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  1. Megan Kass
  2. Sierra/ Millennium/ Encore
  3. Tuesday, 10 July 2018
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Hi All,

First time posting, so please forgive me if I don't do this quite right. At one of the IUG conferences, a speaker talked about using APIs from the developer sandbox to add content from the catalog into a website. I've looked around developer.iii.com a bunch and read the documentation, but I wasn't able to understand exactly what each API is meant to do. Does anyone use any of these APIs on their website? Is there a better resource for explaining the different APIs and how to use them? Thank you!

Sincerely,
Megan Kass
Systems Librarian
Syosset Public Library
Syosset, NY

mkass@syossetlibrary.org

mkass@syossetlibrary.org
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Hi Megan,

you should be able to do what you want but there is a learning curve. If you are already used to writing scripts or backend code in a website than that is the biggest hurdle. After that you would do some reading about RESTful API to get a general sense of this technology, and how it differs say from accessing a database using SQL technology. (which by the way is also an option for getting Sierra data)

RESTful APIs are what the III company has rolled out in the last few years and there were lots of presentations in Orlando. This technology is considered web friendly because it uses the same GET and POST calls that website themselves use. First you will need to get credentials from your System Administrator. Its basically username password but they call it secret and key.

III automatically creates a web page for every library's database where you can sign in with your new credentials and learn while doing with the nice web form provided. If you are not familiar with what are called the HTTP Headers then this you will need to research that arcane science but there are many resources on the web.

finally when you become adept at using the sandbox website with your own bib item and patron data, you can start to compose the proper GET requests and call them from you webpage. The results come back in a form call JSON and that is quite web friendly to pick apart and populate your web page.

Hope this helps get you started

Andy Helck
Wilkinson Public Library

ahelck@telluridelibrary.org
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Hi Andy,

Thank you for your help with this. I'm used to working with the SDA and the html portion of the OPAC, but I'm not a coder and this is definitely outside my bailiwick. I've hired a third party website company who is much more familiar with APIs to try and bridge the gap, but they're confused as to what data the APIs are supposed to be able to get or pull. I'm not overly familiar with the different databases either. I know I'm in over my head, but I was hoping there was somewhere I'd be able to point this third party company to be able to find more specifics in their language, but it doesn't seem like that's the case. Thank you!

-Megan

mkass@syossetlibrary.org
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It sounds like you are putting together a team that will be able to figure out the APIs. Of course I'm not sure what you are trying to accomplish but here is how to get started:

This is the III company's documentation page https://techdocs.iii.com/
you will need a login for this page if you don't already have one, see your System Administrator

The two areas to investigate on the techdocs site is first the Sierra DNA information. Even if you don't intend to issue database queries you and your team will find it useful to see how the database tables are organized and linked together.

Second of course is the part of the site dealing with Sierra REST API. The information available through this technology is only a subset of what you can retrieve using Sierra DNA database queries, but if it has the info you need its a good deal simpler to code up. Ignore the documentation on SOAP APIs.

Of particular interest will be the 'Interactive Documentation' page. read it carefully and you will see how you can access your own database using the APIs but without writing any code. If you can step your way through your project and fetch a sample set of data using this interactive page, then you should feel confident that your programmers will be able to code up each of the individual calls and stitch them into a strategy for pulling out the data you need.

Note that before you get very far with the interactive documentation you will need the 'key/secret' credentials I mentioned above. Again see your Sys Admin for this. Permissions are granted for individual APIs so work with him or her to get access to what you need for your project. III provides a bogus database that you can browse without credentials, but of course to view your own real data you need permissions.

Note also that some of the API calls return a list of record number (eg a list of bib numbers satisfying some criteria) and that you then work through that list issuing more individual API calls to return detailed information about each record.

A really cool feature is that you can develop a particular way of pulling data using Create Lists, and then copy and paste that code into some of the API calls and retrieve the list of records just the same as create lists. this seems like a pretty powerful feature.

Here is a link to the presentation I gave in Orlando on this subject. toward the end I discuss a second project that gives some examples of calling the APIs through javascript. You can see some code in the .pdf. If you want a sample of the code that you can play with in Google Sheets let me know I will give you permissions on that file.

feel free to share this of course with all your team members, they can contact me directly if that helps

I hope this is a start,

Andy Helck
Wilkinson Public Library
Telluride CO 81432
ahelck@telluriidelibrary.org

ahelck@telluridelibrary.org
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Hi Andy,

Thank you so much for this! I think the techdocs was the missing piece I was looking for. I'm going to spend a lot of time reading through it to see if I can figure out a better game plan. Thank you! I don't see the link to your Orlando presentation - would you mind sending it one more time? Thank you!

Sincerely,
Megan

mkass@syossetlibrary.org
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