Microsub-spec

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The Microsub spec provides a standardized way for clients to consume and interact with feeds collected by a server.

The Microsub server is responsible for managing the accounts you follow, retrieving updates from them, and the Microsub endpoint provides the feed entries in a normalized format for easy consumption by clients.

Status
This is an early Editor's Draft, and feedback is encouraged.
Participate
Wiki (Feedback)
GitHub: issues and brainstorming
discussion on #indieweb-dev (on Freenode IRC)
Editor
Aaron Parecki
License
Per CC0, to the extent possible under law, the editor(s) and contributors have waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this work. In addition, as of 2018-09-20, the editor(s) and contributors (2017-04-09 onward) have made this specification available under the Open Web Foundation Agreement Version 1.0.

Design Goals

The goal of Microsub is to simplify the process of building a reader, since there are many moving parts when consuming external content.

In general, when subscribing to a feed, a reader should use WebSub if the feed is enabled with it, but may need to fall back to polling if not. Depending on the format of the feed, there can be many variations in the actual data available at the feed. For example, there are several different ways an h-entry can represent the author of the entry, described at authorship. There are also multiple ways a list of h-entrys can appear in an h-feed.

The role of the Microsub server is to normalize the data in the wild and turn it into a simpler format for displaying in clients. Clients should never have to second guess or doubt any data they receive from the Microsub server. The assumption is that the server has done all the verification and normalizing of the data, and it is ready to display to the user. The fewer checks and conditionals that clients have to write the better.

Endpoints

The Microsub endpoint is where the client will make all API requests. All API requests require authentication with a Bearer access token that the client needs to obtain. If the client does not have a preexisting relationship with the server, then the following method of discovery and authorization should be used to obtain an access token and discover the Microsub endpoint.

It is possible for a client to be pre-configured with a Microsub endpoint, or to use other methods of obtaining an access token if there is a preexisting relationship between the client and the server providing the Microsub endpoint.

Discovery

The client first performs discovery on the user's profile URL to find the Microsub endpoint and authorization endpoint. Given a user's profile URL, perform an HTTP GET request and look for either a <link rel="microsub"> or HTTP Link header with a rel value of microsub. Additionally, look for links with rel values authorization_endpoint and token_endpoint.

Link: <https://aaronpk.example/auth>; rel="authorization_endpoint"
Link: <https://aaronpk.example/token>; rel="token"
Link: <https://aaronpk.example/microsub>; rel="microsub"
<link rel="authorization_endpoint" href="https://aaronpk.example/auth">
<link rel="token" href="https://aaronpk.example/token">
<link rel="microsub" href="https://aaronpk.example/microsub">

The Microsub endpoint URL MUST NOT contain a fragment, and MAY contain query string components. If the URL contains a query string, then any GET requests MUST properly append the additional parameters to the query string, and POST requests MUST NOT send the query string properties in the post body. e.g. making a GET request with the additional query string component "action=config" to the endpoint "/endpoints?type=microsub" would result in a URL of "/endpoints?type=microsub&action=config"

(Note: The client will likely want to also find the Micropub endpoint for the user so that the client can post replies and other interactions to the user's website.)

Authentication and Authorization

Authorization is handled the same way as Micropub, using IndieAuth to obtain an access token.

Channels

Channels are described by the following properties:

  • uid - a string representation of a user-specific unique ID for the channel. This uid will be unique for each user, but may be duplicated across different users. Some implementations will use constant strings such as "example", while others may use numeric database IDs such as "15029932", a random string like "1NYnmUVYR5qBVXYBzt", or a URL such as "http://user.example.com/channel/foo". The valid characters for a uid are any URL-safe character.
  • name - the display name for the channel. This may include any valid UTF-8 sequence. The client should use this name when displaying the name of the channel in the interface.
{
  "uid": "indieweb",
  "name": "IndieWeb"
}

Servers must always have a channel with the uid notifications, and must always have at least one other channel for a user.

Some actions may want to apply to every channel, so the uid of global is reserved for this purpose. Actions such as mute that want to mute a user across every channel use the channel uid of global.

