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Interoperability and Etrieve: Softdocs' API Strategy

Mike Williamson

Mike Williamson
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Since the invention of the network, and for a plethora of reasons, engineers have been working to get software systems to work together, sharing data and functionality. Until recently, it was common for systems to specify a file, write an export and import routine, and send this data between two systems. This worked well enough to share data, but actions that work upon this data still had to be maintained in both systems, oftentimes with unexpected and/or negative results.

Web services began to replace these file sharing techniques as early as the late 1990s, but the method of sharing and the level of functionality within these services, as well as the process and responsibilities for handling errors when they did not work as expected, were unpredictable. A great deal of research, both within the industry and academia, went into trying to solve these problems in an optimal manner.

The most widely accepted paradigm today is commonly called Representational State Transfer (REST) APIs. While no longer a new term, this data and functionality sharing methodology has survived long enough in the industry to be a staple of how systems communicate.

Etrieve Integrations

Softdocs fundamentally believes that the more efficiently we share information and functionality of our product with vendors and customers, the better it will be for those customers, and ultimately for our business. Today’s faculty, staff, parent and student populations are more tech and mobile savvy, creating much higher expectations. They want systems that seamlessly work together and that data entered once is used across the enterprise. For example, if a student moves and they inform one system within the university, they expect this information to be known enterprise-wide and acted upon by all systems that need the new address information.

As a result, we have committed significant resources to build a comprehensive RESTful API solution for Etrieve, in which data and functionality can be shared. For example, our Content module has RESTful APIs which the IT team can use to store and retrieve documents within Content. In addition, we have built our Connect model, which uses other vendors’ APIs and connection methodologies, to effectively use and share data with systems like Ellucian Ethos ®.

This commitment to system integration can be seen in our product roadmap, as a large portion of the features our customers request have to do with integrating systems together with RESTful APIs. This focus is evidence that Softdocs’ Etrieve platform is striving to be the best-in-breed ECM solution with a focus on system integrations.