Google just made the Google Friend Connect API available to developers. What made this interesting was that it would make it easier for site admins/developers to integrate Friend Connect into existing login systems. As a WordPress user, I was excited to see that there was a plugin for my blogging platform of choice. An added bonus was that I knew some of the people involved in the development of the plugin.
I wrote that first paragraph with the understanding that readers would know what Friend Connect was and what it was for. However, it is not that widely in use so I can’t expect people to know what it is.
Google Friend Connect provides a simple means of one-click user authentication using a pre-existing Google, Yahoo, AIM, or OpenID account. This means that a user doesn’t need to create a new account for every site that he comes across.
After installing the plugin to enable Friend Connect authentication on my blog, I tried out the Friend Connect sign-in process while I was logged out to see what it would look like to non-admin visitors. I had a few moments of panic after seeing that logging into the Friend Connect system also logged me into my blog. The scary part about that was that I saw a link that said Site Admin, which only I as admin should see. It turned out that I was only logged in as a Subscriber, and the Site Admin showed the dashboard, but only as much as subscribers can see. Basically, regular visitors were not getting admin access. It was a false alarm. I was able to confirm by checking the list of Users and saw my Friend Connect user identity was appropriately marked as Subscriber.
That’s the other cool thing about this plugin; it is able to add users to a website’s database. A couple of weeks ago, I was working on a Friend Connect login solution for Coppermine Photo Gallery but got stuck due to CPG needing database access to the application’s users. If I or any CPG developer can work with the GFC API, we could enable visitors to login with their Friend Connect credentials, and have those accounts create new users in the gallery’s user table in the database.
Feel free to try it out here by logging into Friend Connect to leave a comment. Of course, comments are still open to visitors who are not logged in, but when logged in, you won’t have to enter the usual blog comment form fields.
If you installed the plugin for your site and noticed that the blog looked different in places you did not want it to look different, it is due to some css definitions that the plugin has. You will need to delete or comment out the unwanted css definitions in fc_plugin.php