API for Directory Web App

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russellhltn
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Re: API for Directory Web App

Postby russellhltn » Sun Jul 10, 2016 10:30 am

Sorry it came across that way, but with the exception of scgallafent, all of the responses have been user-to-user (including myself).

The bottom line is the church doesn't provide an api. We can only speculate on the reason. The decision is not up to the developers. It would have to be approved by the Priesthood department as well as legal.

The best chance for change is to use the feedback link in LCR and explain what report you need and why.
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johnshaw
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Re: API for Directory Web App

Postby johnshaw » Sun Jul 10, 2016 11:56 am

Dwaggstaff1, your summary is accurate. The only success you'll have on YOUR timeline is a work around. This is a major reason the silicon valley members have up a decade ago on trying to help the church with app dev. It's what it is.

Please understand that most responses you got were from years of experience doing what you're trying to do.
“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.”
― Thomas Paine, Common Sense

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Re: API for Directory Web App

Postby Spencermksmith » Sun Nov 26, 2017 12:45 pm

I wish this topic would be revisited and an API made open to the public. This would be very helpful for different things I would like to do as an executive secretary.

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Re: API for Directory Web App

Postby lukeh » Sun May 13, 2018 1:56 pm

I posted in this thread showing how to use the lds.org JSON API, and a moderator approved the post, but it was subsequently deleted. I don't understand why: there are so many legitimate uses for the ward directory info that enable people to fulfill their callings. Can the moderator who deleted the post please explain why it was deleted?

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Re: API for Directory Web App

Postby lajackson » Sun May 13, 2018 2:26 pm

lukeh wrote:Can the moderator who deleted the post please explain why it was deleted?

The moderators work together in making sure that the Code of Conduct is followed. We each have different experiences and knowledge, and we help each other to make sure that posts at the Forum meet the requirements that have been set.

We normally work behind the scenes, but since you asked, your post has been moved to a location where it can not be viewed while the moderators consider whether or not it should be posted to the Forum. This regularly happens with a number of posts at the Forum each week.

The Code of Conduct does not allow for the posting of methods for circumventing Church policies or security mechanisms. Your post is actively being discussed by the moderators and we try to respond promptly to these issues. Watch for a Private Message by sometime tomorrow.

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Re: API for Directory Web App

Postby lukeh » Mon May 14, 2018 6:10 am

In the day and a half since I posted info on how to use the lds.org REST JSON API, I understand there has been substantial discussion among moderators about whether or not to allow the post. While I appreciate that this debate is happening at all, why is it happening behind closed doors? Questions about data access and APIs are one of the very common FAQs at LDSTech, and has been one of the most common offline questions among tech-savvy local church leadership for many years. May I respectfully ask that moderators move this discussion out into the open, so that the benefits and the moderators' concerns about API access may be discussed openly? This topic affects many users of this site.

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johnshaw
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Re: API for Directory Web App

Postby johnshaw » Mon May 14, 2018 6:56 am

lukeh wrote:In the day and a half since I posted info on how to use the lds.org REST JSON API, I understand there has been substantial discussion among moderators about whether or not to allow the post. While I appreciate that this debate is happening at all, why is it happening behind closed doors? Questions about data access and APIs are one of the very common FAQs at LDSTech, and has been one of the most common offline questions among tech-savvy local church leadership for many years. May I respectfully ask that moderators move this discussion out into the open, so that the benefits and the moderators' concerns about API access may be discussed openly? This topic affects many users of this site.


Nothing about the Church is analyzed in the open from the General Level all the way to the local level, leaders make the decisions, they engage with whoever they choose to engage with. Regardless of how you feel. Additionally, this is at the minimum the 3rd major attempt to engage with the church around the API's (I've had a small engagement myself at one point) and I don't anticipate the outcome being any different. You're worried about a day and a 1/2 analysis? It took 2 decades to change the Young Women and Young Men program and you think a discussion about membership data being used by 3rd party developers is going to take a couple of days? pure insanity.

In my work as a Clerk/ExecSec at all levels over the last 30 years I'm as disappointed as the next person that the church doesn't provide good administrative tools for use in Wards and Stakes (tracking tools, delegated assignment tools, etc...) all-the-while putting in policy that says NOT to use other tools, and not to develop your own. It means hundreds and thousands of person-hours are being spent duplicating effort across the world, time and resources that could be more focused on ministry aspects of callings rather than administration aspects.

