Using Microsoft PowerBI with the Blackbaud API

At the recent Blackbaud K-12 Conference, I spent some time with Grahm Getty who did a presentation on using PowerBI with the Blackbaud ON products.  The ability to visualize your data is really powerful and can be used to find insights and problems in your data.  Grahm and I spent some time figuring out how to use the Blackbaud API to get the data in real-time into PowerBI so that it is always up-to-date and doesn’t require exporting and using CSV files.  We were able to get this to work with the desktop version of PowerBI, but it doesn’t seem to work with the web version.  I haven’t given up on that, but for now I thought I would share a tutorial on how to get it to work with the desktop version of PowerBI.  What follows is a tutorial that assume you know nothing of the Blackbaud API nor Microsoft PowerBI.

Prerequisites
This tutorial requires:

  1. You have the Blackbaud API enabled.  There is an annual fee for this, so you need to contact your account manager if you do not already have it.  It comes bundled with ODBC access, so if you have that, then you have API access.
  2. A machine running some modern version of Windows.  It can be emulated in VMware or Parallels if your a Mac user.  PowerBI requires Windows.

Setup within the Blackbaud “ON” products

  1. Create a new user within the “ON” products to use to make API calls.  It is best practice to use a separate account to make API calls.
    1. As a Platform Manager, go to Core>Users/Access>Profile
    2. Click “Add New User”
    3. Fill out the Last Name, First Name, Username and pick and confirm a temporary password.  I used “PowerBI” as the First Name, “API” as the Last Name and “powerbi-api” as the username.
    4. In the screen that follows, edit the user.
    5. Under “System Information” for the user we just created, click “Role Membership”.
    6. Click “Edit”.
    7. Enable “Web Services API Manager” and click on “Save & Exit”.
    8. Sign Out of the ON products and login with your newly created account.
    9. When you login, you will be forced to change your password.  Change it.
  2. Sign Out of the ON products and login to your normal account.
  3. Go to lists (Faculty>My Day>Schedule & Performance>Lists>View All).
  4. At this point, we need to create the list that we want to use in PowerBI.  For the purposes of this demo, we will use one based on a list template.
    1. Click on List Templates.
    2. Under “Template Category” pick “Constituent Information”
    3. Find “Students by Current Grade” and click on “View/Copy”
    4. Under name, give it a name (I used “PowerBI student information”)
    5. Let’s add Ethnicity.
    6. Click on the “Select Objects” tab.
    7. Under “Constituent Information”, click “User Citizenship/Residency”
    8. Click on the “Display Fields” tab.
    9. At the bottom of the screen, click on “Select Fields…”
    10. Expand “User Base” by clicking on the +
    11. Expand “User Citizenship/Residency”
    12. Check the checkbox next to “Ethnicity” and “Citizenship” and then click the “Select” button.
    13. Click the “Preview” button on the bottom right of the screen to preview the list.
    14. Click “Save & Exit” on the top right.
  5. Next we need to get the list ID number so that we can use it in an API call.  This ID number is somewhat hidden.
    1. Control-click on the “Run” link next to the list we just created.
    2. Select “Copy Link” from the pop-up menu that appears.
    3. Go to the text editor of your choice and paste the link.  (note: if you only see “Run” when you paste you’ll need to paste it as unformatted text (on a Mac: command-option-shift-v).
    4. You should see something like: javascript:__pdL(‘52586′,’Advanced%20List:%20API%20-%20list%20example’,%20’1′,%20’~slid=49748~ml=False~sln=API%20-%20list%20example’,%20”,%20’False’,%20’0′,%20”,%20’default.aspx’)
    5. after “slid=” there is a number (in the example 49748).  This is the list ID.  Make a note of your list ID.
    6. Next we have to grant the API account we setup earlier with access to the list we want to use.
      1. Click on the “User Access” link to the right of the link. 
      2. Click on “Add User(s)”.
      3. Search for the API user you created.  (I searched for last name of “API). 
      4. To the left of the API user in the search results, click on the blue “>>” link to move it to “Added Users” and then click on “Save & Exit”.
      5. Leave it with the defaults of “Run” and press “Save & Exit” again.

