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Understanding Shib/SAML Documentation

Tech Writing, SME2PMEncompasses the effort to develop a good set of documentation that explains SAML, Shibboleth, and Federations at a conceptual level. The intended audience for the documentation is those new to the subject matter.

Enhanced Product Documentation

Tech Writing, SME3PMEncompasses the effort to develop a good set of product documentation that explains features more thoroughly and contextually, with examples, and better how-to material that is task focused instead of reference oriented.

Developer Documentation

SME3PM per productEncompasses the effort to develop a good set of developer documentation for extension work on Shibboleth products. Documenting the SP and IdP would be separate items.

Infrastructure Documentation

SME1PMWe have a lot of infrastructure services, but little formal documentation for them, which will make project transitions much harder.
Packaging / Installation / DeploymentPackaging, Containerization, Installer Tools2PMThis would span general installer improvements all the way to possible use of container technologies like Docker. Unclear if there's value in a general solution to that, but various groups have asked or have worked on things like this. Likely also ties into TIER work or requirements.



This work package encompasses the effort to create a new TestShib software package. The current TestShib's registration system was developed by a number of novice programmers over a period of years. This product would involve producing a more supportable test platform and making it a consortium service. This is like to involve more than just programming, but an ongoing investment in supporting it with more than volunteer effort.

Of late, seems to have filled this niche well enough.

Expansion of IdP Integration TestingJava, Installer Tools2PMWe need more extensive coverage of the installation processes and integration tests across different supported containers and platforms, to improve QA.
Token BindingJava, C++2PMSupport for the emergent TLS Token Binding extension in our SAML implementations. This is very uncertain in light of Google at least for now having pulled Chrome support for Token Binding.

IdP User Interface

Java, Javascript
There are various things that the IdP might expose a UI in order to manage, such as:
  • User-initiated IdP-initiated Single Sign On and Single Log Out
  • User-initiated persistent ID disassociation
  • User-initiated removal of attribute release consent
  • Admin-initiated single logout of user
  • Admin-initiated reload of selected subsystems or metadata sources

SP Availability in Fedora

RPM packaging
This work package encompasses the effort to produce SP packages compatible with Fedora standards and to get them accepted into the Fedora project. This has unknown implications on Red Hat packaging. This was a request from the Moonshot team.

SP OAuth Implementation

C++, OAuth3-5PMThe SP supports web service security using the SAML ECP profile in a manner that supports N-tier delegation. OAuth in its typical form is a simpler mechanism that reinvents cookies and works when N=3 (site accessed by browser wants to access another site). The SP could include an OAuth token flow for protecting access to itself, providing another way of hosting web services with attribute-based authorization. In this model, the SP issues tokens to itself, so there are no interoeprability considerations. Either cookie-like bearer tokens or something stronger could be implemented (taking more time), but in practice no clients are likely to support anything stronger.


C++, GSS-API and SASL10PMSpecification of a browser-less GSS-API mechanism for SAML based on ECP is largely complete with stable drafts available. Completion of the drafts depends on implementation feedback. A mechanism would need to be developed in C++ with C linkage to the mechglue layers of at least MIT and Heimdal GSS libraries. Other implementations, such as Java, would also be useful if possible. Some prototype work on this was done by NCSA staff with ISOC funding. This work item refers to productionizing this code under the auspices of the project, and extending it with additional features.

Confluence/Jira Plugins

Javamainly some ongoing maint.Many sites are using various forks of code originally from the project for SSO integration for Confluence and Jira. The code is somewhat maintained for Confluence and Jira. Since the project is running those products and forced to use those plugins, offering officially supported versions might make sense to help defray the pure overhead of running them internally.

Java Service Provider

Java, SAML8PMAn analogue of the native, C++, SP written in Java. This has been requested for a long time due to the deficiencies so many other SAML implementations have had. It's been parked for a long time, and we had hoped to see good implementations emerge, but that hasn't happened. It may be time to revisit this, especially now that some of the code needed has been fleshed out as part of library work for V3. Some older design thoughts around this are here. There has also been work on a SAML JSR, although the state of that and its soundness are not clear.

Office 365 Integration

Java, WS-Trust3PM

Microsoft has made documents publically available describing fat-client integration with Office 365 via WS-Trust. They are offering technical contacts to faciitate this work. We have to determine viability and our willingness to adopt non-standard profiles without public change control procedures.

This work seems of questionable value now given the SAML support across most of the applications.

OAuth Authorization Service

Java, OAuth8PMOAuth 2 introduces an infrastructure component for issuing authorization tokens, essentially similar to some of the eventual goals for SAML. We could add this kind of functionality to the IdP. Neither the demand for this, nor the actual use cases, are very clear at the moment.

IdP One Time Password SMS Authentication


This work package encompasses the effort to add support, to IdP v3, an SMS based multi-factor authentication mechanism. The idea is that after a username/password loginthe IdP would send an SMS message containing a code that would be entered in to a second login page. More Details >>

SMS seems to have rightly lost a lot of supporters given its security flaws. Work on other tech probably makes more sense.

IdP Configuration Tooling

Java, Javascript, UI design
From time to time people have requested some form of configuration tooling for the IdP. The suggestions range from command line tools, desktop UIs, and web-based UIs. In general it seems like the most often wish revolve around configuring:
  • Generate metadata based off of configuration
  • Add/remove metadata provider - will support file and URL based metadata and digital signature validation
  • LDAP/Kerberos/Container authentication
  • Database and LDAP data connectors
  • Configure release of attribute to all, or a specific, relying party

The Unicon GUI is convering a lot of this space at the moment though in a highly abstracted/insulated way through the metadata boundary and the MetadataDrivenConfiguration work.

Security Audit/Review

C++, Java
Various open source projects have undertaken formal code audits or reviews for security issues, and this sometimes is raised as a pseudo-requirement for governmental usage. We have a lack of resources/expertise, and no explicit demand/requirement for this. It would also be costly in time.
Elliptic Curve EncryptionC++, Java1PM eachEncryption using Elliptic Curve keys is currently not supported by either IdP or SP and is not supported in either of the XML Security Libraries we use. This would entail donating implementations of EC-DH to Apache and then supporting them in our software. Without this work, it's impossible to fully migrate off of RSA keys. Unclear at this point whether this is worth doing or not, and it's not generally supported by other implementations.

Parked/Rejected Work

These are projects which were proposed but were found to either be ill-defined, out of scope, or without sufficient interest from the project members. These items may be revisited from time to time as situations change.