Single sign-on adoption continues to spread, as increasing numbers of web sites embrace technologies such as OpenID, Facebook Connect and OAuth, which let you log into web sites using an existing account from another service, such as Twitter, Gmail, Facebook, and many others.
JanRain, a respected OpenID provider, has released RPX, a service which makes installing single sign-on on your own web site extremely quick and easy, allowing your visitors to register using their existing account credentials from another site. RPX’s basic plan is free and lets you support up to six service providers, such as Windows Live ID, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo and more.
It’s easy to use because RPX does most of the dirty work for you behind the scenes, and provides all of the code required. You can implement this solution in a matter of minutes on just about any type of web site. In order to demonstrate just how easy it is to roll out single sign-on on your own site, I’ll install this solution on a regular WordPress blog (disclaimer: WordPress developer Automattic is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True). RPXNow makes incorporating this complex technology very simple with the aid of its WordPress plugin.
1. Create an account with RPXNow.
Go to RPXNow.com and register for a free basic account just to get your feet wet. You get to select any six providers from a list of twelve popular brands for free.
Once you’re logged into your brand new RPX account, you simply need to create a new application for your web site. There’s no need for programming skills, though; you’re just entering the URL of your site and giving it a name.
After you do that you need to click the name of your new application, which will take you to the application’s dashboard. This contains your application’s API key, which will be used with your WordPress plugin.
2. Install the RPX Plugin.
Log into your WordPress blog, go to your “Plugins” area and then click “Add New.” Enter “RPX” in the search field to find the free RPX plugin. Click the “Install” link on the right.
Once installed, just click the “Activate” option, which will produce the following screen.
Now you have to simply add your API key from RPXnow to the plugin. Go to your WordPress Settings area and click “RPX.” Copy and paste the long API Key string and click “Save.”
3. Set Up Your Providers
The third and final step is the fun part, where you get to setup and select the providers that you want to support for your visitors. RPX has an excellent dashboard for managing your providers, with a simple drag-and-drop interface.
Right out of the gate, RPX sets up four providers for you: AOL, Yahoo, OpenID and Google. However, you can swap them out with any six that you want from the control panel.
Setting up providers is not quite so quick and easy, because you will have to go to each service’s development platform to create an application for your web site. Once again, don’t let that intimidate you. RPX provides direct links to where you need to go and holds your hand at every step of the way, with excellent instructions for setting up Twitter, Windows Live ID, MySpace and Facebook. I was able to set up each one in a matter of minutes. Trust me, it was very easy and it was well worth it. In no time at all, I was able to turn the login screen for my WordPress blog from this:
Into this new social networking-savvy screen:
It’s obvious that the majority of web users appreciate the convenience of single sign-on to services. RPX provides a simple and economical way to test the single sign-on waters yourself, with excellent tools and instructions for any type of web site. You can start with the free basic plan and evolve to the premium plans if you need them.