Microsoft PowerBI Setup

  1. If you do not have the desktop version of Microsoft PowerBI installed on your Windows machine, go to https://powerbi.microsoft.com and click on “Sign up for free” in the top right.  Then click “download free”.  Install it on your machine.
  2. Launch PowerBI Desktop (this takes a while on my machine).
  3. Cancel out of the splash screen. 
  4. Press the “Edit Queries” button in the tool ribbon. 
  5. Press the “New Source” button and then select “Blank Query” and press the “Connect” button.
  6. Right click on the new query that was created and select “Advanced Editor”.
  7. PowerBI makes use of a query language that can be used for advanced queries.  Because of how the Blackbaud ON API handles authentication, we need to use this advanced query language.  Copy the code below into the advanced editor, replacing the code in red with your school’s ON website address, API username/password, and the list ID.  When you edit the text, make sure you don’t use smart quotes.

    let
    Source = Json.Document(Web.Contents(“https://myschool.myschoolapp.com/api/authentication/login?username=apiusername&password=apipassword&format=json”)),T = Source[Token],
    GetList = Function.InvokeAfter(()=>Json.Document(Web.Contents(“https://myschool.myschoolapp.com/api/list/listIDnumber/?t=” & T & “&format=json”)), #duration(0,0,0,5))
    in
    GetList

  8. Click on the “Done” button in the Advanced Editor. 
  9. At this point there are a few setting changes related to the PowerBI security model that I don’t quite understand. Next to “Please specify how to connect” press “Edit Credentials.”
  10. Pick “Anonymous” from the list on the left and press “Connect”. 
  11. Next, you should see an alert “Information is required about data Privacy.”  Press the “Continue button. 
  12. In the pop-up to the right of your website URL pick “Public” then press “Save”.
  13. You should then see results as a column of “Records”.  We will need to expand those. 
  14. Right click on the column header and select “To Table”.
  15. Then an icon will appear on the right side of the column header.  Click on it and you will be able to pick what columns of data you want to view from the record.  Uncheck “Use original column name as prefix” and then click “OK”.
  16. Press the “Close & Apply” button on the left side of the tool ribbon.
  17. Now it’s time for us to build our data visualization!
  18. On the right side of the screen, click on the first icon “Stacked bar chart”.
  19. From the right side of the screen, drag the “GradYear” field to the Axis box, and drag “Gender” to “Value” and then drag it again to “Legend”.
  20. We should now see a chart.  My sample data is pretty boring.
  21. Make sure you’ve clicked on the chart and then click on the paint roller icon.
  22. Click on “Data colors” on the right and pick a light pink for “F” and a light blue for “M”. 
  23. Turn on “Data Labels”, change the font to a larger size and switch the position to “Inside Center”.
  24. Resize the box around the chart to make it bigger.
  25. Now click on the stacked bar chart icon again, and put “GradYear” in the axis and “User ID” in the value field.  Note that it automatically switches “User ID” to “Count of User ID”.
  26. Next click on the “Card” icon (it has the 123 on it).  Drag User ID to it’s value box and click on the triangle next to it to switch it to “Count of User ID (Distinct)”.
  27. Now try clicking on one of the graduation years in the chart of them and notice how the count we just added changed and what it did to the other chart.
  28. Finally save your file.

Photo Directory Example

Let’s look at a more complicated example of using the Blackbaud K12 API with the “ON” products. Recently, I had to develop a photo directory, with pictures of faculty/staff and some information (job title, room number, phone number, e-mail, etc.) about them.  There isn’t a built-in report in the Blackbaud products for this, nor is it easy to export this data along with photos. To solve this, I wrote a simple PHP script, the extracts the data/photos using the API, formats them, and creates a web page that can easily be printed to PDF or sent to a printer.

