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API for access to member information

Posted: Sun May 06, 2018 5:26 pm
by davidnhutch
I don't suppose the church has any kind of API for getting member information?

As a new EQ Presidency, we're making the ministering companionship lists now. Since we live in silicon valley and many of us work in tech/software, inevitably we began to wonder if it was possible to continually update our google spreadsheet rather than have it go stale every couple of months. I know the church has a LOT of tools and list-creation in the Android app and more resources on the website etc. So I'm aware of what is out there already but still my question remains.

By API I mean access to member names, addresses, phone numbers and perhaps birthdays, not more.

Certainly with great power comes great responsibility -- I'm guessing probably the answer is no...

Re: API for access to member information

Posted: Sun May 06, 2018 6:27 pm
by russellhltn
davidnhutch wrote:Certainly with great power comes great responsibility -- I'm guessing probably the answer is no...
You guessed correctly.

The trend seems to be to lock down personal information in order to comply with privacy laws and minimize the risk of a data breach.

Re: API for access to member information

Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2018 9:47 pm
by ljcrapo
I have not given up hope on this. A secure API for technically savvy members to build upon would be no less secure than That website already has some potentially useful XHR endpoints that you could take advantage of to accomplish what you'd want to, but as has been noted in another thread, the church doesn't want us to do that.

I've had an idea for a simple app that would help improve the process of rearranging ministering assignments by visualizing where changes need to be made or fixed and how certain changes affect other companionships and families. The process always seems to cause a chain reaction that isn't so easily visible using the current set of tools. It would take me a weekend to write a front-end for this if a generic API were already in place. There are numerous examples of secure APIs with proper Authentication and authorization that allow for third party client development. My personal opinion is that if the church did create a secure API for us to use, it would help reduce leaders' inclination to save data to spreadsheets and distribute printed copies of the very information the church is trying to protect.

I know the request for an API has been sent up, but we haven't heard any news about if it's still even being talked about. It's been 5 months since I last heard anything. Still, I keep holding out hope that this becomes a reality and we get the opportunity to use our talents to enhance the work for our wards and everyone else.

Re: API for access to member information

Posted: Thu Jan 17, 2019 2:53 pm
by hpaulsen
I've been silently lurking in this thread, thought I'd check in again as it's been a while since I heard anything. Disappointed to see no new info. There are several projects that I would like to take on for my callings that would be facilitated by this. A couple examples:

Quite a few years ago now, before the maps, I was one of several members who created various mapping programs for wards/stakes. Mine was targeted towards emergency preparedness, so my program allowed the user to draw (or import) regions within the ward, and it would spit out a printout of each region and the members within it, as well as some general statistics (e.g. number of Melchizedek Priesthood holders, number of single sisters, etc). This ended up being useful for people in re-drawing boundaries as well. Unfortunately, no such functionality has been added to the maps and my solution is no longer viable with the information so locked-up. I thought of creating a bookmarklet to add the functionality to the maps but see that recent (past two years?) changes to the code make even this difficult.

Another project I want to do is to have an attendance app which would get sent around instead of a piece of paper for taking role. Attendees could tap their name/picture, then mark themselves present but also see a list of their current contact information and preferences (including whether they were signed up for the text-notification service we're using in the quorum) so that they can indicate any changes. Keeping up-to-date records has been a problem in our area, and this would help. Announcements, sign-up sheets with automatic reminders, and notifications of weekly challenges to those who missed a week are all possible additions (we serve a couple military bases, so many of the members of our quorum work rotations and therefore can attend only about half the time).

We've seen in the past that some really good member-led development projects got sat on for years while the church carefully implemented their sanitized versions (e.g. the maps mentioned before or the home teaching web app). I understand this, but it is extremely frustrating for those of us who wish to consecrate our technological talents and abilities to the work of the Lord. An official API with developer identification keys and perhaps even a hosted repository for code reviews to ensure proper security practices would be awesome! I know it's difficult to balance progress with security, this seems like an ideal solution to me.

Re: API for access to member information

Posted: Thu Jan 17, 2019 4:45 pm
by russellhltn
My reading of the tea leaves: The underlying issue is bulk data in computer readable form in the hands of (all too frequently careless) members. The most secure API can't protect the data once it's in an Excel spreadsheet in the hands of a member. The church keeps pretty quiet on the legal front, but I suspect we arrived at this point due to bad experiences.

Simply put, I think the future is the bulk data will have to be "captive" in church apps.

I don't know what to suggest as far as volunteer development. It appears past attempts at community development didn't work out so well. Attempting to create a development sandbox is probably more work than it saves.