Category Archives: Yahoo

The End of an Era

Yahoo logo

According to a leaked screenshot, Yahoo will shut down some of its products like Delicious and MyBlogLog. Other products including Fire Eagle and Upcoming are on a list to merge with some of Yahoo’s remaining products. The company basically confirmed the news tonight.

Delicious, my beloved dinosaur

This is sad and it also marks the end of an era. At least to me. Delicious was the first Web 2.0 service I ever used. At first I thought it was strange to save bookmarks on the web, using an extra service for it. I already saved them in the browser, right? But I quickly realized and enjoyed the benefits of using a service like Delicious:

  • bookmarking more links than ever before
  • more relevant search results
  • building references for blog posts and research in general
  • tagging
  • and much more

Since then I tried and used countless other web services but Delicious remained one of the very few products I never really ditched. Even at times I used other bookmarking services like Gnolia, and more recently Diigo, Delicious always served as a backup of those products. I heavily relied on it which became especially important when Gnolia shut its doors. I didn’t have to start from scratch, my bookmarks were still there. And somehow I was sure Delicious would survive because it was part of one of the biggest internet companies, Yahoo.

Buying companies

And Yahoo? It’s difficult to find words for the disaster. A few years ago, I had the impression Yahoo was onto something big. In 2005 it bought some of the early, and awesome, Web 2.0 companies, namely Flickr, Delicious (Update Dec 20: this link went to the Delicious blog but funny Yahoo has deleted all contents of the blog except for the last post by now), and Upcoming. You couldn’t buy much better companies in those days. Later, in 2007, Yahoo also bought MyBlogLog. The MyBlogLog widget was on almost every blog I visited. Widespread, viral.

Though after those acquisitions not much happened. As a user I had the impression that development of those products stopped. Did Yahoo have a strategy to develop and/or integrate those services? If it had, it wasn’t visible.

Yahoo Me

Since a few months everyone is speculating about Google’s social strategy or how a social layer of its products would look like.

Yahoo could have a social layer of its products since three years already. MyBlogLog could have been the center of that layer. Basically, it could have served the same purpose as Facebook Connect. Doesn’t it even look similar to those Facebook widgets or Google Friend Connect? So it could be used for login (the Facebook Connect analogy is just too evident). I mean, Yahoo has great identity teams with experiences in OpenID and OAuth (Flickr even served as the blueprint for OAuth), so that would have been a no-brainer.

Also MyBlogLog could have served as a news feed. Yahoo has Upcoming for events, Flickr for photos, Fire Eagle for locations,… Put the streams of those services into MyBlogLog and they could spread via MyBlogLog widget across the web. Yahoo didn’t need a central social network like Facebook. It had all the required tools and services to establish a social network on millions of independent sites, only connected through the widget.

Well, Yahoo didn’t do this. Did I mention it’s sad?

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Semantic Yahoo!

Occasionally I mark up parts of my blog posts with microformats like hCard, XFN and hAudio. However I have doubts sometimes if it is worth the extra effort because readers can’t see it. It’s up to computers to parse that information and use it for all kinds of purposes.

Though there is some hope that microformats and other semantic markup is gaining some momentum. Besides data portability – primarily taking advantage of hCard and XFNYahoo! is starting to index that markup as mentioned in February already. Today it has announced which standards it will support. And that list looks quite impressive:

  • microformats like hCard, hReview, hCalendar, XFN, hAtom
  • Dublin Core, Creative Commons, Media RSS, Geo RSS, FOAF
  • RDFa, eRDF

Indexing those standards will certainly result in more detailed and richer search results. Looking forward to it.

The Saturday Open Standards Post

Setting up an OpenID Server

According to my log files some people are looking for tips on running their own OpenID provider and find my article on setting up a provider with phpMyOpenID. Unfortunately, that site was unavailable for quite some time. There is a note now that the author, Ben Dodson, will build a new version.

So if people don’t want to rely on existing providers and build their own, they should use phpMyID for the time being. Here is a step by step introduction on setting up an OpenID server with it.

Yahoo! Microformats Search

Yahoo! seems to push open standards even more. Its developers have launched Microsearch, a search engine which is also indexing microformats.

When searching for myself it looks like this (oops, those umlauts):

yahoo microformats

Oh, and there is also a map included. Nice :)

yahoo map

[via Microformatique]

User Friendly OpenID Implementation

A post about Yahoo! today, but I promise not to mention that other big company and some $$$. Rather this will be about Yahoo!’s OpenID implementation which is in public beta since Thursday.

