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24 MIN

Ep. #96, Customized Login with Will Johnson of Auth0

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about the episode

In episode 96 of JAMstack Radio, Brian speaks with Will Johnson of Auth0. They discuss Will’s career journey into developer advocacy, their experiences with Twitter Spaces, and how Auth0 Actions is customizing the login experience.

Will Johnson is a self taught Developer Advocate at Auth0 and an instructor on egghead.io. When he’s not coding, he loves spending time with his wife and 6 children.


Brian Douglas: Welcome to another installment of JAMstack Radio.

On the line we got Will Johnson from Auth0. What is up, Will?

Will Johnson: Yo, what's up Bdougie. Thanks for having me.

Brian: Yeah, pleasure. Yeah.

We've chatted before, not on this podcast, but other, I guess, things that I do out in the world.

But I'm happy to have you on, I'm happy that you're at Auth0 too, as well.

We had James Q Quick on early this year talking about some other updates, but also talking about developer content, which was that episode.

So, honestly it wasn't too Auth0 heavy of an episode, but I'm happy to talk about some stuff that you're working on before.

Why don't you introduce yourself and tell us what you do and how you got there?

Will: So, for me currently, I'm a developer advocate at Auth0.

Before that I was working at egghead.io which is a learning platform for developers, and before that I usually did like factory work and things of that nature.

I ended up switching careers just because I wanted to provide for my family, feeling like I wasn't really reaching my potential.

So, taught myself how to code using like online resources, went on Twitter networked like crazy, because I knew wasn't anyone really going to beat down my door to hire me with having a background of factories and call centers and jobs like that.

So, through that, ended up getting the job at egghead, got noticed by the founder.

I did do a lot of community work for them, but through all of that, one thing that never changed that I was always creating content, whether that was blog posts, video lessons, going on Twitter Spaces and podcasts. I was always doing things around the community. I ended up having a lot of passion for that. That's what led me to Auth0 to be able to do that as a developer advocate for that company.

Brian: Yeah. Awesome. Yeah. I'm a big fan of Auth0.

I've heard of Auth0 since I moved to San Francisco.

I had met some early employees there and it basically solved a problem that I was looking for, especially when I was working at Netlify looking for some easy authentication solutions.

I know you have a bit of background in Ruby on Rails, is that correct?

Will: Correct, yeah. When I was at egghead, I was learning Ruby on Rails for, I think worked for about a year, a year and a half, I think.

Brian: Okay, cool. Yeah. What I liked about Rails, when I was doing it back for my first job, is that authentication was built in through some RubyGems .

That was not the case when I switched over to JavaScript early or mid 2010s and Auth0 is basically that sort of plugin play solution that I needed to do authentication, so.

But I know, because Auth0's been, they've been growing like crazy.

Y'all are doing way more stuff than just adding some drop in replacements for managing user database in login credentials, so.

You actually came on to talk about Auth0 Actions.

Do you want to give us a quick, what is that trying to accomplish?

Will: Sure. Basically, Auth0 Actions allows you to customize your login experience outside of what's available to be done with Auth0.

Some of the use cases that people may have is, far as ID verification if you need to have someone log in and send a picture of their ID, that's something that's not natively available within Auth0 or even, I've seen some use cases where people were able to have someone log in and then another step of verification is to use their voice to recognize it, to verify who that person is.

With Actions, it allows you to customize your experience and provide different ways to have security with your users. One of the biggest pieces of that is that a lot of it can be low to no code.

We have the Auth0 Marketplace and you can take a lot of pre-made solutions for common use cases and plug it right into the Auth0 dashboard.

You won't have to write any code and you won't have tons of flexibility and customization right inside your app without you having to do any code yourself.

Brian: Wow. That's amazing too, as well. Okay. I didn't even know about the Marketplace too as well.

I feel like every time I talk to someone from Auth0, they're just pitching me new things that I just haven't noticed because I've been choosing the basics of the basics from it.

