I didn’t have anything thrilling to write about, so I decided to play with the site infrastructure. Now, with some help from the Geeklog gang, this site supports OpenID login. Considering the low level of audience participation here, this is probably more of a learning experience for me than a major benefit for others. But it’s here if you want to use it. And if you don’t know what it is, don’t feel bad, neither did I until recently. But it’s cool.
According to its creators, OpenID “is an open, decentralized, free framework for user-centric digital identity.” Got it? In layman’s terms, it’s a system to avoid the need for a separate userid/password for every website you visit. If you have a userid on a system that provides OpenID service, you can login to that site and then use your OpenID URI to login to other OpenID-savvy sites without additional credentials.
So how do you get this magic OpenID URI? First you need to register with an OpenID provider. If you look at this list of providers, you may find that you’re already signed up. For example, some of the best-known providers are Livejournal, AOL, and WordPress. Also, for Yahoo customers, there is a proxy system which allows a Yahoo account to be used as an OpenID.
The format of your OpenID URI is dependent on the service that provides it, but it’s usually pretty simple. In many cases, it’s the same as the address that people use to access your site. Example:
- LiveJournal – http://userid.livejournal.com
- AOL/AIM – http://openid.aol.com/screenname
If you have an OpenID URI, just enter (or paste) it in the “Login with OpenID” box on the left, and click the arrow, and if you are already logged in to your OpenID source, you will be logged into this site. If you are not currently logged in to your OpenID source, you will be transferred to that site to login, and then transferred back here. Way Cool!
One minor syntax detail, which has apparently confuzzled at least one user: Note that the OpenID URI must include the http:// prefix, but note that the prefix is already entered in the box. When entering or pasting your URI, make sure that http:// appears once and only once. I’ve seen one example of a complete URI, including the http://, entered after the http:// that was already there, so the URI that actually got entered was http://http://some.blog.name, which didn’t work.