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Private Ionic Native Enterprise Edition Keys in Open Source Apps

If you're building a public, open source app that uses Ionic Native Enterprise Edition, you'll likely want to keep the native key secret.

There's just a few steps involved to get this working locally and in CI/CD platforms.


Any developer building the app locally will still need access to the native key.

About Native Plugin Keys

In order to install and use Ionic Native Enterprise Edition solutions and premier plugins in your app, a native plugin key is required to authenticate access. After assigning a key to an app in Appflow, you run ionic enterprise register to register the native key, enabling the ability to install Enterprise solutions/plugins locally.

By default, the register command places the native key into ionic.config.json and .npmrc files. Normally, both of these changes should be committed to version control so that CI/CD systems as well as other team members can restore the plugins from a fresh clone of the app's repository.

However, if the app is open source, this effectively makes the native key public. To keep it private, follow these steps.

Register Native Key

Create an .npmrc file in the root of the app project, then add the following:


The ENT_NATIVE_KEY part represents the Enterprise Native Key in variable format that will be swapped in dynamically, and can be named however you'd like.

Alternatively, run ionic enterprise register then be sure to remove the native key from ionic.config.json and change the _authToken value to ENT_NATIVE_KEY or similar.

Configure Local Development Environment

When you run npm install now, it will fail:

Failed to replace env in config: ${ENT_NATIVE_KEY}

npm can no longer authenticate with the Ionic Enterprise registry - it needs a native key.


Add the native key to a .bashrc or .bash_profile file:

export ENT_NATIVE_KEY=key_4e243d


Add the native key as an Environment Variable. Navigate to System Properties -> Advanced -> Environment Variables. Under "User variables for [login name]", add a new Variable (ENT_NATIVE_KEY) and Value ([the native key]).

Re-run npm install to install the native plugins. You may need to close and relaunch any open terminals so the new environment variable can take effect.

Configure Appflow with a Custom Environment

To build a native version of your app in the cloud with Appflow, configure a Custom Environment.

Within Appflow, open the app you wish to work on and navigate in the sidebar to Build -> Environments, then click New Environment (or select an existing environment).

Under Secrets, add a new entry: ENT_NATIVE_KEY for the Key and the native key for the Value. After saving, select the Environment that contains the Enterprise Native Key when building new native binaries or web builds.

Configuring other CI/CD Systems

Configuring other CI/CD systems is similar to Appflow: add a new ENT_NATIVE_KEY entry per environment so that the Enterprise Native key is used in each build.

For example, in Vercel, this is configured within a project's settings screen, then the Environment Variables page.