Users

All users are identified by profile URLs, with some constraints. User profile URLs MUST use either the http or https scheme, and MAY contain path and query string components, and MUST NOT contain fragments.

Actions

All operations in Microsub are considered "actions", and are specified with a query string or form body parameter of action.

  • channels
  • search
  • preview
  • follow / unfollow
  • timeline
  • mute / unmute
  • block / unblock

Actions that operate within the context of a channel can accept a query string or form body parameter of channel specifying the uid of the channel to use.

Timelines

action=timeline

Retrieve Entries in a Channel

GET

Retrieve the entries in a given channel.

Parameters:

  • action=timeline
  • channel={uid}
  • after={cursor}
  • before={cursor}

The response will include a property items with an array of post objects. See #Posts for documentation on the format of items.

{
  "items": [
    { ... },
    { ... }
  ],
  "paging": {
    "after": "xxxxx",
    "before": "xxxxx"
  }
}

See #Paging for more details on the paging mechanism.

Mark Entries Read

POST

To mark one or more individual entries as read or unread:

Parameters:

  • action=timeline
  • method=mark_read (or mark_unread)
  • channel={uid}
  • entry={entry-id} or entry[]={entry-id}

To mark an entry read as well as everything before it in the timeline: (does not apply to mark_unread)

  • action=timeline
  • method=mark_read
  • channel={uid}
  • last_read_entry={entry-id}

These commands only affect the entry within the context of the given channel's timeline, and do not affect other timelines.

Remove Entry from a Channel

POST

Parameters:

  • action=timeline
  • method=remove
  • channel={uid}
  • entry={entry-id} or entry[]={entry-id}

The client can pass one or more entry IDs (found via the _id property on an entry) to remove it from the channel. The server may decide whether to actually delete the entry or just hide it from view. The entry will no longer show up in the given channel's timeline, and this command will not affect the given entry in other channels.

Servers will likely use their own generated IDs for the entry ID, so clients must not make assumptions about the uniqueness of these values.

Search

action=search

The "search" action exists to provide a UI for the server to respond with the full URL of possible things to subscribe to. For example, a user should not be expected to type the exact URL of a feed to subscribe to, but instead should be able to enter partial matches, e.g. entering aaronparecki.com should return the full URL of https://aaronparecki.com/.

Using the "search" action, a client can provide a single text field where the user can enter either partial URLs or even arbitrary search terms, and the server can reply with a list of URLs that can actually be subscribed to. This also provides the ability to have a confirmation step where users can see a preview of what they will be subscribing to before they actually do so.

If the search term is a URL or partial URL, the Microsub server SHOULD fetch the URL if not already known, and discover any feeds at that URL that can be subscribed to. The server may also return feeds that are already known that match the search term, for example if another user on the server has previously subscribed to a matching URL.

POST

Request

  • action=search
  • query=
POST /microsub
Content-type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded

action=search&query=aaronparecki.com

Response

HTTP/1.1 200 Ok
Content-type: application/json

{
  "results": [
    {
      "type": "feed",
      "url": "https://aaronparecki.com/",
      "name": "Aaron Parecki",
      "photo": "https://aaronparecki.com/images/profile.jpg",
      "description": "Aaron Parecki's home page"
    },
    {
      "type": "feed",
      "url": "https://percolator.today/",
      "name": "Percolator",
      "photo": "https://percolator.today/images/cover.jpg",
      "description": "A Microcast by Aaron Parecki",
      "author": {
        "name": "Aaron Parecki",
        "url": "https://aaronparecki.com/",
        "photo": "https://aaronparecki.com/images/profile.jpg"
      }
    },
    { ... }
  ]
}

The response results are a jf2 version of the h-feed vocabulary. The only required properies are the type and URL.

