Blog Posts by Jonathan LeBlanc

  • The History and Current Trends in the Identity Industry

    science_fingerprintAs close as five years ago, many of the identity products on the web were built off of proprietary, one-use systems that fit the needs of the site or service that was implementing them but nothing else. The main purpose of these products was simply to be able to log a person in and associate actions and configuration settings to that given user.

    Much changed over the years since then. The concept of basic auth, passing a username and password through an HTTP request became a very popular methodology for a company to extend its identity influence to application integrators off of its own platform; Twitter was a very popular service that implemented this system for its authentication. From this basic premise, services that abstracted out the authentication credentials of a user became more popular, like OpenID. At the same time authorization systems (allowing a user to give an application permission to access their details and do things on their behalf) also started targeting major

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  • University of Texas HackU Recap

    From March 23rd to 26th the HackU team was out at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas. Much like we have for other hack events, we had a series of talks to start out the event, covering a number of topics, including:

    On the second day we were lucky to have Yahoo! guest speakers Seth Radin and Mrinalini Kurup present a "women in tech" talk, showing the innovation in the tech industry that's being driven by women in the field. Following that, we had guest speaker Douglas Crockford for one of his iconic JavaScript talks. I still think that Douglas should include Crockford Facts in all of his talks, like this particular gem:

    Crockford Facts

    We had a great line-up of talks this year. Hacking began Friday at noon and went until noon on Saturday. It was a night full of interesting problems and solutions, and at the end of the 24 hours we were left with many great hacks.

    Rasmus guest-starring at HackU Austin
    HackU Prizes!

    Douglas Crockford presenting with style
    Team Recipe Finder


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  • Announcing a New Open Source Application Development Book

    Programming Social ApplicationsI'd like to officially announce a new upcoming book from Yahoo! Press and O'Reilly Media, "Programming Social Applications." The purpose of this book is to explore the open source technologies that are employed in the industry to do everything from user authentication and authorization to building social applications, as well as constructing an application hosting container and working with distributed web frameworks. Each section will provide an in-depth look into the technology offering, showing you how to use it and explaining how the implementations help you.

    The book will dive into a number of technical topics including:

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  • OpenSocial spec version 1.1 released

    Yesterday the OpenSocial community announced the release of version 1.1 of the OpenSocial specification. OpenSocial is one of the foundation technologies that we use for our Yahoo! Application Platform (YAP) for interacting with the social information of our users. It is also the main social container technology that is implemented by many other social containers, such as MySpace, Orkut, iGoogle, Jive, and many others.

    In the implementation of this version, one of the most exciting features is a new API to enable gadgets (or applications) to communicate with each other through a pub/sub mechanism. What this means for application developers is the ability to remove real-time silos from applications and have them be able to convey a rich social experience to the users, by being able to play off of user interactions across multiple gadgets.

    Here's more information on this release, from the 1.1.1 Inter-Gadget Communication section of the release notes:

    Version 1.1 officially support an

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  • 2010 HackU Berkeley: The Hacks

    From September 16th to 18th, the HackU crew was out at the University of California, Berkeley, to kick off another hack year with the students. We had a tight schedule at the school this year — on Thursday we gave the kickoff talks, Friday we started the hack event and that ran all the way through to Saturday afternoon.

    We may all remember some of the 2009 hackers, prizes and casualties. They were a great crew last year and, in true Berkeley style, the crew this year didn't disappoint either.

    Here's a taste of what of what we presented on Thursday, September 16th, at the kickoff event:

    The Hackers

    Allen Rabinovich, Senior Omniheurist (awesome title right?) with the YUI team and all around good guy, took many photos of the nights events. In true HackU style, those hackers who fell asleep first or in weird places have been photographed for posterity. See the evening unfold in Allen's photo post.

