieved, regardless of platform.
In a .NET environment please refer to the ADAL library for authentication rather than writing it yourself.
The goal of this post is to provide examples of the HTTP requests which need to be made in order to authenticate SharePoint Online. It then provides an example of using the same technique to upload a document and update metadata just to prove it all works 🙂
The type of applications where this kind of approach may be necessary include: a Java application, a PHP application,
I will be providing examples of the requests using the ‘Advanced REST Client’ Google Chrome extension.
The authentication piece comes in a few steps:
- Get the security token
- Get the access token
- Get the request digest
Get the security token
First we must provide a username and password of a user with Contribute access to the Roster Data library and the URL at which we want access to the SharePoint Online Security Token Service.
This is done by POSTing the following XML as the request body to:
The response from the request includes the security token needed to get the access token. It is the value which has been stricken out in orange in the image below.
Get the access token
Once the security token has been retrieved it must be used to fetch the access token. The can be done by POSTing to the following URL with the security token as the request body:
The response from this request includes couple of cookies which must be passed as headers with all future requests. They are marked with the ‘Set-Cookie’ header. We need the ones beginning with rtFa= and FedAuth=. They can be seen the below image of the response headers.
Get the request digest
The request digest is a .NET security feature that ensures any update requests are coming from a single session. It must also be included with any POST requests.
The request digest is fetched by POSTing to:
The access token cookies must be included as Cookie headers with the request as shown in the image below.
The response from the request will include the request digest in the XML response as in the image below. The entire contents of the FormDigestValue tag will required, including the date time portion and timezone offset (-0000).
Upload a document with metadata
Upload the document
Now that we have all the authentication headers we can make update calls into SharePoint Online as the user whose credentials we originally supplied when fetching the security token.
In order to upload a document perform the following POST request:
A number of headers must be send with the request including the access token cookies, the request digest (X-RequestDigest) and the accept header as shown in the image below. The body of the request must contain the content of the document being uploaded.
The response of this request contains some minimal metadata about the file and can be safely ignored. However, for completeness here it is.
The unique ID property could be used to fetch the document in order to perform metadata updates rather than URL as done in the following example.
Update document metadata
The final step which needs to take place is update the document in SharePoint with the relevant metadata.
This can be done with yet another POST request. This time to the following URI:
All the headers sent with the previous request must be sent with this request as well. The request body is a JSON object which defines the metadata fields to be updated. The fieldname and fieldValue properties must be updated as required. Note that the fieldname property must be equal to the field internal name not the field display name. An example of this is in the image below.
The response from this request provides success notification for each individual field update as shown below.
So, this should now be enough to write an application in any server-side language which supports web requests and work against SharePoint Online. I’d love to see some implementations of this, please comment if you’ve done it.
I’d like to acknowledge the following posts as they were invaluable references:
- Uploading Documents and Setting Metadata Using SharePoint REST
- PHP SharePoint Lists API
- Understanding and Using the SharePoint 2013 REST Interface
- Remote authentication in SharePoint Online