  • type - (required) feed
  • url - (required) the URL of the result which can be used in a follow action to follow the feed
  • name - the display name of the feed
  • photo - a photo or icon representing the feed
  • description - a description of the feed, either as reported by the feed or generated by the Microsub server
  • author - a jf2 h-card describing the author of the feed. For multi-author feeds this may be an h-card representing the organization, or may be omitted

TBD: It might be nice to show an approximate frequency of posts, e.g. Feedly, and https://aaronparecki.com/follow

Searching for Content

TBD: implementing a search API for searching past posts that the Microsub server has indexed.

  • action=search
  • channel={uid}
  • query={term}

The presence of the "channel" parameter indicates to the server that the client wants to search for posts rather than search for feeds. The channel parameter can be set to an individual channel uid, or "global" to search across all channels.

Preview

action=preview

POST

  • action=preview
  • url={url}

The "preview" action exists so that the client can display a preview of a URL to the user before the user wants to create a subscription for it. The preview should show as much about the URL as the server can determine, such as basic profile information about the user, and a few recent entries by the user. There should be no permanent side effects created by previewing a URL, and as much as possible, the URL being previewed should not be provided with identifying information of the user who is previewing the URL.

The response includes the list of items in the feed if available, in the same format as returned by the #Timelines API call.

Following

action=follow

GET

  • action=follow
  • channel={uid}

Retrieve the list of feeds being followed in the given channel.

Response

{
  "items": [
    {
      "type": "feed",
      "url": "http://tantek.com/"
    }
  ]
}

The feed items may contain additional properties that describe the feed, see http://microformats.org/wiki/h-feed.


POST

Follow a new URL in a channel.

  • action=follow
  • channel={uid}
  • url={url}
POST /microsub
Content-type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded

action=follow&channel=indieweb&url=http://tantek.com/

When a request to the follow endpoint is made, the Microsub server registers the follow action, and begins delivering content at that URL into the channel. The Microsub server can subscribe to the target URL via any mechanism available, but most often will attempt a WebSub subscription for its HTML+Microformats, or Atom/RSS feed, and fall back to polling if that fails.

New entries at the followed URL will appear in the channel when fetched from the channel's timeline. The Microsub server may fetch existing entries in the feed and add them to the channel at its discretion.

The response is a JSON representation of the channel, the same as is returned when listing all feeds followed in a channel.

{
  "type": "feed",
  "url": "http://tantek.com/"
}

Unfollowing

action=unfollow

POST

  • action=unfollow
  • channel={uid}
  • url={url}

Unfollow a feed from a channel.

POST /microsub
Content-type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded

action=unfollow&channel=indieweb&url=http://tantek.com/

The Microsub server may remove all of this feed's items from the channel, or may leave them in place, at its discretion. If you are used to treating these channels as an IRC or Slack timeline, it would be more appropriate to leave the old items in the channel, just stop delivering new ones. However if you are more used to treating these channels as a Twitter or Facebook feed, then you may want the server to remove them from the channel.

TODO: Should there be another parameter for the client to specify whether to remove previous entries or leave them?

Muting

action=mute

Clients should provide a "mute" option in the interface. This allows the user to mute someone's profile, hiding all posts with the muted user's profile URL as the author from being displayed.

Muting users will cause all posts by the muted user to be hidden from display. The server MAY still store the posts internally, so that un-muting the user will cause past entries to appear again.

Any side effect at the server SHOULD NOT cause the muted user to know they have been muted. Muting users SHOULD NOT have any externally visible side effects.

For example, in the context of the Salmention spec, the server should still behave as if the muted user was not muted.

GET

  • action=mute
  • channel={uid}

Retrieve the list of users that are muted in the given channel.

Request

GET /microsub?action=mute&channel=indieweb HTTP/1.1

Response

HTTP/1.1 200 Ok
Content-type: application/json

{
  "items": [
    {
      "type": "card",
      "url": "http://annoying.example.com/",
      "name": "Annoying Person",
      "photo": "http://annoying.example.com/photo.jpg"
    },
    {
      ...
    }
  ]
}

POST

  • action=mute
  • channel={uid}
  • url={url}

Mute a user in a channel, or with the uid global mutes the user across every channel.

