What's New in Windows Identity Foundation 4.5

The first version of Windows Identity Foundation (WIF) shipped as a standalone download and is known as WIF 3.5 because it was introduced in the .NET 3.5 SP1 timeframe. Starting with .NET 4.5, WIF is part of the .NET framework. Having the WIF classes directly available in the framework allows for a much deeper integration of claims-based identity in .NET, making it easier to use claims. Applications written for WIF 3.5 will need to be modified in order to take advantage of the new model; for information, see Guidelines for Migrating an Application Built Using WIF 3.5 to WIF 4.5.

Below you can find some highlights of the main changes.

WIF Is Now Part of the .NET Framework

WIF classes are now spread across several assemblies, the main ones being mscorlib, System.IdentityModel, System.IdentityModel.Services, and System.ServiceModel. Likewise, the WIF classes are spread across several namespaces: System.Security.Claims, several System.IdentityModel namespaces, and System.ServiceModel.Security. The System.Security.Claims namespace contains the new ClaimsPrincipal and ClaimsIdentity classes (see below). All principals in .NET now derive from ClaimsPrincipal. For more detailed information about the WIF namespaces and the kinds of classes that they contain, see WIF API Reference. For information about how namespaces map between WIF 3.5 and WIF 4.5, see Namespace Mapping between WIF 3.5 and WIF 4.5.

New Claims Model and Principal Object

Claims are at the very core of the .NET Framework 4.5. The base claim classes (Claim, ClaimsIdentity, ClaimsPrincipal, ClaimTypes, and ClaimValueTypes) all live directly in mscorlib in the System.Security.Claims namespace. It is no longer necessary to use interfaces in order to plug claims into the .NET identity system: WindowsPrincipal, GenericPrincipal, and RolePrincipal now inherit from ClaimsPrincipal; and WindowsIdentity, GenericIdentity, and FormsIdentity now inherit from ClaimsIdentity. In short, every principal class will now serve claims. The WIF 3.5 integration classes and interfaces (WindowsClaimsIdentity, WindowsClaimsPrincipal, IClaimsPrincipal, IClaimsIdentity) have thus been removed. In addition, the ClaimsIdentity class now exposes methods which make it easier to query the identity’s claims collection.

Changes to the WIF 4.5 Visual Studio Experience

  • The Add STS Reference … Visual Studio functionality (cmdline utility FedUtil) no longer exists; instead you can use the new Visual Studio extension Identity and Access Tool for Visual Studio 2012. This allows you to federate with an existing STS or use LocalSTS to test your solutions. After installing the extension you can right-click on your project and look for Identity and Access in the context menu.

  • The ASP.NET and STS templates are no longer provided as claims can be used directly in existing project templates for ASP.Net, web sites, and WCF.

  • The controls in the Microsoft.IdentityModel.Web.Controls namespace (SignInControl, FederatedPassiveSignInControl, and FederatedPassiveSignInStatus) are not carried over into WIF 4.5.

Changes to the WIF 4.5 API

Other notable .NET changes or features that are caused by the integration of WIF into .NET

  • The potential for performing claims-based authorization (CBAC) is now integral to the .NET framework. You can configure a ClaimsAuthorizationManager object and then use the ClaimsPrincipalPermission and ClaimsPrincipalPermissionAttribute classes to perform imperative and declarative access checks in your code. CBAC provides more flexibility and greater granularity than traditional role-based access checks (RBAC). It also allows greater separation of authorization policy from business logic because the business logic can base the access check on a specific claim or set of claims and the authorization policy for those claims can be configured declaratively under the <claimsAuthorizationManager> element.

WCF changes as a result of WIF integration:

  • The WCF claims-based identity model is superseded by WIF. This means that classes in the System.IdentityModel.Claims, System.IdentityModel.Policy, and System.IdentityModel.Selectors namespaces should be dropped in favor of using WIF classes.

  • WIF is now enabled on a WCF service by specifying the useIdentityConfiguration attribute on the <system.serviceModel>/<behaviors>/<serviceBehaviors>/<serviceCredentials> element as in the following XML:

    <serviceCredentials useIdentityConfiguration="true">
        <!--Certificate added by Identity And Access VS Package.  Subject='CN=localhost', Issuer='CN=localhost'. Make sure you have this certificate installed. The Identity and Access tool does not install this certificate.-->
        <serviceCertificate findValue="CN=localhost" storeLocation="LocalMachine" storeName="My" x509FindType="FindBySubjectDistinguishedName" />

    When you use the Identity and Access Tool for Visual Studio 2012 (see Changes to the Visual Studio Experience above), the tool adds a <serviceCredentials> element with the useIdentityConfiguration attribute set to the configuration file for you. It also adds a corresponding <system.identityModel> element that contains the WIF configuration settings and adds a binding and other settings necessary to outsource authentication to your chosen STS.

See also