It Just Works, Part 5: Custom Integrations With TalentLMS

As You Like It: Custom Integrations With TalentLMS

It’s been quite a ride these past few weeks. Starting from the most basic, native TalentLMS integrations for things like eCommerce and teleconferencing, we went on to explain how Zapier expands your integration options to thousands of apps. Then we jumped over to describe several industry standards that the platform also supports. In today’s fifth, and final, installment of this series, we put on our propeller beanies and pocket protectors to have a look at TalentLMS programmable extensibility. Or, in other words, custom integrations with TalentLMS.

DIY Custom Integrations With TalentLMS

TalentLMS offers many built-in integrations (and adds hundreds, through the Zapier integration platform), enough to cover all common use cases and integration needs. However, there will always be a business need that its team hasn’t been able to foresee.

Some businesses run legacy software, often custom built decades ago, that they need TalentLMS to talk to. Others are early adopters of some cutting edge technology that neither TalentLMS nor Zapier offer any integration to yet. Others still, just have some very rare integration needs. And when you have as many customers as TalentLMS, and in so many diverse industries, you’ll inevitably run into those too.

For all of those cases, TalentLMS offers a way out. It allows tech-savvy customers to build their own custom integrations with TalentLMS, to whatever detail and specs they need.

For a medium or larger enterprise, their IT department should be more than able to build all kinds of custom TalentLMS integrations. But ever for smaller shops, the programmable integration options offered are quite easy to use, and quite impressive results can be attained in a matter of days.

Also note that TalentLMS gives you not just one, but two programmatic ways to extend its functionality and integrate it with external systems. Those are...

Javascript-Based Custom Integrations With TalentLMS

Perhaps the easiest way to programmatically extend TalentLMS functionality is through a very popular and easy to use language, called Javascript.

In case you are not that familiar with the programming scene, Javascript, initially created by Netscape (remember them?), is currently the most popular programming language in the world. It’s also easy to get started with -- to the point of being frequently used to teach young kids to code.

More importantly, Javascript is the language that powers the web, running in every browser and website, and being available in billions of desktops, laptops, and mobile devices, and has even started making inroads in the enterprise data center.

As TalentLMS is a web-based Cloud app itself, Javascript was a natural fit for adding any custom extensibility. The entry point for this are the custom scripts that TalentLMS allows you to include as part of your theme. These get executed whenever a user views your eLearning portal and have total access to any part or any page.

Those custom scripts are combined with a technology called AJAX (a way of calling into remote servers to exchange data and invoke commands). They allow you to connect to any third party system that is available over HTTP, add custom controls (buttons, text forms, menus, etc.) to the TalentLMS UI, and use them to implement any kind of simple or complex functionality.

REST API-Based Custom Integrations With TalentLMS

While Javascript extensions to TalentLMS can be very powerful and evolved, they do feel a little "hacky", as you’re basically monkey-patching the system to do something it was not designed for. Monkey-patching being a technical term for adding dynamic modifications to a program in a non-structured way.

See, TalentLMS’ custom Javascript support was meant for lighter extensions and enhancements, mostly pertaining to UI behavior. Of course, if you can manage the extra complexity, there’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of its for more evolved integrations too.

There is, however, another equally powerful extensibility and integration technology built specifically for bridging TalentLMS with external systems, and which is based on a de-facto industry standard called REST.

More specifically, TalentLMS has an extensive REST-based API that you can use to talk to other systems, automate repetitive tasks, exchange data, and integrate it to any kind of legacy or cutting edge infrastructure you might have.

And because REST has been very popular in the past 5-6 years, there’s huge support for it in the tech world, and lots of tools to help you create, test, and manage your own REST services. Plus, almost every big IT player, from Google and Microsoft to Facebook and Amazon, offer their own REST extension points, which you can leverage to make their systems work with your custom integrations with TalentLMS.

Conclusion

In this five-part series of articles, we had a look at all the kinds of integration options offered by TalentLMS, from its dozens of native integrations to the thousands of Zapier-enabled ones, and the infinite extensibility afforded by the platform’s programmatic capabilities.

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