Request

POST /microsub HTTP/1.1
Content-type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded

action=mute&channel=indieweb&url=https://annoying.example.com/

Response

HTTP/1.1 200 Ok

Unmute

POST

To unmute a user, use action=unmute and provide the URL of the account to unmute. Unmuting an account that was previously not muted has no effect and should not be considered an error.

Blocking

action=block

Blocking users will cause all previous posts by the blocked user to be hidden or deleted, and future posts by that user should not be stored. Additionally, the server SHOULD NOT produce any content or side effect that would notify the blocked user about a post. It is acceptable for the blocked user to know they have been blocked.

For example, in the context of the Webmention spec, the server should not send webmentions even if the user mentions the blocked user in a post. In the context of the Salmention spec, the server should stop sending follow-up webmentions to the blocked user.

GET

  • action=block
  • channel={uid}

Retrieve the list of users that are blocked in the given channel.

TODO: document the response format

POST

  • action=block
  • channel={uid}
  • url={url}

Block a user in a channel, or with the uid global blocks the user across every channel.

Channels

action=channels

GET

  • action=channels

Retrieve the list of channels for the user.

The response will contain a channels property with the list of channel uids and names. The uid=notifications channel must always be the first in the list, as clients are expected to treat it separately and not show it in the channel list.

GET /microsub?action=channels
Authorization: Bearer xxxxxxxxx

HTTP/1.1 200 Ok
Content-type: application/json

{
  "channels": [
    {
      "uid": "notifications",
      "name": "Notifications",
      "unread": 0
    },
    {
      "uid": "31eccfe322d6c48c50dea2c84efc74ff",
      "name": "IndieWeb"
      "unread": 9
    },
    {
      "uid": "1870e67e924856dc7e4c37732b303b45",
      "name": "W3C",
      "unread": true
    }
  ]
}

Servers should support tracking the read state of items in channels, and return the number of unread items, or a boolean, when the channel list is queried. If the server does not support read state tracking, then the server must not return the unread property in the response.

For channels that support full unread count tracking, the value of the unread property will be an integer. For channels that support only boolean unread tracking (whether there are new entries or not), the value will be true or false.

POST

To create, update, or delete channels, the client sends a POST request with the channels action.

To create a channel, the client includes the name of the channel to create. The uid of the channel will be assigned by the server.

  • action=channels
  • name={channel name}

To update a channel, the client includes the uid of the channel to update in the channel parameter, and includes the new name of the channel. Changing the name of the channel MAY change the uid of the channel, and if it does, the server MUST return the new uid in the response.

  • action=channels
  • channel={uid}
  • name={channel name}

To delete a channel, the client includes an additional parameter method=delete. Note that the notifications channel cannot be deleted.

  • action=channels
  • method=delete
  • channel={uid}

Both creating and updating a channel MUST return the uid and name properties for the channel.

Create a Channel

Request

  • action=channels
  • name={channel name}
POST /microsub HTTP/1.1
Content-type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded

action=channels&name=Coworkers

Response

HTTP/1.1 200 Ok
Content-type: application/json

{
  "uid": "2c5e5d7c4d57da68cb03c972846e827845af974c9b",
  "name": "Coworkers"
}

Update a Channel

Request

  • action=channels
  • channel={uid}
  • name={channel name}
POST /microsub HTTP/1.1
Content-type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded

action=channels
&channel=2c5e5d7c4d57da68cb03c972846e827845af974c9b
&name=Friends

Response

HTTP/1.1 200 Ok
Content-type: application/json

{
  "uid": "2c5e5d7c4d57da68cb03c972846e827845af974c9b",
  "name": "Friends"
}

Delete a Channel

Request

  • action=channels
  • method=delete
  • channel={uid}
POST /microsub HTTP/1.1
Content-type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded

action=channels
&method=delete
&channel=2c5e5d7c4d57da68cb03c972846e827845af974c9b

Response

HTTP/1.1 200 Ok
Content-type: application/json

Set Channel Order

Channels are ordered according to the user's preference. When returning the list of channels, the notifications channel must always be the first in the list, as clients are expected to treat it separately such as showing it as a separate icon, not in the main channel list.

