In MongooseIM the access control is performed via Access Control Lists (ACL). Initially, this functionality was supposed to answer the following question: "Is given user allowed to access a particular resource?". The answer might have been either allow or deny, but this functionality was extended to return any value. For instance we can ask how many concurrent session can a given user open, and the answer may vary depending on user affiliation - if he is an admin user and a normal user.

The functionality is defined via two top-level options:

  • {acl, Name, Pattern}: contrary to its name, it defines a user or the whole group. For instance we can define admin users or banned users.
  • {access, Name, List}: actual ACL that has a name and list of rules and values returned by them in case of success match.

ACL tuple

{acl, Name, Pattern}: the name could be any atom. This name will be used in the access definitions. Note that there might be many ACL entries with the same name, in that case the result will be a union of all patterns.


Patterns can be defined in one of the following formats:


All users/JIDs match.

{user, username()}

All users with a given user name, example:
{user, "admin"}: includes admin@localhost,, etc.

{user, username(), server()}

In this case username and domain have to match example:
{user, "admin", "localhost"}: admin@localhost matches, doesn't.

{server, server()}

All users from a given domain, example:
{server, "localhost"}: admin@localhost and pawel@localhost match, but doesn't.

{resource, resource()}

All users with matching resource, example:
{resource, "res1"}: admin@localhost/res1 matches, but admin@localhost/res2 doesn't.

{user_regexp, regexp()}

Similar to user, but match is done against regular expression, example:
{user_regexp, "^ad.*"}: admin@localhost and ads@localhost2 match, but pad@localhost doesn't.

{user_regexp, regexp(), server()} -

Similar to user, username is matched against regex, server part has to be exactly the same, example:
{user_regexp, "^ad.*", "localhost"}: admin@localhost matches, but doesn't.

{server_regexp, regexp()}

Analogous to user_regexp, but regex matches on the server part of the JID, example:
{server_regexp, "^local.*"}: admin@localhost matches, but admin@relocal doesn't.

{resource_regexp, regexp()}

The same story as above, but for the resource part, example:
{resource_regexp, "res.*"}: admin@localhost/resource matches, but admin@localhost/ios doesn't.

{node_regexp, regexp(), regexp()}

Regexp matching on both username and domain, example:
{node_regexp, "ad.*", "loc.*"}: admin@localhost matches, but doesn't.

{user_glob, glob()}

Match on username part using glob style patterns, example:
{user_glob, "paw*"}: pawel@localhost matches, but admin@localhost doesn't.

{user_glob, glob(), server()}

Match on the username part using glob patterns and on server using exact match, example:
{user_glob, "paw*", "localhost"}: pawel@localhost matches, but doesn't.

{server_glob, glob()}

Match on the server part using glob patterns, example:
{server_glob, "local*"}: pawel@localhost matches, but doesn't.

{resource_glob, glob()}

Match on the resource part using glob patterns, example:
{resource_glob, "r*"}: pawel@localhost/res matches, but doesn't.

{node_glob, glob(), glob()}

Match on the username and server part using glob patterns, example:
{node_glob, "paw*", "loc*"}: pawel@localhost/res matches, but doesn't.

Access tuple

Once we have out group of interests grouped in ACL tuple, we can use them in actual access control lists. To do so, we need to specify the following tuple:

{access, name_of_access_rule, [{value(), acl_name()}]}

As an example we can discuss 2 rules which are present in the default config file:

  • {access, register, [{allow, all}]}.
    This rule is used while registering a new user, the example above has no restrictions, but we might want to block certain JIDs, for instance admin JID. To do so we need to set:
    {acl, admin, {user, "admin"}}., then {access, register[{admin, deny}, {allow, all}]}.
  • {access, max_user_offline_messages, [{5000, admin}, {100, all}]}.
    This rule is used in mod_offline, it determines mod_offline's buffer size. For users defined in the admin ACL (for example {acl, admin, {user, "pawel", "localhost"}}) the size is 5000, while normal users size is 10.

Priority: global vs host access lists

By default, both ACL and access elements are "global", they apply to all domains available on the server. However using the host_config option, we are able to override rules for a particular domain.

%%  Define specific Access Rules in a virtual host.
{host_config, "localhost",
  {access, c2s, [{allow, admin}, {deny, all}]},
  {access, register, [{deny, all}]}

Regards priority, the global rule has the highest priority, however if the global rule ends with {allow, all} the host specific rule is taken into account.

For developers

To access the ACL functionality, one has to use acl:match_rule/3 function.

Given following ACL:

{access, register, [{deny, all}]}

One can call:

acl:match_rule(<<"localhost">>, register, jlib:make_jid(<<"p">>, <<"localhost">>, <<>>)).

Which in our case will return deny. If the rule is not host specific, one can use global instead of <<"localhost">>.