VOOT in real life – Federated Groups Proof of Concept

VOOT is a protocol for federated collaboration groups. It allows one service, such as Foodle, to make use of groups of people from a remote group providers, such as SurfNET’s SURFconext.

VOOT is a minimal subset of the group related features of the OpenSocial REST API.

VOOT is hearby proven to work in real life. Actually, Foodle is now connected with SURFconext, and here is a walkthrough of how it all works.

Foodle have a concept of groups; each group have a separate overvidew page listing all Foodles associated with the group, but also calendar availability for the group participants, list of the participants and also file sharing. A group page looks like this:

All users of Foodle may setup and manage their own groups. Here is how the group administration looks like:

This has all been part of the stable Foodle release running foodl.org for quite some time.

Remote group providers

What is new, is that instead of managing the groups within Foodle, you may now hook up to remote group providers using VOOT.

Here is the UI for that:

When connecting to SURFconext, we’re sent to the SURFconext platform, and we’re authenticated over there as well. Single Sign-On makes this user experience not that bad. We need to accept toward SURFconext that Foodle from now on may access your group memberships – this is a one time consent operation.

That’s it. Now we’re connected.

Behind the scene, Foodle have now a cached access token associated with your federated user account. It can keep track of a bunch of access tokens, each for one of the configured remote group providers that you have connected to.

We’re heading over to Surf Teams to manage some groups, and we setup a new group GEANT VO team.

Notice, here is a group of people including people from more than one federation! G√ČANT eduGAIN to the rescue.

We’re heading back to the Foodle front page.

Yay! GEANT VO team, a group that is hosted remotely shows up along with all the other local groups! The group is not provisioned to Foodle in some batch operation (as you’re used to hear about from other projects). Foodle does live queries against SURFconext, keeping no local shadow object, but a direct reference to SURFconext.

And, now let’s see what we can use that group for. First, let’s head over to the group page:

The member list is retrieved from SURFconext with Display Names and email addresses. Foodles may be associated with this remote group, and file sharing is aware of remote groups as well.

When creating new Foodle’s you may choose to add that Foodle to a group page, and as you see remote groups are listed together with the local ones:

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