To modify the order of channels, the client sends a POST request with a list of channel IDs in the new ordering.

Only the order of the channel IDs specified will be changed. While this command works equally well specifying two, three or more channels, this provides two primary methods for adjusting channel orders.

  • To move a channel up or down, the client can include the two IDs of adjacent channels in the new desired order.
  • The client can specify a new ordering for all the channels by providing the full list of channel IDs in the new order.

Request

  • action=channels
  • method=order
  • channels[]={uid}
  • channels[]={uid}
  • ...
POST /microsub HTTP/1.1
Content-type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded

action=channels
&method=order
&channels[]=2c5e5d7c4d57da68cb03
&channels[]=c972846e827845af974c

Response

HTTP/1.1 200 Ok
Content-type: application/json

Order Algorithm

From the server's perspective, the below is a description of how to process the order command.

Given a list of channels with IDs:

[a b c d e f g h]

and a command to set the order of the following in the list: [d a c g]

Assign the items in the initial list a numeric index:

[a b c d e f g h]
[1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8]

Build a new map with the input items and their existing numeric order:

[
  1 => a
  3 => c
  4 => d
  7 => g
]

For each item in the input list in the given order, set the value in the map:

[
  1 => d
  3 => a
  4 => c
  7 => g
]

For each item in the new map, change the value at the corresponding numeric index of the list:

[d b a c e f g h]
[1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8]

Types of Feeds

The specific types and formats of feeds that can be followed is out of scope of Microsub. Instead, it's up to the Microsub server to support whichever feed formats it wishes. Typically, Microsub servers will prefer a Microformats 2 feed such as an h-feed or list of h-entrys, and will then fall back to finding an Atom or RSS feed. Other types of feeds may be supported, but clients should not make any assumptions about which formats are supported, and should make use of the "preview" action so that users have an indication of whether a subscription will succeed.

Objects

Posts

Posts are the basic object used in the API. Posts can be short status updates, photos, videos, podcast episodes, checkins, and many other content types. Post objects returned in the "items" array MUST be valid jf2 post objects.

An example of a simple jf2 post in the context of a channel timeline is below.

{
    "type": "entry",
    "published": "2017-04-28T11:58:35-07:00",
    "url": "https://aaronparecki.com/2017/04/28/9/p3k-http",
    "author": {
        "type": "card",
        "name": "Aaron Parecki",
        "url": "https://aaronparecki.com/",
        "photo": "https://aaronparecki.com/images/profile.jpg"
    },
    "category": [
        "http",
        "p3k",
        "library",
        "code",
        "indieweb"
    ],
    "photo": [
        "https://aaronparecki.com/2017/04/28/9/photo.png"
    ],
    "content": {
        "text": "Finally packaged up my HTTP functions into a library! https://github.com/aaronpk/p3k-http Previously I had been copy+pasting these around to quite a few projects. Happy to have consolidated these finally!",
        "html": "Finally packaged up my HTTP functions into a library! <a href=\"https://github.com/aaronpk/p3k-http\">https://github.com/aaronpk/p3k-http</a> Previously I had been copy+pasting these around to quite a few projects. Happy to have consolidated these finally!"
    },
    "_id": "abc987",
    "_is_read": true
}

All properties beginning with an underscore _ are set by the Microsub server and are not part of the post's contents.

  • _id (string) - a unique internal ID for this entry in the given channel, used to mark an entry as read or remove it from a channel
  • _is_read (boolean) - indicates whether this entry is read or unread so that clients can visually indicate the state to the user

Neither the Microsub spec nor jf2 defines the vocabularies used in posts. The vocabularies are defined by Microformats, and represented as jf2 posts. Clients may also find the Post Type Discovery spec useful when consuming posts. A non-comprehensive list of properties and their expected values is below, based on the most common kinds of posts encountered.

entry

Entries are the base post type for most kinds of posts including articles, notes, photos, checkins, and more.