At the bottom of this post, I’ll include the full source to this solution, but first I’ll walk you through the code below.

First, a little HTML/CSS to try to make the HTML table deal with page breaks, etc. a little better:

<html>
 <head>
 <style type="text/css">
 table { page-break-inside:auto }
 tr { page-break-inside:avoid; page-break-after:auto }
 thead { display:table-header-group }
 tfoot { display:table-footer-group }
 </style>
 </head>

Next, I need to set the execution timeout to something a little longer.  This script is going to make a lot of API calls, resize a ton of photos, and generally take a long time to run.  I’ll also keep track of how long it takes for the script to run and load up the Httpful library I mention in my last post.

error_reporting( error_reporting() & ~E_NOTICE );
ini_set('max_execution_time', 300); # set to five minutes (300 seconds)
$time_start = microtime(true); # start timing how long this script takes
include_once ('./httpful.phar'); # use Httpful http://phphttpclient.com/

Next, we get an authentication token:

$schoolWebsite = "https://latinschool.myschoolapp.com"; # website used to login to the "ON" products
$apiUser = "my_username";
$apiPassword = "my_password";

// Get authentication token for the Blackbaud K12 API
$uri = "$schoolWebsite/api/authentication/login/?username=". $apiUser . "&password=" . $apiPassword . "&format=json";
$response = \Httpful\Request::get($uri)->expectsJson() ->send();
$token = $response->body->{"Token"};

We will set some variables determine how many columns we want, the height of the table cells and image, and an image to use as a generic image when the user doesn’t have a profile photo.

#Some parameters for the photo directory
$numColums = 4; # How many columns do we want?
$tdHeight = 210; # Height of the table cell that holds the entry
$imgHeight = 170; # Image height
$genericPhotoURL = "http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/detectiveconan96/images/7/72/Generic_Male_Profile.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20140709000724"; # This photo will show if we don't have a user profile 

Next, we’ll do a little error checking to see if our login effort worked and then start up our table:

if (strpos($token, 'Invalid') !== false) {
 echo "Invalid Login.<br>";
} else {
 echo "<table border=0>";
 $currentColumn = 1;

We are going to use the List API to gather the users we want. If you want to use this script, you’ll have to create your own list, and use it’s list ID in the API call. The comments have tips on how this list is setup.

 # Use Blackbaud K12 list API to gather nonteaching staff and teachers.
 # You can get the listid by hovering over edit and look for slid= in the link
 # on the website. Using lists is faster than doing individual API calls, 
 # and they can be edited by end users.
 #
 # If you'd like to generate a photo directory of something else, you can
 # change this list.
 #
 # The following objects were selected for this list:
 # + User Base
 # + User School Defined Fields
 # + User Role
 # + User Detail
 #
 # The following fields were selected for "display" (Display As)
 # + User Base.User ID (UserID)
 # + User Base.First Name (FirstName)
 # + User Base.Last Name (LastName)
 # + User Base.E-Mail (email)
 # + User Base.Host ID (HostID)
 # + User School Defined Fields. Defined 2 (latinid)
 #
 # The list has the following filter:
 # User Role.Role any of Non-Teaching Staff,Teacher
 #
 # The list is ordered by: (Change, to change sort order for photo directory)
 #
 # User Base.Last Name Ascending
 # Then By
 # User Base.First Name Ascending
 #
 
 $uri = $schoolWebsite . "/api/list/46815/?t=" . $token . "&format=json";
 $response = \Httpful\Request::get($uri)-> send();
 $employees = $response->body;

Now, we will loop through the list results and grab information about each person in the list:

 $i = 0;
 
 foreach ($employees as $employee) {
 $i++;
 $fname = $employee->{"FirstName"};
 $lname = $employee->{"LastName"};
 $whsid = $employee->{"UserID"};
 $hostid = $employee->{"HostID"};

Next, we will use the /user/extended API call to get more details about each user, including a URL to where their profile photo is stored.

