OpenID seems like a nice idea to simplify logins and profiles on the web. The promise: Create an account with one OpenID-enabled service such as Yahoo, WordPress or others and then you’ll be able to sign in to other OpenID-enabled services.
The reality? OpenID still has some way to go before really becoming seamless enough for the average user to use it. Most of the issues lie with the sites implementing OpenID, but from what I can see they’re pretty systemic Here’s my OpenID experience:
So I decided to sign up to Skribit. They offer OpenID support, so I decided to try that, rather than create a traditional account. First of all you’re asked for your OpenID url. If you don’t know what that is, tough luck. There’s no link with more information on what your url could look like or how you can get one.
I assume they’re not affiliated with the official project, so instead I head over to OpenID.net, which turns out to be a lot more helpful. There I learned I can sign in with the url “username.wordpress.com”. Great! I enter in my username and am greeted with a page telling me I need to log into WordPress.com first and warning me about possible phishing attacks:
But at WordPress.com, it turns out I am signed in already. For whatever reason, OpenID is just not seeing that.
Giving up on WordPress, I decide to try using my Yahoo / Flickr account instead. At Yahoo’s OpenID page, I am giving the option of using my “unique identifier”:
“To make things easy, we have generated this identifier for you:
(And yes, those * are all random letters)
Luckily Yahoo also lets you pick a short memorable url to use instead of your identifier. They helpfully suggest 2 automatically, the first being your Flickr url (http://www.flickr.com/photos/munichmessages – hardly quicker to type than a username) and the second suggestion is this gem, which they also helpfully advise against using:
However I was finally able to use my flickr url to sign into Skribit and set-up an account.
All of these issues are not necessarily OpenID’s fault, but isn’t the whole idea behind the system to make logins simple and easy? I can definitely see the advantages and look forward to using the system myself, but there’s no way this is going to go mainstream unless they can significantly streamline the entire process across all the different providers.
This is a great idea that needs some work if it’s ever going to receive widespread adoption. In its current state, I think Yahoo sums it up best: