November 16, 2017

Ex Libris Launches Developer Network | Library Systems Landscape 2015

April 2014 marked the launch of the Ex Libris Developer Network, a new, open environment designed to enable IT professionals, developers, third-party vendors, and others to collaborate and experiment with applications and extensions for Ex Libris Group products, including the next-generation Alma library services platform (LSP), the Primo discovery solution, and the traditional integrated library systems (ILS) Aleph and Voyager.

The new Ex Libris–hosted Developer Network is, itself, the successor to EL Commons, a customer wiki and developer site established in 2008 by Ex Libris, the International Group of Ex Libris Users (IGeLU), and the Ex Libris Users of North America (ELUNA).

The Developer Network features comprehensive documentation for APIs, a testing environment/sandbox in which developers can experiment with Ex Libris APIs, a central location for viewing contributed code and apps (including links to complete projects hosted by GitHub), a dashboard for managing implementation of open interfaces and viewing usage analytics, and developer forums and blogs for discussing ideas.

“We see it as an extension of our product,” says Dvir Hoffman, VP for product management and marketing at Ex Libris, describing the Developer Network as a “critical part of our ability to extend the range of services we are offering.”

Librarians are no strangers to collaborative development efforts, and some Ex Libris competitors, including Polaris and OCLC’s WorldShare Management Services, offer hosted developer networks of their own.

Yet the launch is evidence of Ex Libris’s ongoing dedication to open development. The testing environment and dashboard features are fully embedded in the company’s core cloud infrastructure, and Hoffman says Ex Libris has been publishing API updates for the Developer Network monthly. The APIs are free to use. “As a rule,” he says, “we never charge for integration. It’s part of the product, its ability to integrate.”

In an announcement regarding the launch, Kevin Kidd, head of library systems and applications at Boston College, an early adopter of Alma, discussed the utility of the new Developer Network and the importance of making it possible for libraries and third-party developers to work with these systems.

“We can easily build, manage, and share multiple applications and services in the Developer Network. As a result, we will be able to extend library services through tight integration with mobile applications, our learning management system, student portal, institutional repository, and vendor selection systems,” Kidd says. “Our vision for the future of online library services at Boston College rests heavily on open APIs. We welcome this strengthening of openness by Ex Libris and look forward to collaborating with fellow users in the new platform.”

Matt Enis About Matt Enis

Matt Enis (menis@mediasourceinc.com; @matthewenis on Twitter) is Senior Editor, Technology for Library Journal.

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