 # get details on this employee via the Blackbaud K12 API
 # /user/extended uses the system ID or "UserID" in the call
 # to get detailed information on an individual user. It can
 # give us access to data we cannot otherwise see, such as the 
 # URL to their profile photo.
 $uri = $schoolWebsite . "/api/user/extended/" . $whsid . "/?t=" . $token . "&format=json";
 $response = \Httpful\Request::get($uri)-> send();
 
 # Let's set some variables with the data from user/extended:
 $employeeDetail = $response->body; 
 $uname = $employeeDetail->{"UserName"};
 $employeeLatinID = $employeeDetail->{"CustomField2"}; # My school stores our ID number in this custom field
 $employeePhotobookCode = $employeeDetail->{"CustomField10"}; # Code to use to omit people from the directory
 $employeeProfilePhoto = $employeeDetail->{"ProfilePhoto"};
 $employeePhotoURL = $employeeProfilePhoto->{"LargeFilenameUrl"};
 if($employeePhotoURL !== "") {
 $employeePhotoURL = $schoolWebsite . $employeePhotoURL; # The photo URL needs the school website added to it
 }
 
 # Job Titles are harder. They are contained within an array called OccupationList.
 # A single person can have multiple occupations. We are going to go through the
 # array and look at each occupation. We don't have a great well to tell which is 
 # the right one to use. In my example, I'm going to look for a business name 
 # matching my school name and use the title found there. Obviously, if there are
 # more then one occupation listed with the same employer name, it will overwrite
 # the data, but hopefully, we don't have the same person listed more than once.
 # Finally, as a fail safe, it will set it to the last title found, if we haven't
 # set the job title yet.
 
 $employeeOccupationList = $employeeDetail->{"OccupationList"};
 $employeeTitle = "";
 foreach ($employeeOccupationList as $employeeOccupation) {
 $employeeBusinessName = $employeeOccupation->{"BusinessName"};
 $employeeOccupationTitle = $employeeOccupation->{"JobTitle"};
 
 if (($employeeBusinessName = "Latin School of Chicago") || ($employeeBusinessName = "The Latin School of Chicago")) {
 $employeeTitle = $employeeOccupationTitle;
 } else {
 if ($employeeTitle == "") { 
 // If we haven't set something yet for the user, let's try setting this title, 
 // even though the business name isn't set right
 $employeeTitle = $employeeOccupationTitle;
 }
 }
 }
 
 # Let's grab their work address. It's stored in an array, but we never
 # have more than one address. This will loop through it and grab the
 # last (hopefully only) value. If you have multiple values here, you'll
 # have to come up with a better way of dealing with this.
 $employeeOffice = "";
 $employeeAddressList = $employeeDetail->{"AddressList"};
 foreach ($employeeAddressList as $employeeAddress) {
 $employeeAddressType = $employeeAddress->{"address_type"};
 $employeeAddressLn1 = $employeeAddress->{"AddressLine1"};
 
 if($employeeAddressType == "Business/College") {
 $employeeOffice = $employeeAddressLn1;
 }
 }
 
 # Now let's grab their work phone number. Same deal as address.
 $employeeOfficePhone = "";
 $employeeOfficePhoneList = $employeeDetail->{"PhoneList"};
 foreach ($employeeOfficePhoneList as $employeeOfficePhoneItem) {
 $employeeOfficePhoneType = $employeeOfficePhoneItem->{"Type"};
 $employeeOfficePhoneNumber = $employeeOfficePhoneItem->{"PhoneNumber"};
 
 if($employeeOfficePhoneType == "Business/College") {
 $employeeOfficePhone = $employeeOfficePhoneNumber;
 $employeeOfficePhone = str_replace(' ', '', $employeeOfficePhone);
 $employeeOfficePhone = str_replace(')', '.', $employeeOfficePhone);
 $employeeOfficePhone = str_replace('(', '', $employeeOfficePhone); 
 $employeeOfficePhone = str_replace('-', '.', $employeeOfficePhone); 
 }
 }

You’ll notice we have to jump through some hoops with phones, addresses and titles, since the API returns a list (array) of responses for each.

