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September 02, 2009

Publisher Interface Study - final report

Back in June I reported on a meeting that I had attended as part of the JISC-funded Service Provider Interface Study. The final report from that project is now available, in a commentable form, and feedback is requested.

The report makes two key recommendations:

Recommendation 1 - A brand should be created for academic federated access. For this brand to be successful, it needs widespread adoption worldwide. The brand should include a short name and a logo; these need not mean anything but simply provide a familiar point of reference.

Recommendation 2 - A "style guide" should be created for publishers to follow around implementing discovery using the brand created.

These seem sensible to me and certainly in line with my suggestion that there needs to be much "greater consistency to the way that SAML-based sign-on is presented to the end-user".  Note that the brand refers to 'academic federated access' generally, rather than to the UK Access Management Federation for Education and Research in particular - i.e. it needs to work across federations (possibly based on differing technologies?) - a non-trivial task to say the least (but one that is probably worth aiming for).

As a result of this study the JISC intends to:

  1. carry out a full public consultation on the findings of the report;
  2. instigate an international competition for the design of a federated log-in brand;
  3. develop full brand guidelines for publishers and other service providers;
  4. develop an easy-install tool and guide for embedded WAYFs (Where are You From services).

I would hope that service providers themselves get heavily involved in these activities.  And for the last... I think the JQuery demo, provided in the previous post, is indicative of one direction such an "easy-install" tool could take.

Addendum: Johannes Ernst has an interesting post, Information Cards Have the NASCAR Problem, Too, which notes that OpenID and Information Cards, both of which have globally identifiable logos, also suffer from the multiple brand problem (roughly equivalent to the multiple federation/multiple institution issue in SAML-based federations). He ends with:

What about we drop the NASCAR argument in the OpenID vs. information cards discussion, and figure out how to solve the common issue instead?

a principle that I think we might usefully expand to include our own SAML world if at all possible.

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