Identity issues

I got slightly sidetracked on the way to the TRAC, but I’ve been
thinking about identity and blogging. I really, really, really don’t
want to have to add yet another login/password pair to a commenter’s
keychain if I can possibly help it.

But, it would be cool for people to have some way of identifying
themselves in some trusted fashion (so that, for example comments made
by signed in users get added straight away, but all other comments get
put into a queue pending approval).

My thinking on this is that we need to come up with some sort of
an identity control API. We define the ways in which Typo interacts
with an authentication service, things like:

authenticator.session_is_authenticated?(session)
authenticator.session_user(session) - returns a user object
authenticator.authenticate(controller, session) - May do redirects,
hence the
controller

Then our user object will carry information like:

user.memento - Unique string identifying this user (for use in any
authorization system)
user.email
user.display_name
user.icon
user.url
user.authenticated?

Possibly more, possibly fewer. Methods like #icon can obviously return
an empty string…

Once we’ve worked out the protocols (and tweaked our current
identification mechanism to use them) it should be relatively easy to
write adaptors for Flickr; Yahoo; Google; OpenID; some kind of dumbass
captcha system, if you really insist but don’t expect it to get
accepted into the trunk; or whatever other authentication services
exist or arise.

Of course, methods like ‘authenticator.session_is_authenticated?’ will
generally be accessed via helper methods like:

session.authenticated?

Right, brain dump over, I shall proceed to the Trac directly.

Note: Authentication is not the same as Authorization. About the
only thing I’m sure of regarding authorization is that we shall have
something.

Note2: This isn’t even remotely imminent. I’m just sketching here.

Yes :-).

There are a couple things that I’d like to see. First, OpenID is
probably the most useful one today, because it gets us LiveJournal,
and I think that TypeKey is supposed to be OpenID-able soon, if it
isn’t already.

The flip side of this is that Typo should be an OpenID server, too, so
we can publish our own identities. This way Typo users will be able
to authenticate ourselves to each other.

I can work on the server side if you want to handle the client side.
At some point we’ll need to add a check so that we won’t try to use
OpenID to authenticate against ourself–on single-threaded servers
(Webrick, single-port Mongrel, single-dispatcher fcgi) that’ll
deadlock.

Scott

If you’re delving into OpenID support, there is code out there to
use. Matt Pelletier gave a presentation on OpenID support at
RailsConf. There is a consumer plugin available:

http://identity.eastmedia.com/identity/show/Consumer+Plugin

and development ongoing for Rails support for identity servers too.

You can see example consumer code in Rick O.'s Rails-Weenie app:

http://svn.techno-weenie.net/projects/rails_help/

General info:

http://identity.eastmedia.com/
http://wiki.rubyonrails.org/rails/pages/OpenID


Josh S.
http://blog.hasmanythrough.com

An alternative to adding full OpenID server support to Typo would be
to delegate to another server like pip.verisignlabs.com or
myopenid.com.

For example, on my domain brianellin.com, I delegate to myopenid.com.
I can verify my identity w/o having to run my own server, and I can
choose the server that best fits my needs.

Implementing delegation in Typo would require adding an interface in
the admin section for delegation information (server url, delegate
url, xrds url), and then adding that info to the HEAD section of the
front page. Thats it!

Brian E.
JanRain, Inc.

Piers C. wrote:

I got slightly sidetracked on the way to the TRAC, but I’ve been
thinking about identity and blogging. I really, really, really don’t
want to have to add yet another login/password pair to a commenter’s
keychain if I can possibly help it.

But, it would be cool for people to have some way of identifying
themselves in some trusted fashion (so that, for example comments made
by signed in users get added straight away, but all other comments get
put into a queue pending approval).

I vote for OpenID. There are more exciting wheels to reinvent.

mathew

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