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Establishing suggested practices regarding Single sign on Update. Heather Ruland Staines Charleston, November 2011. ESPReSSO Timeline.

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Establishing suggested practices regarding single sign on update

Establishing suggested practices regarding Single sign on Update

Heather Ruland Staines

Charleston, November 2011

Espresso timeline
ESPReSSO Timeline

  • In 2009, NISO launched a new Chair's Initiative—a project of the chair of NISO’s Board of Directors, focusing on perfecting a seamless, item-level linking through single sign-on authentication technologies in a networked information environment.

  • Fall 2009: Working Group meetings begin.

  • 2010: Sub-groups meet. Feedback collected from publishers.

  • May 24, 2011: Draft posted for 30 day public comment.

  • Summer 2011: Working group addressed comments.

  • October 27, 2011: Publication of Suggested Practice

The challenges
The Challenges

Authentication has become complex for several reasons:

  • Users now have more options as to how and where to enter a publisher’s site. This makes a consistent, coherent user experience more difficult.

  • Users may experience multiple authentication mechanisms. The user’s physical location could affect the browser flows and authentication mechanisms they see. Within the publisher site, the user might navigate from a public page to a protected page, triggering authentication.

  • Publishers must present and support multiple authentication mechanisms, necessitating a usable authentication GUI interface that combines multiple methods and that can be used successfully by people with a low familiarity with technical concepts.

  • Campuses have deployed various approaches to authentication, some requiring users to be able to use, handle, and manipulate proxy-prefixed URLs that are incomprehensible to the average person.

Goal of the recommendations
Goal of the Recommendations:

  • The recommendations specifically address:

    • typical browser flows

    • the sequence of pages presented to users

    • page layout, what information to include in each of those pages

    • consistent GUI elements

    • additional features and functionality to provide users with added value.

  • Provide users with a consistent experience across a multitude of sites and situations.

  • Reduce user confusion and aborted sessions during the discovery/login process by using a consistent set of visual elements

  • Be straightforward and easy to implement for both IdP (Identity Providers) and SP (Service Provider) sites.


  • Include input from publishers and providers:

    • Springer (MetaPress)

    • Elsevier

    • Nature Publishing Group

    • Wiley

    • Oxford University Press

    • Cambridge University Press

    • IEEE

    • AIP

    • Ithaka/JSTOR

    • EBSCO

    • H.W. Wilson

    • Semantico

    • High Wire

    • IOP

Recommendations for service providers sps licensee organizations lo and identity providers idps
Recommendations for Service Providers (SPs), Licensee Organizations (LO), and Identity Providers (IdPs)

  • SPs continue to support multiple authentication options during this time of transition.

  • SPs and LOs move quickly to reduce reliance on IP-based access control. There are many security issues with this approach and it is no longer adequate in today’s rapidly ubiquitous computing environment.

  • SPs and LOs move quickly to deprecate userids/passwords validated at the service provider site.

  • SPs and LOs move quickly to implement and use standards-based federated authentication.

Recommendations for Service Providers (SPs), Licensee Organizations (LO), and Identity Providers (IdPs) (con’t)

  • SPs adopt standard placement/wording of the login link on all the public pages on their site.

  • SPs present a standard approach (discovery) for guiding the user to the desired authentication method.

  • IdPs create a consistent experience as the user moves from SP to IdP to SP.

  • SP and IdP web designers insert branding at appropriate places in the flow to provide visual feedback that the flow is progressing as expected.

  • SPs offer a single url point of access for IP authentication and Federated Login.

Example of sp recommendations
Example of SP recommendations: Organizations (LO), and Identity Providers (

Example of idp recommendations
Example of Organizations (LO), and Identity Providers (IdP Recommendations:

Questions and more information
Questions and More Information Organizations (LO), and Identity Providers (

  • SSO website:

  • SSO Interest Group list:

  • SSO Charge:

  • Heather Staines

  • [email protected]