At RedSeed, we do one thing and we do it well. We do training. We don’t plan to get involved in payroll, employee wellness or any other human resource functions any time soon. But training doesn’t exist in a vacuum.
Training forms part of a larger human-resources ecosystem – one that might be managed through several software packages at a single organisation. To get a complete picture of a business, these systems should be integrated. Ideally with little (or no) human intervention required.
That’s where an API comes in.
An API, or Application Programming Interface, is a way for one system to communicate with another.
Examples of systems communicating with each other are all around us. Almost like a whole society of artificial constructs talking to each other, just out of earshot – yet closer than even our closest friends. Whispering in a secret language. In full view – yet invisible. Come to think of it, it’s almost like they’re plotting something. With their millions of inscrutable zeroes and ones, never sleeping, always watching…
Many of us interact with systems that make use of APIs on a daily basis without realising it. The weather app on your phone is probably querying a weather API at a set interval and then updating its display to show you that, yes, it is going to rain again this weekend. The API allows your phone to display the current weather forecast, updating it in the background without any effort from you.
Another example would be logging into a website like AllBlacks.com with the “Sign in with Facebook” option. In the background, AllBlacks.com is using the Facebook API to log you in, without even knowing your Facebook password!
In short, an API is what two systems use to speak to each other using a predefined set of standards.
Here at RedSeed, we have been working on our own API for a while now and have started testing it with some of our clients. This allows for a much more streamlined user creation and enrollment process. Users can automatically be created in the correct location and enrolled in the correct courses as they are created in the payroll or HR system.
In techspeak, the API uses RESTful web services that consume JSON. We went with JSON as arguably the most widely used current standard, but if your system only allows for CSV or XML, don’t worry – we can help with that!
Currently, we are trialling phase 1 of the API which allows for:
- Creating and editing users
- Enrolling and unenrolling users in courses
Phase 2 and 3 will focus on the reporting aspect of users and their training.
We are also working on our single sign-on solution, but more on that in a future blog post!