Properties:

  • type=entry
  • published (string) - ISO8601 timestamp
  • url (string) - the permalink of the post
  • uid (string) - a unique ID for the post, often the same as the url
  • name (string) - the name of the post, such as if the post is an article
  • content (object)
    • text (string) - a plaintext representation of the post content. If a client displays this text in a browser, it is expected to escape any HTML entities itself.
    • html (string) - an HTML representation of the post content. The Microsub server should do its own HTML sanitization, but clients may also wish to sanitize the HTML themselves according to their own security requirements before displaying the HTML.
  • author (card object) - a card representing the author of the post
  • category (array of strings) - a list of categories (tags) of the post
  • photo (array of strings) - one or more URLs to images associated with the post
  • video (array of strings) - one or more URLs to video files associated with the post
  • audio (array of strings) - one or more URLs to audio files associated with the post, e.g. podcasts
  • like-of, repost-of, bookmark-of, in-reply-to (array of strings) - each of these properties indicates a separate post that this post is in response to. See like, repost, bookmark, and reply for more information.
  • syndication (array of strings) - one or more URLs where this post has been syndicated to
  • checkin (card object) - indicates this post is a checkin, and the value is a card representing the location of the checkin

card

Cards represent people or places and are used as the values of certain properties of entries.

People:

  • type=card
  • name (string) - the full name of this person
  • url (string) - the profile URL of this person, used as the identifier for this profile
  • photo (string) - the profile photo of this person

Places:

  • type=card
  • name (string) - the full name of the place
  • url (string) - the URL of the place, used as the identifier for this profile
  • latitude and longitude (string) - the GPS coordinates of this location
  • street-address, locality, region, country (string) - the location of this place

Channels

Feeds

Paging

Microsub uses a cursor-based pagination model, which provides the most flexibility to server implementations while still being easy to use by clients.

For API requests that paginate their results (e.g. #Timeline), there is an additional object returned with the values needed to page through those results.

{
  "items": [ ... ],
  "paging": {
    "before": "xxxxx",
    "after": "xxxxx"
  }
}
  • If there are any items returned in the response, the server MUST return a "before" value that will retrieve items before all the returned items in the list.
  • If there are no items returned in the response, the server MUST NOT return a "before" value.
  • If there are additional items available that were not returned in the response, the server MUST return an "after" value that will retrieve the next page of items.
  • If there are no more items available, the server MUST NOT return an "after" value.

As far as the client is concerned, the "before" and "after" values are arbitrary strings. This allows the server to internally use whatever specific implementation is most appropriate for its backend technology. (Often this will be either a timestamp or a unique ID identifying the first and last items in the returned list.)

To make a timeline request for the next page of results, the client adds the "after=xxxxx" parameter to the query string. This allows easy navigation through the whole list of items in the channel.

While the user is reading the timeline, the client will likely also want to poll the timeline to see if new posts have been added since it was originally requested. Since not all Microsub servers will support streaming, the client needs an efficient way to poll for new items. The client adds "before=xxxxx" to the query string to request items that come before the first item returned in the previous request. This way the client can poll that until new items appear, and only the new items will be returned.

Example Paging Workflow

  • The user loads the client and makes a request for the timeline for the default channel:
    • /microsub?action=timeline
    • The server replies with the newest 20 items, and includes before=5a1713e55a171588 and after=5a1713e55a17136c
  • The user scrolls to the bottom and clicks "load more". The client makes a request for the next set of results:
    • /microsub?action=timeline&after=5a1713e55a17136c
    • The server replies with 3 more items, and does not include an "after" paging cursor in the response, indicating that there are no more items in the timeline.
  • Meanwhile, in the background, the client polls the timeline to find newer items by using the first "before" cursor that was returned in the initial request:
    • /microsub?action=timeline&before=5a1713e55a171588
    • The server replies with an empty items list and an empty paging object indicating there are no new items
  • After some interval, the client polls for new items again
    • /microsub?action=timeline&before=5a1713e55a171588
    • In the time between the two polls, there have been 25 new items added to the timeline, more than one page of results. The server replies with the newest 20 items list, and includes new before and after values, before=5a1724ad5a171599 and after=5a1722ea5a171280
  • Since the client sees there is an "after" cursor, it immediately fetches the next page of results using the original "before" and the new "after" value:
    • /microsub?action=timeline&before=5a1713e55a171588&after=5a1722ea5a171280
    • The server replies with the remaining 5 items, and no new cursors since there is no more data missing.
  • The client then continues polling with the latest "before" cursor it received

See the tests in Aperture for an example of the API requests made.

