Higgins home Eclipse home

Higgins FAQ

Q: What is Higgins?

A:  Higgins is an open source Internet identity framework designed to integrate identity, profile, and social relationship information across multiple sites, applications, and devices. Higgins is not a protocol, it is software infrastructure to support a consistent user experience that works with all popular digital identity protocols, including WS-Trust, OpenID, SAML, XDI, LDAP, and so on.

Q: Who benefits from Higgins?

A:  Identity is becoming an increasingly important component of all software. The initial industry response to this need was to create a wide array of identity management system add-ons targeted to different use cases. Now there is a need to bridge identity management system silos while maintaining privacy and control.
  • For developers, Higgins makes it easy to build applications and services that work with various identity management systems. It allows developers to incorporate identity standards into the software they build so customers don�t need to retrofit it later.
  • For users, Higgins gives people more control over their personal online information.
  • For enterprises, Higgins enables the creation of services and applications that require the interoperation of multiple identity management systems.
  • For software companies, it provides a framework to unify the many different identity schemas used in various software products.

Q: Why was the Higgins project started?

A:  To give people more control over their digital identities: their online identities, personal information and social relationships. Higgins is developing software for �user-centric� identity management. That is, software organized around the needs of the user rather than the needs of the enterprise. User-centric identity management is an emerging area of security software. The creators of Higgins want to enable individuals to manage and control their online personal information, rather than having it controlled by others. People should be able to decide what information they want to share with trusted online websites.

Q: What are the technical goals of the Higgins project?

A:  Higgins is a software development framework that will enable users and enterprises to integrate identity, profile, and relationship information across multiple systems. Using service adapters, existing and new systems such as directories, collaboration spaces, and communications technologies (e.g. Microsoft/IBM WS-*, LDAP, email, IM, etc.) can be plugged into the Higgins framework. Applications written to the Higgins API can virtually integrate the identity, profile, and relationship information across these heterogeneous systems. A design goal is that Higgins be useful in the development of applications accessed through browsers and rich clients. Our intent is to define Higgins in terms of service descriptions, messages and port types consistent with an SOA model and to develop a Java binding and implementation as an initial reference.

Q: Why do we call it Higgins?

A:  Higgins is the name of a long-tailed Tasmanian jumping mouse. Higgins can be used to enable new groups to self-organize and to aggregate across existing groups, or in other words to organize �the long tail.�  Recently there has been a lot of talk about the power of �the long tail�.  Most population distributions have a long tail whose needs historically couldn�t be met because it was too expensive.  Digital technology can allow the needs of �the long tail� to be addressed efficiently.

Q: Who created little Higgins?


A:  Higgins the mouse (a.k.a little Higgins) was created by Tim Nihoff of Tim Nihoff Studios. Tim is an illustrator, designer & fun fine artist. www.timnihoff.com

Q: Why is Higgins open source?

A:  By hosting the Higgins project at an open, vendor neutral location, we are fostering an ecosystem to build a common infrastructure that can be reused rather than having developers �recreate the wheel� over and over again. The more software that works with Higgins, the more value Higgins provides to the people who use it. Since anyone can inspect the source code, developers know what they are getting and that it can be trusted. Trust is key with identity software.

Q: How can I participate?

A:  The Higgins team is interested in talking with potential contributors and users of the trust framework. Contact Mary at Meristic.com or Paul at Parityinc.net.  Let us know what you think is important!