Instead of defining hard-coded values in the specification of apps, ShinyProxy allows to use the Spring Expression Language in order to dynamically determine a value at runtime. This page describes this concept and gives an overview of supported configuration.


Before diving into the details an example can be useful:

- id: example-app
  container-image: example-app
  container-volumes: [ "/workspaces/#{proxy.userId}/work:/home/user/workspace"]

When starting this app, ShinyProxy replaces the #{proxy.userId} expression by the user starting the app. Therefore, ShinyProxy mounts a unique directory per user as workspace into the container. This is just the beginning of what is possible with the Spring Expressions.

The Expression Context

Every expression you write, can make use of variables stored in the expression context. Every time you start an app, ShinyProxy fills this context with some (Java) objects.

As of ShinyProxy 3.0.0 this context exists of the following objects:

  • containerSpec: contains the specification of the container used in the app class definition.
  • proxySpec: contains the specification of the proxy (i.e. app) class definition
  • proxy: contains all runtime information regarding the proxy (i.e. app) class definition
  • oidcUser: contains a representation of the current user (when using OpenID Connect for authentication), see later javadoc
  • keycloakUser: contains a representation of the current user (when using Keycloak for authentication), see later javadoc
  • samlCredential: contains a representation of the current user (when using SAML for authentication), see later javadoc
  • ldapUser: contains a representation of the current user (when using LDAP for authentication), see later javadoc
  • groups: the list of groups the user belongs to
  • userId: the userId of the user

When using a property of an object in the context, you can use the getter function, e.g.:

  container-volumes: [ "/workspaces/#{proxy.getUserId()}/work:/home/user/workspace"]

but you can also omit the get and brackets (i.e. getUserId() -> userId):

  container-volumes: [ "/workspaces/#{proxy.userId}/work:/home/user/workspace"]

Properties which support expressions

The following list of properties of a proxy specification have support for spring expressions:

  • container-cmd
  • container-cpu-limit
  • container-cpu-request
  • container-dns
  • container-env-file
  • container-env (only the values, not the keys)
  • container-image
  • container-memory-limit
  • container-memory-request
  • container-network-connections
  • container-network
  • container-volumes
  • docker-swarm-secrets
  • heartbeat-timeout
  • kubernetes-additional-manifests
  • kubernetes-additional-persistent-manifests
  • kubernetes-pod-patches
  • labels
  • max-instances (the containerSpec, proxySpec and proxy objects cannot be used in these expression)
  • max-lifetime
  • target-path (also when specified as part of additional-port-mappings)

In addition, the proxy.openid.logout-url also supports SpEL, in order to support IDPs requiring extra information in the logout URL.


The proxy object in the expression context contains a special function getRuntimeValue. As the name suggests, this function is used to retrieve a runtime-value. Internally, ShinyProxy uses runtime-values for storing all runtime information about an app. As soon as an app is started, ShinyProxy no longer uses the specification of an app for running the app. Therefore, all information that is required for running an app are stored as runtime-values, hence the name. Some of these runtime-values are automatically added as a label, annotation or environment variable to the container. The following table is a complete overview of all runtime-values, including an example SpEL expression:

