OpenID Editor David Recordon

Here's what Editor David Recordon has to say:

So with the recent OpenID news, I have to say that I'm quite excited! Convergence isn't new for OpenID, rather continues to show how it is a great technology to innovate around. This isn't about one technology swallowing another, it is about true cooperation, collaboration, and ultimately convergence.At the first Internet Identity Workshop in 2005, Brad Fitzpatrick, Johannes Ernst, and I collaborated with the XRI guys and jointly developed Yadis. Suffice it to say, the technology developed by the community in Yadis is so powerful that it is now being built into the standard XRI Resolution spec at OASIS. Over this last summer there was further convergence with the XRI community, now allowing the OpenID Authentication 2.0 spec to support both URLs and XRIs as identifier formats. In August Sxip joined forces, which has caused the OpenID technology to continue to improve and has built the community to be even stronger.

Now today, we get to announce that Microsoft too has decided to collaborate with the OpenID community. I've known Kim Cameron and Mike Jones for about two years now and despite anything you may say about Microsoft, these guys continue to push for the best and engage the wider user-centric identity community in a very positive light. I'm personally really excited to be working with them, and others, in further developing the Assertion Quality Extension so that OpenID can be used within a wider range of products (including those from Microsoft). So welcome Kim and Mike, I hope to see you on the mailing lists shortly!

Johannes sends “marriage” greetings

Here's more support from another legendary member of the OpenID community, Johannes Ernst of Netmesh.  He's the inventor of LID, and one of the strongest champions for the “URL-based” identity used in OpenID.  He brought ideas his together with Brad Fitzpatrick's quite a while ago now, creating one of the first synergy-lurches for the community.

I should also point out that Johannes has also been one of the first, and most tireless, advocates of the synergy between OpenID and Information Cards.  He has given many cycles to OSIS, the group that has co-ordinated open source work around identity selectors and information card technology.  The beautiful thing here is that convergence with CardSpace MEANS convergence with Information Cards in general, including the Higgins project and work by many others in the community.  I've been concentrating on CardSpace for obvious reasons, but to me it is very important that this goes far beyond CardSpace into another whole community.

Wow! After two years of hard work, we are finally getting real convergence in identity land! Today, Bill Gates is announcing has announced in his keynote at the RSA conference that Microsoft will support OpenID. Here are some posts covering the news:

At NetMesh, we've held for a long time that URL-based identity (OpenID, with its roots LID, i-names and Sxip), and other technologies such as CardSpace have to come together so we can really get to an interoperable, multi-vendor, user-centric identity layer for the open internet. That's why we helped put together OSIS, and lots of activities of that nature.

Now even Bill Gates supports the same vision! Yippie!! (apologies for being too excited, but this is exciting!)

Just pointed out to my wife — who wrote the first line of code, ever, about three years ago, implementing URL-based identity — that in some way, she should now be famous!

So, congratulations Tammy!

Feature – not a bug!

As he says, Brad Fitzpatrick “made” the orginal OpenID to solve problems he was facing at Six Apart.  Of course it grew over time, if anyone's opinion counts, it's his.  And here it is:

So Bill Gates just announced earlier this morning (while I was sleeping in / recovering) that Microsoft is supporting OpenID.

When I made OpenID, I intentionally left the method of authentication undefined. (feature, not a bug!)

Now people ask me what I think about Microsoft supporting it, using their InfoCards as the method of authentication…. I think it's great! So far I've seen Kerberos integration for OpenID, voiceprint biometric auth (call a number and read some words), Jabber JID-Ping auth, etc…. all have different trade-offs between convenience and security. But as more people have CardSpace on their machines, users should get both convenience and security. (sorry, I'm not totally up on all the details… just seen demos….)

Anyway, I and others at Six Apart are thrilled to see Microsoft supporting OpenID. Kudos!

Thanks Brad.  For us, its clear that OpenID is a really great technology for doing public identities – the simplicity is stunning.  I really like your work.  OpenID is clearly an important part of the identity metasystem.  We really hope to see the synergy keep expanding.

