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Our goal is to provide a powerful hub for community, communication, and connectedness. Our Application Programming Interface (API) allows you to determine how people will ultimately interact with that hub. Do you have other software that needs to exchange data with Church Community Builder? Do you want your website to be where people execute calls to action without having to go to another site? We can make this happen in a wide variety of ways with our API services.
While most services are read-only and cannot damage any of your existing data, there are a number of options that allow you to edit or insert information into Church Community Builder. For example, the Online Giving service will create new records in the Online Gift section, so care should be taken when using these types of services. Web development experience is recommended.
API is available on your existing account. The Master Administrator or those who have been assigned the Edit System-wide Settings privilege can assign API services by going to Settings > API.
An Overview of API
API stands for Application Programming Interface. You don’t really need to know what those three letters stand for, but if you’re ever on a game show and they ask, you’ll have the answer. API can be a bit confusing, we know, but the concept of API is pretty straightforward, and this article will answer questions like:
- What is an API?
- Why would our church need to use an API?
- How can our church use the Church Community Builder API?
What is an API?
Most non-programmer types start with one major question: What is an API? First and foremost you need to realize that APIs are your friend. On the surface they are easy to understand. An API is a tool that helps one computer application communicate with another computer application. An API can also be used to enhance your church’s website. The Church Community Builder API was created so that some information held within your Church Community Builder software could also be displayed on your church website. Group lists, events and their details, and your church’s calendar (just to name a few) are all information that can be displayed on your church website or any other web application your church uses.
Almost any website you can think of has an API for their content. Twitter, Flickr, the New York Times, Facebook, Craig’s List, Google Maps — they all have APIs available for their content. The Church Community Builder program is, in essence, no different. Church Community Builder has developed an API (also called API services) that you can use to get content from your Church Community Builder program and display it on your church’s website.
Why would our church need to use an API?
A very good question with a simple answer. APIs help developers do three things with your church website:
- Build rich web experiences
- Display custom information
- Drive traffic
Let’s look at an example of how this all works together. The following image shows how one of our church partners is doing an excellent job of using our API to display small group information.
The church in the above example is using the API to list all small groups. They have also built some functionality to allow users to filter the results based on category and day of the week.
In addition to getting small group data, the Church Community Builder API can also be used to:
- Allow individuals to log in through your website
- Display, create, and update individual profiles
- Add individuals to groups and events
- Display your calendar on your website
- Enable your church to give online
How can our church use the Church Community Builder API?
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably thinking this ‘API’ thing is pretty cool and you’re looking for some next steps. A word of warning, however: Utilizing the Church Community Builder API requires experience and a solid grasp of web development. You may have a web developer in your church who can program your website to connect with our API. But if you don't, there is another option: hire an experienced programmer who has previously worked with API development to assist you with the programming/integration for your project.
The following document will provide you with instructions for accessing and using the API services currently available within Church Community Builder. It will also describe how to get access to the API User Community within our Village site. It is available both here and to the Master Administrator or those with the Edit System-wide Settings admin privilege by clicking the Settings Gear > API.
Logins and passwords are created and assigned through the API Admin section within Church Community Builder. Each login can be assigned to each service individually so that control can be kept on what services are available if, for instance, the login is for an external web development company.
1. Click Settings > API thenon the right side of the page under Actions.
2. Fill in the API User Information: Name (first and last in the same box), Username, Password, and Re-Type Password (make sure you write the username/password down so you can share it with your API user later). The password strength indicator shows how strong your chosen password is. Use upper and lower case letters and include numbers to increase the strength.
3. Fill in their Primary Organization Contact Information (this is used when those working your API are from an outside organization): Organization Name, Contact Name, Contact Phone, Contact Email.
4. Now toggle to the Services view.
5. Put a check in the box by any applicable API Service that you want to give the user access to, or you can click the Select All at the top of the page, if you want to give the user access to all API services.
6. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save when you are done.
You can edit API users, usernames/passwords, and services by following these steps:
1. Click Settings > API, then select the Users tab.
2. Click on the name of the user you want to edit in the Current API Users list.
3. Once you've clicked on their name, their name will appear below as a hyperlink in the API User Account Details area. Click on the name.
4. Make any changes to the user and/or click Services to edit which services the user has access to.
5. Once all edits are made to the user and services, scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save.
To delete an API user:
1. Click Settings > API, then click the Users tab.
2. Click on the name of the user you want to delete in the Current API Users list.
3. Once you've clicked on their name, their name will turn into a hyperlink in the API User Account Details area. Click on the name to access the current account info.
4. On the right under Actions, click thelink.
5. You will be asked to confirm that you want to delete the user. If so, click.