Educational institutions are eager to provide a seamless user experience for the end users on campus – whether it is the students or the staff. As educational institutions use an ever-increasing number of applications – SISs, ERPs, CRMs – to serve their users, they find that the biggest challenge is integrating the applications and the data that they use with each other. The integrations have to be secure while also allowing a rapid exchange of data between the applications. In the absence of this integration, the user experience is severely degraded, and this leads to frustration, wasted time and inefficiencies across the board.
At Softdocs, we take security of our user data very seriously. Our clients use our applications to store vast amounts of data and trust us to keep that data from prying eyes. At the same time, easy access to that data is one of the guiding principles of our product design and we try hard to make sure our users can access their data as seamlessly as possible, whenever and wherever they want it. Our attempts to balance the two pressings concerns of security and access in pursuit of better integrations with campus applications have led us to supporting OAuth 2.0-based connections in Etrieve Connect.
OAuth (short for "Open Authorization) is an open standard for authorization that provides a way for client applications to access resources on behalf of a user, without requiring the user to share their credentials. It is used to delegate access to a user's resources stored on one site, to another site, without the user having to expose their password. Integrations between applications using this standard are significantly more secure and have been rapidly adopted by vendors who seek to make the lives of their customers easier.
Etrieve Connect, our Integration platform, enables Etrieve Forms, Flow & Content to integrate with other applications using a variety of connections. These connections include Web API connections, Database Connections & custom Plugin-based Connections. Prior to the availability of OAuth 2.0 based connections in Connect, IT teams at educational institutions used Etrieve Connect to integrate with Vendor Web APIs which supported OAuth2, but doing so required significantly more time and resources; (due to the need to code custom plugins for each integration). By adding a new connection which natively supports OAuth2 based Web API connections, Softdocs has made it easier for IT Teams to integrate Etrieve with other applications on campus like PeopleSoft, Salesforce, Anthology, etc.
Integration with any third-party application which uses OAuth2 for their APIs can now be easily achieved using configuration in the Etrieve Connect UI instead of having to write code to build custom plugins. This lowers the barrier to adoption of these integrations significantly and cuts down on the time and resources required to set them up and maintain them.
Eventually, the expectation is that this will lead to an integrated campus app ecosystem. The app ecosystem can provide students with convenient access to a variety of campus services, such as course schedules, campus maps, library resources, and housing details. This can make it easier for students to navigate campus life and stay on top of their academic responsibilities.
The administrators across campus also will find see immediate benefits from an ecosystem of applications that can talk to each other faster and more securely. The Registrar can access documents from the Admissions office without delays. The Housing department can communicate with the Finance department about status of payments and assist the students with their accommodations much more quickly.
Ultimately, an integrated campus app ecosystem can improve communication, enhance the student experience, increase engagement, and support data-driven decision making. Softdocs is making this vision a little more real with the OAuth 2.0 standard.