 

Scott Kveton on CardSpace and OpenID

Many of the people adding OpenID support to their blogs and services are using JanRain's libraries.  Scott, the company's CEO, addresses the worry some members of his community may have about a big, powerful company getting involved with the bottoms-up technology they have worked on so hard.  I actually have  a lot of sympathy for this concern, and for peoples’ feelings about the technology they have developed.  If we were coming to “take over”, it would really be bad news for everyone.  But Scott Kveton, Dick Hardt, Michael Graves and myself aren't the kind of people who would let this happen.

What I really like about Scott's comments is the way he focusses, without any bias, on what is good about the component technologies and their synergy.  This is what real engineering is about, in my humble opinion.  It's one of the things that will really drive us towards the Identity Big Bang.  And the whole world will benefit.

OpenID has always been about convergence. When Brad, David and Johannes talked about how OpenID and Yadis could work together over a year ago. When the XRI folks brought their amazing people and technology to be integrated into OpenID 2.0 last Spring. This past Summer when Sxip Identity joined the OpenID party by joining in on developing the specification and offering up their attribute exchange specification to the OpenID community. And now today, we have a commitment from Microsoft to take part in the OpenID community as well as enable the technology for their future identity products.

There are a couple of points I’d like to make outside of the above announcement to hopefully address any concerns that the OpenID community might have:

  • JanRain will never require users of our libraries or services to use Windows CardSpace â„¢. We offer support for this technology as another option for users much like using our Safe SignIn and Personal Icon technologies on MyOpenID.com. We’ll also continue to support the OpenID efforts going on with Mozilla and Firefox.
  • Windows CardSpace â„¢ is shipping with Vista today and is a well thought-out technology that helps address many of the privacy and security concerns that people have had with OpenID. OpenID helps users describe their identity across many sites in a public fashion. The two together are very complimentary products and each has its strength.
  • Microsoft did not cave in to the OpenID community and the OpenID community is giving nothing up to Microsoft. This is a collaboration on bringing the best technology to the marketplace as quickly as possible to help secure users and solve the single sign-on solution once and for all.
  • Please reserve judgment on what this all means until you see it all work together. The technology is really quite simple and the ramifications for end-users is huge. It also goes a very long way to completely addressing the phishing concerns we’ve heard so much about.

Dick Hardt on CardSpace and OpenID

Here is Dick Hardt, CEO of SXIP, explaining our joint announcement on OpenID and CardSpace to people in the community who may worry that Starship Microsoft is about to land on OpenID and squish it. 

This morning Microsoft announced they would support OpenID in future identity server products. Although this is a huge endorsement for OpenID, there will likely be many people that are fearful of what Microsoft’s involvement may do to OpenID.

At ActiveState I worked with Microsoft to bring Perl and Python technology to the Windows platform. This was a win for Perl and Python programmers that wanted to use their tools on the Windows platform. It was also a win for the community at large, as a fair amount of the threading and Unicode support that is in Perl today was funded by Microsoft. Just as I bridged the Microsoft and Open Source worlds back in the 90s,

I look forward to bridging the Microsoft and OpenID worlds today. The team at Microsoft get what we are doing in OpenID, and want to enable their technology to take advantage of the reach of OpenID, as well as enable the OpenID community to take advantage of CardSpace technology. This looks like a win-win for everybody.

Dick's previous Perl work really is a good example of what came about when we “defactionalized” our industry and got momentum going.  The “identity gang” phenomenon has been a good example of the same thing since day one, and this concrete announcement takes things in an even more positive direction.

Let me say something about potential squishing. It just won't happen.  One of the best things about OpenID is its organic quality, and the last thing we want to do is interfere with that.  

My big ask was to add a way to request credentials based on phishing-resistant authentication.  The main idea was to ensure the system is built to handle the dangers that would come with its own success.  As it is more widely adopted, and used for more purposes, OpenID credentials will inevitably become a “honeypot”.  But through the collaboration going on here, and other similar initiatives, we can make sure we'll have the means in place to protect our users even before they are in danger. This in turn is key to preventing a loss of confidence in identity systems and the internet in general.

