[OpenID] Max Engel on Using OpenID to Power MySpace’s Open Platform

David Recordon david at sixapart.com
Tue Apr 7 20:22:01 UTC 2009

Just posted a guest post by Max Engel from MySpace on how they're  
using OpenID, OAuth, OpenSocial and ActivityStrea.ms for their  
platform with a user-experience at parity with Facebook Connect.  Post  
is on the site at http://openid.net/2009/04/07/using-openid-to-power-myspaces-open-platform/ 
  and copied below.


About two weeks ago, MySpace released an update to MySpaceID taking  
advantage of OpenID combined with OAuth to provide a sign in and  
profile sharing with a user-experience at parity with Facebook  
Connect. Max Engel is MySpace’s Product Lead for their Open Platform  
and took the time to write this post, providing some more details  
about how MySpaceID works.

At MySpace, we recently released several critical new feature  
enhancements to MySpaceID, a product under the MySpace Open Platform.  
We delivered OpenID support, an OpenID/OAuth Hybridexperience, and  
support for syndicating “Friend Updates” via the emerging Activity  

These new components to the MySpace Open Platform allow us to not only  
provide developers with new tools to create distributed applications  
that are built on top of our social platform, but also to deliver an  
identity solution that builds on top of the “Open Stack” to provide  
flexible an extensible options that embrace open standards.

OpenID aligned perfectly with MySpaceID as an authentication  
technology. As a social portal, we already embraced the notion of  
representing identity with a URL. An overwhelming number of our users  
have setup vanity URL’s (i.e. myspace.com/pixelelated) and so we knew  
that OpenID would align well with our users. In addition, we wanted to  
make sure that we were working with the flow of the web, and we  
strongly believe that collaborating on open standards is critical to  
this mission.

As we worked on our OpenID solution for MySpaceID, we knew that we had  
to rollout the technology in a way that emphasized a lightweight and  
simple interface design and user experience. OpenID has wrongly been  
maligned by a stigma that the technology can’t be easy to use. Our aim  
was to break that label and demonstrate with our MySpaceID product  
that OpenID and usability aren’t conflicting terms. Luckily, there was  
a community ready and willing to help. The progress made at two OpenID  
Usability Summits helped us refine our implementation and allowed us  
to leverage the collective knowledge of other OP’s. This is the  
strength of open standards: the ability to work together to forge  
ahead and work together to solve a problem.

When working on the MySpaceID design, we embraced a pop-up window for  
login to help make the user experience even easier, and to help the  
integrating relying party offer a clean hand-off. We support both  
directed identity as well as standard URL-based discovery, and  
ultimately feel that by offering modular options to developers we are  
creating the most value for our users. In addition, by rolling out the  
OAuth Hybrid extension with this, we can allow our users to provision  
web service access to their MySpace profile, friends, content, and  
activities in the same step.

Beyond our new enhancements around single-sign on with OpenID, and the  
rollout of the Hybrid protocol, we are supporting the new Activity  
Streams specification. A core part of the DNA of MySpaceID is  
empowering the user to take their data with them. By offering API’s  
for sharing activities, we’re enabling our users to take their own  
activities and share them through aggregation and lifestreaming  
services. In addition, developers can provide a user with a window  
into their life on MySpace by incorporating the API in Dashboard-style  
widgets, such as our implementation with the new Yahoo! homepage. With  
activity sharing, we wanted to go beyond just offering the  
functionality and ensure that we were working with the community to  
implement something that could be standardized. We embraced this  
philosophy when collaborating on the Portable Contacts spec and worked  
to align it with OpenSocial, and so we were quite comfortable with  
this model of development.

I hope that we have shown that our choice for the technological piping  
which powers MySpaceID (OpenID, OAuth, Portable Contacts, OpenSocial,  
and Activity Streams) didn’t negatively impact the experience we could  
provide. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Our choice to embrace  
these open standards has given us a more powerful and flexible  
platform. We’re excited to prove that a MySpace user can visit any  
site that has integrated MySpaceID and go from a button click to  
bringing their identity with them, all while doing it in a way that  
has a clean user experience and puts the user in control of their  
privacy, security, and data. As an OpenID community, we’ve all worked  
to make tremendous progress over the past year, and I think we’re only  
beginning to realize the real potential to empower users through open  
standards for the social web.
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