Idea for a very open ID

Be receptive! Be open to each and every type of user input for authentication.

Universal sign on

This very user-centric approach for identity resolution leverages the many open API’s now available for web services. Feel free to select your user name-of-choice!

  • @Twitter user name
  • name
  • user
  • name
  • user or user blog URL
  • name
  • user
  • Open ID provider URL
  • more?

In his identity resolution related post, developer Luis Farzati emphasizes that:

the objective is to allow the user to input whatever wanted [in order] to login… If it exists as a valid username out here, we’ll find it and suggest it!

Casual testing

Luis Farzati’s Smart Identity Resolver Widget is on Github. A demo is included. I tried it. The widget easily found my Twitter and YouTube user names. It did not work with my Open ID URL. That was not surprising, as Open ID requires a bit of fussing, the first time I use it in a slightly different context.

Profile choices returned by Smart Identity widget

Assortment of user profiles returned for sign on

I had a look around on Github. My impression was that Luis is using REST with OAuth to Open ID providers, or calls to APIs depending on the service. This enables the universal sign in to return the powerful visual cue of one’s own avatar. There are two forks, Master and G-H. The latter includes an implementation of the universal sign on for FriendFeed. The G-H branch might be interesting to someone who could understand it! Otherwise, it was straightforward, decently commented JavaScript that even I could almost understand.


The Smart Identity effort was intended as proof-of-concept ONLY. Luis makes that very clear in the README. I think the motivation may have been to ease user transition to, and increase comfort with the URL-based format of Open ID.

I felt a little sad when I noticed that the repository had no commits since April 2011. The idea clearly generated some interest, though. It is quite appealing. Something may come of it eventually, as Luis’s Smart Identity Widget repository still has 17 followers on Github. Licensing is under CreativeCommons/by-sa/3.0/.

Minor disclaimer

Do be aware that I found this via Chris Messina‘s Friend Feed stream several months ago. Chris is an open social advocate and Google employee. That is of some reassurance. This should be secure, though one must always exercise caution if asked for a password!

Published in: on 6 December 2011 at 9:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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