All posts tagged ‘OpenID’

File Under: Identity

Be Your Own Open ID Provider

OpenID is a burgeoning standard for identifying and authenticating yourself on the web. You do this by identifying yourself not with a standard username and password, but with a URL. This URL points to a web page that verifies that you are, in fact, you.

A number of third-party sites offer OpenID URLs to their users, including LiveJournal, AOL, and Technorati. But some people do not like to be beholden to third parties for something that may turn out to be a central part of their online identity, and they’d rather host their own.

An easy way to do that is with an open source PHP identity server called phpMyID.


Continue Reading “Be Your Own Open ID Provider” »

File Under: Identity, Social

Rethinking Web Logins With OpenID Connect

Even with all the support OpenID enjoys within the tech industry, it’s no secret that the identity management technology still confuses the hell out of most web users.

One of OpenID’s biggest proponents thinks part of the problem lies in the name.

Identity guru and noted open source advocate Chris Messina breaks it down in a post on his Factory City blog, where he lays out his ideas for making OpenID “both easier and sexier” for the general web audience.

Consider OpenID in the shadow of Facebook Connect, its far more successful competitor based on Facebook’s proprietary platform. Forget that Facebook is much more widely known than OpenID — the real problem is that Facebook Connect is attached to an actual thing you can log in to, a website you can visit, a company you’ve heard of.

OpenID, on the other hand, is more nebulous. Your identity… on the web… portable… everywhere… what?

Everyone knows what Facebook is, so add “Connect” to the familiar Facebook logo and most people can work out what’s probably going to happen — the site you’re using is going to connect to your Facebook account, and some information about you and your friends will be shared between the two.

OpenID lacks the brand recognition of Facebook, not just because of Facebook’s fame, but because Facebook is a website and OpenID is an abstraction.

Messina suggests adding “Connect” to OpenID so that it mirrors Facebook Connect, Twitter Connect and other sign-in systems might help. And Messina’s rebranding — the snazzy black button above — is certainly a step up from OpenID’s current logo and branding.

As for the “connect” aspect, Messina gives a layman’s definition of OpenID as “a technology that lets you use an account that you already have to sign up, sign in, and bring your profile, contacts, data, and activities with you to any compatible site on the web.”

In order to do that, however, Messina is proposing more than just a name change. He’s suggesting that OpenID be repackaged as a profile of the OAuth WRAP protocol. The idea is that OAuth WRAP could handle the actual connections between the websites sharing data and OpenID would then offer a standardized way to pass along profile data, relationships, access controls, and activities (what you’ve “liked,” “loved,” “favorited,” etc.).

So, how would that simplify OpenID for new users? For one, it would help solve the “NASCAR problem” — current implementations of OpenID often display a half-dozen or so sign-in options, and the effect is similar to the garish mish-mash of ads covering NASCAR vehicles. It’s visually and psychologically confounding.

Messina’s design would mean that, instead of an assortment of rainbow-colored logos from Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and other OpenID providers, there would simply be the singular black button above. He admits that after you click the shiny black button, the NASCAR problem might still be there on the next step — at least for now — though he does promise some additional screenshot mockups and suggests that “the browser could handle this at an earlier stage.”

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File Under: Identity, Social, UI/UX

OpenID: Over One Billion (Potentially) Served

OpenID, the single sign-on solution which allows you to use a unified identity across the web, now boasts one billion potential users. Providers like Google, Yahoo and WordPress have adopted the technology, providing nearly everyone on the web with easy access to an OpenID account.

OpenID lets you log in to your favorite website using only your e-mail address or a URL — your blog’s address, a profile page on a social network or your social network username/password. Using one of those identifiers, you can log in to any website or service where OpenID is welcome, saving you the trouble of having to keep track of dozens of account names and passwords. There are also companion technologies that help you automatically fill out a profile and connect you with your friends once you’re logged in to a new social website.

For a long time, OpenID was a fringe technology, and few large players supported it. In January 2008, Yahoo and AOL were the first major destination sites to host OpenID accounts. 2009 has seen everyone from Microsoft to Facebook to the U.S. Government embracing OpenID. In addition to the one billion accounts coming from OpenID providers, the OpenID foundation says that nearly 9 million websites will allow you to login using your OpenID credentials.

The short story is that OpenID is now well established on the web. But the story doesn’t end there.

Sadly, one billion potential users does not one billion users make. Many people with OpenID accounts remain blissfully unaware of OpenID and what it can do for them. OpenID also faces strong competition from proprietary ID solutions like those of Facebook or Twitter.

OpenID interfaces are another problem we’ve covered before — different sites use vastly different sign-in forms which has creates confusion for less-than-savvy web users. Couple that with Facebook’s far simpler Facebook Connect tools and you begin to see why OpenID doesn’t have one billion actual users.

