Using StackExchange to produce Ask SQL Server Central
StackExchange has recently gone to beta, allowing people to set up sites using the same platform that runs StackOverflow. As my team maintains SQL Server Central, we decided to take advantage of this and set up Ask SQL Server Central. We’re not sure where we’re going to go with it yet, as it takes quite a different model to the rest of the site, which mainly features articles and traditional forums, but we felt that some people might find it a useful way of finding information, and it was pretty straightforward to do, so we dived in.
One immediate offshoot of this is that StackExchange uses OpenID as its preferred method of sign in. In order to reduce the complexity for the current members of SQL Server Central, we’ve taken the decision to make SQL Server Central an OpenID provider, so that people can use their existing login for Ask SQL Server Central. This actually turned out to be a relatively straightforward process, as we used DotNetOpenAuth, which provides a pretty solid set of libraries to help you achieve exactly what we wanted to. In fact we were largely able to use much of the sample code they provide, with very few changes required (the hardest being to cope with some of the URL rewriting we have going on). We haven’t gone fully live with this, as we want to check that the hookup works fine before letting everyone use it, but it should appear within the next couple of days.
The next exciting step from there will be to allow users to log into SQL Server Central using an OpenID from somewhere else, and hence permit us to pick up things like Gravatars. Hopefully DotNetOpenAuth should help us with this again.