In the early 1980’s, James Martin said, “Every successful system will attract usage to the point that it becomes unsuccessful”.  He was referring to systems that gobbled up mainframe resources by attracting users until they became bogged down and unusable, but over the years I've thought of his maxim in many contexts.  I think one outcome of today's announcement will be to provide an exception, and that's worth celebrating.

 

CardSpace / OpenID Collaboration Announcement

As an outcome of the discussions that have been taking place here in the Blogosphere – and in-person meetings – it is exciting to convey the following joint announcement by JanRain, SXIP Identity, VeriSign and Microsoft:

JanRain, Microsoft, Sxip, and VeriSign will collaborate on interoperability between OpenID and Windows CardSpaceâ„¢ to make the Internet safer and easier to use. Specifically:

  • As part of OpenID’s security architecture, OpenID will be extended to allow relying parties to explicitly request and be informed of the use of phishing-resistant credentials.
  • Microsoft recognizes the growth of the OpenID community and believes OpenID plays a significant role in the Internet identity infrastructure.  Kim Cameron, Chief Architect of Identity at Microsoft, will work with the OpenID community on authentication and anti-phishing.
  • JanRain, Sxip, and VeriSign recognize that Information Cards provide significant anti-phishing, privacy, and convenience benefits to users.  Information Cards, based on the open WS-Trust standard, are available though Windows CardSpaceâ„¢.
  • JanRain and Sxip, leading providers of open source code libraries for blogging and web sites, are announcing they will add support for the Information Cards to their OpenID code bases.
  • JanRain, Sxip and VeriSign plan to add Information Card support to future identity solutions.
  • Microsoft plans to support OpenID in future Identity server products
  • The four companies have agreed to work together on a “Using Information Cards with OpenID” profile that will make it possible for other developers and service providers to take advantage of these technology advancements.

Dick Hardt, Sxip Identity
Kim Cameron, Microsoft
Michael Graves, VeriSign
Scott Kveton, JanRain
 

 

Doc Searls on Creator Relationship Management

Here is Doc Searls, Editor of Linux Journal, rapping about the role of identity in a whole new creator-consumer model:   

If incoming mail contains the word “identity” it goes to a mailbox I started in late 2004. It has over 7000 emails in it now. The majority of those are from the Identity Gang list.

The Identity Gang got its name when it first met informally on the December 31, 2004 edition of Gillmor Gang. I've lost track of how many workshops and meetings and other exercizes in convergence we've had, but the progress continues to be amazing.

I just looked at what Eric Norlin of IDG wrote here, then at what Scott Kveton of JanRain wrote here then at what Kim Cameron of Microsoft wrote here — to pick just three out of countless posts, all connected somehow. You can see the progress in just one month.

This observation comes in the midst of thinking about a form of
Vendor Relationship Management
that has the same initials as CRM, but a different meaning: Creator Relationship Management.

I would like to relate to creators in a better, less intermediated way. On the supply side, Creative Commons has done a great job of clarifying how artists and their representatives would like to relate in the marketplace. Think of CC as a form of CRM — of customer relationship management. A way of relating to customers. It's a great start. But it still only comes from the supply side.

Now I want to come back at creators from the other direction: from the demand side. From my end, not just theirs. I want to give them something more to relate to than an entry I put in a form on a website. I want to create a mechanism of engagement that is independent of any one supplier: that is silo-free.

I want them to be in my database, not just be one entry in their database.

I want to relate as a customer in the marketplace, and to be able to expand on that relationship in ways that allow both sides to create and expand value.

That means if I like a play, or a piece of music, or a podcast, or a video, or any creative production, and I want to pay the creators (and the producers) for that, I want a way to do that directly, on my own terms, with minimum intermediation.

I want to reward the intermediators too — the producers and distributors, for example. Anybody who contributes value.

Beyond cash for goods or services, I would like the option of having some range in relating. Maybe I want nothing more than give an artist some cash and a high-five. Or I may want a subscription to notices of new work, or to performances near where I live.