The good news is that the OpenID Foundation and its partners have been working hard to streamline the login process and improve the usability of OpenID on those 9 million sites that accept OpenID.

We’re excited to see that what began as little more than a grassroots effort to solve the problem of remembering too many usernames and passwords, has turned into a massive, web-wide effort to create better, portable identity tools. So even if OpenID hasn’t seen the widespread adoption of other login systems, it certainly set the ball rolling among the web’s social networking technicians.

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File Under: Identity, Social

As Yahoo Adopts Facebook Connect, Questions About OpenID’s Future Loom

Yahoo is integrating Facebook Connect across all of its properties, the company has announced.

A definite timetable hasn’t yet been made public, but Yahoo stated in a blog post Wednesday that it intends to roll Facebook Connect into its properties worldwide, so we should expect the services to be activated incrementally. [Update] Yahoo says, “The integration is expected to begin in the first half of 2010.”

Facebook Connect is the social network’s identity technology for allowing its users to log in to third-party sites using their Facebook credentials. It’s a two-click process — rather than logging in to Yahoo using a Yahoo ID, users can choose to use their Facebook IDs. Facebook asks the user’s permission to log them in to Yahoo on their behalf. The person clicks OK, and they can then roam around Yahoo as a logged-in user.

Once a person’s Facebook account is connected to Yahoo, anything they do there can be published to their Facebook feeds. So, every time they upload new photos to Flickr or share a Yahoo Sports news story, that activity can be posted in their Facebook feed if they choose to allow it.

The person’s friends on Facebook will be able to comment on that activity within Facebook or click through to see the photo or news story on the Yahoo-owned site, as well.

It’s a big boost for Yahoo — the company can now tap into Facebook’s intense social sharing mojo. Other sites which have incorporated Facebook Connect, such as Digg, have seen large boosts to both traffic and new user engagement since opening up the free-flowing conduit for cross-posting that Facebook Connect allows.

It’s also a giant step for Facebook Connect as an identity platform. But while Yahoo’s adoption of Facebook Connect is an enthusiastic endorsement of the identity technology, it raises questions about the future of OpenID.

Facebook Connect is officially coming into its own as a robust, widely-used identity platform, but it’s a proprietary system. The so-called “open ID stack” of identity tools — OpenID, OAuth and their companion technologies, all of which are open source — can accomplish the same thing Facebook Connect does, but it hasn’t seen nearly the same level of adoption as Facebook’s closed technology. It is still beset by usability problems (though it’s showing improvement), and some web properties which have implemented it have only done so partially.

Yahoo already supports OpenID. Other major sites like MySpace, Google and Microsoft support it as well, but OpenID doesn’t offer the tie-in to Facebook, or the ease of usability, that makes Connect so enticing.

Still, there is hope that OpenID, OAuth and Facebook Connect will become interoperable. Facebook supports OpenID logins (with some restrictions), and Facebook has joined the OpenID Foundation, the non-profit charged with furthering adoption of the technology.

Also, Facebook recently hired David Recordon, one of the web’s key proponents of identity technologies and an OpenID board member, to work on incorporating OpenID into the social network. And just a few hours after Yahoo’s announcement, Recordon let it be known that he’s looking for help.

Here’s David’s tweet: “Think you’re an awesome enough engineer to help make Facebook Connect support open standards like OpenID and OAuth? Email me.”

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File Under: Identity, Social

Google Profiles Now Function as OpenIDs

So says Google’s Brad Fitzpatrick in a Twitter post Wednesday.

You can now use the URL of your Google Profile to confirm your identity on any website that supports OpenID. When the site asks you for an OpenID identifier, just plug in the URL of your Google Profile and you’ll be directed to Google, where you confirm the request.

OpenID Foundation board member Chris Messina has posted a screenshot of what the user flow looks like when using your Google Profile URL to log in on a website that supports OpenID:

Brad is one of the creators of OpenID and one of the driving forces behind Google Profiles. Google launched its public profile service, which allows anyone with a Google account to create a public profile on the web that shows up in Google’s search results, earlier this year. At first, Profiles were rather spare, but Google has slowly been enhancing the features of Profiles to include vanity URLs and support for microformats.

These profiles are advantageous over proprietary social networking profiles because of their high visibility in Google, the depth they allow, and because they function as a social hub — most people use them to point to their social presences on other sites. Not to mention that Google Profiles appear on the open web rather than inside of Facebook, where, by default, a profile can only be seen by people you’ve connected with on Facebook.

Webfinger, also referenced in Fitzpatrick’s tweet, is a new protocol Google is building into Gmail. It lets you attach any public identity data to your e-mail address. Learn more about it at the Google Code project site.

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