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Authenticating users in Astro with Clerk and React: A Step-by-Step Guide

Rishi Raj Jain
Authenticating users in Astro with Clerk and React

In this guide, you will learn how to authenticate users in an Astro application using Clerk and React. You will go through the process of setting up a new Astro project, enabling server-side rendering using Node.js adapter, and integrating Clerk to authenticate users seamlessly.

Prerequisites

You’ll need the following:

Table Of Contents

Create a new Astro application

Let’s get started by creating a new Astro project. Execute the following command:

npm create astro@latest my-app

npm create astro is the recommended way to scaffold an Astro project quickly.

When prompted, choose:

  • Empty when prompted on how to start the new project.
  • Yes when prompted if plan to write Typescript.
  • Strict when prompted how strict Typescript should be.
  • Yes when prompted to install dependencies.
  • Yes when prompted to initialize a git repository.

Once that’s done, you can move into the project directory and start the app:

cd my-app
npm run dev

The app should be running on localhost:4321.

Now, let’s move on to integrate React in your Astro application.

Integrate React in your Astro project

To create dynamic user interfaces with Clerk, you will integrate React in your Astro project. Execute the following command:

npx astro add react

npx allows us to execute npm packages binaries without having to first install it globally.

When prompted, choose the following:

  • Yes when prompted whether to install the React dependencies.
  • Yes when prompted whether to make changes to Astro configuration file.
  • Yes when prompted whether to make changes to tsconfig.json file.

Now, let’s move on to enabling server-side rendering in your Astro application.

Integrate Node.js adapter in your Astro project

To authenticate and maintain user sessions with Clerk, you will enable server-side rendering in your Astro project via the Node.js adapter. Execute the following command:

npx astro add node

When prompted, choose the following:

  • Yes when prompted whether to install the Node.js dependencies.
  • Yes when prompted whether to make changes to Astro configuration file.

Now, let’s move on to creating a new Clerk application.

Create a new Clerk application

  • In your Clerk Dashboard, to create a new app, press the + New application card to interactively start curating your own authentication setup form.
Create a new Clerk Application
  • With an application name of your choice, enable user authentication via credentials by toggling on Email and allow user authentication via Social Sign-On by toggling on providers such as Google, GitHub and Microsoft.
Select authentication providers
  • Once the application is created in the Clerk dashboard, by default you will be shown with your application’s API keys for Next.js. Copy and securely store these API Keys in a file named .env to be used in your Astro application as the following:
# .env

# Clerk Environment Variables

PUBLIC_ASTRO_APP_CLERK_PUBLISHABLE_KEY="pk_test_..."
CLERK_SECRET_KEY="sk_test_..."
Clerk Environment Variables

Now, let’s move on to integrate Clerk in your Astro project.

Integrate Clerk in your Astro project

Install the Clerk’s Community SDK for Astro

Execute the command below to install the necessary package for building authentication with Clerk:

npm install astro-clerk-auth

The command installs the following library:

  • astro-clerk-auth: A package that integrates Clerk with Astro via Middleware support and baked-in React and Astro components for Clerk.

Further, perform the following additions in astro.config.mjs to use the Clerk integration:

// File: astro.config.mjs

import node from "@astrojs/node";
import react from "@astrojs/react";
import clerk from "astro-clerk-auth"; 
import { defineConfig } from "astro/config";

export default defineConfig({
  output: "server",
  adapter: node({
    mode: "standalone",
  }),
  integrations: [
    react(),
    clerk({ 
      afterSignInUrl: "/", 
      afterSignUpUrl: "/", 
    }), 
  ],
});

Intercept all incoming requests using Astro middleware

To make sure that each request maintains a user session accessible over the server-side endpoints, and in .astro pages during server-side rendering, you are going create a middleware that uses Clerk to decode/encode a user session from the cookie.

Create a file middleware.ts in the src directory with the following code:

// File: src/middleware.ts

import { clerkMiddleware } from "astro-clerk-auth/server";

export const onRequest = clerkMiddleware();

Create the index route

Create an App.jsx inside the src directory with the following code:

import { SignedIn, SignedOut, UserButton } from "astro-clerk-auth/client/react";

export default function () {
  return <>
    <SignedOut>
      <a href="/sign-in" className="rounded border px-3 py-1 max-w-max">
        Sign In
      </a>
    </SignedOut>
    <SignedIn>
      <UserButton />
    </SignedIn>
  </>
}

The code above does the following:

  • Imports the SignedIn and SignedOut components that describe the state of the user whether signed in or not.
  • Creates conditional states, showing a Sign In button if the user is signed out, otherwise, renders an interactive UserButton component that allows a user to sign out and manage their settings.

To use this React component on the home page of your application, make the following changes in src/pages/index.astro file:

---
// File: src/pages/index.astro

import App from "../App"; 
---

<html lang="en">
  <head>
    <meta charset="utf-8" />
    <link rel="icon" type="image/svg+xml" href="/favicon.svg" />
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width" />
    <meta name="generator" content={Astro.generator} />
    <title>Astro</title>
  </head>
  <body>
    <App client:load />
  </body>
</html>

The changes above import the App React component and use Astro’s client:load directive to make sure that this React component is hydrated immediately on the page.

Create a custom sign-in page

Create a sign-in.astro file inside the src/pages directory with the following command:

---
// File: src/pages/sign-in.astro

import { SignIn as ClerkSignIn } from "astro-clerk-auth/client/react";
---

<html lang="en">
  <head>
    <meta charset="utf-8" />
    <link rel="icon" type="image/svg+xml" href="/favicon.svg" />
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width" />
    <meta name="generator" content={Astro.generator} />
    <title>Astro</title>
  </head>
  <body>
    <ClerkSignIn client:load />
  </body>
</html>

The code above does the following:

  • Imports the SignIn component that renders all the authentication methods enabled while creating the Clerk application via the dashboard.
  • Use Astro’s client:load directive to make sure that this React component is hydrated immediately on the page.

Build and Test your Astro application locally

To test the application, prepare a build and run the preview server using the command below:

npm run build && node ./dist/server/entry.mjs

Conclusion

In this guide, you enabled user authentication via various methods with the help of Clerk in an Astro application. You’ve also gained some experience with using React in Astro, and understanding how it can help you build dynamic user interfaces.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter.

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