Possible Cons of the Implementation

It is unusual starting with the negative aspects of a service but it makes sense here, I think. As I have mentioned earlier on this blog, Yahoo! is currently only an OpenID provider, so users can’t log in with other providers’ OpenIDs to Yahoo! yet. Also it is just supporting the new OpenID 2.0 standard. That might be a letdown for some users as they probably can’t log in with a Yahoo! OpenID to their favourite OpenID-enabled websites.

On the other hand, adoption of OpenID 2.0 will certainly grow over the next few months, because it provides more (security) features and as paradoxical as it may sound, Yahoo! will be a driving force of this as well. Companies won’t miss the chance to allow Yahoo! users a simple login method to their sites. However it is misleading that Yahoo! links to a list of OpenID consuming sites, disregarding that many of them don’t support OpenID 2.0 yet, and therefore users might become frustrated. It was better if Yahoo! just linked to some selected consumers which are supporting OpenID 2.0 already.

I am missing some kind of audit log where I am able to view my activities and can revoke approvals of relying parties. Would be cool to have this someday.

User Friendly

The implementation is very user friendly and provides understandable explanations of all steps involved with setting up and using an OpenID with Yahoo! I think a lot of effort went into this, making it graphically appealing and even providing a short tutorial on OpenID. Many providers could learn from this.

Setting up the OpenID is easy. First, users have to opt-in to using OpenID with their Yahoo! IDs. That should resolve some people’s concerns that they were “forced” to use OpenID with Yahoo! They can still use Yahoo! IDs the same way as they did before if they don’t like OpenID.

Yahoo! OpenIDs are actually some anonymous, auto-generated URLs which look like this: https://me.yahoo.com/a/SGnF5axjseY4xrv.BKKYF3Xp4v– However users can also customize the OpenID. There are some suggestions provided – including a Flickr URL if users have an account there – but it can be defined by users the way they like. So when signing in to a consumer users can choose from two OpenIDs, the auto-generated one or the customized one (see example below). Though they don’t need to sign in with those URLs; yahoo.com is all people have to remember.

choice

Conclusion

Despite the lack of support for OpenID 1.1 I like Yahoo!’s implementation a lot. The explanations and ease of use make it perfect for especially non-techie users who just want an easy way to sign in to more sites than just Yahoo!’s. There is no need to remember long OpenIDs or to read about OpenID before starting to use it. All necessary information is provided. This implementation is certainly a blueprint for many more services that want to adopt OpenID.

Yahoo! just needs to add consumer support as well. That would be important. Hopefully today’s news won’t be an excuse that there were not enough resources available to do this anymore.

More Links:

There is an interview and demo with Yahoo!’s OpenID architect Allen Tom available which runs you through all the features of the implementation.
Johannes Ernst has an excellent article on the business aspects of it as well.

Yahoo! will be an OpenID Provider

So Yahoo! is joining the OpenID community officially. That’s great news but somehow this had to be expected considering last week’s news about Flickr. Yahoo! has reportedly shown interest in OpenID for quite some time already – like attending meetings – and is making an important step now. People can use their Yahoo! IDs as OpenIDs by January 30 when the public beta starts.

Details

It’s important to note that Yahoo! will only support OpenID 2.0 enabled websites. That means that users won’t be able to log in to some sites or blogs that haven’t upgraded from OpenID 1.1 yet. In the long run this won’t be much of a problem, I guess, because OpenID 2.0 is providing more features and therefore most OpenID enabled websites will adopt this new spec.

Usually OpenIDs look like this: username.openidprovider.com. Yahoo!’s implementation only demands a simple yahoo.com, flickr.com will work as well. Users will be redirected to Yahoo! where they are logged in with their Yahoo! ID. That’s straightforward.

There will be a so called Sign-in Seal to prevent users from phishing. Users choose some text, an image or colour which they will see each time they sign in to Yahoo! If they don’t see it they are on a phishing site. Other providers offer similar features but Yahoo!’s seems to be really well done.

sign_in_seal

Promotion

Being an OpenID provider is positive but it’s just a first step, I think. Yahoo! also has to start consuming OpenIDs. The world doesn’t need an endless amount of providers but consumers. OpenID doesn’t make sense if people can’t log in to many and – that’s probably equally important – big and well-known sites. Somehow I am optimistic that Yahoo! will start consuming OpenIDs later this year, though.

Yahoo! has to be public about its OpenID support. Every Yahoo! user has to know about it. It has to be on the frontpage of yahoo.com. Or to cut it short: Make a better job than AOL! Fortunately there are some positive indications already.

Though we will have to wait until the public launch of Yahoo!’s OpenID suppport to see how OpenID is communicated to the public.

For more thoughts on this part of the story have a look at Marshall Kirkpatrick’s article on Read/Write Web (though I shouldn’t quote him too often, I guess ;) ).

yahoo_meets_openid