Universal Sign-In Button

By Malcolm Blaney on
The Universal Sign-In Button is a customisable bookmarklet that will auto-fill a sign-in form on the page you are currently visiting and submit it for you. It's a one-click way to tell the current page who you are.

The rest of this post explains why such a button is necessary. If you would like to create your own button, you can head straight over to this page.

Ok, so why do I want to tell the page I'm visiting who I am?

One of the advantages the big data silos have over the IndieWeb is that everyone has an account on them. That means small sites can create sharing links that link back to Facebook, Twitter, (or maybe even Google+) and the visitor will be able to interact with the link in a meaningful way. A site could even embed a comment form provided by one of these sites, knowing their visitors will most likely be logged in. This creates a social layer between small sites and the big silos that reinforces their position as the place where it's easiest to share links and comment on what you read.

On the IndieWeb, there is no comparable singular point of focus. That makes it just a little bit harder to re-create that social layer. Indie-config is a really nice way to solve this problem, it registers a protocol handler in the browser that contains your custom url. Unfortunately this technique suffers from a privacy problem. The process that allows you to automatically tell a site who you are can be implemented by anyone. That means you really need to check who is requesting your config from your site, and give them permission before you visit their site.

The way to fix that is for browsers themselves to implement indie-config, and to require your permission before giving your details to a new site. Since that's not going to happen any time soon, we need another way to easily tell a website who we are, without giving this information automatically to every site we visit.

I've written a bookmarklet that can do just that. A bookmarklet is a standalone piece of javascript that can be saved as a bookmark, and when opened will run on the current page. I've called it the Universal Sign-In Button because it lets anyone sign into any website with one click. The nice thing about this solution is that some browsers (ie Firefox) will let you customise the location of the bookmarklet, so I can have my Sign-In button right next to the address bar:


You can use this button to sign in to any site that supports IndieAuth. I've used it to sign in to the IndieWeb wiki, Quill and my own site. It doesn't have to just be used with IndieAuth however. I mentioned indie-config above, well instead of using the browser's protocol handler to find my config, I can create a second bookmarklet containing the url that returns the config.

To make this button more 'universal' however, my next project will be to add a new rel value, rel="webaction", to my home page. That way, if a form supports webaction discovery, only one button will be required.

If you would like to create your own button, please visit this page.
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Surely this would work for any Web sign-in form, not just those that do IndieAuth?

Hi Martijn yes I should've probably linked to the Web sign-in page rather than IndieAuth. I was trying to say that it could be used for more than Web sign-in too, for instance the bookmarklet can be used on the page that creates it to make another copy of the bookmarklet. :-)
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