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The goal of the REST API is to provide an easy way to exchange URLs. It is e.g. possible to manage users and learning groups, import courses, or assemble catalogs. It is also used to integrate with other systems such as student administration, external course administration and/or external learning group administration. It also supports the process of adding multiple system specific objects and creating various amounts of structural behaviors.

The REST API can be activated / deactivated under administration.


Concepts

Representational State Transfer or REST is a style of architecture to be primarily used with the HTTP protocol, but not exclusively. In the case of HTTP, it utilizes all its features: URIs to describe resources, HTTP Methods as "verbs" to manipulate resources (GET to retrieve resources, PUT to create new ones, POST to modify them, DELETE...), HTTP Headers and Media Types for content negotiation...

In OpenOlat, the JSR-311: JAX-RS (The Java API for RESTful Web Services) is used as a backend for the implementation of our REST API. JSR-311 is a standard from J2EE. We use the reference implementation from the following standard: Jersey.

Usage

The OpenOlat REST API has been developed with remote management applications in mind. It does not implement all features available in the web UI and many of the requests are limited to administrative users such as admin, user- or group managers and authors.

Some of the main abilities of the OpenOlat REST API are capable to create and organize users, courses, groups, organisations, curricula or calendar events for example.

The REST API is however not able to execute roll calls or to edit specific settings. 

While theoretically possible, it is not meant as an API to implement alternative UI clients for end users. Keep this in mind when using the API.

Security

The security is based on a two level mechanism, as it is in OpenOlat.

  1. The first level is a servlet filter which collects all requests to the REST API. This filter determines whether the URI is open to everyone (/api, /ping, /auth...) or if it needs an authentication. The authentication itself is delegated to a web service.
  2. The second level happens in all entry points in the REST API. Every method checks if the user (if a user must be authenticated) has enough privileges to operate on the desired resource.

To maintain a valid authentication over several requests, the filter proposes two methods:

  1. Reuse the session cookie on every request. The advantage of this method is that OpenOlat doesn't need to create a session on every request.
  2. If you cannot use the session cookie, the filter always adds an HTTP Header (X-OLAT-TOKEN) to the response. Send this token with the next request to maintain your privileges.

Best practice usage

If the REST API is used to implement specific features in the OpenOlat web user interface such as using the course database, the OpenOlat web session cookie can be reused (method 1). The user is already authenticated in the browser

If the REST API is used by an external (server based) application, best-practice is to use basic authentication to authenticate the user and enable session cookies in the http client of the remote application.

If none of the above is possible, use method 2 using the X-OLAT-TOKEN. Note that a user can have only one X-OLAT-TOKEN at any time. If your remote application has several (concurrent) workers, basic authentication should be used.

If you are building a remote portal and want to implement some kind of home-brew single-sign-on process, method 2 can be used to generate the X-OLAT-TOKEN for every user as a server request. The Token can then be added to each link in the portal to login the user based on the token (?X-OLAT-TOKEN=xyz). When clicking the link, OpenOlat will identify the user based on the token and create a valid user session. Security wise there are better options to achieve the same. We recommend using oAuth instead which is supported by OpenOlat as well.


Configuration

A spring bean allows to configure Resources, Singletons and Providers; either statically with the XML configuration of the bean (/org/Olat/restapi/_spring/restApiContext.xml) or programmatically by adding or removing classes and singletons to/from the bean (bean id is the same as its interface: org.Olat.restapi.support.RestRegistrationService).

OpenOlat uses the standard JAXB provider from Jersey to produce XML from java objects, as well as the JSON provider from Jackson, which reuses the same JAXB annotations.

Very important! All configuration settings must be done before the Jersey's servlet starts.

Example

Here is a little example on how to create a user and add it to a learning group:

PUT http://www.frentix.com/Olat/restapi/users
HTTP Header: Content-Type application/json
Response: 200
GET http://www.frentix.com/Olat/restapi/groups
HTTP Header: Accept application/json
Response: 200
Choose a group
PUT http://www.frentix.com/Olat/restapi/groups/{groupId}/users/{identityKey}
Response: 200

Documentation

The documentation is based on the OpenAPI specification (formerly Swagger Specification), which is an API description format for REST APIs. The OpenAPI describes available endpoints and operations on each endpoint, operation parameters, input and output for each operation as well as the value objects used in the REST API.
The OpenAPI is made up of a single document and contains multiple components, which are all described in the openapi.json (
/org/Olat/restapi/openapi.json)

The OpenAPI allows to choose a custom server prefix in and it is possible to execute the listed requests by pressing the „try it out“ button. Be aware that these requests are binding and directly interacting with the addressed system.


