IndieWeb Summit day 2: Authl finally gets some love

One of the biggest bits of functionality I want to get in the next milestone for Publ is private posts. Doing private posts requires some way of determining the identity of the person who is reading the site. There are a lot of mechanisms to choose from. Most of them are largely incompatible with one another, and there isn’t any single mechanism that checks all my boxes. And of course the standards keep on shifting, and keep on getting a new unifying standard that will fix everything.

So, IndieLogin is a really great way to get started with IndieWeb authentication for people who are in the IndieWeb ecosystem. If you have your own website on your own domain name and an account on one of its connected RelMeAuth providers, it covers everything. But not everyone who I want to grant stuff to has their own website, or the ability to set one up. Siloed OAuth is still useful. And being able to log in via email address is also beneficial.

This is why quite some time ago I started designing a system named Authl1, to become more of an adapter. But I kept it on the back burner for quite some time since more important things kept on coming up.

This weekend at IndieWeb Summit I had a few ideas of things I wanted to work on which I thought I could do in a single day. I thought I’d start working on MicroPub for this site, but I got lost in a maze of specifications and minimal Flask plugins, and ended up getting a pretty bad headache that was combining with the noise in the room getting me feeling overwhelmed, so I decided to work on stuff I already had a pretty good idea of how to do. From Saturday’s sessions and the discussions around federated identity, I decided that the lowest-hanging fruit to get auth going was to just send magic email links. And I figured I’d just knock out a little magic link generator and then work on the Publ integration side of things.

Pretty quickly I found myself doing the usual thing I do and just going ahead and building the full heckin' system. So my goal was to just get magic links done and put everything else off for later. But magic links didn’t take long to do, so I did the abstraction layer, then I did the trivial loopback test, and then while I was at it I figured I’d implement support for IndieLogin. And now that covers… not everything, but a lot of things.

The next step will be to actually integrate it into Publ, and then deploy it to my site, and then iron out some of the kinks, and then maybe do a generic OAuth endpoint, which would then make it easy to add Twitter/Facebook/Google/etc. login.

I might also want to do my own native IndieAuth support (which would make it possible to add AutoAuth which improves how feeds work) although that stuff is still in so much flux and I don’t know how useful it’ll be. I think feed-wise I’ll just end up providing stub entries since that worked Well Enough on my old site and it’s at least a start. Perfect’s the enemy of done, and all that.

Anyway, this feels like a huge chunk of progress for me. Who knew that all I needed to motivate finally starting this long-delayed project was having a headache and some bad sensory overload that I needed to withdraw from?

The rest of the summit

Seeing everyone’s demos of what they all got done was really inspiring. Many people did experiments with page layouts, or added some new functionality to their sites. More AutoAuth experiments took place. Even people who didn’t get anything done learned a lot.

Then a bunch of us went out to karaoke and it was a lot of fun.

Anyway, I’m really glad I came and got to meet all these folks in person and talk about stuff and get a feeling for how the IndieWeb organization actually is. Everyone’s just experimenting and trying to get stuff to work better and more personally. People disagree on what’s important or how to do things and that’s okay, because we’re all just trying things out and I’m very happy about how much people just want to learn about each others' perspectives rather than just assume that their idea is the best, or only, option.

Also I need to find more excuses to come down to Portland. It’s so easy to get to and I know so many people here.


  1. Incidentally the reason I keep on namking things /.{3,4}l/ is because originally Publ was going to have a companion reader named Subl (a pun on pub-sub), and so the naming scheme sorta stuck. 

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