A Domain Admin Dashboard with APIs

In my last post I tried to capture the work Tim and I did at BYU last week figuring out how an API-driven community site might work. The post is heavily narrative and as much notes for us and BYU as it is a peek into our thinking. The issue with that post is there isn’t really anything to help people visualize what this might look like. So, in this quick post I am going to share how we can use API calls to the web hosting interface CPanel and its client management software WHMCS. Peter Sentz, who is running the Domains pilot at BYU like a boss, requested (and I believe many other schools are interested in something similar) a quick dashboard/overview of how many users, accounts, and domains there are across the system. [The difference between users and accounts here is that users include all those who have also expressed interest, but may not have been given an account just yet.] So, on the heels of our work at BYU, Tim setup a page in the BYU Domains WordPress home to pull that information in from CPanel via API calls. It looks like this:

Screenshot 2015-10-06 19.14.28

That is the beauty of the API right there. Taking info from various systems and tying it together in a clean interface where an admin like Peter could use it. Another issue folks were having was finding a specific user’s domain and information. So based on a quick userid search form, Tim was also able to find a specified user’s domain and the date they created it. What’s more, it also includes links to that individual’s CPanel dashboard and their client info in WHMCS. Something like this:

Screenshot 2015-10-06 22.25.13

That’s about as solid an example of how we might start using these various API calls to create context specific interfaces for our Domains community as there could be. This is stuff Kristen Eshleman at Davidson College has been pushing for since the summer, and I think we are about to break it wide open with the work Tim is doing, not to mention the work Ben Werdmuller and Erin Jo Richey of Known fame will be doing to create integrated, personalized domains for these institutional communities. It’s exciting stuff!

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4 Responses to A Domain Admin Dashboard with APIs

  1. Kin Lane says:

    Hey boss….typo in title. Also any #hashtag i should use to help organize the amplification of these, when I tweet?

    • Reverend says:

      Kin,

      Thanks for the heads up on the typo, could not see it for the trees. Hmmm, a hashtag, #domapi (I like the way it sounds, domapi!). But I am all for suggestions 🙂

  2. Jennifer Englund says:

    Really fascinating to see how this might play out. I can see immediate benefit on the admin side to having a birds-eye view of activity across an entire institution.

    How might that work on the user side – so would each person be able to have a customized interface, unique to their needs? What about at the collegiate level – if groups wanted to have a specific set of applications for them?

    Or is this what you are moving towards (as explained in the last paragraph or so of the post)…

  3. Reverend says:

    Jennifer,

    Yeah, we actually are working with the folks at Known to develop a custom interface for CPanel that enables a more global view of the activity, and also gives students more control over their own work, where they post it, and how it integrates. I have a post brewing about just these things because they really do allow the interface to broaden a personalized sense of what is happening within the university’s network.

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