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OpenID – user experience, data enhancements, and adoption

By Larry Drebes | Posted on November 20, 2008

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Back at the Content Provider Advisory Committee meeting in NYC , several media and affinity groups identified two desired areas for improvement of OpenID: user experience (UX) and user account data. Since then, the OpenID Foundation and its member companies have been working diligently to address these requests.

On the UX side, Yahoo hosted an OpenID UX Summit at resulting in two major initiatives aimed at improving the intuitiveness of OpenID registration and login. The first is Google’s LSO initiative which allows users to type in their email address for any email provider that is also an OpenID provider, and the login widget then takes the user to the appropriate OpenID login screen. The second is JanRain’s RPX hosted service that includes a graphical interface where users only need to click the icon of their preferred provider. Additionally, as a SaaS offering, RPX does all the hard work of managing the website operators’ OpenID implementation and automatically updates as new OpenID Providers or OpenID services are added. So for example, when MySpace and Microsoft LiveID launch as OpenID providers soon, RPX will update to support them. That will bring another 600+ million OpenID enabled users, beyond the 500 million today, to the internet who can use their existing accounts to login at OpenID enabled websites. RPX even has a free version, RPX Basic .

On the data side, Yahoo has just announced a controlled beta of its Simple Registration (SREG) data service which includes full name, nickname, email address, gender, language, and timezone. AOL has just announced support for the transfer of email, nickname, country, date of birth, gender, and postal code via SREG. Google has recently launched its OpenID service supporting the transfer of validated email address via Attribute Exchange (AX). RPX also supports the transfer of name, display name, gender, URL, and photo from FaceBook via their API.

On adoption, two major websites announced OpenID support. AOL launched My MapQuest which sports a great new OpenID login experience. Citysearch just rolled out Facebook Connect and will be launching OpenID support shortly.

The OpenID Foundation and its member companies look forward to ongoing feedback from the market and are working hard to enhance and extend OpenID capabilities to further increase the benefits to adopters of the platform.

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About the author

Larry Drebes

Larry Drebes


Larry founded Janrain in 2005 to address the challenge of managing user identity on the Internet. In its early days, Janrain drove the development of the majority of the open source OpenID protocol libraries that continue to be used today by organizations such as Google and Yahoo!, and was a founding member of the OpenID Foundation, a nonprofit governance organization for the industry. Prior to Janrain, Larry was a co-founder of Silicon Valley startups, a web-based service, and Four11 Corporation. At Four11 Corporation, Larry led the development of its RocketMail product, one of the first Internet-based email systems. Four11 was acquired by Yahoo! in 1997, and its RocketMail product became Yahoo! Mail. Earlier in his career, Larry did software development for Raynet, McDonnell Douglas and A.G. Edwards.

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