Externally managed courses and groups

Courses and groups can be created via REST API. Such externally managed courses and groups are called "managed" as an external system is responsible for their lifecycle. This functionality can be enabled/disabled in the checkboxes below.

Via REST API an optional external ID can be attached to courses and groups. For courses an additional external reference can be used to help identify the resource for end users.

If such external ID's are used for courses or groups, the external systems must also configure for each external resource which elements in OpenOlat are managed by the external system and which can be modified within the OpenOlat user interface. This is configured with so called "managed flags". Either all elemens are managed or the managed elements are listed in detail. The configuration of the "managed flags" are described in the technical documentation of the REST API.

If the external management is enabled, the user elements in the OpenOlat user interface configured to be "managed" are displayed non-editable. In addition, the external ID's are used in search fields, detail pages and tables. Other non managed resources can be used and managed within OpenOlat as usual.


 Managed organisations
  • all
    • identifier
    • displayName
    • description
    • externalId
    • type
    • move
    • members
    • delete
 Managed organisation types
  • all
    • identifier
    • displayName
    • description
    • cssClass
    • externalId
    • subTypes
    • delete
 Managed curriculum
  • all
    • identifier
    • displayName
    • description
    • externalId
    • delete
    • members
 Managed curriculum elements
  • all
    • identifier
    • displayName
    • description
    • externalId
    • status
    • dates
    • type
    • calendars
    • lectures
    • members
    • resources
    • move
    • addChildren
    • delete
 Managed curriculum element types
  • all
    • identifier
    • displayName
    • cssClass
    • description
    • externalId
    • calendars
    • lectures
    • subTypes
    • copy
    • delete
 Managed groups
  • Fully externally managed (all)
    • Title, description and available seats/waiting list configuration (details)
      • Group title (title)
      • Description (description)
      • Available seats/waiting list configuration (settings)
    • Tools configuration (tools)
    • Members management and configuration of members visibility (members)
      • Visibility members (display)
      • Members management (membersmanagement)
    • Adding courses (resources)
    • Booking rules (bookings)
    • Delete group workflow (delete)
 Managed learning resources (courses)
  • Fully externally managed (all)
    • Course Editor (editcontent)
    • Details (details) 
      • Title (title)
      • Description (description)
      • Objectives (objectives)
      • Requirements (requirements)
      • Credits (credits)
      • Location (location)
      • Organisations (organisations)
    • Settings (settings)
      • Access configuration (access)
      • Search settings (search)
      • Chat settings (chat)
      • Layout settings (layout)

      • Resource folder configuration (resourcefolder)
      • Efficiency statement settings (efficencystatement)
      • Calendar settings (calendar)
      • Glossary settings (glossary)
    • Lectures (lecture)
      • Lecture configurations (lectureconfig)
      • Lecture management (lecturemanagement)
    • Booking rules (bookings)
    • Members management (memebersmanagement)
    • Group management (groups)
    • Close course workflow (close)
    • Delete course (delete)
    • Cope Course (copy)
 Managed lecture blocks
  • all
    • details
      • title
      • compulsory
      • plannedLectures
      • teachers
      • groups
      • description
      • preparation
      • location
      • dates
    • settings
    • delete
 Managed taxonomies
  • all
    • idientifier
    • displayName
    • description
    • externalId
    • librarySettings
 Managed taxonomy levels
  • all
    • idientifier
    • displayName
    • description
    • externalId
    • sortOrder
    • type
    • competences
      • manageCompetence
      • teachCompetence
      • haveCompetence
      • targetCompetence
    • move
    • delete
 Managed taxonomy level types
  • all
    • idientifier
    • displayName
    • description
    • cssClass
    • externalId
    • visibility
    • subTypes
    • librarySettings
    • copy
    • delete
 Managed calendars
  • all
    • details
      • description
      • location
      • dates
      • liveStreamIrl
    • classification
    • links
 Managed role to role
  • all
    • name
    • rights
    • delete
 Managed identity to identity relations
  • all
    • delete
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