Getting Started with APIs

For CU*Answers, API development represents an important process to continually enhancing our flexibility in providing data in a in a streamlined, secure manner. This is not only for the tools we develop, but provides a gateway to allow others to develop products that connect with and integrate into the CU*Answer product suite. Why is this process so important? For a variety of reasons… for instance, once an API is developed, it may be used by other 3rd party applications, CU*BASE, It’s Me 247 Online Banking, loan applications, or anything else we allow data access points in the future. As part of our efforts, and although each API situation may be a bit unique, here are the steps typically needed for completing an API process.

Consolidated steps to completing an API project:*

  1. Explore the DHD Online Store to review current APIs
  2. Visit the DHD site to review various API documentation
    • If a custom API development request, we will assist you to complete and submit a Special Project Request/ Authorization form, and review applicable steps
  3. Contact the DHD Team to request applicable API Agreements
  4. Select and Order Development API (test) key sets
    • Goal: deliver API test keys within 7-10 business days of order received
  5. Schedule a DHD team kick-off call to review project details
  6. Order pre-scheduled API Testing Windows (optional)
    • An added layer of API testing with CU*Answers experts
  7. Select and order Production API key sets
  8. Contact CU*Answers to verify/ schedule API deployment

*Detailed explanation below

1: Familiarize Yourself with Our APIs

The DHD Online Store is an excellent place to begin. It is intended to provide a virtual shopping experience for beginning to explore our developed APIs, and offers an easy start-up order process to get you working as soon as possible. Some key features:

  • APIs are departmentalized into six primary categories for helping locate the types of APIs you may be seeking
  • Each API desired may be ordered immediately as an off the shelf solution. Your order will be forwarded to our DHD team, who will contact you back very soon to review your order, answer questions, and discuss next steps.
  • Each API desired may be ordered immediately as an off the shelf solution. Your order will be forwarded to our DHD team, who will contact you back very soon to review your order, answer questions and discuss next steps.
  • As part of this initial DHD team contact, we will forward to you the applicable API Agreements to be completed.
  • Off the shelf APIs developed by CU*Answers are currently provided free to clients and developers.
  • The DHD team offers professional services for helping customize Off the Shelf APIs as may be (separate quote).

2: Visit our API Documentation Portal

This location will provide various API documentation to review. In most cases, this documentation should provide enough information for developers to begin estimating the programming effort required to integrate our APIs into your process. Some available materials:

  • Select API Documentation
  • Swagger APIs access
  • Sample API Agreements (available per a DHD request)

Note: Per CU*Answers API development processes, APIs are not intended to be a one-time project you can walk away from… they will require constant monitoring and attention in accordance with new API updates/ modifications, CU*BASE releases, etc. Please review the CU*Answers Kitchen for CU*BASE Release and other larger topic projects in varying phases of development.

3: Releasing Credit Union configurations/ settings to an API development environment

CU*BASE provides an extremely comprehensive and flexible processing system for which clients are offered a wide variety of configuration options and settings. As a result, virtually every CU*BASE client is configured differently. For API developers, this often means that they may wish to perform development testing of an API specifically to a client’s data/ environment for CU*BASE has been configured vs. a CU*BASE test credit union (i.e. Bedrock). Depending upon who the developer may be (ex: an outside third party), API project type, desired test environment, etc. the Developer’s Help Desk will require various paperwork to be completed. In order to best determine which Agreements may be applicable, please schedule a call with the DHD to initially review your API project strategy and desired goals. This early collaboration is very beneficial per our gaining preliminary insight to your overall API project, providing additional assistance for proceeding and delivering the appropriate Agreements for your review. Common Agreements/ Forms include:

  • Project Information Form – to describe your API project objectives and desired goals (completed per the organization doing the API development; this may or may not be the credit union).
  • Master API Access Agreement – (signed per organization doing the API development; this may or may not be the credit union).
  • Applicable Schedule(s) – depending on the API type (signed per organization doing the API development; this may or may not be the credit union).
  • Master Indemnification Agreement – (signed by the Credit Union)

Other Considerations:

Selecting the CU*BASE version on which to test against: Development of the CU*BASE system is an on-going process, with many features being enhanced or modified. In some cases, these modifications to the core may impact API features resulting in modifications needing to be made to the API and your corresponding app or project. Prior to starting API testing, we suggest you discuss these considerations with a DHD expert.

The development environment is accessible on the Internet and requires no additional special access.

The development environment will generally be available 24/7 with a short maintenance window each night. Additionally, the environment will be unavailable when new releases are rolled out until an update has been deployed. Visit the DHD site to view the latest Alerts/ News and other important information.

