Identity at Mozilla

Home of the Mozilla Identity team

  1. Transitioning Persona to Community Ownership

    Mar 7, 2014 — by callahad

    Update: Further discussion on Hacker News. Also, our "After Action Review" (AAR) summarizes the lessons learned by Persona.

    Persona is living proof that federated authentication on the Web can be more safe, usable, and private. With that framework in place, Mozilla has reallocated Persona’s full-time developers to other projects, entrusting Persona’s ongoing development to its community.

    There are no plans to decommission Persona. If it fits your needs, please use it. We will support you.

    Specifically, Mozilla staff will continue to resolve critical bugs, service disruptions, and security issues. Moreover, Mozilla’s new network operations center will handle tier 1 incident response for Persona. The center’s robust, human-backed, 24/7 monitoring will further increase Persona’s reliability and improve incident response times.

    Basically, if Persona works for you now, great! If you’re holding out for new features, we in the Persona community would love to review pull requests, chat on IRC, or respond to mailing list discussions.

    Below, you’ll find answers to frequently asked questions regarding this transition. If yours isn’t addressed, please reach out to us.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What’s happening to the Persona team?

    The Mozilla staff from the Identity team are already working on Cloud Services projects including Firefox accounts and Sync. Persona’s community has stepped up to lead Persona’s development. This includes both long-term volunteers and former paid contributors, all of whom deeply believe in Persona’s unique vision for decentralized authentication.

    Why has Mozilla stopped funding new feature development on Persona?

    Persona received less adoption than we were hoping for by this point. A summary of the lessons learned is available in Persona’s “After Action Review” (AAR).

    Nevertheless, we do still believe that Persona offers a unique and useful alternative to passwords, and we intend to support it as such. Reducing the scope of Persona and stabilizing its core APIs over the last quarter has shown us that adding more features was not the way forward.

    Meanwhile, Firefox and Firefox OS need a suite of integrated services (Sync, Marketplace, Find My Device) backed by a common account system (a “Firefox Account”). We believe that these needs are more time sensitive, and thus higher priority, than Persona.

    Why don’t Firefox Accounts use Persona?

    Each project addresses very different needs. Persona is designed to be a dead simple email verification tool, while Firefox Accounts is a full-fledged, persistent account system. By developing them separately, we’re able to keep each project lean and focused on its own use cases.

    For instance, it’s possible that Firefox Accounts will use Persona for email verification in the future.

    Where possible, Firefox Accounts and Persona share infrastructure, protocols, data formats, and both server-side and client-side JavaScript libraries. Work on this common foundation benefits both projects.

    Will Mozilla continue to host Persona?

    Absolutely. Persona is a critical part of Mozilla’s own infrastructure, and we have no plans to decommission it. Even in maintenance mode, we understand the importance of authentication and are committed to responsible stewardship of Persona. Should we ever consider decommissioning it, we will provide ample notice and a long deprecation window. This will absolutely not happen in 2014.

    How can I help?

    Persona is open source! We’re currently working on putting together documentation for new contributors — look for another post here in a week or two — but until then, we’d love to see you on GitHub, our IRC channel, or our mailing list.