Environment variable name Label name SPeL Support Env Docker label K8S label K8S annotation Usage
SHINYPROXY_APP_INSTANCE openanalytics.eu/sp-app-instance All No Yes No Yes #{proxy.getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_APP_INSTANCE')}
SHINYPROXY_BACKEND_CONTAINER_NAME openanalytics.eu/sp-backend-container-name No No No No No N/A
SHINYPROXY_CONTAINER_IMAGE openanalytics.eu/sp-container-image Subset No No No No #{proxy.containers[0].getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_CONTAINER_IMAGE')}
SHINYPROXY_CONTAINER_INDEX openanalytics.eu/sp-container-index Subset No Yes No Yes #{proxy.containers[0].getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_CONTAINER_INDEX')}
SHINYPROXY_CREATED_TIMESTAMP openanalytics.eu/sp-proxy-created-timestamp All No Yes No Yes #{proxy.getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_CREATED_TIMESTAMP')}
SHINYPROXY_DISPLAY_NAME openanalytics.eu/sp-display-name All No Yes No Yes #{proxy.getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_DISPLAY_NAME')}
SHINYPROXY_FORCE_FULL_RELOAD openanalytics.eu/sp-shiny-force-full-reload All No Yes No Yes #{proxy.getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_FORCE_FULL_RELOAD')}
SHINYPROXY_HEARTBEAT_TIMEOUT openanalytics.eu/sp-heartbeat-timeout Subset No Yes No Yes #{proxy.getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_HEARTBEAT_TIMEOUT')}
SHINYPROXY_INSTANCE openanalytics.eu/sp-instance All No Yes Yes No #{proxy.getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_INSTANCE')}
SHINYPROXY_MAX_LIFETIME openanalytics.eu/sp-max-lifetime Subset No Yes No Yes #{proxy.getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_MAX_LIFETIME')}
SHINYPROXY_PARAMETERS openanalytics.eu/sp-parameters All No Yes No Yes #{proxy.getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_PARAMETERS')}
SHINYPROXY_PARAMETER_NAMES openanalytics.eu/sp-parameters-names All No Yes No Yes #{proxy.getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_PARAMETER_NAMES')}
SHINYPROXY_PORT_MAPPINGS openanalytics.eu/sp-port-mappings Subset No Yes No Yes #{proxy.containers[0].getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_PORT_MAPPINGS')}
SHINYPROXY_PROXIED_APP openanalytics.eu/sp-proxied-app All No Yes Yes No #{proxy.getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_PROXIED_APP')}
SHINYPROXY_PROXY_ID openanalytics.eu/sp-proxy-id All No Yes No Yes #{proxy.getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_PROXY_ID')}
SHINYPROXY_PUBLIC_PATH openanalytics.eu/sp-public-path All Yes Yes No Yes #{proxy.getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_PUBLIC_PATH')}
SHINYPROXY_REALM_ID openanalytics.eu/sp-realm-id All No Yes No Yes #{proxy.getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_REALM_ID')}
SHINYPROXY_SPEC_ID openanalytics.eu/sp-spec-id All No Yes No Yes #{proxy.getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_SPEC_ID')}
SHINYPROXY_TRACK_APP_URL openanalytics.eu/sp-track-app-url All No Yes No Yes #{proxy.getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_TRACK_APP_URL')}
SHINYPROXY_USERGROUPS openanalytics.eu/sp-user-groups All Yes Yes No Yes #{proxy.getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_USERGROUPS')}
SHINYPROXY_USERNAME openanalytics.eu/sp-user-id All Yes Yes No Yes #{proxy.getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_USERNAME')}
SHINYPROXY_WEBSOCKET_RECONNECTION_MODE openanalytics.eu/sp-websocket-reconnection-mode All No Yes No Yes #{proxy.getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_WEBSOCKET_RECONNECTION_MODE')}
SHINYPROXY_USER_TIMEZONE openanalytics.eu/sp-user-timezone All No Yes No Yes #{proxy.getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_USER_TIMEZONE')}

Almost all runtime-values can be used in the SpEL expression of all properties. However, some runtime-values can only be used in a subset of configuration properties. The reason is that some runtime-values are created using the value of configuration options that support SpEL. For example, the container-image configuration property supports SpEL, therefore you cannot use the SHINYPROXY_CONTAINER_IMAGE runtimevalue in all the other configuration properties, since this would require that the expression in the container-image property is resolved before these other properties. In order to keep things simple and fast, such runtime-values can be used in only the following subset of the configuration properties:

  • container-env
  • kubernetes-additional-manifests
  • kubernetes-additional-persistent-manifests
  • kubernetes-pod-patches
  • labels

As an example, you can add the value of the SHINYPROXY_PROXY_ID variable as an environment variable to the container:

    SHINYPROXY_PROXY_ID: "#{proxy.getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_PROXY_ID')}"

