Where's Single Sign-On??

Really. I mean it. Where's Single Sign-On?

Liberty Alliance was started 4 years ago to provide a competing alternative to Microsoft's Passport. It's taken Liberty Alliance years to get to any sort of usable starting point, while Microsoft has actually had developer code out there and usable since 2001. I've even toyed with some Passport login code in Perl 4 years ago.

Since that time, Passport is used rarely if ever on the web, and the Liberty Alliance has tons of docs to show, implementation specs, and even a Java toolkit for Liberty Alliance. Yet I don't see many (or any?) websites using the federated login of Liberty Alliance. Where's my single sign-on??

In the time of Web 2.0 a toolkit for the major scripting languages should exist. Why isn't there one for PHP? Perl? Python? Rails? Has anyone done any calculations in how “good” a website or web service has to be before a user is ready to take the plunge to setup yet another username/password? This is an obstacle that gets in the way of a website having more members, and anyone in the business of getting members should want as few obstacles as possible.

I know I'm not even signing up or using some services purely because I can't deal with yet another username/password to remember. I can't even remember the ones I'm currently signed up for, so I have to use software that does password/site remembering for me, in my case Password Wallet.

So what are the supposed strenghts of web services/applications?

  1. You don't need to install any software
  2. You don't need to worry about upgrades
  3. You can use it anywhere

Out of these, #3 is the one that has been lost nowadays thanks to a password/username program. I can't get to any website I've registered on without my personal computer, because I can't remember that many usernames and passwords. Some will say, “just use the same user/password everywhere”, and many people do. Even this doesn't always work though, if someone else signed up using that username first.

It's been FOUR YEARS since the big hub-bub over Microsoft Password and Liberty Alliance, and we still don't have handy little toolkits in the most commonly used scripting languages to interact with them. I don't know about you, but I find this pretty sad.

Ben Bangert
Ben Bangert
Software Contriver

Code. Homebrew. Hike. Rollerblade.