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As far as I can tell from the documentation you are required to created a Connected App (ex-Remote App) in order to use salesforce as the authentication authority.

However there are apps that don't require this e.g. Workbench, mobile apps. Why is it that you have to create a Connected App in some cases but not others?

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In every case, as the app developer, you create a Connected App, obtaining a consumer key and secret for that app. Now users can use your app in any org. That's right - you don't need to create a Connected App (and obtain the key and secret) in each 'target' org - you're good to go.

So, Ryan Brainard, the Workbench author, created a Connected App for Workbench, probably in some DE org, and that's enough, you can use Workbench in any org. Similarly for any app you write.

It is a detail that isn't immediately obvious. I do need to go back to the 'Digging Deeper' article, update it for Connected Apps, and make that point more clear.

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    +1 for updating the article. I avoided OAuth for a long time because of this misconception, but once I understood, OAuth ftw! – Phil Rymek Jul 15 '13 at 19:17
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    Wow been sat here, much to late in the UK, scratching my head over this very thought! Thanks for clearing it up. So why would you package a Connected App entry, for Canvas connected apps yes? – Andrew Fawcett Sep 15 '13 at 0:54
  • +1, seriously had same question, googled and got the answer. Thank you salesforce.stackexchange.com! – Chirag Mehta Oct 26 '16 at 10:43

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