This also allows you to rename an environment variable, which is sometimes needed for the SHINYPROXY_PUBLIC_PATH variable:

    WWW_ROOT_PATH: "#{proxy.getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_PUBLIC_PATH')}"

Of course, you can also add these variables to the labels of your container:

    CUSTOM_USER_ID_LABEL: "#{proxy.getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_USERNAME')}"

Yet another great use-case is automatically configuring the timezone of a container using the timezone of the user. When a user starts an application, ShinyProxy retrieves the timezone of the user from their browser and store this in the SHINYPROXY_USER_TIMEZONE runtimevalue. The following configuration sets the TZ environment variable of an app. A typical Linux container will use this environment variable to configure the timezone:

  TZ: "#{proxy.getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_USER_TIMEZONE')}"

Authentication objects

As described earlier, the expression context contains some objects representing the current user. This can be useful to extract additional information from the user profile and attach these to the app containers. This section gives some examples for the supported authentication backends.

OpenID Connect

  • #{oidcUser.attributes.sub}: the sub attribute (i.e. claim)
  • #{oidcUser.attributes.email}: the email attribute (i.e. claim)
  • #{oidcUser.idToken.tokenValue}: the ID token of the user
  • #{oidcUser.refreshToken}: the refresh token of the user


  • you can extract any claim which your Authorization Server provides in the ID token (or UserInfo endpoint).
  • some providers (such as Azure B2C) require you to add the offline_access scope in order to get a refresh token (e.g. in order to pass the refresh token to a container). See the scopes property.


  • #{keycloakUser.keycloakSecurityContext.realm}: the Keycloak realm name
  • #{keycloakUser.keycloakSecurityContext.tokenString}: the access token
  • #{keycloakUser.keycloakSecurityContext.idTokenString}: the ID token
  • #{keycloakUser.keycloakSecurityContext.refreshToken}: the refresh token
  • #{keycloakUser.keycloakSecurityContext.token.email}: the e-mail
  • #{keycloakUser.keycloakSecurityContext.token.birthdate}: the birthdate
  • #{keycloakUser.keycloakSecurityContext.token.emailVerified}: whether the email of the user is verified

Note: you can extract much more information from the keycloakUser.keycloakSecurityContext.token object. You can find all fields at the Keycloak javadoc . Also have a look at the fields inherited from the IDToken class.


  • #{samlCredential.nameID}: the nameID of the user
  • #{samlCredential.getFirstAttribute('http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/ws/2005/05/identity/claims/email')}: the e-mail
  • #{samlCredential.getAttribute('http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/ws/2005/05/identity/claims/email')}: all e-mail attributes

Note: you can extract any claim which your IDP Server provides in the SAML response.


  • #{ldapUser.dn}: the full DN of the user

Access Expression

Since ShinyProxy 2.6.0, each application can specify an access-expression property. This feature allows creating arbitrary complex expressions in order to determine whether a user has access to an app or not. This is useful in two cases: 1) when you need access control based on a different attribute than the groups which a user belongs too and 2) when you require a user to belong to multiple groups at once before allowing to use an application.

Let’s start with an example:

  - id: 01_hello
    display-name: Hello Application
    description: Application which demonstrates the basics of a Shiny app
    container-cmd: ["R", "-e", "shinyproxy::run_01_hello()"]
    container-image: openanalytics/shinyproxy-demo
    access-expression: "#{groups.contains('SCIENTISTS') and groups.contains('COMMON')}"

This app definition has a property access-expression. Whenever ShinyProxy needs to check whether a user has access to this app, ShinyProxy will evaluate this expression. Only when the expression returns true, the user has access to the app. Therefore, in this example, the user must be part of both the SCIENTISTS and COMMON group.