We’ve made use of user defined field 10 to exclude certain people from the directory. If there is a value in the field, we skip that person.

 if($employeePhotobookCode == "") { 
 # We use CustomField10 as a place to exclude folks from the photo directory
 
 if($currentColumn == 1) {
 echo "<tr>";
 }

 echo "<td valign=top align=center height=$tdHeight width=25%>";
 # This is the table cell with all of the user data

Here is the code block that produces the content for each directory entry. We run the photo through another script (img.php) which resizes and crops them.

 # First the photo: 
 if($employeePhotoURL !== "") {
 echo "<a href=\"$uri\"><img src=\"img.php?url=$employeePhotoURL\" height=\"$imgHeight\"></a><br>\n";
 # img.php is a script that crops and resizes the images to a standard size
 } else {
 echo "<a href=\"$uri\"><img src=\"img.php?url=$genericPhotoURL\"></a><br>\n";
 }
 echo "<font size=-1>$fname $lname<br></font>\n";
 echo "<font size=-2>$employeeTitle<br></font>\n";
 echo "<font size=-2>$employeeOffice &nbsp; &nbsp; $employeeOfficePhone<br></font>\n";

A little cleanup of our HTML table and the end of our script:

 if($currentColumn == $numColums) {
 echo "</td></tr>";
 $currentColumn = 1; 
 } else {
 echo "</td>";
 $currentColumn++;
 }

 }
 
 if($i>2500) { break;} # Stop if we have way too many results. Can decrease number to debug 
 } 
 
 if ($currentColumn == $numColums) {
 echo "</table>";
 } else {
 echo "</tr></table>";

 }
}

echo "<br><br>Employees Found: $i<br>";
$time_end = microtime(true);
$time = $time_end - $time_start;
echo "Run time: " . round($time,2) . " s";
?>

</html>

 

Here is the script in it’s entirety.

<html>
 <head>
 <style type="text/css">
 table { page-break-inside:auto }
 tr { page-break-inside:avoid; page-break-after:auto }
 thead { display:table-header-group }
 tfoot { display:table-footer-group }
 </style>
 </head>

<?php
#------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
# Copyright 2016 Shandor Simon (shandor at gmail dot com) 
# http://duff.io 
# 
# This work is licenced under the Creative Commons 
# Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License. 
# To view a copy of this licence, visit 
# http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/ 
# or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, 
# California 94305, USA. 
#
# This code is provided as-is with no warranty expressed or implied.
# It is possible to change or delete data using this API. You should
# make use of it at your own discretion/risk. You are solely responsible 
# for its use.
#
#------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
# Version 1.0.1 - 2016-07-01
#------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
# Blackbaud K12 "ON" products API example in PHP to generate a photo directory
# that is intended to be printed

error_reporting( error_reporting() & ~E_NOTICE );
ini_set('max_execution_time', 300); # set to five minutes (300 seconds)
$time_start = microtime(true); # start timing how long this script takes
include_once ('./httpful.phar'); # use Httpful http://phphttpclient.com/

$schoolWebsite = "https://latinschool.myschoolapp.com"; # website used to login to the "ON" products
$apiUser = "my_username";
$apiPassword = "my_password";
$debug = true;
$genericPhotoURL = "http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/detectiveconan96/images/7/72/Generic_Male_Profile.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20140709000724"; # This photo will show if we don't have a user profile 

#Some parameters for the photo directory
$numColums = 4; # How many columns do we want?
$tdHeight = 210; # Height of the table cell that holds the entry
$imgHeight = 170; # Image height

