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Advancing Open Standards in Germany

September 8, 2009ByPeter Martinazzi

We are big fans of open source software and standards. Whenever one of our internal projects will benefit the developer community at large, we try to make the jump by turning it into an open source project. Likewise, when we see a great open standard emerging, we do our best to stand behind it and support it. OpenID, which allows users to carry their identity across the Web, is one of those great open standards.

Recently we took another step in this direction by launching OpenID support for and GMX. As two of the largest webmail providers in Germany, they give users a seamless experience across the Web by letting them automatically log in to external sites. When someone with a linked account receives a Facebook notification in their email inbox, they will no longer have to sign in to Facebook to view the link. Once the user clicks the link, Facebook will verify the user's identity with the webmail provider and automatically log them in, which allows them to find out what their friends are up to that much faster.

With the rapid growth Facebook is experiencing in Germany, and GMX aren't stopping at registered users, but are also expanding to new Facebook users. and GMX users don’t need to enter their name, email, or birthday on the registration form, and soon they will be able to easily find contacts from their webmail client who are also on Facebook without ever sharing their webmail password.

The best part about this is that since OpenID is an open standard, the integration was pretty seamless. We reused nearly all our code (we already have an OpenID implementation for users coming from Gmail) and it helped mitigate a significant number of overnight delays that are expected when working with companies in another time zone. It also helped that and GMX are great to work with. Only a small subset of our users are in Germany, so as OpenID adoption continues to spread, we look forward to the opportunity to integrate with additional webmail providers and impact even more users.

Peter, a software engineer, is excited to discover more friends on Facebook with OpenID.