Evergreen Web Services

Existing Web Services

Evergreen already provides a number of web services that can be used by clients to access and modify information and implement patron and library workflows. These include:

  • The OpenSRF gateway

  • The HTTP translator

  • The WebSocket gateway

  • An XML-RPC interface

  • SRU

  • unAPI services

  • Web-based patron authentication and lookup services

  • A mechanism for requesting that certain public catalog requests return their responses as JSON

  • OpenSRF API access via XMPP

Evergreen can also support SIP2 and NCIP via add-ons.

OpenSRF gateway

The OpenSRF gateway allows clients to make an Evergreen API request by supplying OpenSRF service, OpenSRF method name, parameters, and desired output format. The gateway can return its output in XML or JSON.

The gateway supports a request → single response mode of operation; it does not support streaming responses or OpenSRF stateful connections. Its semantics are RPC-like.

A significant third-party user of the OpenSRF gateway is the Hemlock mobile app.

HTTP translator

The HTTP translator implements the OpenSRF-over-HTTP translator and can be viewed as a successor to the OpenSRF gateway.

The HTTP translator is designed to be a thin wrapper over OpenSRF XMPP messages. It supports stateful OpenSRF connections and both collected and streaming OpenSRF responses.

The HTTP translator uses several custom X-OpenSRF-* HTTP headers to specify the OpenSRF service to connect to and to trace messages and connections.

Responses from the HTTP translator are always serialized as JSON.

WebSocket gateway

The WebSocket gateway can be thought of as a WebSocket implementation of the HTTP translator.

Responses from the WebSocket gateway are always serialized as JSON.

XML-RPC gateway

The XML-RPC gateway is a thin wrapper over OpenSRF method calls that supports the XML-RPC protocol. This gateway is not part of OpenSRF proper; instead, it is implemented by an Evergreen mod_perl handler.

Requests and responses are serialized as XML. The XML-RPC gateway does not support stateful OpenSRF connections or streaming responses.

XML-RPC is not commonly used nowadays; the primary known external user of the gateway is Unique Management.

Search/Retrieval via URL (SRU)

Evergreen supports the https://www.loc.gov/standards/sru/Search/Retrieval via URL (SRU) protocol]. This protocol allows clients to perform an Evergreen catalog search and return results in XML.


Evergreen’s unAPI service allows clients to retrieve bibliographic and item data in a variety of XML formats.

Web-based patron authentication and lookup services

The "PatronAPI" service is an Evergreen mod_perl handler that permits defining API endpoints for authenticating a patron login session (given username/barcode and password) and optionally retrieving fields from the patron record. PatronAPI is meant to provide an alternative to SIP2 for basic patron authentication.

JSON output

The Evergreen public catalog mod_perl application normally returns HTML by combining a Perl context object with a Template Toolkit template. However, by providing a special field to the context object, public catalog request handlers can specify that their output should be returned as JSON.


OpenSRF is built on XMPP, and an XMPP client application could make OpenSRF requests directly. However, this is very rarely done outside of Evergreen client code itself.


SIP2, while not a web protocol per se, is frequently used to perform patron authentication and circulation actions. It has its origins in a serial line protocol and consequently suffers from a significant flaw: it is not encrypted by default.

NISO Circulation Interchange Protocol (NCIP)

Via add-ons, Evergreen supports NCIP. NCIP can be thought of as an XML-over-HTTP moral equivalent of SIP2.

Evergreen API

Evergreen API documentation

OpenSRF has a mechanism for encoding documentation on the parameters and usage of an OpenSRF method. OpenSRF clients can retrieve this documentation for display.

While most Evergreen methods have at least some API documentation, overall this documentation is not complete. In addition, the primary mechanism for displaying this documentation in human-readable format, "docgen.xsl", is currently broken.

Evergreen API clients

OpenSRF ships with Javascript client libraries that can be thought of as the primary means of access for web developers to Evergreen APIs.

OpenSRF also includes C and Perl clients for its services. Client code also exists in Python, PHP, and Java, but without significant documentation or community support.