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Permissions vs Privileges

General Notes

Usually it is not required for a application to check the privileges/permissions of a given session (or set of principals) as this evaluation can be left to the repository.

For rare cases where the application needs to understand if a given session is actually allowed to perform a given action, it is recommend to use Session.hasPermission(String, String) or JackrabbitSession.hasPermission(String, String...)

In order to test permissions that are not reflected in the action constants defined on Session or JackrabbitSession, the default implementation also allows to pass the names of the Oak internal permission.

To evaluate privileges granted for a given editing session AccessControlManager.hasPrivileges(String, Privilege[]), AccessControlManager.getPrivileges(String) can be used. The JackrabbitAccessControlManager defines variants of both methods that in addition take a set of Principal. If the editing session as sufficient permissions these methods can be used to evaluate/obtain privileges for a different set of principals than associated with the editing session.

Since Oak 1.42.0 JackrabbitAccessControlManager defines JackrabbitAccessControlManager.getPrivilegeCollection(String) and JackrabbitAccessControlManager.getPrivilegeCollection(String, Set) which allows for efficient evaluation if a given set of privileges are granted at a given path. It allows to avoid repeated calls to hasPrivileges for the same path or manual resolution of privilege aggregation (see OAK-9494 for details).

The subtle differences between the permission-testing Session and the evaluation of privileges on AccessControlManager are listed below.

Testing Permissions


  • Session.hasPermission(String absPath, String actions)
  • Session.checkPermission(String absPath, String actions)
  • JackrabbitSession.hasPermission(String absPath, @Nonnull String... actions)


  • absPath is an absolute path pointing to an existing or non-existing item (node or property)
  • actions defines a comma-separated string (or string array respectively) of the actions defined on Session and JackrabbitSession (see below). With the default implementation also Oak internal permission names are allowed ( Note: permission names != privilege names)

See section Permissions for a comprehensive list and the mapping from actions to permissions.


  • API call always supported even if access control management is not part of the feature set (see corresponding repository descriptor).
  • Note: ACTION_ADD_NODE is evaluating if the node at the specified absPath can be added; i.e. the path points to the non-existing node you want to add
  • Not possible to evaluate custom privileges with this method as those are not respected by the default permission evaluation.
  • Restrictions will be respected as possible with the given (limited) information

Testing Privileges


  • AccessControlManager.hasPrivileges(String absPath, Privilege[] privileges)
  • AccessControlManager.getPrivileges(String absPath)
  • JackrabbitAccessControlManager.getPrivilegeCollection(String absPath) followed by PrivilegeCollection.includes(String...)


  • absPath must point to an existing Node (i.e. existing and accessible to the editing session)
  • privileges represent an array of supported privileges (see corresponding API calls)

For testing purpose the Jackrabbit extension further allows to verify the privileges granted to a given combination of principals, which may or may not reflect the actual principal-set assigned to a given Subject. These calls (see below) however requires the ability to read access control content on the target path.

  • JackrabbitAccessControlManager.hasPrivileges(String absPath, Set<Principal> principals, Privilege[] privileges)
  • JackrabbitAccessControlManager.getPrivileges(String absPath, Set<Principal> principals)
  • JackrabbitAccessControlManager.getPrivilegeCollection(String absPath, Set<Principal> principals) (see also section Privilege Management)


  • Only available if access control management is part of the supported feature set of the JCR repository.
  • Built-in and/or custom privileges can be tested
  • jcr:addChildNode evaluates if any child can be added at the parent node identify by the specified absPath. The name of child is not known here!
  • Restrictions may or may not be respected
  • Default implementation close to real permission evaluation (not exactly following the specification)

Further Reading