Custom Stages to User Self-Service

Commons Project

One of the great features of the OpenAMv13 and OpenIDMv4 releases is actually not a feature of those products at all.  I’m talking about the Self-Service capability which is actually part of the ‘COMMONS’ project at ForgeRock.  As the name suggests, the functionality on ‘Commons’ may be found in more than one of the final products.  Commons includes capabilities such as audit logging, the CREST framework, the UI framework, as well as the User Self-Service functionality.

Self-Service Configuration

Now there is lots of good documentation about how to make use of the User Self-Service functionality as exposed through the OpenAM and OpenIDM products.
For example, for OpenAM:!/docs/openam/13/admin-guide#chap-usr-selfservices, and for OpenIDM:!/docs/openidm/4/integrators-guide#ui-configuring.

Whilst the end-user functionality is the same, the way you configure the functionality in OpenAM and OpenIDM is slightly different.  This is the OpenIDM configuration view:

One thing you might notice from the documentation is that the User Self-Service flows (Registration, Forgotten Password, and Forgotten Username) have the ability to use custom ‘plugins’ – sometimes called ‘stages’.  However, another thing you might notice is a distinct lack of documentation on how to go about creating such a plugin/stage and adding it to your configuration.

Note that there is an outstanding JIRA logged for ForgeRock to provide documentation ( but, in the meantime, this post attempts to serve as an interim.  But, I’m only going to use OpenIDM as the target here, not OpenAM.

Fortunately, the JIRA linked above highlights that within the code base there already exists the code for a custom module, and a sample configuration.  So, in this post I’ll explain the steps required to build, deploy, and configure that pre-existing sample.

The easiest way to do this is to get the code of the Standalone Self-Service application!

Get the Standalone Self-Service code

You’ll need to head over the ‘self-service’ repository in the ‘COMMONS’ project of the ForgeRock Stash server:
(You may need to register, but go ahead, it’s free!)

If you’re following the instructions in this post, and are targeting OpenIDMv4  (as opposed to any later releases) then you’ll specifically want v1.0.3 of this SelfService repository.

Now download the code to your local drive so we can build it.

Compile and run it

You can see that the ‘readme.txt’ provides the details of how to compile this project.  Note that this will compile the full ‘Commons Self-Service’ functionality, including the custom stage, in a standalone harness.

Once it’s built you can browse to the web site and play with the functionality.  Any users registered are held in memory of this harness, and therefore flushed each time you stop the jetty container.

It’s also worth noting that the readme.txt instructs you to enter email username and password.  These are used to connect to the configured email service of this test harness in order to actually send registration emails.  (The implementations in OpenAM and OpenIDM will use the configured email services for those products).  By default, the configured email service is gmail.  And, by default, gmail stops this type of activity unless you change your gmail account settings.  However, you may instead choose to run a dummy SMTP service to capture the sent emails.  One such utility that I’ll use here is FakeSMTP:
So, once you have an accessible SMTP service, you might now need to change the email service config of the User Self-Service functionality.  You find this for the test harness – assuming the mvn build has worked successfully – here:


If you’re running FakeSMTP on port 2525, then this might look like:

  "mailserver": {
    "host": "localhost",
    "port": "2525"

Now when you run the example webapp emails will be delivered to FakeSMTP (and will ignore whatever you use for username and password)

So, go ahead, register a user. The first thing you should see is a “Math Problem” stage.  Eh? What? Where did that come from? Well, that’s the custom stage!!  Yes, this standalone version of Self-Service includes the custom stage!

Step1. Math Problem

Assuming you can add 12 and 4 together complete the ‘puzzle’.  Then follow the remaining steps of the registration (noting that the email gets delivered to FakeSMTP, where you can open it and click the link to complete the registration).

Step 2. Email Verification
Email link
Step 3. Register details
Step 4. KBA

Inspect the configuration

Now, if we take a look at the ‘Registration Stage’ configuration for this example app, which we can find here:


we will see it begins like this:

  "stageConfigs": [
      "class" : "org.forgerock.selfservice.custom.MathProblemStageConfig",
      "leftValue" : 12,
      "rightValue" : 4
      "name" : "emailValidation",
      "emailServiceUrl": "/email",
      "from": "[email protected]", 

Brilliant!  That first item in the stageConfigs array is the “Math Problem” with it’s configuration (i.e. which two numbers to sum!) The remaining array items reference ‘name’ which are the native/in-built modules and their necessary configuration.
So, what we’ve achieved so far is:

  • Compiled the custom stage (Math Problem)
  • Compiled standalone version of Common User Self-Service
  • Tested a Registration flow that includes the custom stage, along with some native stages.

And what’s left to do?

  • Deploy and configure the custom stage in OpenIDM


OpenIDM Deployment

Simply copy the custom stage JAR file to the ‘bundle’ directory of your OpenIDM deployment
cp forgerock-selfservice-custom-stage/target/forgerock-selfservice-custom-stage-1.0.3.jar <openidm>/bundle
And update the ‘selfservice-registration.json’ file in your ‘conf’ folder.
This is OpenIDM’s name for the ‘registration.json’ file of the standalone SelfService app, so use the same configuration snippet you saw in the standalone app.
It seems that this method will not allow you to see the custom stage in the Admin UI for OpenIDM. Happily, changes made within the Admin UI do not remove the custom stage from the file. However, be warned that if you disable, then re-enable SelfService Registration there is no guarantee that custom stage will be added into the re-created ‘selfservice-registration.json’ file in the correct place.

So, with User Self Registration enabled, and the custom stage included in the config, when a user tries to register they will be prompted for the calculation at the appropriate point in the flow.

Custom Stage in OpenIDM flow!

Exercise for the Reader!

As you can see I have use the pre-supplied custom stage.  Showing one approach to building, deploying and configuring it.  If you need a custom stage to do something different, then you’ll have to investigate the interfaces that need implementing in order to develop a custom stage.


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