Accessing MLS information externally

Discussions around using and interfacing with the Church MLS program.
eeyore-p40
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Accessing MLS information externally

Postby eeyore-p40 » Tue Jan 05, 2010 6:30 pm

I'm curious if it would be possible to access member names in MLS from a separate program? The reason I ask is that I would like to write a little app that can be used to track sacrament meeting assignments and provide Bishopric members information on who has and hasn't prayed or spoken in church. However, in order to do this, it would be best if the program could access the membership information in MLS to retrieve/synchronize the current members in the ward. It wouldn't need any additional information other than names, and possibly age, but I wasn't sure if MLS provided external access to its database.

I guess an alternative would be to incorporate this into MLS instead. If the database could be accessed remotely and properly protected, it certainly seems like that would be a beneficial thing to provide. However, I do understand the desire to prohibit access to such information, so whatever.

If anyone has any information on this, I'd appreciate it.

RossEvans
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Postby RossEvans » Tue Jan 05, 2010 6:39 pm

You can use the MLS export files, in particular the file called Membership.csv, to do this. It contains a non-confidential key called "Indiv ID". which you could use to link to your app's custom tables. (One tricky thing is that this export file contains a lot of confidential fields that you don't need. So depending on who the users are, that might need to be scrubbed.)

An alternative would be to export a custom report from MLS, and use the permanent Member Record Number as the ID field. But the MRN itself is treated as confidential.

There are a variety of third-party tools that might already contain this functionality, for bishopric use. But most of them also contain more functionality and data than your narrow purpose requires.

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Tue Jan 05, 2010 6:49 pm

To keep the data in MLS, I'd suggest Custom Fields. However, there is no remote access to MLS.

MLS has no API, but there is data export. You might also consider the export from LUWS, but you may be missing members and you won't be able to tell who is an adult and who isn't.
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eeyore-p40
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Postby eeyore-p40 » Tue Jan 05, 2010 6:58 pm

A .cvs file should work just fine. If I can't get the age information from there, that's okay. The Bishopric knows who the youth members are, so that'll work. As the Ward Clerk, I should too, but I'm gosh awful with names which is why the age would be nice.

Anyway, thanks everyone for the quick responses. This will work just fine.

RossEvans
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Postby RossEvans » Tue Jan 05, 2010 7:09 pm

eeyore wrote:A .cvs file should work just fine. If I can't get the age information from there, that's okay. The Bishopric knows who the youth members are, so that'll work. As the Ward Clerk, I should too, but I'm gosh awful with names which is why the age would be nice.

Anyway, thanks everyone for the quick responses. This will work just fine.


As ward clerk you should have the privilege to see all the confidential fields in Membership.csv, if only to delete them to sanitize your app.

That file includes a field called Birth, which is DOB in "d mon yyyy" format.

If you want to deal with the overhead, you might try my LDSqldatabase schema, which calculates age, etc. If you are handy with SQL at all, it would be easy to add your own custom table.

Or you might just try loading the free app for bishopric end-users called MLS Companion, which I think includes the functionality you want (and a lot of other stuff, as well.)

elderlarryhawkes-p40
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Postby elderlarryhawkes-p40 » Wed Jan 06, 2010 10:03 am

I will second boomerbubba's suggestion of checking out MLS Companion Database. We have started using it and it works quite nice. :)


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