Yahoo! has announced the rollout of some limited tests for OpenID's Simple Registration specification. If you're not familiar with OpenID, it's an innovative way for handling user authentication that provides a free and easy way to use a single digital identity across the Internet.
Although Yahoo! has supported OpenID for a while, until now 'relying parties' (i.e., sites that use Yahoo!'s OpenID service to authenticate a Yahoo! user) were not provided with any profile information associated with a specific user. Now, Yahoo! is testing the OpenID Simple Registration to provide a few relying parties with access to user profile data (the Yahoo! User Profiles API is used in the background).
Yahoo! will be providing Yahoo! OpenID users the ability to share the following Simple Registration fields for this initial test: Full Name, Nickname, Email Address, Gender, Language, and Timezone. The Yahoo! OpenID user will have full control on whether to share their profile data with the OpenID relying party. We will use the Yahoo! Profiles API to populate the user card, which will be presented on the Yahoo! OpenID Review and Confirm page.
The goal of this limited test is to gather feedback on the usability of the current design, optimize performance and detail best practices for consuming Yahoo! profile information via Yahoo! OpenID. We are initially testing this with a limited set of relying parties, including plaxo.com and jyte.com.
Note that as stipulated by Yahoo!, the OpenID user will have full control on the sharing of profile data with a relying party. Additional information about the user experience with Yahoo! OpenID can be found in an FAQ page, and Yahoo! has also set up a discussion forum for its OpenID service.
It's good to see Yahoo! moving forward with its OpenID efforts, and we hope that the limited testing will lead to general availability in the long term. Google has its own OpenID (Federated Login) offering that supports the Attribute Exchange (AX) specification, but relying parties can only access a user's email at present (and as with Yahoo!, this is based on user approval at the time of sign in). Microsoft has also indicated that it will support OpenID, but support is limited to a developer sandbox for now.
We hope this is the beginning of more widespread adoption of OpenID, and we look forward to seeing apps that support the OpenID framework. And to that end, ProgrammableWeb itself currently supports OpenID for users registering here.