[uf-new] Microformat for user login / registration

Jens Alfke snej at chromium.org
Wed Jan 20 11:58:56 PST 2010

I was recently brainstorming online-identity related issues with some people, and one thing that came up is that the web browser could do a better job of managing user login and account registration if it could recognize the HTML forms involved. Currently the browser has to guess the existence of login forms using messy heuristics, by looking for password fields and field labels like "name:". It frequently misses them, it can't tell whether login forms at different URLs on a site refer to the same access domain, it can't recognize when OpenID can be used, it can't recognize user registration forms at all, and it doesn't even know whether you're logged in or not.

This seems like a perfect job for a microformat. A bit of searching didn't turn up anything relevant, so I'm asking here. Does anyone know if this exists, or has previously been proposed?

What I'm thinking of is a set of annotations that let the browser recognize the existence and structure of a login or user-registration form on a web page, as well as a logout link/form. Additionally the username of the currently logged in user would be annotated (probably via a <span> tag.)

With this in place, a browser can offer features like
- Much more reliable autofill of login forms, even on sites with multiple subdomains
- A "Login" toolbar button that offers one-click login if you already have an account on this site
	- ...or if the site supports OpenID and the browser knows your ID
- A "Logout" button
- A "Register" button that takes you to the registration form and fills in some of the fields for you
	- it can even make up a random, secure password, fill it in, and add it to your password manager

All it would take is adding a few attributes to a website's existing HTML; no structural changes or server-side coding required.

What do you think?

—Jens Alfke

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