Yahoo and AOL Enhancing OpenID with Data Portability via the “Simple Registration” Extension

As many of my readers know, the user experience (UX) for OpenID has been a source of confusion and an impediment to broader adoption. That gave rise to an OpenID UX Summit a few weeks ago, hosted by Yahoo and attended by Google, Microsoft, MySpace, AOL, Plaxo, Facebook and many others. It also was a major focus of sessions and late-night discussion at last week’s Internet Identity Workshop. Today, we get to see some of the fruits of those efforts, as Yahoo rolls out (in a limited test) a new implementation of OpenID, currently live with just two test sites, Plaxo and Jyte; and AOL releases preview support for data portability via SREG.

Yahoo’s post describes the details:

Today, we are announcing the start of a limited test of the Simple Registration extension for the Yahoo! OpenID service. The Simple Registration extension allows OpenID RPs to request user profile data from the OpenID provider. Yahoo! will be providing Yahoo! OpenID users the ability to share the following Simple Registration fields for this initial test: Full Name, Nick Name, Email Address, Gender, Language and Timezone. The Yahoo! OpenID user will have full control on whether to share their profile data with the OpenID relying party. We will use the Yahoo! Profiles API to populate the user card which will be presented on the Yahoo! OpenID Review and Confirm page.

Joseph Smarr of Plaxo also has a post on the matter, including screenshots of the improved onboarding flow. As Joseph points out, this is really something bigger than single sign-on; the key is that the identity can bring with it, at the user’s option, some of their social data. This is an important step forward for data portability:

I think we can continue to expect more and more data to flow across the OpenID link, which will make it increasingly valuable for Relying Parties like Plaxo, and should incentivize many more sites to become RPs themselves. It’s great to see this virtuous cycle in motion, and Plaxo is eager to work with any and all OpenID Providers who want to improve their UX and empower their users to use more of their data across the web!

So, if you don’t have a Plaxo account yet, you can sign up for one with your Yahoo OpenID. If you choose to share your basic account info, you’ll land on a registration form that is pre-populated with with almost every field you need to activate your account. You only need to add your birthday and your country. (In a future release, we hope to get those last two fields as well, so we can do away with the form entirely.) Oh, and the user’s language choice will come along, too, so we can drop them into the appropriate localized version of Plaxo. Sweet!

George Fletcher of AOL also has a post on the AOL and SREG, entitled “OAuth and SREG and MapQuest! Oh My!” I’m still trying to figure out where I can go see the AOL OpenID w/ SREG live. Any pointers, anyone?

It’s great to see the pace of innovation on the Open Stack begin to accelerate.

For more on Yahoo’s test release, we made it the primary topic of this week’s episode of The Social Web TV, complete with a “magical” demo. (We didn’t know about the AOL news when we shot!):

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3 thoughts on “Yahoo and AOL Enhancing OpenID with Data Portability via the “Simple Registration” Extension

  1. Actually, the AOL SREG support works for me if I log in to Plaxo with my AOL OpenID:) I know Joseph has been having some problems and we’re looking into why. If you have problems with an AOL account please let me know.

    Other sites include http://www.pibb.com (I believe Praveen mentioned that one), and http://www.jyte.com. The key is to use the openid.sreg.required, openid.sreg.optional and openid.sreg.policy_url parameters.

  2. […] via third-party identity providers” at a time when the choices in that space are growing and evolving rapidly. So, rather than direct its own technical resources to integrating Facebook Connect and the […]

  3. […] started supporting some SREG values in November 2008 it was applauded but reading some of the blog posts about it, it sounded like Yahoo! re-invented the wheel. Hey, the current SREG specification is […]

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