20090110

What is OpenID?

When she read my post about redirecting without breaking OpenID, Dora asked me to explain to her what it was about. This is my attempt to answer that question.

What it is: OpenID allows you to have an account with an OpenID provider and use that account to register and log in on other websites. The idea is as more and more websites support OpenID you only have to remember the log in information for one website: your provider, as opposed to having to juggle around multiple usernames and passwords in your head like you do normally. For even more explanation (and video!) go to OpenID Explained.

Why I did what I did: I signed up with an OpenID provider: myOpenID, but instead of using the URL that they provided me directly, I chose to delegate my own domain name to it so that I can use http://qedx.com as my OpenID. If I had chosen to use my myOpenID URL, sites I signed up with would have my identity to my profile page at myOpenID (which is empty, by the way) which would have defeated my purpose for having a domain name. You set up this delegation by putting a few lines of HTML into the file at the URL you want to use as your identity, in my case the index.php file at http://qedx.com.

When I decided to redirect qedx.com to my blog, the way it is set up is so that no HTML is rendered at all. Additionally if the destination of the redirect is a valid OpenID identity that URL is submitted to the website that I am trying to sign up or sign in at instead of the OpenID that I actually wish to use, which I do not want hence, "breaking OpenID". So I had to make it so that the delegation bits of HTML were displayed when http://qedx.com is accessed for identification purposes.

And that's what that post was all about.

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