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Should NPR Embrace OpenID?

by Zach Brand
Jul 9, 2008

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Zach Brand

Zach Brand here — I head up technology for NPR's Digital Media efforts. Our most recent additions to the codebase is our new registration engine / authentication tool. Initially, we're using the registration system for newsletter subscriptions, but in the coming months it will also allow users to participate in social networking features on the site. I realize that — like a lot of technology — as long as it works, you don't really notice it. That said, I think our new registration and log-in process is very easy, intuitive and pretty snappy. Check it out. The PHP development on this was the work of Joanne Garlow, Jason Grosman and Ivan Lazarte. The project process itself was managed by Jennifer Tuohy with help from K. Libner. Kudos to them and the rest of the team involved.

We are still looking to tune the authentication and SSL certs so it creates the fewest prompts in the various browser / OS combinations. Of course like all Web apps, I expect it will change and evolve as we go.

During this project a couple questions arose. First, was there any open source tool that would do the job? We pained a bit over this one since we do try to be as open source friendly as possible. Despite a couple valid contenders, none of them were well-suited to our current and future needs, so we did decide to build it ourselves. Which leads to the second question: do we integrate with OpenID? This time, our answer was yes. Unfortunately, to meet the timeline needed, we were not able to include OpenID on day one. Sooooo... the architecture of the system was built in such a way that that we will be able to add OpenID compatibility into it down the road. How quickly it is incorporated will likely be impacted by how much demand we do or don't hear. So please, chime in with your thoughts, critiques or even compliments.

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