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09 April 2013, 17:40

Mozilla launches Persona Beta 2, plugs into OpenID and OAuth

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Mozilla Persona logo The second beta of Mozilla's Persona identity system has been released, bringing new ways for users to sign in to sites. Mozilla notes that the Born This Way Foundation, Firebase and Eclipse Foundation have all added support for Persona's simple-to-implement sign-in system.

The open sign-in system has, until now, allowed users to create a Persona account using any email address and a new password. Now, with Beta 2, Mozilla have unveiled project "Big Tent", which allows any email provider to become a Persona-enabled identity provider using Identity Bridging.

This is initially being rolled out with email addresses; a user can sign into a Persona-enabled site (such as the sample site) by using their address. The Persona system notes the domain is that of a site configured for bridging and passes it to the identity bridge, which converts the IdP protocol of Persona to either OpenID or OAuth to authenticate the user.

The traditional step of Persona requesting the user respond to an email can be skipped in this process. Although only on at the moment, this architecture should allow any email provider to act as a Persona Identity Provider. Users will benefit because they will not be disclosing their site visits to their email provider and site developers will be able to get a social sign-in system without extra code needing to be added.

Mozilla says that once it has finished Persona-enabling all the major email providers: "we expect to cover over half of the worldwide internet population." The code for Big Tent is available on GitHub for anyone interested in how it functions.

Persona Beta 2 includes performance improvements which, Mozilla says, make the button and popups that developers embed in their sites load twice as fast as before. Persona has also now been baked into FirefoxOS, so that when Persona is invoked on a FirefoxOS-running device it will use a natively optimised version of the interface automatically and use the device's native support of the Persona API. Mozilla says the same native Persona support is coming for Firefox on Android and on the desktop in future releases.


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