Faster and high-performance thanks to Cached API Gateway: Digitalise your university with Studo Flow

In this interview, Backend Developer Zoltán Sasvári introduces our latest project, Studo Cached API Gateway. He also talks about our new software-as-a-service platform that we have developed specifically for higher education administration: With Studo Flow, we help universities to digitalise administrative processes quickly and easily.


from Isabella Zick

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Zoltán Sasvári has been part of the Studo team since 2016. As the first official employee, he created, built and developed the Studo App together with the founders. In his role as a backend developer, Zoltán lays the foundation for the Studo App and our other software projects – so that they run in a secure, fast and reliable way.

In this blog post, we want to introduce two innovations together with Zoltán: First, he will tell us about Studo Cached API Gateway. With this innovative solution, student data can be displayed in the Studo app via standardised interfaces.

On the other hand, Zoltán presents Studo Flow. This is the first European software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform specialised in higher education administration. We want to help universities to digitalise their processes – faster, more secure and easier than ever before. Numerous modules that simplify administrative use cases already connect to Studo Flow as a basis.

Zoltán, you know the Studo App and campus management systems like CAMPUSonline like the back of your hand. So let's start at the beginning: How does the Studo App currently connect to university systems to display student data?

At most universities, the Studo App makes direct use of the publicly available web-based interfaces of a campus management system (HTTPS, HTML, JSON, XML, iCal). The Studo App works in a similar way to a web browser, which caches certain information locally on the user's device for quick retrieval and displays it in a mobile-optimised way. This information is repeatedly downloaded from the campus management system to the user's end device (for example, when the app is started or when the user manually updates the app data by pulling it down in the app). To put it simply, our servers give instructions to the user's device about which pages should be called up and where information can be found on these pages.

So our server does not communicate directly with the university system, but – like a web browser – simply via the user's mobile phone and the Studo App then displays the information clearly.

(Here, you can find out more about the Studo Browser.)

With Studo Cached API Gateway, you have now developed a completely new solution to display information from university systems in the Studo app. How did this alternative come about?

With the Studo App, students see the information that is displayed to them when they are logged in to the campus management system. However, some universities would like to link or display additional information in the app. To simplify this, we have developed a standardised interface that can be used to link one or more university systems directly to the Studo App.

What are the advantages of such an API gateway solution?

One advantage is better performance: The synchronised data is not only cached on the user's terminal device, but also on the API gateway layer. This cache layer between the user and the campus management system is optimised for a high number of accesses through in-memory caching and horizontal container scaling, without this leading to an increased database load: The load on the campus management system is therefore static with only a few hundred requests per hour, regardless of how many users are currently calling up their campus management system information.

Furthermore, a standardised interface allows a university to directly link other systems, such as Microsoft Teams, without any technical effort for the university.

How does data processing of this API gateway solution work?

On the one hand, we offer complete interfaces for various campus management systems (e.g. CAMPUSonline or VIS, more here). In this case, the university IT only has to configure them on its side – so there is no programming effort. We can also programme other campus management interfaces on request.

On the other hand, Studo Flow offers a standardised and publicly documented JSON interface that can be used to connect to any of a university's systems. This is a particularly practical solution if universities are developing their own systems. In both cases, Studo Flow including the Studo Cached API Gateway can be operated in an ISO-certified data centre in the EU or directly by the university in the university's data centre.

If universities are interested in connecting the Studo App via Studo Cached API Gateway: How would that work in practice?

If a university wants to use our API gateway solution, we first look at which campus management system they use. In the case of CAMPUSonline, for example, the implementation would be quite simple and quick, as the technical infrastructure is almost completely in place. This is because of our open source "Studo Services ConX Plugin" – we have already been cooperating with the CAMPUSonline team for several years to create solutions like that. This plugin is our standardised basis for Studo Flow and thus also for Studo Cached API Gateway. Like all other CAMPUSonline plugins, this module is hosted directly as a Docker container on the CAMPUSonline infrastructure.

With other campus management systems, there are two possible options:

  • The university integrates the publicly documented standardised JSON interface of Studo Flow. (technical specification)

  • We develop a new connection. In the process, we coordinate with the IT department and can then make an assessment of how quickly and with how much effort we can connect Studo Flow there.

You are currently working intensively on Studo Flow – the technical basis for many other digitalisation processes. What exactly is Studo Flow?

With Studo Flow, we have built the first European Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform specialised in higher education administration. Our goal is to help higher education institutions digitalise their processes easily, quickly and without large development resources.

Studo Flow is the digital infrastructure for our digital processes - called "modules" - which a university can dock and combine like building blocks according to its needs.

Which processes or "modules" are already available via Studo Flow?

Our modules revolve around processes in university administration: With our digital attendance list, for example, we reduce the administrative effort in recording attendance, our door opening system replaces keys and cards with the smartphone, and with our module for group registration, student groups can be organised and coordinated easily and quickly. Studo Cached API Gateway is also a Studo Flow module.

Thank you for the exciting insights, Zoltán.

Find all information about Studo Flow here.

In early 2016, Zoltán Sasvári joined the Studo founders and became Studo's first official employee. At the time, he was still a computer science student at Graz University of Technology and worked together with Studo inventor Valentin Slawicek on the idea of a student app. As a backend developer, he has since laid the foundation for the app and all other development projects. Today, Zoltán is not only responsible for the technical infrastructure of Studo, but also the product lead of Studo Flow.

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