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I got an email from Anthony Wu over at LearnSprout yesterday. If you are not following what LearnSprout is up to, they are bridging legacy student information systems (SIS) and providing easy to use web APIs that application developers can use to build educational apps.

The email from Anthony was in regards to a SIS LearnSprout was integrating with, which he said:

IlluminateEd is the best SIS API we've seen so far! Clean & simple. OAuth, JSON, no bullshit. If every SIS did this, we could just move on to greener pastures. This kind of thing should be encouraged!

I agree with Anthony. The IlluminateEd API is clean and simple. They intelligently use common technical API building blocks like oAuth and JSON, while keeping the API interfaces intuitive and meaningful and provide simple, up to date documentation.

My only criticism is simple, and would be about the description for the API: “This API allows third party applications to interact and communicate with the Illuminate system”. This is a classic mistake from API owners. Unlike Anthony I had no idea what the Illuminate system is. I can assume its a SIS, but they should really make it a little more description for newcomers.

Even though the API isn’t perfect LearnSprout says it is better than:

  • Humans as APIs (i.e. office secretary mashup with Excel)
  • CSV as APIs (the status quo)
  • Screen Scraping as APIs (for some, the ends justify the means…)
  • Legacy DOS terminal emulation

Learsprout sees a lot of different approaches to accessing and sharing data between SIS systems. They have a lot of value to bring to the industry, and I enjoying telling the story about what they are experiencing. And I agree with Anthony and this type of effort should be encouraged within the education space. Nice work IlluminateEd.




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