Limiting Results

Microsub servers SHOULD set a default limit on the number of items returned in lists. A reasonable default limit is 20 items. Microsub servers SHOULD support an additional query parameter limit which clients can use to indicate the requested limit of number items returned. Microsub servers MAY set an upper or lower bound on the values they accept for the limit, and MAY return a different number of items in the list than the client requets, for any reason. Clients should not expect the number of results returned to exactly match the number of results requested.

Authentication and Authorization Details

The client builds an IndieAuth authorization request URL at the authorization endpoint, and directs the user's browser there. In a native client, the client should use a system-native browser, rather than using a web view embedded in the application. See OAuth 2.0 for Native Apps for more details.

Build a URL with the following query parameters:

  • me={the user's profile URL} - the URL that the user entered at which the Microsub endpoint was found
  • response_type=code
  • client_id={the client's URL, e.g. its home page}
  • state={random state} - the client should generate a unique state value, and verify that it matches when the user is redirected
  • redirect_uri={the client's redirect URI} - for native apps, this may include a custom URL scheme
  • scope={requested scope} - a space-separated list of scopes that the client is requesting

Scopes

Microsub defines the following scopes:

  • read - this is the minimum scope clients should request. this allows clients to have read access to channels.
  • follow - allows the client to manage the following list
  • mute - allows the client to mute and unmute users
  • block - allows the client to block and unblock users
  • channels - allows the client to manage channels

Additionally, the client may request Micropub scopes, in order for the user to be able to reply or like posts from within the client.

  • create
  • update
  • delete

The recommended set of scopes to request is read follow mute block create, which enables a rich set of interaction on the client, while also protecting the security of the user by default.

The user will visit the authorization endpoint, and if they approve the request, their browser will be redirected back to the client's redirect URI with a code and state in the URL.

HTTP/1.1 302 Found
Location: https://client.example/redirect?code=xxxxxxxx
                                         &state=1234567890

The client verifies the state value matches the state it generated for the initial request, and can then exchange the authorization code for an access token.

The client makes a POST request to the token endpoint initially discovered, with the following parameters:

  • grant_type=authorization_code
  • code=xxxxxxxxx
  • redirect_uri={the client's redirect URI}
  • client_id={the client's URL}

The response will be a JSON object with the following keys:

{
  "access_token": "XXXXXXXXXXX",
  "scope": "read follow mute block create",
  "me": "https://aaronpk.example/"
}

The me value returned MAY be different from the original me value input, but MUST have a matching host name. This enables support for multi-user websites, and allows the user's server to normalize profile URLs, e.g. it will always return https://aaronpk.example/ even if the user initially enters http://aaronpk.example.

The scopes returned MAY be different from what the client requested, based on whether the user choose to deny certain scopes, or grant additional scopes during the authorization request.

Design Considerations

Why a single endpoint instead of individual endpoints for each operation

Many similar APIs such as the Twitter API or Wordpress API use unique URLs for each type of operation: following, muting, fetching posts, etc. Microsub instead takes an RPC style approach, where all requests are made against a single endpoint, with the operation is specified with a query or form parameter.

This allows more flexibility in the design of the server, since the spec is not imposing a URL design on the server, each can choose a URL for the Microsub endpoint that makes sense for itself.

This also makes clients easier to write, since all requests are made against one base URL rather than needing to either keep track of a fixed URL pattern, or have a configurable URL pattern.

Feedback

Feel free to leave notes here or open an issue on GitHub.

Client developers should be aware of the potential inclusion of a notifications channel when reordering channels. If it is hidden from the ui it should also be hidden from any potential reordering.

Brainstorming

See brainstorming issues on GitHub.