Category Archives: Open Web

MySpaceID Plugin for WordPress not for Everyone

MySpaceID

On Friday MySpace announced a MySpaceID WordPress plugin. The plugin allows users to comment on self-hosted WordPress blogs with their MySpace credentials and also share the blog on their MySpace page. Of course, this sounds a lot like Facebook Connect. However it’s nice to see a similar product based on open standards like OpenID and OAuth.

Difficult to Implement

Usually, WordPress plugins are quite easy to implement: uploading the plugin to the blog, activating it, and sometimes doing some settings. Ready. The MySpaceID plugin is more difficult, though.

First, blog authors need a MySpace account which I have. So that’s no problem. Second, authors have to set up a MySpaceID application. They will be provided an OAuth Consumer Key and an OAuth Consumer Secret which have to be added in the settings of the plugin.

If you thought that’s all, you’re wrong. Authors also need to install the OpenID and XRDS-Simple plugins for WordPress which are installed on my blog anyway (read all about setting up the MySpaceID plugin on the MySpaceID developer wiki).

I had all this set up, however, it didn’t work for me. I tried to comment with my MySpace credentials on my blog. The first steps worked as expected: clicking the MySpaceID button, a popup was shown (see below) and I was forwarded back to my blog. Though instead of being logged in, I saw my 404 page. I am not sure what went wrong, probably something wrong with the callback URL.

MySpaceID Login

Also the plugin somehow interferred with the OpenID plugin, although that one is required. In the comment box the OpenID plugin shows some text indicating that the URL field is OpenID enabled. With the MySpaceID plugin installed that text was not shown anymore. Not a good idea.

So the MySpaceID plugin is certainly a good idea but it is not designed for ordinary blog authors like me, I guess. But maybe I just didn’t get it. Hm.

The Facebook Day of Openness

facebook

Yesterday Facebook made some significant announcements regarding the open web. They will make Facebook more open and users and developers can interact with the social network in greater depth than before.

Leveraging the News Feed

First, Facebook announced its Open Stream API which allows developers to build applications that interact with and make use of Facebook’s news feed. Part of this API is the Activity Streams standard, which MySpace is also using for MySpaceID. However, if I got things right, the Activity Streams support is read-only, the read-write part is Facebook’s own API. Don’t quote me on that part, though.

Anyway, Facebook also published a demo application, so you can test the new API right on your desktop (Adobe AIR is required).

Facebook Desktop News

I guess, it will only be a matter of time until we see more applications by third parties leveraging Facebook’s news feed.

Facebook’s OpenID Support

When Facebook joined the OpenID Foundation in February, it was unclear how the company would support OpenID. Yesterday it announced that it will become a Relying Party.

The interesting part of the announcement is, that Facebook will auto-detect the OpenID Provider if users are logged into it already before coming to Facebook. This will be a great improvement for OpenID in terms of usability and user experience (see also my post on Spread OpenID).

Facebook and Plaxo

Well, this is not an announcement by Facebook but by Plaxo. Anyway, Plaxo integrated Facebook Connect in quite an interesting way. Users can now add their friends from Facebook on Plaxo without re-friending them again. This could be a blueprint for other sites as well because it is absolutely annoying re-friending people again and again.

Also it’s possible now to automatically update users’ Facebook status when they update their status on Plaxo and vice versa.

Plaxo Facebook Connect

Plaxo Facebook Settings

Open Web for All Users?

We want the web to be open, we want it to be social. We want exchange of data from one site to another. We want our contacts and friends around on most or even all sites. We don’t want to log in with another username and password because we have too many already anyway. We use our real names, we publish photos of ourselves, we even have our addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, and dates of birth online. Maybe not on all sites, but I am sure I find that data for everyone of my web-savvy friends. We do all of this for different reasons: building a reputation, branding, big egos, or we are just too enamored by the possibilities of this new web.

And Ordinary People?

Though do our co-workers, friends, families, and other people want the same? Do you know how they are using the internet? Go and ask them.

Once I explained OpenID to a co-worker. He told me that he didn’t like any single sign-on system. His example was Deutsche Telekom where different services are accessible with a single password. Well, I’m not quite sure how it works and which services are affected because I’m not a Deutsche Telekom customer but I guess, it’s similar to Google where users have access to Gmail, Google Reader, and other Google properties with the same username and password. Anyway, he thought that single sign-on, even within the same company, was not acceptable. Also he thought it was a very bad idea that any webservice, e.g. Google Profiles, an OpenID provider,…, would store many personal information like addresses, date of birth and much more. He was horrified by the idea that this information was transferrable to other sites, that complete address books could be exchanged.

Other people I talked to shared similar sentiments. Basically, they feel rather uncomfortable with publishing personal information on the web. Also many of them are getting unwanted promotional mails and phone calls already. So they fear their data could be sold again. Are these just cultural differences to North American people? Don’t they get it? Or don’t we have ordinary people in mind when talking about the open web?

Authentication Popups

Signing in to third party websites has become easier and more user friendly over the last couple of months. The examples below obviously share a common design approach: a popup window that even looks very similar across sites. Even authentication with OpenID will look similar soon. This has become obvious at the last OpenID User Experience summit at Facebook (see recommendations for OpenID Providers and Relying Parties).

Facebook was pioneering popup style authentication with Facebook Connect and also set design standards:

Facebook Connect

MySpace followed with MySpaceID:

MySpaceID

And now we have AOL‘s Socialthing for Websites which went live this week. Socialthing for Websites is based on AOL‘s OpenAuth API.

Socialthing for Websites

The benefits of those approaches are obvious. Users can easily recognize those windows and the authentication process becomes more intuitive for them. Authentication happens in one window, no distracting and often confusing redirects between sites anymore.

I am sure, also content providers will benefit from easier authentication as it has become easier for users to join sites, interact with other visitors and even their friends there.

More Social Features by MySpaceID

myspaceid

A long time has passed since MySpace announced support for OpenID last summer. But the wait is over, MySpace is an OpenID Provider now.

Well, MySpace announced this as part of MySpaceID, an effort to provide users with a similar experience as Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect. In combination with OAuth, MySpace members can use their MySpace login details to log in to other sites, import their profiles and activities to those sites. Here’s an example of a login at AOL:

On AOL‘s frontpage users have the option to sign in with their MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, or AIM accounts.

Choose a network

Choose a network

Of course, I tried MySpace. Next appears a popup window where I have to provide my email address and MySpace password.

Login at MySpace

Login at MySpace

In Safari 4 the browser’s address bar is not visible (I omitted this from the screenshot as well, though). This will hopefully change as users could easily be phished if they don’t see that they are actually on MySpace.

After closing the window I have access to my MySpace profile from within AOL:

MySpace on AOL

MySpace on AOL

By the way, AOL also allows users to import their mails from other providers like Gmail. Works smoothly with OAuth as well. Well done!

If you think a MySpace OpenID only works as part of MySpaceID, here’s an example of a login to Twitterfeed:

Login to Twitterfeed

Login to Twitterfeed

This works well, though there is no popup window this time. The user experience should be consistent on all sites, I think.

It’s great to have one of the most popular social networks support OpenID. However, currently MySpace is only an OpenID Provider, so you can’t log in to MySpace with another OpenID. Just like Yahoo! and Google, MySpace only supports OpenID 2.0, so users can’t log in to all OpenID enabled websites.