The Marketplace, it looks like a bunch of third party integrations as well.

Maybe some community stuff that you could add into your Auth0 authentication?

Will: Yeah. Yeah. That's exactly it.

It's both, there's some that's made by community members, regular developers like you and me that may, Hey, I've, saw this use case, let me put this out and let other people share that benefit.

We also have official partner with different companies like Twilio and things like that.

I think we even, I think we have a GitHub one in there too.

Brian: Okay. Nice.

Will: If you search for it.

Brian: Yeah.

I've seen the Netlify I one, which is like use really, my go-to is adding authentication to one of my Netlify sites just for, we do a lot of one off problem solving.

I mean, you probably, you already figured this out, but you got to set up a little side project to support a thing that you're doing.

Whether it's long lasting or long lived.

What's nice about this is that if you set up authentication on one of those little side projects, maybe for an event or maybe interactions with your discord, you'll have a user database, a user table.

Also, what nice about this. I already know this, but Auth0 can be, help you to be GDPR compliant as well.

Also, the California data production act as well. All stuff I just don't want to have to care about.

I just want someone to tell me what check boxes to do to make sure that this is legit.

Which is pretty awesome. So, yeah. Auth0's come a long way.

Will: Yeah.

Brian: So, we talked about The Marketplace, but I want to go back to the Auth0 Actions.

You mentioned about functionality, like ID verification, which I feel like, I mean, crypto's a thing.

Every time I sign up to another one of these blockchain solution apps, I got to submit my knowledge.

I don't know. Basically, my true identity to the platform to make sure they can, I can pay taxes if I happen to make money on something.

Will: Yeah, yeah.

Brian: But I guess what I'm getting at is, that's a familiar experience.

Whenever I sign up to a new platform, I got to set up my ID, which is nice to know that there's a pathway.

There's a paved way for me to solve that with Auth0.

But I'm curious, do you have any other examples of what actions you've seen people create?

Will: I mean, those are the main things.

We had a Auth0 Actions Hackathon not too long ago and that was kind of the cool ones we've seen from that.

Brian: Okay. I'm curious, Auth0, you just actually tweeted, I know I'm going to pivot a little bit, but I just saw you tweet a video of the Auth0 ambassadors.

Will: Yeah.

Brian: Which I'm curious to know more about what that is, that program is.

Will: Sure. The Auth0 ambassador's a kind of simple way to succinctly say what it is.

It's almost like a DevRel in training program.

Brian: Okay.

Will: Basically, it's people who write about identity content.

Doesn't necessarily have to be even Auth0 related, but if you're talking about SAML or doing single sign on or working with Open ID Connect or something like that, you can get paid by Auth0 to create that content and you also get coaching and training.

You'll be able to get paid to speak at events and things like that.

It's our way of giving back to the community for the people who are speaking and educating about identity, because it is a complex topic.

Like you said earlier, it's not really something that you want to think about.

To give back to the people who are helping people along that journey, that's what the ambassadors program is for.

Brian: Okay, cool. Yeah. It's funny, because I, months ago actually tweeted about because I've been mentoring a lot of folks getting in the industry.

Folks who either do in a bootcamp program or coming out of college, and being a persona on the internet sometimes people reach out to me so I'm happy to be helpful.

But to some, one things that I like seeing, if I go to promote somebody or go pitch them to get a job here or there is actually having content, because I figure, even if you're not doing DevRel but you're doing engineering, being able to showcase that you can talk about technical problems and convince people that you, decisions you made in the code, is the decisions you made.

Whether they're right or wrong, just state your case. That's exactly what you do in all the times in pull request, you open up a PR, you're like, "Hey I did this. This is what I tried."

So, having the Auth0 ambassador, I'm actually going to be pitching folks to go take a look at this because it's a great way to get a leg up if you want to establish yourself in industry.

Especially if you want to... Yeah.

If you want to be noticed and open up doors for other opportunities.

So, yeah. I'm super happy to learn more about that.

