4.17.5. Enabling Third Party Authentication with edX Edge

Institutions that have partner memberships with edX can enable third party authentication between their campus or institutional authentication systems and the edX Edge site. Learners at sites that enable third party authentication can use their campus credentials to authenticate into edX Edge.

These procedures require collaboration between members of the DevOps (development operations) or IT teams at your partner institution and the DevOps team at edX, facilitated by your edX partner manager. Integrating with Shibboleth (SAML) Systems

SAML 2.0 (Security Assertion Markup Language, version 2.0) is the standard that edX uses for the exchange of authentication and authorization data with institutional partners. Because it is built with SAML, this service is compatible with the Shibboleth single sign on system.

In the exchange of authentication and authorization data, your edX partner institution is an identity provider (IdP) that securely asserts the identity and access rights of a set of users. EdX is the service provider (SP) that allows the users access on the basis of those credentials.

All procedures described in this section should be performed by a member of your institution’s IT team who is familiar with your institutional Shibboleth system. The designated IT contact must have access to test and production accounts, and be able to make configuration changes. Validate Integration

Integrating an institutional IdP with edX Edge requires a preliminary validation phase.

  1. All procedures are completed between a test Shibboleth account at the partner institution and the edX staging instance (“edX stage”).
  2. After validation, all procedures are completed between the partner’s production system and edX Edge.

Your designated IT contact must set up or identify a Shibboleth test account, and securely transmit its credentials to edX, before integration testing can begin.


The edX DevOps team prefers PGP encryption of account credentials. Other secure methods for transmitting credentials can be accommodated if necessary. Obtain edX SAML Metadata

During the testing phase, you use a test metadata file to obtain the information necessary for interaction between edX stage and your test account.

When testing is complete, you access the service provider SAML metadata for Edge in an XML file on the Edge website. This file contains the information necessary for interaction between Edge as service provider and your campus production Shibboleth system as identity provider. Add edX as a Service Provider

On your Shibboleth system, use the SAML metadata obtained from the XML file to add edX stage, and then edX Edge, to your whitelist of authorized service providers.

For example, you might add the following information to your $IDP_HOME/conf/relying-party.xml file for edX Edge.

<MetadataProvider xsi:type="FileBackedHTTPMetadataProvider" xmlns="urn:mace:shibboleth:2.0:metadata"
                  backingFile="/tmp/idp-metadata-edx-edge.xml" />

For more information about defining a metadata source on a Shibboleth system, see the Shibboleth configuration wiki. Configure User Attributes

You work with edX to ensure that your identity provider will assert the user information that you want learners to see during initial sign in on edX Edge. When you send your Shibboleth configuration data to your institution’s edX partner manager, you include any customizations to the attributes that will be asserted. Selecting User Attributes to Assert

By default, the edX platform uses these attributes if your system provides them.

  • User identifier: userid, urn:oid:0.9.2342.19200300.100.1.1. Required. This value is used to associate the user’s edX account with the campus account. It is not displayed to users.
  • Full name: commonName, urn:oid:
  • First name: givenName, urn:oid:
  • Last name: surname, urn:oid:
  • Suggested username: userid, urn:oid:0.9.2342.19200300.100.1.1
  • Email address: mail, urn:oid:0.9.2342.19200300.100.1.3

At your request, edX can configure Edge to use only some of these attributes. The only required attribute is the user identifier. If you choose not to provide an attribute, learners are prompted to enter that information themselves during initial sign in. Specifying Alternative Attributes

You can identify different attributes to assert user information than those listed above. For example, you might want to send the suggested username as eduPersonPrincipalName instead of userid. Restricting Access with Attribute Assertions

You can restrict access to edX Edge to a subset of your users using attributes defined on your Shibboleth system. For example, you might want to allow currently matriculated students to sign in to Edge, but not alumni. The eduPersonEntitlement attribute can be used to restrict access in this way.


If you want access to be restricted to certain users, be sure to let edX know what provider assertions to use to determine access rights. Send Shibboleth Configuration Data to edX

To complete the integration between a Shibboleth system and an edX system, you send a copy of the assertion document with the following information to your institution’s edX partner manager.

  • Metadata: The URL for your Shibboleth IdP metadata XML file.

  • User Attributes: A list of the values that you want your Shibboleth system to assert when users sign in to edX Edge.

    For more information about how you can work with edX to configure user attributes effectively, see Configure User Attributes.

You send this information for both your test and production accounts so that integration can be validated.

Your edX partner manager notifies you when integration with your IdP is complete. Test Edge Registration

To verify that users can use their campus or institutional credentials for your IdP to sign in to Edge, follow these steps.

  1. Go to the Edge registration page. The page should include the institutional sign in button.

    Screen shot of an LMS sign in page with a button labeled "Use my institutional/campus credentials" at the bottom.
  2. Select Use my institutional/campus credentials. The list of providers that appears should include your IdP.

    Screen shot of the list of enabled IdPs. Each IdP name is linked to the sign in page for the corresponding authentication system.
  3. Select your own IdP. The landing page for your Shibboleth system should open.