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Convio SSO Authentication v1.0b

By Byrne Reese
Posted December 8, 2010, in Web Services.


This plugin provides an "dual-mode" authentication driver for for Melody and Movable Type v4.x which works with Convio's Single Signon Open API to provide authentication services for both locally-created and Convio-created user accounts.

When this plugin is installed and configured:

  • Users will be able to log in with either Melody/MT or Convio credentials seamlessly and without having to think

  • Each locally-created user can associate their account with a Convio account and, in most cases, this is done automatically

  • Each Convio-created user will have, upon logging in, a local user record automatically created for them[1] and automatically associated with their Convio account.

  • Any profile information available in Convio will be used to provision or update the local user profile ensuring that your user's email addresses and other important data is always kept up to date.

[1] - Regardless of the canonical authentication source, Melody/MT mandate that all authenticated users be represented by at least a "skeleton" local author record to act as a target for the granting of local permissions, association with the user's created content and proper auditing of their actions throughout application.


This plugin has a few important prerequisites:

  • Melody (any version) or Movable Type 4.x
  • The Net::Convio perl module (included in distribution)
  • The REST::Client perl module (included in distribution)
  • Movable Type installations will also need the Melody Compatibility Layer plugin
  • A Convio API Administrator account and associated credentials


Convio Open APIs offer a large number of ways for developers to programmatically interact with the Convio service as detailed in their bulging 350-page Convio Open API Reference, excerpted below:

  • Address Book API

    The Address Book API provides access and management functions for TeamRaiser Address Books.

  • Advocacy API

    The Advocacy API provides methods to query and report on Advocacy alerts and user interactions.

  • Calendar Events API

    The Calendar Events API provides query access to Convio Calendar Events (TeamRaiser events are exposed separately through the TeamRaiser API).

  • Constituent Management API

    The Constituent Management API supports multiple methods to create, update, and query user data in the Convio Constituent360 database.

  • Donation Processing API

    The Donation Processing API allows you to extend and customize the online giving and payment processing capabilities of the Convio system.

  • Single Sign-On API

    The Single Sign-On API provides methods to authenticate users and securely establish a logged-in session with the Convio server using API calls. These API methods support both Convio-as-master and Convio-as-client implementations allowing you to use either Convio or an external system as the master authentication service.

  • TeamRaiser API

    The TeamRaiser API gives you the means to customize and extend the TeamRaiser application, the Participant Center and the web pages for TeamRaiser teams, companies, and participants. This API includes methods to:

    • record, query, manage, and search TeamRaiser Events,
    • manage TeamRaiser Teams,
    • manage Team, Company, and Personal web pages,
    • record, query and manage Gifts,
    • query and update Surveys,
    • create, send, query, and manage messages to TeamRaiser Participants and Contacts.

This plugin only utilizes the Single Sign-On API and Constituent Management API to do its work.


To install this plugin follow the instructions found on this page EXCEPT that the ConvioSSOAuth.pack directory must be installed into the addons directory and not the plugins directory.

If you do not have an addons directory, you can simply create one in the root of your Melody/MT directory ($MT_HOME/addons).


This plugin has a number of configuration directives that must be set correctly in config.cgi/mt-config.cgi in order to operate. All of these are REQUIRED:

  • AuthenticationModule

    Specifies the authentication module in use by Melody/MT. This normally defaults to MT. However, to enable this plugin, it must be set to ConvioSSO.

  • ConvioSSOCustomDomainURL

    The URL to your organization's official, custom (i.e. non-Convio) domain. This is the URL that provides the /site/CRConsAPI endpoint of the Convio API

  • ConvioSSOAuthHost

    The domain name of the Convio authentication server specified for use by the organization's account. This is usually either or

  • ConvioSSOClientID

    Your organization's Convio Client ID which can be found in your Convio control panel. This is usually a two-letter identifier which is often seen in the Convio authentication URLs, for example,

  • ConvioSSOAdminUsername

    The username of any Convio account in your organization that has API administrator permissions. Note that no such account exists by default. The API administrator permission is a special permission that must be granted. Please see Convio documentation for details on setting up such an account.

  • ConvioSSOAdminPassword

    The corresponding password of the API Administrator account

  • ConvioSSOAPIKey

    Your organization's public Convio API key which you can find in your Convio control panel.

  • ConvioSSOSecretAPIKey

    Your organization's secret Convio API key which you can also find in your Convio control panel if you are logged in as an administrator.

Optional Configuration Directives

There are two configuration directives that are either optional or not currently required:

  • ConvioSSOAuthDebug

    This directive enables a special debug mode useful for properly configuring the plugin with the correct Convio account data. This should not be left on in production as the data it produces could aid a malicious user in attacking your site and/or Convio account.

  • ConvioSSOAPIVersion

    This directive specifies the Convio API version for all transactions. Currently, the only valid value is 1.0 but this is provided for forward-compatiblilty.


Since Convio-created users will be added to the installation upon first login, it's important to set the "newly created users" permissions properly. Otherwise, you will see the following error:

Our apologies, but you do not have permission to access any blogs within this installation. If you feel you have reached this message in error, please contact your Movable Type system administrator.

To do this, go to System Overview > Users > Permissions and click the link titled "Grant permission to a user". On the subsequent screen, select the "(newly created user)" option and grant that user at least one non-commenter role on at least one blog.


A paramount design goal of this plugin was to provide a working authentication solution that was also universally effortless to use for both system administrators and completely non-technical end users. For that reason, certain assumptions were made and constraints implemented to simplify matters. These are areas for possible future development should they be desired.

  • Though it is believed that we fixed this issue, Convio sessions may time out. If that occurs, please let us know and we will see about adding a bug (<img src="http://customconviodomain/site/PixelServer">) to all pages to deal with the issue once and for all

  • There is not currently a mechanism for Convio-created users to recover or reset a Convio password through MT, although they can still use the facilities Convio provides for such functions.

  • There is no logging (to our knowledge) on the Convio side for activity in Movable Type. This can be done through Convio's API (logInteraction) if it's required.

  • The only way to prevent the association between a Convio account and a locally-created account is to log into Melody/MT with local credentials without an active Convio session

  • There is no facility for logging out of only Melody/MT and not Convio

  • Profile data is force synchronized from Convio to Melody/MT and there is no facility for configuring otherwise


Full details can be found in the commit logs but briefly:

  • 2010/12/01 - Initial public release of v1.0-beta


If you are having problems installing or using the plugin, please check out our general knowledge base and help ticket system at


Movable Type versions: 4.3




Byrne Reese

Byrne Reese was previously the Product Manager of Movable Type at Six Apart, where he had also held positions as the Manager of Platform Technology and Product Manager for TypePad. Byrne is a huge supporter of the Movable Type user and developer community. He dedicates much of his time to promoting and educating people about Movable Type as well as building the tools and plugins for Movable Type that are showcased on Majordojo. He contributes regularly to open source; and he is an advocate for open protocols and standards like Atom and OpenID.