As previously mentioned, APIs will require on-going developer attention in accordance with new API updates/ modifications, CU*BASE releases, etc. Clients and developers must regularly check the DHD site for important API Updates, Alerts and News.

Note: As a reminder, all work we do for you is subject to the terms and conditions of the Client Master Services Agreement and/or the Master API Agreement between your organization and CU*Answers. CU*Answers may provide additional terms and conditions as based upon the services required.

4. Select and Order Development API Key Sets

Once all necessary Agreements have been fully executed, you can proceed with requesting Development API (test) key sets. Depending on what you are creating, you will need access to some or all Development API key sets. It will be a CU*Answers determination for which API key (sets) may be provided and timing considerations. We recommend limiting your potential exposure by only selecting the API keys you actually need to fulfill the requirements of your project.

If you don’t see the API key you need, you can always sponsor the development of new Custom APIs. Visit the DHD website to learn more about Custom APIs.

Depending upon the applicable Agreement/ Schedule(s) and other criteria, you will be provided a generic development API key to begin development against either a test CU*BASE credit union (e.g. Bedrock Test CU), or potentially, a real CU*BASE client configuration with staged settings and member data.

In order for live Member Information to potentially be provided to a credit union’s API Developer, you must execute an Authorization to Release Member Information Form. This authorization form permits CU*Answers to create a test environment that closely matches your credit union’s CU*BASE production environment. Because this test environment could contain real data and CU*BASE configuration criteria, an authorized individual from the credit union must complete this Authorization Form, even if the developer is a credit union employee.

The developer should now have everything required to develop, test and demo to a client.

Normal timing: API test keys are normally delivered within 7-10 business days of order being received.

5. Schedule a Kick-Off Call

If this is your first CU*Answers API experience, the DHD will next schedule a video conference to more thoroughly review the overall API process, documentation, support access, Q&A, etc., to help ensure a smooth kick-off. This call is scheduled to closely coincide with receiving your Development API keys.

6. Order Testing Windows (optional)

Are you ready to test your API project? For situations in which your developer may desire an additional layer of testing to be performed, these pre-scheduled testing windows (normally 1-2 hours) allow developers to work directly with a DHD Account Executive to coordinate your testing with the CU*BASE functionality. This may include verifying the activities and configuration on the CU*BASE side, and additional items such as password complexity settings, first time sign-on considerations/ scenarios and user “lock-out” attributes.

Pre-scheduled testing windows typically require at least 2 weeks’ notice. Depending upon project testing needs, multiple testing windows may be required.

Cost: $200 per hour (1-hour minimum)

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Note: CU*Answers does not warrant or certify a Vendor’s App as part of this additional testing option. This step is primarily intended to provide you with a second set of eyes to help review the App prior to going live.

7. Select and Order Production API Set Keys

At least two weeks prior to launch, please order your Production API keys. These will allow your project to communicate with the API endpoints on the live production servers.

CU*Answers requires a unique client API key per each project, operating system and client. If you are developing Mobile App, you also must have a unique (separate) API key for iOS and Android versions. Please contact the DHD with additional questions.

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Note: The Production environment will follow CU*Answers rules, including scheduled CU*BASE Releases, maintenance, downtime, disaster recovery/ high availability back-up considerations, etc.

8. Launch Scheduling

Upon ordering your Production API Set Keys, it is between the client and developer to:

  1. Contact CU*Answers for scheduling a live date to our CU*BASE Production environment.
  2. Verify/ ensure your API matches a currently supported CU*BASE Release version.
  3. Provide us your planned timing (date) for releasing to Internet Stores (i.e. Apple).

Normal timing (for DHD reply back): Within 5 business days.

9. Custom API Development (an alternative!)

Not seeing an API you potentially need? As an option, you can always sponsor the development of a new custom API to better meet your specific goals and requirement. However, as a first step, please be sure to contact the Developer’s Help Desk to discuss the custom API integration criteria that will make your product a success. Custom development of an API will typically include research and development of your API needs and integration into the CU*Answers platform. Custom API development will require a quote and sign-off process once your requirements have been determined. Depending upon your project considerations, submitting a Project Information Form will get the process started.         

The cost for a custom API averages around $10,000 per API.

10. On-going Support and Keeping Your API Application Updated

Congratulations!  You’ve launched your API! Now what?

To keep your API running, it is very important for you and your developer to remain vigilant on CU*Answers API development processes and CU*BASE Releases that may potentially impact your API. Your first source for keeping informed is the DHD website, where we’ll post important information (i.e. Updates, Alerts and News) to keep your API up and running.

We also recommend to regularly checking out www.cuanswers.com to see what development work we’re regularly completing on our CU*BASE system. You’ll also be able to see when future CU*BASE Releases are scheduled, disaster recovery/ high availability scheduling considerations and much more.