The thing is, this mechanism needs to live on my side: to be mine. It must be able to relate to a first source or to an intermediary, but it can't belong to the intermediary. The responsibilities for relating need to be shared. To do that, I need to control my end, free and clear. I can't just be enrolled in a system controlled by the supply side, or by somebody in the middle.

The absence of the power to relate from the demand side — except with cash or mechanisms controled by the supply side or its intermediaries — is a problem as old as the Industrial Age, and it's time to solve it.

So: my role on the demand side needs to be better equipped. How do we do that?

First we start with identity. That's why everything going on in the Identity Space is important. (And why I need to catch up with it.)

Second, we need to pick a problem to solve, not an ocean to boil. Here's one I like: make it easier for public broadcasting listeners and viewers to pay for the goods they receive. Right now public broadcasting continues to raise money in extremely old-fashioned ways. The one I hate most is the fund drive where they turn off programming for two weeks, plead poverty, and then give you a cup or a CD if you send some money. There has to be a better way.

So that's what I want to work on as my first VRM project, which I'll detail in Wednesday's SuitWatch Newsletter, and then here on Thursday. Stay tuned.

The concepts are great.  I wish we had a better word than ‘management’.  It seems like we have to “manage” everything, from time to relationships, when we used to just enjoy them.

 

Scott Kveton on InfoCard / OpenID convergence

Here's a post by Scott Kveton, CEO of JanRain, that sums up a meeting we had during the week.  JanRain is one of the driving forces behind OpenID, and produces the libraries that a lot of people are integrating into their websites and blogs.  JanRain also operates MyOpenId, an identity service that works with OpenID software.

You want to know about the JanRain World Headquarters?  Energy radiates from everywhere.  Beside our conference table was a very impressive can of Bad Idea Repellant, which seems to have done its job.

For what it's worth, I really liked these people.  They are real engineers.  They are committed to getting an identity layer in place. 

I explained my concerns about the current OpenID proposal and  phishing, and they not only ACKed; they had ideas about how to move quickly to change things.  

Against this background it was clear how CardSpace could be one important way of strengthening their system and integrating it with others.  Meanwhile, I conveyed my enthusiasm for the great simplicity of their proposal. 

We talked about public (omnidirectional) and private (unidirectional) identifiers and we all agreed that both were necessary in different contexts.  We talked about how OpenID managed Cards could provide CardSpace with strong new capabilities around public personas for web services.

Then the conversation got pretty technical, and I showed a profile of WS-Trust that didn't involve use of a SOAP stack or anything complicated.  But over to Scott:

Mike Jones and Kim Cameron from Microsoft came in for a visit today to the JanRain World Headquarters (if you’ve ever visited here, you’d understand why that’s funny).

The JanRain engineers were interested in learning more about CardSpace. We’ve heard about it, seen Kim talk and even read his proposal on a way to integrate OpenID and CardSpace. However, we didn’t know enough about the technology to comment on it either way. Also, we wanted to hear more than just marketing hype and hand waving; we wanted some code. Kim and Mike did not disappoint … :-)

CardSpace is an identity meta-system that you use to manage InfoCards. InfoCards are like the cards in your wallet except these cards you present to sites that you want to visit to identify yourself with. I really believe that Mike and Kim have their hearts in the right place and the technology looks solid. It looks like Microsoft has learned a lot since their last foray into identity. I think OpenID and CardSpace could really compliment each other quite nicely as well as help address the phishing concerns that have become so prevalent.

The CardSpace InfoCard manager is an interface that comes up when the user is presented with a site that supports InfoCard login. Instead of giving the user a login form in the browser that might be phished, the user is presented with a dialog that allows them to deliver an InfoCard for the site they are trying to login to. This dialog is single-modal; you are locked out of doing anything else unless you complete the task at hand. This follows along with what Mike Beltzner shared on the OpenID general list and the difficulties in fighting phishing:

I can also sum things up for you even more succinctly:

– users are task oriented, driving to complete the goal the quickest way possible
– users pay more attention to the content area than the browser chrome
– users don’t understand how easy it is to spoof a website

Kim went through several code examples where we could see how it all worked. Forget SOAP, forget complicated. There is no hook back to the mothership with this technology. As a matter of fact, OpenID and CardSpace could work together quite easily.

