Having a custom login page allows you to stay in your site and avoid the passive STS authN redirect dance back and forth between SP and the ADFS STS for authentication. This requires you to use active mode (WS-Trust) rather than the passive mode used by SharePoint. Note that this active approach won't give you single sign-on, because you won't get the MSISAuth ADFS SSO cookies - it will simply authenticate you first and then give you the SharePoint FedAuth cookie.
The code you need to call ADFS to make it authenticate you, and thus issue a claims token for use with SharePoint, can be found at Using an Active Endpoint to sign into a Web Application by Dominick Baier or Making a web application use an active STS by Koen Willemse. The missing detail not shown in their code is the URL to the ADFS endpoint, which needs to match the chosen client credentials and security mode; when using UserNameWSTrustBinding and sending the username and password in the WCF message secured using SSL (i.e. mixed), the URL should be like "http://adfs.pzl/adfs/services/trust/13/usernamemixed/" including the important ending / slash to avoid "405 method not allowed" error from IIS.
protected void btnLogin_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
// authenticate with WS-Trust endpoint
var factory = new WSTrustChannelFactory(
factory.Credentials.UserName.UserName = txtUserName.Text;
factory.Credentials.UserName.Password = txtPassword.Text;
var channel = factory.CreateChannel();
var rst = new RequestSecurityToken
RequestType = RequestTypes.Issue,
AppliesTo = new EndpointAddress("urn:sharepoint:puzzlepart"),
KeyType = KeyTypes.Bearer
var genericToken = channel.Issue(rst) as GenericXmlSecurityToken;
// parse token
var handlers = FederatedAuthentication.ServiceConfiguration
var token = handlers.ReadToken(new XmlTextReader(
After getting authenticated against the ADFS STS when calling Issue on the WS-Trust channel with a RequestSecurityToken, the returned SAML security token must first be parsed and then written to a FedAuth cookie created from the SAML token. The SharePoint FAM wrapper will both set the thread principal and write the cookie, making the user a logged in SharePoint user.
Note how the writing of the cookie is wrapped with RunWithElevatedPrivileges to ensure that it runs as the app-pool identity and not as the impersonated SharePoint user. This is to avoid the dreaded "CryptographicException: The system cannot find the file specified" error in the internal ProtectedDataCookieTransform call.
When calling ValidateToken you will run into the SecurityTokenException: Issuer of the Token is not a Trusted Issuer error if your STS is not trusted by SharePoint. SharePoint is configured to use its own SPPassiveIssuerNameRegistry and that will either validate against the built-in SharePoint STS or the set of trusted STS token issuers. See how to add your STS certificate(s) at SharePoint 2010 Claims-Based Auth with ADFS v2 by Eric Kraus. The trusted providers are apparently only used if the login page is located under the /_trust/ folder that is part of the above "redirect dance" when authenticating against a trusted identity provider.
Over at stack overflow, Matt Whetton had run into the same exception as us and solved it by replacing the passive <issuerNameRegistry> with the Windows Identity Foundation (WIF) ConfigurationBasedIssuerNameRegistry instead. The Configuration of WIF post shows how to add the set of certificate names and thumbprints to the <trustedIssuers> list. This is how your web.config list of trusted STS token issuers may look like:
Microsoft.IdentityModel, Version=18.104.22.168, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35">
<add thumbprint="1337133713371337" name="CN=adfs-puzzlepart" />
<add thumbprint="0000000000000000" name="CN=SharePoint Security Token Service" />
Remember to add the SharePoint self-issued certificates such as the "SharePoint Security Token Service" certificate to the list of trusted issuers, in addition to your own STS.
I strongly recommend putting your custom ADFS login page under /_trust/ to avoid having to change the SharePoint web.config files. We chose this approach to minimize risks.
Note that Fiddler seems to break the ADFS login process, at least when decrypting SSL. The customized rule provided in Fiddler and Channel Binding Tokens Revisited by Eric Lawrence alleviates this problem. Just make sure you click "remember my credentials" when logging in so that Fiddler can get it from the Windows Credential Manager.
Disclaimer: Note that even if things seems to work as normal after this configuration change, there is no guarantee that nothing was affected in the huge platform that SharePoint 2010 is. The combination of SP2010 claims and WIF is not very well documented, and any changes beyond supported configuration involves risks. Do not apply these changes if you are not sure that it will not break any of your SharePoint solutions or services.