I am sure most of you have heard of OpenID some time or another. Simply put, OpenID is replacing the need for you to remember thousands of usernames and passwords we all have scattered across the web. So in essence, all you need to do is be signed up with an OpenID provider such as myOpenID.com, and whenever you log into your favourite web site/app/service that uses OpenID, you provide your OpenID credentials (which is a URL), and you are able to login.
What this actually means is that, you will log into your OpenID account with a password, but never have to remember usernames or passwords on any OpenID enabled sites. You only have to remember your OpenID URL!
A Simple OpenID example
I signed up for an OpenID account months ago, but never investigated how to actually use it to log into some of my favourite web services that use OpenID. Last week, I actually decided to start using OpenID and it really is incredible how easy it is to use.
In this example, I am going to show you the steps I took to getting my Blinksale account to use OpenID.
Step 1: Sign up for an OpenID account.
This is pretty straight forward. There are a number of OpenID providers, and some services such as WordPress.com, Technorati and Blogspot.com logins are actually OpenID accounts already! But for simplicity’s sake, rather use a dedicated OpenID provider, as the features of a dedicated provider such as MyOpenID.com are more streamlined and easer to use.
View the list of recommended OpenID Providers over at http://openid.net/get/ I signed up at myOpenID.com and you can actually view my OpenID webpage here: http://jbagley.myopenid.com.
Step 2: Logging into an OpenID enabled site.
So now that I have an OpenID, I headed over to my Blinksale account and selected login with OpenID. On most sites that have OpenID support, there will be a link very close to your normal login form. Just have a look out for the OpenID textbox that looks something like this:
What happens the first time I try to login with my OpenID, Blinksale redirects to jbagley.myopenid.com. I then provide my password to login to myOpenID.com, or if I am already logged in (either via a browser session, or a cookie that keeps me logged in), myOpenID.com then asks me to verify if Blinksale can make use of my OpenID account. I have options of either selecting Allow forever, Allow once or Deny. After I clicked Allow Forever, I was redirected to my Blinksale account.
The next time I tried to login to Blinksale, all I did was provide my OpenID url and I was automatically authenticated (all behind the scenes as I was already logged into my OpenID provider and Blinksale was set to “always allow”) and taken to my Blinksale account. No having to remember my Blinksale username or password anymore. So from now on, all I have to remember is http://jbagley.myopenid.com!
Why should I start using OpenId?
There is an interesting article over at ReadWriteWeb about password fatigue. Eventually people start using the exact same username and password combinations over a array of websites because it becomes ever increasingly difficult to remember so many different passwords! By using OpenID (and getting more and more sites to use OpenID), you are only required to remember your OpenID url and password. Changing your OpenID password effectively means you are changing your password for all your web logins too!
With the announcement of Yahoo jumping on the OpenID bandwagon, services like Flickr, Delicious, Yahoo Answers, MyBlogLog etc, are all going to start using OpenID logins in the coming months. For me, that means these accounts of mine will become so much more secure and easier to login to.
Google’s Blogger service also now supports OpenID for submitting comments, and the beta version of Blogger blogs also now supports OpenID. So I am sure you will start to see more Google OpenID logins in the future.
There are a number of open source code libraries that one can use to get OpenID setup within your web application. OpenID can be used in many different languages, like PHP, Ruby, Java, C++, .Net (OpenID can intergrate with Windows CardSpace) etc. Visit http://wiki.openid.net/Libraries for more information on these libraries.
OpenID for dummies
So there you have it. A simple, yet detailed explanation on how to get OpenID setup and why you should be using OpenID. For my South African readers, are there any SA web sites that are employing OpenID?
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