Education Technology

api web services: data sharing in the service of your campus


  • Nerces Kazandjian, Mentor/Product Owner, CSUN


  • Genesis & first steps
  • Current META_LAB API Web Servies Suites
  • Usage examples across campus
  • Q&A

Genesis & first steps

API: clearly defined methods of communicating among verious components

Abstracts underlying implementation, only exposing reqd objest or actions

Web services: communication via wWW between multiple electronic devices; provides an OO web-based interface to a db server

API/Web APIs: programmatic interface consisting of one or more publicly exposed endpoints; typically expressed in JSON or XML; commonly done through an HTTP server

How it all Started

  • 1st apps had direct access to databases. Do we need that level and freedom of access? What happens when the db structure changes? How do we give access outside of applications?
  • The appropriate time to move to an API web service: data is currently in used by multiple apps; data is id’ed as being potentially seful in future apps; data is requested by external dev teams

Tech Specifics

  • Lumen: Laravel pared down for micro-services and APIs; esily adaptable to Laravel applications
  • JSON: JS Object Notation; open standard that is human readable
  • RESTful: representation state transfer; standard HTTP methods (eg. GET, POST)

Advantages & Challenges

  • Advantages: simplify access to institutional data; promote the usage of data among campus devs; streamline web dev process
  • Challenges: getting access from authoritative source initially; 2-way access to read and write data; backward compatibility and support

Current Offerings

  • Affinity: teaching expertise
  • Citations: published works
  • Curriculum: course & class info
  • Degrees: Degree and institutional background
  • Directory: contact and listing information
  • Jewel: JSON data structure with HTML
  • Media: profile photo and name pronunciation
  • Roster: Membership of departments, committees, classes, etc.
  • Waldo: Room location information

Usage Examples Across Campus

  • AS Metro Pass: reduced-fare transit pass for students who meet unit requirement; available to students through registration/payment process; micro-app provides availability at AS Ticketing Office; Roster web service – number of enrolled units on student-by-student basis.
  • Catalog: online catalog with faculty, program, and course listings; curriculum web service class listings on course-by-course basis; degrees web service faculty degree information; directory web service faculty listing by department, faculty listing A-Z
  • Electronic Thesis & Dissertation: replaces thesis paperwork previously used by students and faculty; deposits theses to the library’s searchable repo; curriculum web service (graduate programs); roster web service (graduate program memberships, students and faculty)
  • Faculty profiles: automatically-generated profile page for CSUN faculty; affinity web service (faculty award badges, teaching & research interests); citations web service (faculty publication info); curriculum web service (faculty teaching schedule); degrees web service (faculty degree info); waldo web service (room location on campus map)
  • Late Add-Drop allows students to add/drop classes after respective deadlines; uses
  • Shared note taker: enables students to request note taking services
  • Academic curriculum: departments and programs using API web services: Computer Information Technology (senior design projects); computer science (faculty projects, senior design projects); Information Systems (faculty projects).

By Paul Schantz

CSUN Director of Web & Technology Services, Student Affairs. husband, father, gamer, part time aviator, fitness enthusiast, Apple fan, and iguana wrangler.

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