// Get authentication token for the Blackbaud K12 API
$uri = "$schoolWebsite/api/authentication/login/?username=". $apiUser . "&password=" . $apiPassword . "&format=json";
$response = \Httpful\Request::get($uri)->expectsJson() ->send();
$token = $response->body->{"Token"};

if (strpos($token, 'Invalid') !== false) {
 echo "Invalid Login.<br>";
} else {
 echo "<table border=0>";
 $currentColumn = 1;
 
 # Use Blackbaud K12 list API to gather nonteaching staff and teachers.
 # You can get the listid by hovering over edit and look for slid= in the link
 # on the website. Using lists is faster than doing individual API calls, 
 # and they can be edited by end users.
 #
 # If you'd like to generate a photo directory of something else, you can
 # change this list.
 #
 # The following objects were selected for this list:
 # + User Base
 # + User School Defined Fields
 # + User Role
 # + User Detail
 #
 # The following fields were selected for "display" (Display As)
 # + User Base.User ID (UserID)
 # + User Base.First Name (FirstName)
 # + User Base.Last Name (LastName)
 # + User Base.E-Mail (email)
 # + User Base.Host ID (HostID)
 # + User School Defined Fields. Defined 2 (latinid)
 #
 # The list has the following filter:
 # User Role.Role any of Non-Teaching Staff,Teacher
 #
 # The list is ordered by: (Change, to change sort order for photo directory)
 #
 # User Base.Last Name Ascending
 # Then By
 # User Base.First Name Ascending
 #
 
 $uri = $schoolWebsite . "/api/list/46815/?t=" . $token . "&format=json";
 $response = \Httpful\Request::get($uri)-> send();
 $employees = $response->body;
 
 $i = 0;
 
 foreach ($employees as $employee) {
 $i++;
 $fname = $employee->{"FirstName"};
 $lname = $employee->{"LastName"};
 $whsid = $employee->{"UserID"};
 $hostid = $employee->{"HostID"};
 
 # get details on this employee via the Blackbaud K12 API
 # /user/extended uses the system ID or "UserID" in the call
 # to get detailed information on an individual user. It can
 # give us access to data we cannot otherwise see, such as the 
 # URL to their profile photo.
 $uri = $schoolWebsite . "/api/user/extended/" . $whsid . "/?t=" . $token . "&format=json";
 $response = \Httpful\Request::get($uri)-> send();
 
 # Let's set some variables with the data from user/extended:
 $employeeDetail = $response->body; 
 $uname = $employeeDetail->{"UserName"};
 $employeeLatinID = $employeeDetail->{"CustomField2"}; # My school stores our ID number in this custom field
 $employeePhotobookCode = $employeeDetail->{"CustomField10"}; # Code to use to omit people from the directory
 $employeeProfilePhoto = $employeeDetail->{"ProfilePhoto"};
 $employeePhotoURL = $employeeProfilePhoto->{"LargeFilenameUrl"};
 if($employeePhotoURL !== "") {
 $employeePhotoURL = $schoolWebsite . $employeePhotoURL; # The photo URL needs the school website added to it
 }
 
 # Job Titles are harder. They are contained within an array called OccupationList.
 # A single person can have multiple occupations. We are going to go through the
 # array and look at each occupation. We don't have a great well to tell which is 
 # the right one to use. In my example, I'm going to look for a business name 
 # matching my school name and use the title found there. Obviously, if there are
 # more then one occupation listed with the same employer name, it will overwrite
 # the data, but hopefully, we don't have the same person listed more than once.
 # Finally, as a fail safe, it will set it to the last title found, if we haven't
 # set the job title yet.
 
