Software

Poll: When writing apps, what do you use for usernames?

Programmers, when you write an application that requires login, what do you use as the username? Let us know by answering this poll question.

Some services have you pick a username, which is great if you do not want others to know your email address or if you want to use a special nickname. But it can be difficult to remember the username for a service you rarely use, and it can be frustrating to find a unique username on a popular site.

Other services assign you a username, which is easy for the programmers to do. Other services use your email address, but then require extra programming to accommodate the possibility of an email address changing without wrecking other things tied to the account.

So programmers, when you write an application that requires login, what do you use as the username?

(Thanks to longtime reader and friend Mathew O'Hare for suggesting this question.)

J.Ja

About

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

14 comments
jefferyp2100
jefferyp2100

I favor using email address for logging in -- always. A separate user name is need when the site allows comments and forum posts from users. Microsoft's ASP.Net security controls have always annoyed me for this reason. I don't want to remember a unique user name for each site.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

It's just way easier and makes SSO super simple....

TrueDinosaur
TrueDinosaur

We use employee code. Only 1 per person in the organization. And if you don't know your employee code you are in trouble.

mattohare
mattohare

When I suggested this, I had web applications in mind. I agree with Gunnarh in that it?s best to use the host system?s authentication where possible for desktop and intranet applications. I put this question to my Facebook friends. Most of them preferred their email for a user name. People are right in that an email can change, so it?s important to provide a facility to change this. I do notice that some users insist on being able to change their user names after they?ve chosen them. Some may put their age or last name in the name without realising that these are meant to be permanent names. (The transition from maiden to married name is a frequent case of this, too.) One of my mates said that he will choose a more secure password when he?s using his email address. Many commented on how much easier it is to remember. Most login facilities that I?ve seen only use the username to get the user object at the start. From then on, they will use an internal primary key. If that?s the case, usernames don?t have to be set in stone. The developers need to use the same code for checking for duplicates that they use when creating a new account. Thanks to yis for the response here.

bblackmoor
bblackmoor

User-selected. Reasons why: 1) email addresses change 2) system-generated user names are hard to remember, which results in more calls to tech support

ultimitloozer
ultimitloozer

I generally use 2 of the 3. The user's email is always part of the account info, but they are also offered the option to specify a username as well. If the username is not specified, it only gets tied to the email address. When logging in, they can use either their email address or their username in the username field.

gunnarh
gunnarh

Please, what do you mean by an app nowadays? If the "app" was installed in an environment belonging to a Windows domain it is of course natural to have the system make the user identification. If it is a web application it might be convenient for the user to have hers/his username easy to remember, but there is always a risk that the name comes into wrong hands - let the user itself choose the name arbitrarily. Why should you force him to leave out information that could be used by others in bad ways?

dogknees
dogknees

I managed to come up with a name a few years ago that I've never found used on any site. Including things like hotmail. I can use in on most sites so I only have a couple to remember.

Justin James
Justin James

"Most login facilities that I?ve seen only use the username to get the user object at the start. From then on, they will use an internal primary key. If that?s the case, usernames don?t have to be set in stone. The developers need to use the same code for checking for duplicates that they use when creating a new account." This is exactly what I did in Rat Catcher. There is an email field, a username field, and an internal ID key. Everything is coded against that internal ID key, which will never change. When an account is made, it the username is set to be the user's email address. I allow users to change their email addresses which also changes their username. This way, if people ever want usernames that arean't their email addresses, I can make the change painlessly. :) J.Ja

bblackmoor
bblackmoor

Actually, today, I prefer that users use their OpenID to create accounts.

victor.gutzler
victor.gutzler

I would think that any read-only application service that allows anonymous users access to the backend database would use an account named after the service itself (like a map service account named Map_User). If the service allows users to write to the backend database, then the system should allow the users to set up their profile with account name and password, even if the application is within a private network. This would give the user the option to reuse their personal profile for multiple unrelated systems (office network, internet email, etc). Of course, all of the John Smiths and Juan Lopezs of the world would have to be imaginative with their names in order to make them unique (like including birthdate and place to their name,for example JuanLopez631225.SanDiegoCA). Ultimately, I supposed the world-wide order will assign our personal profiles....

pstanley
pstanley

We use a combination of first or first two initials plus full lastname.

mattohare
mattohare

Any place that assigns a user name has some formula to create it. I think, when I get big enough to take staff on board, I'm using assigned numbers. I don't want to change employee user names when someone gets married or such.

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