Social Logins Made Easy with Janrain

User authentication in apps is a pain, even if you've built an authentication system dozens of times. Forms, sessions, user tables, validation, password management, the list goes on in the seemingly never-ending to-do list for setting up a simple signup, login, and logout system for your app. OpenID company Janrain makes it easier, building on top of social networks.

Most people these days are users of at least one social network that you can leverage to handle this issues and help with the issue signup fatigue. But even with that, there are some headaches. Which service do you use? Twitter? Facebook Connect? Google oAuth? Or maybe you want to include everything just to make sure no user is turned away at the login screen. Diving in to these APIs to build a combo-login system is a hassle unto itself. At the end of the day, you've lost hours setting things up and they may not work right.

Janrain has been simplifying this entire process for almost two years by creating a single, modular, widget that you can use to quickly bring in authentication powered by many popular services. Twitter, Facebook Connect, Windows Live, Google oAuth, OpenID, and more. It's all in there.

Janrain's API creates a universal layer between the connection systems and your web app that lets your users login however they want and you can treat the information as if it were from one users, signed up through your own system.

Very handy for most web apps being built these days.

The Janrain API aims to be simple, so you stay focused on the core of your app and not have to spend more time than you'd like on setting up authentication. You can pull a user's contacts, data, update  status, get activity, and even analytics data from your users via the API. Even better, the Janrain API is RESTful and returns JSON and XML data structures, making it easier to integrate into any app.

Have you used the Janrain API? How has it changed the way you handle registration in your applications?

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Comments (3)

We use RPX with our EarnMojo service - - As well as for all the conferences that we support with our networking product. It definitely reduces the time and hassle to setup with multiple providers, and there are a few that we probably wouldn't have otherwise gotten to if it hadn't been for JanRain.

That being said, we still see a major dropoff of logins from anything but Facebook and Twitter. It's probably about 50% Facebook, 35% Twitter and then everything else.

If there's any complaint to be had with the service is that the styling options for the login buttons are pretty minimal. We've also had some issues with speed, occasionally the service will lag the rest of our page load by a couple seconds (an eternity in page load times) and given the styling options it just looks like nothing is there - no login block - no loading screen.

Another common complaint I've heard is that you're tying a critical piece of your infrastructure to a 3rd party provider. Which depending on what you are doing is more or less of a concern. However, you do actually get the "real" credentials passed through from the authentication sources (i.e. users authenticate to your Twitter App and Facebook Apps) so if you do want to move away from them it's entirely possible and wouldn't require any disruption or re-credentialing of your existing users.

Overall, we've found it to be a really solid service and something that's been a 'win' development wise.


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