Implementing the Open Supporter Data Interface (OSDI) API for CiviCRM

2015-05-19 14:30
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Hi, I'm Anudit Verma, a sophomore undergraduate student pursuing Computer Science and Engineering at University School of Information and Communication Technology, in New Delhi, India. I will be working on the Open Supporter Data Interface (OSDI) API implementation into CiviCRM project as a 2015 Google Summer of Code student.

OSDI is a way for progressive US-based organizations which do community, labor and political organizing, use CiviCRM and are customers of various progressive data vendors to “sync up all their stuff” about contacts and their various activities.

For example, an organization might use NGP VAN to get access to information about its supporters who are voters. It might use ShareProgress to ask supporters to take action on an issue using social media links, based on a “blast” e-mail sent by that organization to supporters using Salsa. The Action Network already has a working OSDI implementation.

With the implementation of the OSDI API by an organization using CiviCRM, and coming OSDI implementations by these (and other) progressive data and software vendors, supporter data from NGP VAN, ShareProgress, Salsa and the Action Network can be synced to that organization’s CiviCRM installation. Similarly, CiviCRM data will be able to be synchronized to these other applications.


The OSDI API implementation is in line with CiviCRM's mission to be an open platform for organizations of all sizes. Creating the implementation will allow them to use the OSDI API easily. The existence of a common API will reduce progressive data vendors’ customer costs related to moving data between different systems, lower integration costs and enhance the ability of innovators to create products for the marketplace. You can learn more about OSDI at

Benefits of a common API

Customers, Digital and Tech Directors, Technology Consultants

  • Less manual and error-prone data import/export
  • Staff and volunteer data entry time savings
  • Better ability to pick and choose technology products and use them together
  • Multi-vendor solutions mean less scope for problems

Technology Application Developers

  • Write platform integration code once rather than per platform which requires less development hours
  • Data consistency across platforms reduces cost
  • Can spend more resources on new customer features rather than integration code

Platform Vendors

  • Ability to integrate means an easier sell to customers who already use another platform
  • Common API across vendors enables a larger app ecosystem for the platform

Bonding with the CiviCRM community

The community bonding phase is a great chance for GSoC students to get along with their organisation, adapt their workflow, setup a development environment and have a useful introductory sessions with their project mentors.

I too had a similar experience with my project mentors Joe McLaughlin, Eileen McNaughton, Joe Murray and Tim Anderegg along with OSDI founder Josh Cohen and Jason Rosenbaum of the Action Network. It surely feels great to come across talented people who are very zealous and motivated towards open-source technology. Also it is a great opportunity to learn and absorb knowledge from their working experience and contributions to the community.

Josh Cohen hosts weekly online OSDI Technology Committee meetings. I am now a regular attendee with Joe McLaughlin which helped me significantly in gaining knowledge and insights about OSDI implementation processes and profiles for different CRMs.

Over the past few weeks I am actively discussing various vital processes required to setup my development environment. A few roadblocks and issues were encountered in the initial setup in Windows but after proper guidance and assistance from experienced members on IRC, I moved to Linux and initiated the development environment setup on it. Moving along, objectives for the next weeks would be to develop wrapper to get API for contact in accordance with OSDI format and experimenting with the HAL browser.

I am very much enthused to work with an open-source community such as CiviCRM. I await the opportunity to get more knowledge and keep learning along the way to our project target. Hoping to have a great summer ahead with CiviCRM community.

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