I also have minimal faith in my fellow members not to go bat-nuts-crazy if the church even opened the door a little. All across the globe you can/must be married civilly prior to a temple sealing. Here in the US if we opened that up, it wouldn't take a year before this culture was building marble edifices for the wealthy to have elaborate weddings, - Pinterest, Instagram, internal competition would DRIVE absolute Delusional needs to outdo the last wedding in your ward/stake. It's a very sad commentary on our community, but its who we are as a people.
“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.”

― Thomas Paine, Common Sense

russellhltn
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Re: API for Directory Web App

Postby russellhltn » Mon May 14, 2018 7:03 am

lukeh wrote:In the day and a half since I posted info on how to use the lds.org REST JSON API, I understand there has been substantial discussion among moderators about whether or not to allow the post. While I appreciate that this debate is happening at all, why is it happening behind closed doors?

A day and a half - on a weekend. What we're trying to determine is to what extent the church allows this. It's not something we're going to get an answer to until sometime during working hours Utah time. The handling of personal information of other members carries moral and even legal implications. As such, it's not something the community, moderators, or admins of this forum have any say in. So, there's nothing to publicly discuss until we learn the answer.

The preliminary information is if this activity is discovered, it will earn the user a pointed phone call from the church's security department, and perhaps suspension of LDS Account access.

I would recommend patience and allow time for a proper response.
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Re: API for Directory Web App

Postby lukeh » Mon May 14, 2018 7:36 am

It wasn't the day and a half that I was pointing out, it was the fact that the discussion about whether or not to even allow the existence of the API to be mentioned was happening behind closed doors, when this is one of the most commonly-needed capabilities by tech-savvy local leadership. Discussion about the allowability of information on the API should be held openly, so that there is a clear understanding as to the decision process and justification behind any decision. The API itself is not going away -- it is critical to the functioning of both lds.org / LCR and to the LDS Tools app.

I pointed out the following in other posts that have not yet been allowed through by moderators, but I want to specifically point out that what I originally posted about the API in no way constitutes circumvention of security measures: it requires a user's login name and password to be provided, logs the user in the same exact way that a browser would log them in, and then only has access to the data that that user legitimately has access to through lds.org and LDS Tools, as determined by the server's access control policies relative to the user's calling in their unit. There is literally no difference between a user logging into lds.org and copying/pasting all the information on their ward, and getting access to the same information through the REST API, except that the REST API will save them a lot of time and frustration.

Efforts to stop local leaders from applying their time and talents to magnify their callings in ways that they locally deem necessary is very much antithetical to D&C 58:26-27. Please trust that local leaders will do the right thing with their stewardship over the data in their unit.

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Re: API for Directory Web App

Postby eblood66 » Mon May 14, 2018 7:58 am

lukeh wrote:I want to specifically point out that what I originally posted about the API in no way constitutes circumvention of security measures

The code of conduct prohibits discussion of 'circumventing Church policies or security mechanisms'. It sounds like they are trying to ascertain for certain whether direct use of the JSON APIs is prohibited by church policy. So whether it avoids security mechanisms is almost surely not the issue.

I'm not a moderator and I'm not privy to their discussions but I am absolutely sure the discussion is not about whether use of the APIs should be against the policy or not. That decision is made by the general authorities in charge of the church systems and is not and will not be an open discussion. They have or will make that decision based on study, legal advice and inspiration. But the forums will not be involved.

lukeh wrote:There is literally no difference between a user logging into lds.org and copying/pasting all the information on their ward, and getting access to the same information through the REST API, except that the REST API will save them a lot of time and frustration.

I think it safe to say that if the church prohibits use of the API then they also mean to prohibit mass copy/paste and/or screen scraping. From everything I've seen, I don't think they want electronic copies of large sets of members floating around in any way.

I understand perfectly that this is frustrating to many clerks and leaders, myself included. Back when MLS had exports and before the currently membership data policies were in place I used the exports with my own databases to fulfill my calling. But now I avoid that and just tell other leaders that they need to make due with what the church provides in their website and apps. I may not know all the reasons but I have confidence the general leaders have their reasons for these policies.


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