CardSpace is really good at handling the issues around phishing and personal privacy. But what if I don’t want to be private about certain things? I like that I can identify myself as me to lots and lots of different sites and I don’t mind if people correlate that data. As a matter of fact, I like it. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an OpenID tied to my InfoCard then? One of the greatest reasons OpenID is succeeding is that its a destination. Its a unique place on the Internet where you can learn more about who I am. Coupled with microformats you start to see some interesting possibilities. CardSpace doesn’t do the public side very well and both Kim and Mike admitted this. This is an interesting possibility for OpenID IMHO. Not only that, it could be done without any changes to sites that already support OpenID. You’d get the benefits of OpenID’s strengths while leveraging the anti-phishing and privacy mojo that CardSpace has.

We already have some great technology for changing the chrome in Firefox and discussions are on-going with Mozilla about how we can integrate this further and have it truly baked in (hopefully they’ll look at Dmitry’s thoughts on this). We’ve got the CardSpace code that is now shipping on Vista and available for Windows XP. We’ve got lots of options for fighting phishing and protecting privacy with more on the way. All of these solutions play to each technologies strengths and actually just might be what we need to get to the identity holy land.

 

How to get a branded InfoCard?

A lot of people have asked me, “But how does a user GET a managed Information Card?”  They are referring, if you are new to this discussion, to obtaining the digital equivalent to the cards in your wallet.

I sometimes hum and ha because there are so many ways you can potentially design this user experience.  I explain that technically, the user could just click a button on a web page, for example, to download and install a card.  She might need to enter a one-time password to make sure the card ended up in the hands of the right person.  And so on.

But now that production web sites are being built that accept InfoCards, we should be able to stop arm-waving and study actual screen shots to see what works best.  We'll be able to contrast and compare real user experiences.

Vittorio Bertocci, a colleague who blogs at vibro.net, is one of the people who has thought about this problem a lot.  He has worked with the giant European Etailer, Otto, on a really slick and powerful smart client that solves the problem.  Otto and Vittorio are really on top of their technology.  It's just a day or two after Vista and they have already deployed their first CardSpace application – using branded Otto cards. 

Here's what they've come up with.  I know there are a whole bunch of screen shots, but bear in mind that this is a “registration” process that only occurs once.  I'll hand it over to Vittorio…

The Otto Store is a smartclient which enables users to browse and experience in a rich way a view of Otto's products catalog.  Those functions are available to everyone who downloads and installs the application (it is in German only, but it is very intuitive and a true pleasure for the eye). The client also allows purchase of products directly from the application: this function, however, is available only for Otto customers. For being able to buy, you need to be registered with http://www.otto.de/.

That said: while buying on http://www.otto.de/ implies using username and password, the new smart client uses Otto managed cards. The client offers a seamless provisioning experience, thanks to which Otto customers can obtain and associate to their account an Otto managed card backed by a self issued card of their choice.
Let's get a closer look through the screens sequence.

Above you see the main screen of the application. You can play with it, I'll leave the sequence for adding items in the shopping cart to your playful explorations (hint: once you're chosen what to buy, you can reach the shopping cart area via the icon on the right end.

Above you see the shopping cart screen. You can check out by pressing the button circled in red.

Now we start talking business! On the left you are offered the chance of transfering the shopping cart to the otto.de web store, where you can finalize the purchase in “traditional” way. If you click the circled button on the right, though, you will be able to do go on with the purchase without leaving the smartclient and securing the whole thing via CardSpace. We click this button.

This screen asks you if you already own an Otto card or if you need to get one. I know what you are thinking: can't the app figure that out on its own? The answer is a resounding NO. The card collection is off limit for everybody but the interactive user: the application HAS to ask. Anyway, we don't have one Otto card yet so the question is immaterial. Let's go ahead and get one. We click on the circled button on the left.

