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A piece of information about an object, usually a user, supplied by an identity provider.

Authentication & authorisation

Authentication is the checking of user credentials which in a federated context is done by the identity provider. Authorisation is whether or not they can access a thing which is decided by the service provider based on the user's scope and attributes.

Deep linking

Setting up your site such that a link can send the user directly to the signed-in version of a page. 


The way a user accessing an SP identifies to that SP which IdP they are from. Ideally a type-ahead search but sometimes just a list, this is sometimes referred to by the Shibboleth term 'WAYF' (Where Are You From). Our Wayfinder option is a good and simple way of adding this to your product.


The identifier of an entity within metadata. An identity provider will have one of these but may have multiple scopes. These usually take the form of a secure URI - e.g:

Identity Provider (IdP)

The organisation that issues identities to its users, e.g. a library.


Information about entities. Each IdP or SP entity will have its own metadata that describe it in terms of signatures, certificates, sign-in addresses and what they support. There will also be a federation maintained central metadata which aggregates all the individual entities metadata.

This aggregated metadata is cached by entities for quick reference. The OpenAthens federation metadata has eTag support to help with this.

OpenAthens Keystone

A simpler way to interact with SAML federations around the world by leveraging OpenID Connect. 

OpenAthens Redirector

When a resource supports both deep linking and wayfless access, our redirector can be used by identity providers as a simple way to form access links

OpenAthens SP

An old OpenAthens software, since replaced by Keystone. See OpenAthens SP end of life notice 


Security Assertion Markup Language. The standard upon which most federations work.


The identifier of an organisation or organisational unit (OU) within a larger organisation. Usually expressed as a domain and TLD, an OU would usually include a subdomain which in this federation is usually a number. E.g:

The scope is supplied as part of the scopedAffiliation attribute (see below)


The friendly name for urn:oid: A user's role, such as member, staff, student.

Service provider (SP)

The resource provider that authorises entry based on the scope and attributes of the user attempting access


An open source SP software developed originally by Internet2 and supported by the community. Service Providers can use it in the OpenAthens federation if they like.


The friendly name for urn:oid: It is a pseudonymous identifier for an individual user that is consistent every time the user visits an SP but different for each separate SP.


An access URL that includes the entityID of a user's IdP so that the user does not have to pass through discovery to identify their home organisation to a service provider.

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