There’s a well known saying that “No man (or woman for that matter) is an island”. Well, your eLearning management system should not be an island either.
When it’s used in the enterprise space, a modern LMS should be able to connect to all kinds of internal (intranet) and third party (Cloud) services, programs and tools.
eFront, for one, comes with quite a few built-in integrations, including with third party authentication providers (LDAP, Active Directory, SAML 2.0), payment processors (PayPal, Stripe), eLearning content marketplaces (OpenSesame), tele-conference tools (Webex, BigBlueButton), and many more, including several under-the-hood integrations, like with our proprietary Encode Magic solution that makes sure your uploaded content is appropriately formatted for online use.
Beyond that, there’s our REST API, that allows your IT team to create its own custom integration with every external platform that’s capable of speaking HTTP (that’s nearly all of them), and our PHP plugin API which lets you expand eFront’s code with your own plugins to make it talk to any system that PHP has some way of talking to (that’s absolutely all of them).
Between these two cases (native integrations AND APIs for creating your own integration) there’s also a third option: Zapier.
Zapier is a third party app (a Cloud-based service, to be exact) that makes it easy to connect different platforms and have them work together.
Zapier integrations are based on the notion of triggers (“when this happens”) and actions (“do that”). Using this scheme, eFront (or any other application) can invoke certain triggers and have another application respond to them by performing an action (or vice versa). And all that without having to write even a single line of code.
eFront, for example, could invoke a “New User Registered” trigger when someone opens a new account, which would in turn have your CRM copy the new account details. In this sense, configuring a Zapier integration is all about connecting the appropriate triggers to the desired actions.
The beauty of this scheme is that triggers and actions can be independent, so multiple target applications could be made to respond to the same trigger (that you only have to build once). Thanks to this fact, Zapier offers over 300 integration options, including all major Cloud platforms such as Gmail, MailChimp, Trello, Evernote, DropBox, Slack, Magento, Amazon AWS, ZenDesk, JIRA and many, many more.
Connecting eFront to Zapier
First you’ll need both an eFront and a Zapier account. Since you’re reading this, I’ll assume that you already have the former, so go on and create a Zapier one too. I’ll wait here.
Done? Let’s move on.
To allow Zapier to connect to eFront you’ll need to tell it your eFront domain (the URL part of your eFront installation after http:// and before “?”) and API key (a alphanumeric key that authenticates remote services attempting to connect to your eLearning portal).
You can find your API key in the System Settings > Integrations > APΙ page.
Enable it first, by clicking on the checkbox, and then copy the API text, because you’re gonna need to paste it into Zapier.
Now you need to login to your Zapier account, and visit the “Zapier Connected Accounts page” (you can access it from the menu at the top). Now click on the “Connect a new account” drop-down, select eFront, and follow the on-screen instructions.
Basically you just need to enter your eFront URL and API key in the popup window that appears. Click “Continue” and you’re ready to roll.
Integrating eFront with an external service using Zapier
Now that you introduced eFront and Zapier to each other, so to speak, you can start using Zapier to integrate third party services with eFront.
As a first taste, we’ll show you how you can connect eFront with (popular email marketing service) MailChimp, so that new subscribers from MailChimp lists are automatically added in eFront as new users.
As we said before, using Zapier is all about connecting triggers to actions — in this case letting the “user subscribed to MailChimp list” trigger to invoke the “create eFront user” action. Such a pre-programmed integration in Zapier is called a “Zap”.
First, go to your Zapier dashboard and click to create a new Zap.
You’ll need to define the application doing the triggering. In our case, it’s MailChimp, so select that as the “Trigger App”.
Zapier will show you all the triggers that MailChimp supports. For our example, select the “New Subscriber” trigger.
Now you’ll need to connect your MailChimp account, as both ends of an integration must be registered with Zapier. You can either do that while creating a MailChimp related Zap for the first time, or earlier from the “Connected Accounts” page (like we did with eFront, adding its API key to Zapier).
Zapier will then show you all your MailChimp lists, so you can select which one your Zap is going to pull new subscribers into eFront from. Once you’ve selected a MailChimp list, click to test that data come along successfully. This concludes the trigger setup.
Now you should configure your action — i.e. what happens when some new subscriber’s information comes into Zapier from MailChimp.
Your Action App is of course eFront, and the action is “Create User”.
Next, select your previously connected eFront installation from the list.
We’re almost set. New MailChimp mailing-list subscribers will be created as eFront users to the specified eFront installation. But first you need to create a “Template”, that is, determine how MailChimp subscription data should be converted into eFront user registration data.
E.g. the email of the MailChimp subscriber should be used as the “login” in eFront, etc. Zapier helps you by showing you all the data that flow from the first (trigger) system into the second (action) system.
Click to test your Zap.
You’re now ready to save it. Alternatively, you could add another step, to create a more complex multi-step Zap (which we will not cover here — the basic steps will be the same anyway).
When this Zap is live, every time a new subscriber is registered in the MailChimp list that’ve you selected in the beginning is going to be also added as a new user in your eFront system.
The MailChimp-eFront integration was just an example to whet your appetite. You can create your own, custom, Zaps, including multi-step ones, leveraging all of the hundreds of Zapier compatible services.
Currently eFront-Zapier service offers several triggers and actions for your integration needs, and eFront can be used as both a trigger or an action in your Zaps.
Triggers include: New User, New Course, New Category, New Branch, and New Group, triggered each time a new corresponding entity is created in your eFront system.
Actions include: Create User, Create Branch, Add User to Course, Add User to Group, Add User to Branch, and Update User’s Status in a Course. For more details on the data that eFront triggers generate and the required/optional fields for each particular action visit: http://docs.efrontlearning.com/how_to_integrate_efrontpro_and_zapier
In this post we talked about the powerful Zapier meta-integration service, and how eFront users can leverage it to make their favorite LMS integrate with thousands of different Cloud apps. Zapier offers integration with over 3000 third party apps and services, from Gmail and MailChimp to SalesForce and Dropbox.
Integrate eFront in your enterprise or organization today, and see for yourself why it’s the leading learning management platform for employee training and educational uses.
Improve your employee, partner and customer training with our enterprise-ready learning management system. Book a demo now and see why our diverse portfolio of customers consistently give us 5 stars (out of 5!)