REFEDS enjoying the last of the summer sunWe held the annual Fall Meeting for REFEDS on the 5th of September in Utrecht, in conjunction with the TERENA / Internet2 / Surfnet VAMP meeting looking at challenges for virtual organisations.  As usual, we have an overpacked agenda for REFEDS but managed to finish vaguely on time, which is perhaps a first.  The minutes and the presentations are now online, with 13 new actions to keep the REFEDS group busy until we meet again. 50 people were in attendance at the Surfnet offices, and around 50 people also tuned in to the livestream which was fantastic.  We were also lucky enough to catch the last of the sun for this year as we sat by the canal.

One of the things that we have come in to some criticism for, I think fairly, is that REFEDS meetings can be challenging to understand if you have not been a regular attendee.  Many of the conversations have been going on over a period spanning years, and the regular group have a habit of just picking up where we left off.  In order to improve this, we’ve been asked to ensure that we properly recap areas of work before each presentation in the future and we will keep that in mind – although it will be important to maintain the sense of REFEDS as a fully participatory working group and not a conference.

To help with that, here is a small recap of what is important within REFEDS at the moment and why we are doing it:

  • PEER has been a major item for us, working with Yaco to create a metadata repository that can be used by multiple federations – a beta instance is available.  The aim is to reduce the number of places in which SPs in particular (but also IdPs) need to register their metadata.  We are now working on a pilot service instance of this for the research and education community.  An FAQ is forming on the REFEDS wiki if you would like to know more.
  • The Discovery Project is about to publish an interactive visual guide on how to do federated login well (and how to do it badly) based on the NISO ESPRESSO standard.
  • The Code of Conduct and MaceDir Categories are both looking to find ways to make it easier for IdPs to release attributes to SPs with confidence.  It will be interesting to track how these are adopted by identity federations.
  • We are also excited about exploring formalising REFEDS outputs by becoming an RFC Independent Stream.
  • As a segway in to the VAMP meeting, we also discussed how REFEDS will be working on a response to the FIM report over the next year looking at how identity federations can better support the needs of research.  This will also pick up on recommendations made to the EC as part of the AAI for SDI study.

Finally, we are asking for ideas and contributions for the next meeting, which will be a planning meeting to produce the proposed workplan for REFEDS 2013.  Anyone is welcome to contribute ideas to the wiki page and come along to the meeting with ideas and thoughts.  If you are unsure about how to participate in REFEDS, please read our Participant’s Agreement. We very much look forward to your thoughts.

More blogs about the VAMP events are online at: