Thursday, November 20, 2008

OAuth and SREG and MapQuest! Oh My!

This has been a great week for AOL and our efforts to support the "Open Stack". While our progress is not as fast as those more nimble and lightfooted, I still believe the progress is significant.

Yesterday, the AOL Mail Gadget for iGoogle was announced. This gadget uses the OAuth capabilities of the iGoogle container to access OAuth based AOL Mail web service APIs.

Also yesterday, AOL announced it's preview support for the SREG 1.0 extension to OpenID. As in my message to the OpenID general mailing list, there are still a number of user experience issues that need to be resolved around SREG/AX support and I hope that our initial implementation will help consolidate the necessary industry best practices.

Finally, today MapQuest launched a new feature called My Mapquest which allows users to store addresses, driving directions, phone numbers for "Send to cell", and even the ability to estimate fuel costs for a trip based on your personal vehicle. My favorite part of this new capability is that anyone can use it because it supports OpenID. I believe this is the first web site from a major provider, that isn't a blogging product, to support OpenID as a relying party. (Feel free to correct me in the comments).

Fall Kaleidoscope

Fall Kaleidoscope, originally uploaded by GFletch.

The leaves are nearly all gone where I live, but here is a reminder from just a couple weeks ago of the glory of fall.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Important topics at IIW2008b

If I've got my timing right, this entry will post about the same time as the schedule for IIW is being created by those attending. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my controll, I'm not able to attend in person. But that doesn't mean that I'm not actively following the discussions as best I can remotely:)

Here are some key issues that I'm hopeful the community will be able to address during the next two days.
  1. User eXperience (UX) for Relying Parties (RP). This is a critical element of making OpenID understandable and valuable to the "masses". There has been quite a bit of work on this recently and I'm excited to see what will develop from the face to face meetings on this topic.
  2. XRDS and Discovery. This is really important for the "open stack" and deals with the concept of describing meta-data for resources. As it relates to "personal service discovery", the meta-data is about a user's OpenID and points to the related services of that identifier. This is crucial for connecting services to a user and allowing the kinds of "dynamic discovery" the make the "open stack" work.
  3. OpenID TX Extension. This extension being proposed into an OpenID working group is about adding a layer of trust to OpenID transactions. Right now it focuses on tying transactions to contracts between parties but hopefully the working group will extend this to adding a "trust fabric" to OpenID.
  4. Email as an OpenID identifer (or as a pointer to an OpenID). This is part of the UX discussion in that many/most? people don't know they have an OpenID but they do know their email address. With Microsoft and Google supporting OpenID (at least in beta) most people have an OpenID. So this discussion is about how to leverage this with users to increase the adoption of OpenID.
  5. Email verification. This is slightly related to #4 but also different. In the SREG and AX models, an RP can request an email address but it doesn't know whether the OP has verified that email or not. In some cases, if the RP is talking to an OP that supports email and the returned email address is "managed" by the same company as the OP, then the RP might consider that email address verified. However, Yahoo! and others are looking to support an OpenID extension that would allow an RP to directly verify an email address with the email provider (providing the email provider is also an OpenID Provider; or at least supports this extension).
  6. OpenID + OAuth "Extension". This topic is addressing how to allow a Consumer to both authenticate a user and get an OAuth access token and secret in a way that the user only has to authenticate and authorize once. There are a number of significant issues with this effort especially if the extension tackles allowing one SP/OP to verify/validate another SP/OP's tokens. Right now, this effort is focusing on allowing the OP to present not only authentication but also authorization UI so the flow is simplified for the user.
  7. OAuth Extensions...
  8. OAuth support for Mobile/Desktops/Appliances/etc. This topic deals with a simple mechanism for mobile apps or appliances to participate in the OAuth flow even if the device doesn't have browser support and very limited input capabilities.