Guidelines for choosing 'Display Name'

The significance of the Display Name to describe an Identity Provider (IdP) in a Shibboleth context is that it can be used for discovery purposes, e.g. in a federation CDS list. It is therefore helpful to follow guidelines in choosing them, so that similar organisations are presented with a similar format of name. Thus a list of 'University of <name>' entries will appear together and make location of a particular university easier.

Here are the guidelines:

  • IdPs representing an organisation will appear as the organisation's official name (as taken from lists maintained by JISC, DfES, Companies House, etc.). If the official name begins with The it is normally omitted. Conventional company endings, such as Limited or Inc, may also be omitted.
    e.g. University of Edinburgh
  • IdPs representing a department or other unit within an organisation will appear as the organisation's official name, followed by a colon, followed by the department or unit name.
    e.g. University of Oxford: Computing Services
  • IdPs representing a project may choose to appear as either their host organisation or funding body, followed by project:, followed by the project name.
    e.g. University of Edinburgh project: SDSS    or    JISC project: SDSS

Points to note:

  1. The final choice of Display Name is the responsibility of the federation operator, not of the organisation in question. However, the federation operator will normally consult before making a decision, particularly where the guidelines offer a choice.
  2. The guidelines are intended to be a compromise between the need to keep display names to a reasonable length on screen and the need to enable users to find their own organisation in the list. However, since the official names of organisations are inconsistent (e.g. "Oxford Brookes University" but "University of Oxford"), it is inevitable that organisations may not appear in what would seem to be their logical alphabetical sequence.
  3. These are guidelines rather than rules. For example, if an organisation's official name is long, it can be shortened, but not so much as to become unintelligible. In other cases it might improve clarity to include the name of a sub-organisation of the member organisation.