OpenID: Now more powerful and easier to use!

Published September 25, 2009
Google, Yahoo!, and MySpace have launched support for the OpenID OAuth Hybrid Protocol, which combines OpenID authentication (sign in) with OAuth authorization (access control) into a single interface. Websites that accept OpenID can now let the hundreds of millions of users who already have either a MySpace, Google, or Yahoo! account sign in and enable two-way data sharing of their profile, contacts, and activities, without having to register a new site-specific account or to share their password. Plaxo is one of the earliest adopters of OpenID, allowing their users to sign into Plaxo using an OpenID enabled account with just a couple mouse clicks. Instead of requiring first-time Plaxo users to manually verify their email address by sending a verification email, Plaxo uses OpenID Attribute Exchange to verify Yahoo! and GMail email addresses without forcing users to wait at their mailbox for the verification email to arrive. Building on their successful experience with OpenID, Plaxo is experimenting with the Hybrid Protocol: A portion of new users who sign up for Plaxo using either a GMail or Yahoo account can now sign into Plaxo with their OpenID and authorize two-way data sharing of their Contacts and Activities via the Hybrid Protocol. You can read more about how this works on the Plaxo blog. plaxo_hybrid_popup "OpenID+OAuth hybrid onboarding is the state-of-the-art for connecting users and sites across the emerging Social Web," says Joseph Smarr, CTO of Plaxo and Board Member of the OpenID Foundation. "Google, Yahoo!, and MySpace all have massive userbases and expertise in consumer-friendly design, along with a rich set of APIs. So this is a major milestone in making the Social Web more open and interoperable." Another trailblazer in the OpenID space is JanRain, whose RPX service powers the l ogin and registration flows for their customers, including Qype and MySears. Using the OpenID protocol, users can sign into RPX-enabled websites with an account that they already have. Now that RPX supports the Hybrid Protocol, sites integrating with RPX can now let users sign in with one of their existing accounts and share their Profile. In addition, these sites can also receive massive referral traffic by syndicating their user activities back to their OpenID Provider to be viewed by their friends and contacts at Yahoo!, Google, or MySpace. mysears_openid_popupNot only are we making OpenID more powerful, we've been taking steps to make OpenID easier and less confusing to use. The traditional OpenID "redirect" user experience has been criticized for taking a user away from the site during the login process. The OpenID User Interface Working Group has been chartered to make OpenID more user friendly, and we're glad to announce that Yahoo!, Google, and MySpace now support the Popup UI as defined in the OpenID User Interface Extension. Sites that want to preserve their context and keep the user on their site can open a small popup window to complete the OpenID authentication flow. In order to help prevent phishing, the User Interface extension requires that the popup be displayed in an independent browser window with the address bar clearly displayed. uservoice_popup_uiOpenID gives users control over their data and makes it possible for sites to build a single interface that can reach virtually all potential users. Because OpenID is an interoperable open standard, sites that accept OpenID can reuse the same interface and code to accept identities from a wide variety of OpenID Providers, including Google, AOL, MySpace, and Yahoo!. This makes it possible for virtually anyone to sign in to a site using an account that they already have. It's been an exciting month for OpenID, with recent news about our involvement in the Open Government Initiative, and now with support for Hybrid and the Popup UI. Stay tuned for more exciting news as we continue to improve OpenID! P.S. If you'd like to meet the folks working on OpenID, OAuth, and the Open Stack, please join us at the Internet Identity Workshop in Mountain View, CA this November. Allen Tom Architect, Yahoo! Membership OIDF Community Board Member