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Learning Nodejs # 11: Use Environment Variables to Secure Your Apps

Using Env Variables at Nodejs
One of the factors that determine the quality of the application that we build is security .
In the previous tutorial:
We write the credential (configuration, username and password) directly in the program code.
This is actually not recommended according to the methodology of The Twelve-Factor App . 1
Especially later when you use Git .
Because it can open a security gap from our application.
One way to prevent this is to use Environmental Variables to store credentials .

What is an Environment Variable?

Environment Variables are dynamic variables on a computer that can be accessed by a program. 2
(Next, it will be easy, we will call it an env variable )
For example, a named env variable HOMEwill help the program find out the directory location homeof the user.
Variable environment is on every computer.
We can also make it ...
The env variable that we make, is usually temporary.
That is, it will only exist when the process occurs or the program is executed.
While the default env variable from the operating system will always be there.
Because it is created when the computer is turned on (boot / startup) .
In the Windows operation system, we can see Env Variables from My Computer-> Properties-> Advenced .
Variable Environment in Windows
Then to create and view the contents of the Env variable from CMD, we can use the command echoand set.
set SITE_NAME=Petani Kode
echo %SITE_NAME%
SITE_NAMEis the name of the variable. Then when we want to print the contents, we use the statement echowith the variable name enclosed with the percent symbol ( %).
This is a rule that applies to the Windows operating system.
Variable Environment in Windows
Then on Linux and Unix, how?
Not much different.
In Linux, we use commands export to create new variables and echoto display them.
export NAMA_VARIABEL="isi"
export SITE_NAME="Petani Kode"
See! when we print a variable SITE_NAME, there we use the dollar symbol in front of it ( $).
This is a rule that applies to the Linux and Unix operating systems.
Let's try to print the contents of variables that already exist, such as USERHOMEHOSTNAME, etc.
Variable Environtment on Linux
This is what is called an environment variable which we will use to store credentials later .

Accessing Env Variables from Nodejs

Variable environtment on Nodejs, can we access through the object process.
This is a global object in Nodejs that can be accessed from any program, without having to import it with a function require().
The object processhas a property env that contains all environment variables on the computer.
For example, I want to access a variable HOME.
Then later what is written in the code will be like this:
var home = process.env.HOME;
This was actually used by us in making telegram bots at and creating simsimi bots to store tokens.
Okay, so I understand better ...
Let's try with practice.
Create a new file with the name baca_env.js, then fill in the following code:
var username = process.env.USERNAME;
var password = process.env.PASSWORD;

console.log("username anda: " + username);
console.log("password anda: " + password);
In the code above, we try to access variables USERNAMEand PASSWORD.
(This env variable does not yet exist on the computer)
Before executing the program, make the variable first with commands export(on Linux / Unix) or set(on Windows).
If we do not create an env variable first, the result will undefinedor the variable does not yet exist.
Execute the nodejs program to access the variable env
Creating env variables on Linux:
export USERNAME="Petanikode"
export PASSWORD="kopi"
Creating env variables on Windows:
set USERNAME=Petanikode
set PASSWORD=kopi
After creating the env variable, now try executing the program:
Execute the nodejs program to access the variable env
Do we always have to make an env variable during execution?
It doesn't have to be, just env variables are made once.
But, if later the Terminal or CMD is closed, then the variable will disappear.
Bro ... it's complicated, 😞every time we want to execute a program, we have to make the env variable first.
Not really.
Because we can:

Make Env Variable from Nodejs

Guess what?
Yep, we just have to create a new property in the object process.env.
Example: 📄 create_env.js
// membaut variabel env
process.env.APP_VERSION = "1.34.2";
process.env.APP_NAME = "Tutorial Nodejs";

console.log("Variabel env sudah dibuat!");

console.log("APP_VERSION = " + process.env.APP_VERSION);
console.log("APP_NAME = " + process.env.APP_NAME);
In the program code above, we create two env variables with names APP_VERSION and APP_NAME.
Can you use the lowercase variable name?
It's okay, but usually the env variable is made with all capital letters.
Just try to pay attention to the env variable that is already in the system.
They all use capital letters.
Continue ...
Now try the program execution create_env.js.
Create an env variable from Nodejs
... and try using the command echoto print it:
Print env variables
Lah! why not?😕
This is because the env variable has been deleted from memory.
Why can it be deleted?
Because that's how it is ...
The env variable will only exist when the program is executed.
Just try creating a new variable from Terminal or CMD, then close the Terminal / CMD and reopen it.
Then try the echovariable that was made earlier. Is there or not?
Definitely not.
Variable Properties of Env
And what about the variables USERHOSTNAMEHOME, et al.?
Why are they always there?
Because they are made on startup computers or when Terminal / CMD is opened.
Usually, - on Linux - we create an env variable in the file .bashrcso that the variable is always in the Terminal.
... or it could be at /etc/bashrc/and /etc/profile.
Meaning later ... if we open the application on another computer, the computer must be made again without the env label.
Yes, it is true.
When we work with teams, applications will also be opened on other computers.
We have to make the env variable there again.
Sounds complicated ...
But take it easy, this problem can be solved by:

Using Files .env

File .env(dotenv) functions to store env variables.
This file contains the declaration or creation of an env variable which we can load from Nodejs.
In order to use files .env, we need a module dotenv.
This module will later help us to load all variables in the file .env.
Let's try ...
First, we first install the module dotenvinto the project with the command:
npm install dotenv
Wait until the process is complete.
Installing the dotenv module
After that, create a new file with the name dotenv.jsas follows:
// load semua variabel env dari file .env

// mencetak variabel env
console.log("HOST: " + process.env.DB_HOST);
console.log("USER: " + process.env.DB_USER);
console.log("PASS: " + process.env.DB_PASS);
console.log("NAME: " + process.env.DB_NAME);
Then, create a file .envwith the contents as follows:
After that, try executing the program dotenv.js.
Dotenv nodejs program
Steady 👍
When this line is executed, all variables in the file .envwill be loaded into the program or memory.
The method config()can actually be given parameters to specify files .envspecifically.
require('dotenv').config({path: '/full/custom/path/to/your/env/vars'})
For other parameters, you can read it in the documentation. 3
Anyway, if you use Git , make sure to enter the file .envinside .gitignore so that it doesn't get recorded by Git.
When we will host or deploy applications to the server ...
... files .envdo not need to be uploaded.
Later we create another env variable on the server.
How to?
The method depends on the hosting server used.
Try to follow the tutorial to install bot with Hookio . Later you will know how.

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