    The Winners

    We had 20

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  • A highly scalable YQL + JavaScript use case

    Yahoo! Query Language (YQL) provides a rich, dynamic method for obtaining and manipulating data from any source or API on the internet. With YQL, the internet becomes your database. By coupling the data backend of YQL with the extensive data visualization and flow techniques of JavaScript (through libraries such as YUI), a developer can build powerful widgets and data systems using the simplified SQL syntax on which YQL is based.

    YQL Console with community tables displayed

    The marriage of YQL and JavaScript brings a robust MVC interface to the browser. This article guides you through a highly scalable YQL/JavaScript use case.


    YQL overview

    YQL is a utility that’s akin to a massive open database system. Whether it’s for pulling data from wrapped APIs, feeds such as XML or CSV, or scraping results from an HTML page, YQL provides a simplified SQL-like syntax for accomplishing nearly any data-capture task — all without the need for the

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  • ConvergeSE 2010 (Columbia, SC)

    Spink by Rene
    "Spink" by Rene
    Photo Credit: ConvergeSE

    At the end of June we were out in Columbia, South Carolina, for one of my favorite conferences: ConvergeSE. This was the second year that this conference has been held, and it has migrated from a focus on South Carolina (ConvergeSC last year) to the entire southeast region (ConvergeSE this year) of the United States.

    Termed as "a conference for web professionals who wish to defy classification," ConvergeSE had a great lineup of speakers and topics covering everything from user experiences to copyright law to a day-long workshop on Rails. The conference spanned a two day period, covering two workshop tracks on the first day, followed by a second day of 30 minute presentations.

    Before the conference started there was a unique animal hybrid art contest, where people could send in their hybrid pictures for a chance to win. This lead to some nightmare-inspiring permutations, such as the chihuahua-tarantula ("Spink") shown here. For a look at more

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  • Open Source Bridge 2010

    Open Source Bridge
    We were out in Portland, Oregon, at the beginning of the month for Open Source Bridge. Open Source Bridge is a great conference for people who are passionate about open source technology and processes — to share ideas, show off new products, and just see what is happening and upcoming from different communities and companies. In that spirit, OSBridge is a 100% volunteer-run, non-profit conference.

    The event this year was held at the Portland Art Museum and featured some great sessions from all areas of the open source community.

    I was at the event giving a talk on Yahoo! Query Language (YQL), to show how you can leverage off open data sources within your projects using this lightweight tool.

    Even though I was only out in Portland for the day, I saw a lot of great presentations being posted through Twitter as the event continued. (Plus all the notes about cookies — it's difficult seeing notes about cookies when you're 600

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  • Yahoo! Updates and your privacy

    With increasing concerns about user privacy online, we at the Yahoo! Developer Network want to reiterate that the privacy and security of users are our primary concerns. We have taken extensive measures to help ensure that profile information is protected and that users have permitted the sharing of activities they generate on Yahoo! prior to their being added to our activity streams. (See Your Privacy, Your Controls, Your Yahoo! Updates for more on this.)

    We take pride in the privacy protection choices we provide, but some users may not remember the data permissions that they grant applications or developers. To that end, we have a simple dashboard that lets users view and control the feeds that they are sharing with Yahoo! or developers through our application platform.

    Managing what is shared

    Customize Application Updates

    Users' profiles, activity streams, and configuration settings for social activity on Yahoo! can be monitored and edited through their Yahoo! profile. Within the Updates Tab is an option to

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  • Building and personalizing social applications with new OpenSocial JavaScript APIs

    The majority of OpenSocial networks implement (or support) version 0.8 or version 0.9 of the specification. While version 1.0 is the upcoming release, version 0.9 will be the main focus of this post as it is the current standard employed by the Yahoo! Application Platform. We will specifically explore the lightweight JavaScript APIs introduced in OpenSocial 0.9, as well as some of the helper methods available.

    What Is OpenSocial

    OpenSocial is a set of common APIs for working with data from various social networks. The concept behind OpenSocial is to develop once and distribute broadly, meaning that if the OpenSocial specification is used to build out an application, it can be easily and quickly ported to another platform. This concept is important,

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