You do not need to know RDF or FOAF to use WebID


After going into way too much detail about FOAF and how to create your own WebID manually the last time, today I will show you how easy it is when you have a system that supports WebID properly.

The system I am talking about is ODS – The OpenLink Data Spaces. Please do not be scared away by the UI which does not offer all the fanciness of today’s Web interfaces. The point with ODS is its backend (which BTW is entirely based on Virtuoso, including the serving of the web pages).

Getting your own WebID through ODS contains of only two steps: 1. create an ODS account, and 2. let ODS create the X.509 certificate for you. Now as mentioned before you need to trust OpenLink with your private key in this case. If you are not willing to do that you can setup your own instance of ODS – more about that another time.

Creating an ODS account

So start by navigating to the public instance of ODS in order to create an account. In the upper right corner you will find a little “Sign Up” button which will get you here:

As you can see there are several ways to sign up for an ODS account, one of which is of course WebID. Since you want to use ODS to create your WebID you need to use another means: plain old username+password or something OAuth-powered like LinkedIn.

Generating your X.509 certificate

Once you created the account and are logged into ODS, navigate to the profile manager via the little “edit” button right next to “Profile” in the upper left. You are now presented with lots of tabs allowing to change all details of your ODS account. In this case you are interested in the “Security->Certificate Generator” section.

Normally all required fields should already be filled. Now you only need to click the “submit certificate request” button and let ODS and your browser do the rest. If the certificate generation was successful you get a notice that it has been imported into your borwser’s key chain. This is what it looks like in Chrome:

To verify that your new certificate has been registered successfully check the “X.509 Certificates” tab which lists all certificates installed in ODS (the ones which include the private key):

Testing your shiny new WebID

Finally you can try your new WebID by logging out (“Logout” in the upper right corner) and signing in again, this time with your WebID:

Notice how your browser takes care of the login by itself as it has the certificate installed in its own key chain.

That is already it. You now have a fully functional and valid WebID without every worrying about RDF or FOAF or anything else besides clicking some buttons.

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2 thoughts on “You do not need to know RDF or FOAF to use WebID

  1. Pingback: 6 from the 13th week: Web Accessibilty, Consumption, SASS/SCSS, Semantic Web statistics, WebID & Fake services — 48techblog

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