Will: Yeah. It's a really fun project to be a part of and like I said, there's training they do.

Training once a month where you'll learn either about an identity topic from one of the experts on the team or you'll learn about a specific product within Auth0.

You get a lot of support.

It's a, Christie is head of the program and she does a great job of organizing everything and putting it together.

Shout out to Christie and the Ambassadors Team.

Brian: Yeah. That's awesome.

It's a thing that-- And the idea of DevRel, because you mentioned this is a training ground for future DevRel folks or advocates.

One thing that I talk about a lot publicly is the idea of becoming an advocate, or sorry, the goals for advocates are you should be around creating other advocates.

Now, whether that's creating other advocates to join Auth0 or creating other advocates to just go out in the field and do stuff, I think it's extremely important because sustainability is a thing that matters, especially in tech.

So, having some sort of flywheel or a system to grow new folks so that way we're not always trying to chase after all the people we already know about, it levels the playing field, but also it provides doors that are open and step up for people who could use them too as well.

So, I imagine, I don't know how close you are to the program, but I'm sure there's probably some notable folks who are doing some great work.

I'm curious, are there examples, do y'all have a website that people could see the content that the ambassadors are putting out there?

Will: So, the content is usually it'll be either on the Auth0 blog or on the Auth0 YouTube channel.

I can link you to some of those. But one noticeable one is Mahmoud and he's currently a developer advocate at Prisma.

He was into the program and he did at egghead talk about react authentication with Auth0.

That's one of the things he used to actually get his job as developer advocate at Prisma to show that he knows what he's doing, and it was a really, really good video.

Brian: Yeah, I've definitely seen him around on Twitter.

He just recently gave a junior developer advocate talk at DevRel Con just quite a few months ago.

I didn't get a chance to catch it, but I did read one of his blog posts on the same subject and... Yeah.

It's nice that people that are showing the path that you can lead yourself into to get into this line of work.

So, going back to the Auth0 Actions, I'm curious.

If I were to want to build my own actions, can I just write this in Javascript or is there a specific SDK that I need to be aware of?

Will: Actions, it's a no JS environment and it's actually a code editor on the site, so if you have an Auth0 account and you go to Actions within your dashboard, there's a monaco code editor in line on the page that you can use to write the action.

Yeah. It's no JS code. I believe 16 is the version that it's using. Don't quote me on that.

Brian: Yeah. Most likely. 16's the, it's the latest stable of release. I imagine whatever environments people have that running.

Will: Yeah, and then, so if you can read the docs and kind of tell you what it has, because it has an event object that's the main thing that you would use to get...

What you may need, whether that's a user name, the user's location, things like that.

Any metadata that you need, and you can use that to write the code and have it do what you need it to do right there on the site and then you can deploy it.

Once it's deployed, you'll have a chance to submit it to The Marketplace.

Brian: Okay. You had mentioned there's The Marketplace, but are these things that are hosted on Auth0's cloud, or you also mentioned low code as well.

I'm curious, do I need to have a place to host this myself or I'm just using this in the Auth0 monaco editor and then it's going to be hosted down the road?

Will: Yeah, you are correct. We actually host the code.

So, that's why I say it's low code writing the editor.

You write a couple functions and it's hosted on Auth0 servers.

You never have to touch your own code base to make these changes.

Brian: Okay, cool. If people wanted to jump into this now, where, you mentioned the docs, but where can people find the docs for getting started?

Will: Well first, we have a bunch of blog posts talking about Actions.

I just released one talking about one of the no code ways with Auth0 and Plivo to do two factor indication with SMS.

But if you did want to go straight into the docs, you can go to auth0.com/doc/actions.

That'll tell you how actions work.

You'll get a demo of how to write your first action and then it'll, you can go through and see the different things about how to trigger at Action and things like that.

Brian: Cool. Excellent. Well, hopefully everybody listening that can find those URLs.

We'll have links in the show notes as well. Just hit us up on Twitter if you don't see them or just find yourself at heavybit.com/podcast/jamstackradio.

