Here at the Rails Rumble we’re big fans of OpenID. I’m not going to ramble on about why OpenID is important (I shouldn’t really need to) but if you’re building an application as part of the competition, just know that sites that support OpenID have an unfair advantage — all of the people judging your application are guaranteed to have an OpenID. They’re also unlikely to be real psyched about having to sign up for 100 different accounts in order to judge applications. And if you’re not careful this might end up reflected in your ratings.
Become an OpenID Consumer
Integrating OpenID support into your application doesn’t have to be hard. There are a couple of plugins that make it relatively easy. The classic Rails OpenID Authentication plugin (maintained by the core team) is probably the most well-known, and integrates pretty cleanly with pre-existing authentication systems with just a little bit of extra work. For an even simpler cookie-cutter solution, we’ve created the OpenID Simplified plugin, which combines the previously mentioned package and Rick Olson’s Authenticated System module to provide an uber-easy-to-use ready-bake solution. Of course, if you’re using a prefab Rails “blank slate” app like Bort, well that’s already got OpenID support baked in.
If you want to not only consume but also provide OpenID services to your users, the process isn’t quite as straightforward, and might involve integrating an OSS provider package like Masquerade. This probably isn’t something you’re going to want to or need to do during the competition, but as your app grows larger you may want the ability to offer your users branded OpenIDs if they don’t already have em, much like MySpace, Yahoo, and AOL do.
JanRain (the same people who created the ruby-openid gem) have just debuted a new SaaS product that makes offering users branded OpenIDs even easier, without the burden of running your own provider. If you came to the site without an OpenID and registered, you were taken to JanRain’s (MyOpenID) service, which created a branded OpenID for you (http://openid.railsrumble.com/your-username) and then redirected you back to us. This workflow is part of their new OPX service offering, which provides a hosted ASP model for OpenID providers. As a Rumble sponsor, they’ve been kind enough to provide these services to our users. Pretty cool, eh? There’s an API version of OPX available as well for even tighter integration. (Both products are subscription services and pricing varies by number of users)