Launch Week Day 1: Sessions

Session management is the mechanism for securely handling interactions between a user and an application within a specific time frame. Sessions are now available to all WorkOS users for free.

Session management is the mechanism for securely handling interactions between a user and an application within a specific time frame. It’s an important tool for balancing UX with security and is the reason why you don’t have to re-authenticate every time you ask a question in ChatGPT or log in repeatedly when using Figma in your browser.

Great session management should handle security concerns for you. It should only take a few lines to wire into your app, provide easy-to-use hooks to gracefully update the UI when a session is nearing its end, and support revocation from the server to quickly log out users or change their roles in near real-time.

It can be challenging to implement all of this yourself, which is why we are launching our carefully crafted Sessions through AuthKit and User Management. Best of all, Sessions are free for all customers.

Integrating Sessions


The quickest way to integrate is by using the new Next.js library we’ve shipped alongside this update: 

Simply import the library, set your environment variables and you’ll be able to get the user and the sign in URL on the fly:

import { getUser, getSignInUrl } from "@workos-inc/nextjs";
import { Button, Flex,  Heading, Text } from "@radix-ui/themes";

export default async function HomePage() {
  // Retrieves the user from the session or returns `null` if no user is signed in
  const { user } = await getUser();
  // If there's no user, get the URL to redirect the user to AuthKit to sign in
  const signInUrl = user ? null : await getSignInUrl();

  return (
    <Flex direction="column" align="center" gap="2">
      {user ? (
          <Heading size="8">
            Welcome back{user?.firstName && `, ${user?.firstName}`}
          <Text size="5" color="gray">
            You are now authenticated into the application
      ) : (
          <Heading size="8">AuthKit authentication example</Heading>
          <Text size="5" color="gray" mb="4">
            Sign in to view your account details
          <Button size="3">
            <a href={signInUrl}>Sign In with AuthKit</a>

Alongside the above you’d specify the callback logic from within your callback route:

// In /src/app/callback/route.ts
export { authkitCallbackRoute as GET } from "@workos-inc/nextjs";

Plus some Next.js middleware:

// In /src/middleware.ts
import { authkitMiddleware } from "@workos-inc/nextjs";

export default authkitMiddleware();

// Match against pages that require auth
export const config = { matcher: ["/", "/account/:path*"] };

With just a few lines of code you can get the full session experience in your Next.js application. 

Under the hood

WorkOS Sessions work by using an `accessToken` and `refreshToken` to validate that the user is still logged in. If you’ve integrated AuthKit, then you might be familiar with the Authenticate with code API endpoint, which is used to match the code returned in the callback URL with the user that’s trying to log in.

Now, with Sessions, in addition to the user and the organization ID, you’ll also get an access and refresh token specifically used for Sessions:

import { WorkOS } from '@workos-inc/node';

const workos = new WorkOS('sk_test_123');

const { user, accessToken, refreshToken, organizationId  } = await workos.userManagement.authenticateWithCode({
  clientId: 'client_123',
  code: '01E2RJ4C05B52KKZ8FSRDAP23J',  


The access and refresh tokens can then be encrypted and set within a cookie if you aren’t using the Next.js library. Alternatively you could persist the refresh token in a backend database if you prefer to not store it in a cookie.

import { cookies } from "next/headers";
import { sealData } from "iron-session";

// Refresh tokens should only be stored in a cookie if the cookie is encrypted, otherwise they should be persisted in a backend database
  await sealData({ accessToken, refreshToken, user }, { password: process.env.COOKIE_PASSWORD }),
    path: "/",
    httpOnly: true,
    secure: true,
    sameSite: "lax",


The access token is a JSON Web Token (JWT) minted (i.e. created and signed) by WorkOS, meaning you can verify whether it’s still valid later using a library for JSON Object Signing and Encryption (JOSE). 

import { jwtVerify, createRemoteJWKSet } from "jose";

const jwksUrl = workos.userManagement.getJwksUrl(process.env.WORKOS_CLIENT_ID);
const JWKS = createRemoteJWKSet(jwksUrl);

async function verifyAccessToken(accessToken: string) {
  try {
    const { payload } = await jwtVerify(accessToken, JWKS);
    return true;
  } catch (e) {
    console.warn("Failed to verify session:", e);
    return false;


If the access token has expired, you can use the refresh token to generate a new access token.

const session = await getSessionFromCookie();
const { accessToken, refreshToken } = workos.userManagement.authenticateWithRefreshToken({
    clientId: process.env.WORKOS_CLIENT_ID,


Bear in mind that the refresh token is single use, meaning you get a new refresh token alongside your new access token.

All the above is taken care of for you by the Next.js library we’ve shipped alongside session management, ensuring that your session management is secure by default.

The following diagram shows how the flow works with a valid access token versus an expired access token

Once implemented, Sessions reduce the amount of times your users need to sign in manually. Additional configuration can be set via the WorkOS dashboard, for instance setting the session lifetime period.

Using Sessions in your application means you can expire them in the event that a user is deleted or removed from an organization.

For more information and code examples you can view the documentation for Sessions.

Coming soon

We’re not done yet with Sessions however, there’s more goodness in the pipeline. Upcoming changes include:

  • Real-time changes
  • Inactivity timeouts
  • Client SDKs
  • PKCE support

This is just day one of Launch Week, and we have many more things we can’t wait to show you. Check in tomorrow to see how we plan to enhance Sessions with access information.

If you like what you see and are interested in solving engineering problems like this, check out WorkOS careers.

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