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0016 - Move Decryption and Encryption to Views


Context and Problem Statement

Bitwarden has a couple of different models for representing data described in detail in Data Model. In this ADR we will focus on the following two models:

  • <Domain> - The domain model which represents the encrypted data state.
  • <Domain>View - The view model which represents the decrypted state of domain models.

Since we have at least two different models representing the encrypted and decrypted state of the same Domain, this also means we need a way to convert between the two models i.e. encrypting and decrypting the data.

How it's currently being done

The way this is currently done is by having the <Domain>Service expose either an Observable which contains the decrypted views, or by having a promise based method to decrypt it. The <Domain>Service also typically expose a encrypt method which converts from the View and the Domain model.

There is also typically a decrypt method on Domain models themselves which performs the actual decrypting logic. It does so by calling decrypt on the EncString objects which in turn relies on a global container service to retrieve the CryptoService and EncryptService for performing the actual operations.

The problems

There are a couple of problems with this approach:

  • A Domain model is tightly coupled to a View model.
  • Encryption and decryption are split into two different places. Decryption happens directly on the domain model, while encryption happens in the service. Logically these are tightly coupled and should be located next to each other.
  • We rely on a global container service to retrieve the CryptoService and EncryptService.
  • Our current models acts as a transformation pipeline. Request -> Data -> Domain -> View.
  • It would be nice to have a way to support multiple View models per domain in the future.

Why now?

Secret Manager is currently experiencing some friction with how encryption and decryption is currently managed. It doesn't follow the typical pattern of having a synced local state and instead relies on direct requests to the server to fetch data. The data then needs to be decrypted.

Currently this encryption and decryption logic is handled by the <Domain>Service however this violates the single responsibility principle. It also makes our services difficult to follow since it now needs to be aware of requests, responses, encryption and decryption.

Considered Options

  • Move decrypt to <Domain>Service - We already have services for the different domains which also currently handle encryption, so it would make sense to move the logic there.
  • Move logic to <Domain>View - Move the logic to the View models themselves, combined with a generic service to encrypt and decrypt views.

Decision Outcome

Chosen option: Move logic to <Domain>View.

Positive Consequences

  • Domain services no longer need to implement customized encryption and decryption logic. Which follows the single responsibility principle.
  • Domain models are no longer tightly coupled to views.
  • We can now have multiple views per domain.

Negative Consequences

  • Since encryption and decryption is now done on the generic EncryptService this makes it possible to bypass expected flows. One example of this is Cipher, CipherService has a updateHistoryAndEncrypt method which calculates the password history before encrypting it.


Example PR for Folders.

class FolderDomain implements DecryptableDomain {
id: string;
name: EncString;
revisionDate: Date;

keyIdentifier(): string | null {
return null;

class FolderView implements Encryptable<Folder> {
id: string = null;
name: string = null;
revisionDate: Date = null;

keyIdentifier(): string | null {
return null;

async encrypt(encryptService: EncryptService, key: SymmetricCryptoKey): Promise<Folder> {
const folder = new Folder(); =;
folder.revisionDate = this.revisionDate; = != null ? await encryptService.encrypt(, key) : null;

return folder;

static async decrypt(encryptService: EncryptService, key: SymmetricCryptoKey, model: Folder) {
const view = new FolderView(); =;
view.revisionDate = model.revisionDate; = await, key);

return view;

Which would be used like this:

// Fetch from server
const response: FolderResponse = await this.folderApiService.getFolder(id);
const folderData: FolderData = new FolderData(response);
const folder: Folder = new Folder(folderData);

// Decrypt / Encrypt
const folderView: FolderView = this.encryptionService.decryptView(FolderView, folder, key); = "New folder name";
const encryptedFolder: Folder = this.encryptionService.encryptView(folderView, key);

// Update
const request: FolderRequest = new FolderUpdateRequest(encryptedFolder);