Again, also in the show notes and with that, Will, did anything else in Auth0 happen that you wanted to mention before we sort of slide into the pick section?

Will: I would probably say the main thing is that as Actions continue to grow and we add more use cases, the big plan is to have the no code integrations from The Marketplace be 90%, cover 90% of all common use cases.

Maybe about 10% is you having to write custom code. Our big plan is to make sure any common use case when it comes to authentication or even custom things.

Like I said, the ID verification can be handled with the, a plug and play solution so that way you can get back to doing the things and making the cool features and the things that aren't related to identity.

That's the big plan.

Brian: Excellent. Well, I'm looking forward to actually trying this myself.

I'm very familiar with all these low code functions, actions, Lambda, and built inside of platform.

So, definitely want to try this out. Folks, if you have any interest in updating or upgrading your authentication solution, check out Auth0.

With that said, I'm going to transition to picks.

In the JAMstack ecosystem, we've seen a lot of growth recently.

Lots of crazy acquisitions and fundraising.

But I'd love to take this time to talk about some picks, things that we're jamming on.

In particular, these things could be music, food, gaming, code related. Everything's on the table.

With that, I wanted to actually share my first pick, which I prefaced with you before we actually started the recording, is my pick is Twitter Spaces and I'm a big fan of that.

I know you've been using them, you've been jumping on Spaces as well, but the reason I even know about Twitter Spaces is because you had Spaces back in the day.

We just had, just random people in the developer community and you'd interview them.

I think you were the first person that actually sat in the Space that because, Clubhouse is another tool, an app that also got big in 2021.

But every time I jumped in a Space or a Clubhouse, it was kind of awkward.

Like, Hey, come grab the mic, jump up and say whatever you want and some random stuff or talk about some, sort of like the verses after party.

Will: Yeah.

Brian: But your Spaces were always so smooth.

You had the conversation going and you had brought up people and people would ask questions and weren't shy.

That's when it clicked in the summertime when I was in your spaces, like, Hey, I could do this.

I actually started doing spaces over the summer and then started doing it more consistently in the last couple months.

Yeah. It's actually been going pretty well.

For Twitter as a platform, I've never really thought seriously about it until this year.

I've just always liked this tweet or whatever and shared blog posts, but for networking and engaging community, Twitter is really making a lot of sense and Spaces is that layer that's gluing everything else together, if that makes sense.

So, yeah. I'm curious your thoughts and if you have any back, if you wanted to share a bit of your history of with Twitter Spaces.

Will: Sure. Yeah. First, I agree. Man, I love Twitter Spaces.

It's that thing that Twitter needed, right?

Because when you're watching the tweet, you're reading it, depending on what your mood is, you might read it a certain way and it may not have been taken that way.

We all see what happens on Twitter.

But I think with spaces you're allowed to see people's voice inflection, their excitement, and it just makes the relationships deeper.

I remember the first time I was in one and it was like, what?

A lot of people I look up to, like Natter was in there, Demetrius Clark from Netlify. It was a lot of people how I looked up to.

It was just so cool just to hear them chat outside of reading their tweets. Yeah.

So, that's why I started hosting my own to where I would interview people.

I was basically talk, asking about their career and what advice they could give to others.

I liked it because it was free.

Brian: Yeah.

Will: With a podcast, you have to edit and make sure everything is perfect.

With Spaces, I was always go off the cuff and just say whatever I was feeling.

It just felt more fun and free and it, I enjoyed them a lot and I like getting the audience involved.

Let them give a chance to ask a question or maybe ask for advice particular to their own situation because sometimes you may listen to a podcast and you'd be like, well, how can that be applied to me?

You don't really get that chance, so.

Brian: Yeah.

Will: With Spaces, you get a chance to do that live. So, yeah. I love of it.

Brian: Yeah. Yeah.

They've been shipping some, so, I've been doing consistent Spaces.

I'm actually connected to Twitter as well.

