Adding Persona authentication to richard

Note: This is an old post in a blog with a lot of posts. The world has changed, technologies have changed, and I've changed. It's likely this is out of date and not representative. Let me know if you think this is something that needs updating.


This is a post covering my first time experience with integrating Persona authentication into my Django project named richard. I briefly cover why I did it, what I used, and list the commits I did the work in as an example of how it can be done. I hope this helps others implement it on their sites..


A month ago, I added Persona authentication support to richard. This allowed me to use Persona authentication for I did this for several reasons:

  1. I wanted to try it out and see how well it worked on a small Django site (tl;dr works great---I'll use this on all my sites)

  2. I wanted people to authenticate with an email-based identity rather than a social network based identity

  3. I wanted to allow people to create accounts on, but didn't want to deal with the responsibility of protecting things like passwords

So that's where I'm coming from.


I used django-browserid which gives you some JavaScript and a few template tags that make it easy to incorporate Persona authentication into a Django app.

It took about 15 minutes to get it working. I've made some minor edits to the code since then and updated to v0.8 of django-browserid. All told, I think I've spent a couple of hours on Persona implementation.

In the process of doing that work, I hit a few minor issues, created some pull requests, helped with other pull requests and became one of the maintainers. Yay!

Here are the commits I did the work in. I figured the diffs might help you implement similar things on your sites:

That last commit updates to django-browserid master tip to pick up a fix to login failures if BROWSERID_CREATE_USER is False. That fix will be released in v0.8.1 soon.

further reading

The Mozilla Persona site helps understand why it exists and has a Developer FAQ.

The django-browserid docs are pretty good and walk through setting it up, advanced usage, and troubleshooting. I encourage you to read through them in full---it'll give you a better understanding of the pieces.

Dan Callahan did a talk at PyCon US 2013 on Persona. That's worth watching. It covers why Mozilla built it, how it works, and why it's important that it works that way. He also demos integrating it into sites and talks about using Persona authentication alongside other authentication methods.

If you're interested in adding Persona authentication to your Django site and need help, let me know.

Want to comment? Send an email to willkg at bluesock dot org. Include the url for the blog entry in your comment so I have some context as to what you're talking about.