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February 20, 2007

TypeKey and the UK Access Management Federation

There's an interesting announcement from the UK Access Management Federation for Education and Research about their support for TypeKey identities.  A slightly odd choice of technology it seems to me, as opposed to supporting OpenID for example, but interesting nonetheless and definitely seems to be a step in the right direction.  Presumably, adding support for OpenID at this point wouldn't be very difficult?

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What a totally bizarre choice. Is TypeKey used anywhere other than on SA blogs?

On "announcement": actually, the TypeKey bridge has been around in one form or another since April 2006. The public announcement was delayed until August 2006 for various reasons.

On "OpenID ... wouldn't be very difficult": you may be right; when I looked before, the way TypeKey worked was easier to map into Shibboleth than the way OpenID worked, and I had limited resource available. I've previously offered people the code I used for TypeKey in the hope that they'd be tempted by the OpenID bounty; I didn't get any takers at the time. The offer is still open.

On "totally bizarre choice": Phil, see above, I think it was a perfectly reasonable alternative at the time.

Ian,
thanks for your comments and apologies for not doing my homework in terms of finding out when the announcement was made!

I accept your comments about timing.

But I think my central point remains... given the current levels of interest in OpenID and the significant announcements about uptake in various places recently, I do think it would be worth another look, with a view to it being supported in the kind of way you have done with TypeKey.

To support Ian's comment - at the time of integration in to SDSS / UK Federation, TypeKey and Protect Network were the most obvious choices as OpenID was not mature. We are hoping to introduce more options and indeed JISC put out a call asking people to look at OpenID and other 'virutal IdP' solutions but unfortunately got no responses. I'd be delighted to hear from anyone interested in this area.

TypeKey is well used within the UK. I use it to access all of my shibbolised resources, suffering from the problem of being 'homeless' in federation terms...and I just used it to sign-in and comment on this blog :-)

Nicole,
thanks for your post. As I said before, my bad for not doing my homework before making the original posting.

I note your comment about lack of responses to the JISC's call for investigations into OpenID. Some time ago I posted a message to the main OpenID mailing list offering financial support for a UK OpenID code-fest. I got a similar lack of response. I'm not sure why.

Sorry perhaps I wasn't clear. I think supporting TypeKey *at all* is bizarre, not just TypeKey as an alternative to anything else. I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing although it does seem like buying into yet another single-vendor technology (and I'd challenge "TypeKey is well used within the UK").

"I got a similar lack of response. I'm not sure why."

I always wonder who takes up these funding initiatives. Don't they have day jobs? ;)

I'd guess there are far fewer developers in e-learning than there are in other University sectors (say IT services or Computer Science departments). For myself I can say that if I subscribed to the mailing list of every technology I was interested in I wouldn't get any work done. If there's something genuinely interesting it will appear on someone's blog or I'll find a link to the public archives.

I can also say that in our web development team at Bath, of half a dozen or more people only one is subscribed to any of the JISC mailing lists, none of the archives for which are public.

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