They've been actually chatting with me about my Spaces which is, I'm just honored that they would reach out and connect with me.

With that, I've got access to new features for Spaces, like recording. You mentioned the podcast element.

What I like about that hitting the record button is that people can find it later.

The thing about Twitter is if someone retweets that with the recording there, that's another 10 people that are going to, or 10 to a hundred, whatever people who that can have access to that conversation.

It only lasts, it's kind of like Twitch. It only lasts 30 days and then it expires or deletes itself or whatever.

But, I don't know.

I feel like by now if you haven't been noticing what's happening on Twitter and the Twitter Spaces, and by the time this podcast comes out, I would highly recommend it.

If you're doing DevRel, set it up.

The effort is pretty low to basically get a friend or get another coworker to have a conversation about a thing.

Will: Yeah.

Brian: I think the moment is, the moment was last year, basically.

But if you haven't got into that, definitely check it out now.

I figured there's going to be a world where just consistent Spaces hosts.

I'm starting to see celebrities and big name people start to do Spaces, which is also interesting as well.

Will: Yeah. I've seen the same thing.

People would do after parties for shows and stuff like that. I've seen that on Twitter Spaces.

Brian: Yeah. It's just mind blowing how accessible people are on Twitter.

So. Will, that's my pick. I'm going to stop there. Did you have any picks for the audience?

Will: Sure. For me, it is Framer Motion 3D. It was just released not too long ago.

If you don't know what Framer Motion is, Framer Motion is an animation library for React.

The reason why I like it's because it's really, really declarative and it's in the mindset and mental model of React.

Basically you're just passing some props to do animations and you can make it really, really declarative.

You can make a object called a variant, give it names you want.

If you want it to be open, you can describe what open looks like to you in a super declarative manner and then call open in the prop and it'll animate to open.

It's super, super smart.

I'm really into framer motion, but the 3D framer motion is really exciting because one of the things I was looking into is, okay, how can I do 3D on the web?

I was looking at WebGL and React-three-fiber. Framer motion 3D is a layer, so.

It's already the Three.js, which is a layer on top of WebGL.

Then React-three-fiber is a layer on top of three GS and now Framer Motion is another layer on top of all of that.

But it allows you to create 3D interactions in your websites.

Declare that you're using the syntax front Framer motion and a couple of components from React-three-fiber.

Brian: Okay. Wow. That's a lot of words, but yeah. I mean, yeah.

I've been a familiar with Framer for the longest time, never messed with 3D stuff because I just figured that's just another layer of expertise I'm never going to have, but yeah.

I'm excited for you to check it out and excited for other folks, if you're interested in checking out Framer 3D as well.

I think in passing, you had mentioned on Twitter that you're working on a Framer course. Do you want to plug that?

Will: Sure. So, I have recorded a pretty much an introduction Framer Motion course of how to animate your applications using Framer Motion.

It's about 11 lessons, it's only 27 minutes. It's really short and it's available for free on egghead.io.

So, if you type in my name in egghead, you should find it, but of course we'll put a link to that in the show notes as well.

Brian: All right. That's excellent.

Will: One of the, probably the biggest things about it if you're on the fence, because some people are like, oh, I don't know anything about animation. Animation is hard.

That's one of the things you don't have to worry about with Framer Motion.

The creator, Matt Perry, he's very smart and he made a lot of defaults for Framer Motion.

If you still want good UI animations without knowing anything about how to animate, then Framer Motions is definitely something to check out.

Brian: Nice.

Will: Because if you sign up for my email list, you get a preview lesson.

Some people told me that they've used that preview lesson to do projects to show in job interviews and stuff like that.

They were, the interviewers were impressed with that extra polish and things like that, so. Animation works.

Brian: Nice, nice.

Well, thanks so much for chatting about Auth0, catching us up with Auth0 Actions, as well as even mentioning in passing The Marketplace.

Again, did not even know that was a thing. But with that folks, keep spreading the jam.