 $employeeOccupationList = $employeeDetail->{"OccupationList"};
 $employeeTitle = "";
 foreach ($employeeOccupationList as $employeeOccupation) {
 $employeeBusinessName = $employeeOccupation->{"BusinessName"};
 $employeeOccupationTitle = $employeeOccupation->{"JobTitle"};
 
 if (($employeeBusinessName = "Latin School of Chicago") || ($employeeBusinessName = "The Latin School of Chicago")) {
 $employeeTitle = $employeeOccupationTitle;
 } else {
 if ($employeeTitle == "") { 
 // If we haven't set something yet for the user, let's try setting this title, 
 // even though the business name isn't set right
 $employeeTitle = $employeeOccupationTitle;
 }
 }
 }
 
 # Let's grab their work address. It's stored in an array, but we never
 # have more than one address. This will loop through it and grab the
 # last (hopefully only) value. If you have multiple values here, you'll
 # have to come up with a better way of dealing with this.
 $employeeOffice = "";
 $employeeAddressList = $employeeDetail->{"AddressList"};
 foreach ($employeeAddressList as $employeeAddress) {
 $employeeAddressType = $employeeAddress->{"address_type"};
 $employeeAddressLn1 = $employeeAddress->{"AddressLine1"};
 
 if($employeeAddressType == "Business/College") {
 $employeeOffice = $employeeAddressLn1;
 }
 }
 
 # Now let's grab their work phone number. Same deal as address.
 $employeeOfficePhone = "";
 $employeeOfficePhoneList = $employeeDetail->{"PhoneList"};
 foreach ($employeeOfficePhoneList as $employeeOfficePhoneItem) {
 $employeeOfficePhoneType = $employeeOfficePhoneItem->{"Type"};
 $employeeOfficePhoneNumber = $employeeOfficePhoneItem->{"PhoneNumber"};
 
 if($employeeOfficePhoneType == "Business/College") {
 $employeeOfficePhone = $employeeOfficePhoneNumber;
 $employeeOfficePhone = str_replace(' ', '', $employeeOfficePhone);
 $employeeOfficePhone = str_replace(')', '.', $employeeOfficePhone);
 $employeeOfficePhone = str_replace('(', '', $employeeOfficePhone); 
 $employeeOfficePhone = str_replace('-', '.', $employeeOfficePhone); 
 }
 }
 
 if($employeePhotobookCode == "") { 
 # We use CustomField10 as a place to exclude folks from the photo directory
 
 if($currentColumn == 1) {
 echo "<tr>";
 }

 echo "<td valign=top align=center height=$tdHeight width=25%>";
 # This is the table cell with all of the user data
 
 # First the photo: 
 if($employeePhotoURL !== "") {
 echo "<a href=\"$uri\"><img src=\"img.php?url=$employeePhotoURL\" height=\"$imgHeight\"></a><br>\n";
 # img.php is a script that crops and resizes the images to a standard size
 } else {
 echo "<a href=\"$uri\"><img src=\"img.php?url=$genericPhotoURL\"></a><br>\n";
 }
 echo "<font size=-1>$fname $lname<br></font>\n";
 echo "<font size=-2>$employeeTitle<br></font>\n";
 echo "<font size=-2>$employeeOffice &nbsp; &nbsp; $employeeOfficePhone<br></font>\n";
 
 if($currentColumn == $numColums) {
 echo "</td></tr>";
 $currentColumn = 1; 
 } else {
 echo "</td>";
 $currentColumn++;
 }

 }
 
 if($i>2500) { break;} # Stop if we have way too many results. Can decrease number to debug 
 } 
 
 if ($currentColumn == $numColums) {
 echo "</table>";
 } else {
 echo "</tr></table>";

 }
}

echo "<br><br>Employees Found: $i<br>";
$time_end = microtime(true);
$time = $time_end - $time_start;
echo "Run time: " . round($time,2) . " s";
?>

</html>

Here is the img.php script that is used to crop and resize the images:

asd
<?php

# https://github.com/Nimrod007/PHP_image_resize
# http://www.nimrodstech.com/php-image-resize/

include_once('php_image_resize.php');

$imgURL = $_GET["url"];
$resizeResult = smart_resize_image($imgURL,'',180,170,false,'browser',flase,false,100,false);

?>

Using PHP with the Blackbaud K12 API

In an earlier post, I showed how to use the Blackbaud K12 API interface for their “ON” products using PowerShell. Now, I’ll show you how to use PHP to do the same thing. I use PHP for all of my web applications.