This screen explains to the (German-speaking) user what is CardSpace. It also explains what is going to happen in the provisioning process: the user will choose one of his/her personal card, and the client will give back a newly created Otto managed card. We go ahead by clicking the circled button.

Well, that's end of line for non-Otto customers. This screen allows the user to 1) insert credentials (customer number and birthdate) to prove that they are Otto customers and 2) protect the message containing the above information with a self issued card. This is naturally obtained via my beloved WS-Security and seamless WCF-CardSpace integration. Inserting the credentials and pushing the button in the red circle will start the CardSpace experience:

The first thing you get is the “trust dialog” (I think it has a proper name, but I can't recall it right now). Here you can see that Otto has a Verisign EV certificate, which is great. I definitely believe it deserves my trust, so I'm going ahead and chosing to send my card.

 

Here there's my usual card collection. I'm going to send my “Main Card”: let's see which claims the service requires by clicking “Preview”.

Above you can see details about my self issued card. Specifically, we see that the only claim requested is the PPID. That makes sense: the self issued card will be used for generating the Otto managed card so the PPID comes in handy. Furthermore, it makes sense that no demographic info are requested: those have been acquired already, through a different channel. What we are being requested is almost a bare token, the seond authentication factor that will support our use of our future Otto managed card. Let's click “Send” and perform our ws-secure call.

The call was successful: the credentials were recognized, the token associated to self issued card parsed: as a result, the server generated my very own managed card and sent it back to you. Here's there is something to think about: since this is a rich client application, we can give to the user a seamless provisioning experience. I clicked “Send” in the former step, and I find myself in the Import screen without any intermediate step. How? The bits of the managed card (the famous .CRD file) are sent as a result of the WS call: then the rich client can “launch” it, opening the cardspace import experience (remember, there are NO APIs for accessing the card store: everything must be explicitly decided by the interactive user). What really happens is that the cardspace experience closes (when you hit send) and reopens (when they client receives the new card) without any actions required in the middle. If the same process would have happened in a browser application, this would not be achievable. If the card is generated in a web page, the card bits will probably be supplied as a link to a CRD card: when the user follows the link, it will be prompted by the browser for choosing if he/she wants to save the file or open it. It's a simple choice, but it's still a choice.
Back on the matter at hand: I'm all proud with my brand new Otto card, and I certainly click on “Install” without further ado. The screen changes to a view of my card collection, which I will spare you here, with its new citizen. You can close it and get back to the application.

The application senses that we successfully imported the managed card (another thing that would be harder with web applications). The provisioning phase is over, we won;t have to go through this again when we'll come back to the store in the future.
At this point we can click on the circled button and give to our new Otto Card a test drive: that will finally secure the call that will start the checkout process.

Here's we have my new card collection: as expected, the Otto card is the only card I can use here. Let's preview it:

Here's the set of claims in the Otto card: I have no hard time to admit that apart from “Strasse” and “Kundennummer” I have no idea of what those names mean :).
I may click on “Retrieve” and get the values, but at the time of writing there's no display token support yet: nothing to be worried about in term of functionality, you still get the token that will be used for securing the call: click the circled button for making the token available to WCF for securing the call.
Please note: if you are behind a firewall you may experience some difficulties a this point. If you have problems retrieving the token, try the application from home and that should fix it.

That's it! We used our Otto managed card, the backend recognized us and opened the session: from this moment on we can proceed as usual. Please note that we just authenticated, we didn't make any form of payment yet: the necessary information about that will be gathered in the next steps.
Also note that it was enough to choose the Otto managed card for performing the call, we weren't prompted for further authentication: that is because we backed the Otto card with a personal card that is not password protected. The identity selector was able to use the associated personal card directly, but if it would have been password protected the selector would have prompted the user to enter it before using the managed card.

It definitely takes longer to explain it than to make it. In fact, the experience is incredibly smooth (including the card provisioning!).

Kim, here's some energy for fueling the Identity Big Bang. How about that? :-)

That's great, Vittorio.  I hear it. 

By the way, Vittorio is a really open person so if you have questions or ideas, contact him.