ShinyProxy contains some helper functions that makes this feature more useful:

  • List<String> toList(String attribute, String regex): this function converts the first parameter (attribute) to a list of strings, by splitting according to the provided regex and trimming each result.
  • List<String> toList(String attribute): identical to the previous function, but always splits on ,.
  • List<String> toLowerCaseList(String attribute, String regex): similar to the previous functions, but converts each element to lower case. Therefore, you can do a comparison that ignores the casing of a string (see later).
  • List<String> toLowerCaseList(String attribute): identical to the previous function, but always splits on ,.
  • boolean isOneOf(String attribute, String... allowedValues): returns whether the first parameter is one of the allowed values. Again all strings are trimmed before being compared.
  • `boolean isOneOfIgnoreCase(String attribute, String… allowedValues): similar to the previous function, but ignores the casing of strings.

Note: the expression is only evaluated once per session of a user (the result is cached). This means that your expression should not depend on the exact time when it is executed. For example, you should not depend on the current time, the time that the user has been active, the amount of apps the user has running etc. This would give a very confusing experience to the user.


The examples in this section are using additional attributes provided in the OIDC token. Of course, it is possible to achieve this with other authentication backends as well. See the Expression context for a list of variables you can use in the expression.

Only give access to pharmacists

access-expression: "#{oidcUser.attributes['function'] == 'Pharmacist'}"

Only give access to pharmacists from a certain province

access-expression: "#{oidcUser.attributes['function'] == 'Pharmacist' and oidcUser.attributes['province'] == 'Antwerp'}"

Only give access to pharmacists and general practitioners

access-expression: "#{isOneOf(oidcUser.attributes['function'], 'Pharmacist', 'General_practitioner')}"


access-expression: "#{isOneOfIgnoreCase(oidcUser.attributes['function'], 'Pharmacist', 'General_practitioner')}"

Only give access to pharmacists and general practitioners from a certain province

access-expression: "#{isOneOfIgnoreCase(oidcUser.attributes['function'], 'Pharmacist', 'General_practitioner') and oidcUser.attributes['province'] == 'Antwerp'}"

Only give access to pharmacists and general practitioners from a certain province and all dentists

access-expression: "#{(isOneOfIgnoreCase(oidcUser.attributes['function'], 'Pharmacist', 'General_practitioner') and oidcUser.attributes['province'] == 'Antwerp') or oidcUser.attributes['function'] == 'Dentist'}"

Only give access to certain specializations

In this example the specialization attribute is a comma-separated list, for example a user may have the attribute, with the following value specialization:

oncology, pediatrics

The toList function can be used to parse this value into a list:

access-expression: "#{toList(oidcUser.attributes['specialization'])}"

Any method available on the java List type can be used on this object. For example, when you want only one specialization to have access to an app:

access-expression: "#{toList(oidcUser.attributes['specialization']).contains('oncology'))}"

Or when only users with at least two specializations may have access:

access-expression: "#{toList(oidcUser.attributes['specialization']).size() >= 2}"

The expression gets more complex when multiple specializations are allowed, for example to allow any user who has (at least) the oncology or pediatrics specialization.

access-expression: "#{!T(java.util.Collections).disjoint(toList(oidcUser.attributes['specialization']), {'oncology', 'pediatrics'})}"

Tips & Tricks

  • it is possible to use any Spring Bean in the spring expression:

    volumes: [ "/home/#{@userService.currentUserId}/myworkspace:/var/myworkspace" ]
  • in order to call static methods, wrap the fully qualified class name in T() and call the method, for example to encode a string to base64:

    ENCODED_USERNAME: "#{T(java.util.Base64).getEncoder().encodeToString(('USERNAME=' + proxy.getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_USERNAME')).getBytes())}"
  • when working with strings in the expression, it is possible to call any method of the String java class. For example to get the length of a username use:

    USERNAME_LENGTH: "#{proxy.getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_USER').length()}"

    This can also be useful to modify the SHINYPROXY_PUBLIC_PATH such that it is compatible with your application. For example, to strip the last slash:

    SCRIPT_NAME: "#{proxy.getRuntimeValue('SHINYPROXY_PUBLIC_PATH').replaceFirst('/$','')}"