There are a lot of ways to access a REST based API using PHP, but they can depend on which version of PHP, how it is installed, what security limitations your host has, and who knows what else. To make my life simple, I use the Httpful PHP library. To use it, download the PHP archive file to your web server. Then “include” the archive and you’re good to go.

include_once ('./httpful.phar'); # This loads the Httpful client

$schoolWebsite = "https://my_school.myschoolapp.com"  # website used to login to the "ON" products
$apiUser = "my_username";
$apiPassword = "my_password";

# Authenticate to the API, and get a token to use for further calls
$uri = "$schoolWebsite/api/authentication/login/?username=". $apiUser . "&password=" . $apiPassword . "&format=json";
$response = \Httpful\Request::get($uri)->expectsJson() ->send();

# Store the token as a variable so it's handy
$token = $response->body->{"Token"};

# Call the list API
$uri = $schoolWebsite . "/api/list/49748/?t=" . $token . "&format=json";
$response = \Httpful\Request::get($uri)-> send();
$listResults = $response->body;

var_dump($listResults);

Leveraging Open Application Programming Interface (API) in the “ON” Products #BBK12UC Presentation

Thanks to everyone who attended Julian’s and my presentation on that API at the Blackbaud K12 User Conference. As I mentioned at the end of the session, I think we will be “Better Together” if as users of the API we work together, collaborate and share how we are using the API.

Several people have asked for a copy of the presentation from the conference. Blackbaud recorded all the sessions today and will make them available.  In the meantime, here is a copy of the slides:

 

Blackbaud K12 “ON” API

On Thursday, I’m co-presenting at the Blackbaud K12 User Conference on using their API. Simply put, an API (Application Programing Interface) is a way for code to interact with something—in this case the website my school uses. One does not need particularly advanced knowledge of how to code in order to write useful solutions.

Recently, I wrote code to:

  • Detect inconsistencies and errors between different systems. I check if all our students in one system exist in another.  Are all their names spelled the same?
  • Automate when a student is enrolled in a class in our Student Information System to add them to an Active Directory group on our servers.
  • Compare three different lists of people to see how they overlap.
  • Generate a print directory of all employees with their photos.

For most of this, I’ve used PowerShell, a modern scripting language from Microsoft that is popular with system administrators. It makes writing code to work with an API really easy.

For example, I use the Blackbaud K12 API to retrieve a list I created within their software and open it up in Excel. From there I can analyze, chart or merge the data.

# replace my_school, my_username and my_password with values from your school
$schoolWebsite = "https://my_school.myschoolapp.com"
$apiUser = "my_username"
$apiPassword = "my_password"

# Authenticate to the API, and get a token to use for further calls
$response = Invoke-RestMethod "$schoolWebsite/api/authentication/login?username=$apiUser&password=$apiPassword&format=json"

# Store the token as a variable so it's handy
$token = $response.Token

# Call the list API with the ID# of the list we want
$response = Invoke-RestMethod "$schoolWebsite/api/list/49748/?t=$token&format=json"

# Convert the response (an array) to a CSV file, and write it to disk
$response | Export-CSV -NoTypeInformation -Encoding ascii -Path "C:/tmp/list.csv"

# Open up the CSV file in Excel
Invoke-Item "C:\tmp\list.csv"

I’m putting together a GitHub repository of sample code for the Blackbaud K12 API. It can be a lot easier to modify existing code rather than build something from scratch. I will post a link on this blog when it is available.