Connecting external systems

Authors:Michael JasonSmith; Eugene Guilaran;
Contact:Michael JasonSmith <>
Copyright:This document is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License by


GroupServer provides web hooks that allow external programs to access some features. All the hooks work the same way:

  1. Data, including a token for authentication, is sent to a form as an HTTP POST,
  2. The system processes the request, and
  3. The response is returned as a JSON object.

GroupServer uses some of these hooks itself — for tasks such as for adding email (see Configuring postfix) and sending out regular notifications (see Configuring cron).

Here I first discuss the authentication token. I then introduce the hooks that are provided to allow external systems to retrieve group information and manage the profile life-cycle: creating, retrieving, and removing profiles.

Feel free ask any questions regarding the hooks in GroupServer Development group.


The URLs used for web hooks are often quite long. This is deliberate, as it makes them easy to spot, and easier to understand as they refer to the GroupServer subsystem that provides the functionality.

Authentication token

All the web-hooks require the token parameter to be sent when an HTTP POST is made to the hook. The value of this token is written down in the etc/gsconfig.ini file, as the token parameter for the webservice section of the configuration.

A unique token is created when you install GroupServer. It is very important that you keep this token secret. If the token accessed by a nefarious individual then they can do extensive harm your site.

However, all is not lost if the token is exposed, as you can generate a new token.


Because consequence of the token being divulged is so high it is recommended that the hooks are only used from the same machine as GroupServer (so it never travels over a network), or using secure connections (TLS).

If the token is exposed

Generate a new token if the token used to authenticate the web hooks is exposed.

  1. Run the gs_auth_token_create program, in the bin directory of your GroupServer install.

    • It takes a data-source name (DSN) as its only argument, identifying the PostgreSQL database to connect to.
    • The DSN for your GroupServer site is listed as the dsn parameter for the database section of the configuration in the etc/gsconfig.ini file.
  2. The gs_auth_token_create program will

    • Generate a new token,
    • Change the value of the token in the PostgreSQL database, and
    • Report the value of the token.

    At this point the token in the PostgreSQL database and the etc/gsconfig.ini file will be different, so all web hooks will be broken. This includes the hook that used by the smtp2gs program, which adds email messages to the site.

  3. Edit the etc/gsconfig.ini file and change the token parameter in the webservice section. Save the file. All web hooks will be running again. No restart of GroupServer is necessary to change the token.

See also

The documentation at Read the Docs contains more details about the gs_auth_token_create program.

Group information

The web hook /gs-group-groups.json is the simplest web-hook. It takes the authentication token (token) and the action (get) — and it returns a list of group-objects.

See also

The documentation for the Groups web-hook has more details about how the hook works, including examples.

Profile life-cycle

There are web-hooks for managing the entire life-cycle of a profile.

Most of the profile-related web hooks return the same profile data.

Profile data

The profile data returned by the hooks involved in the profile life-cycle all return the same properties for the profiles, either as a single JSON object, as part of a list, or as a property of another object.

class ProfileData()

The profile-data includes the following five properties.


The identifier of the profile.


The name of the person.


The URL of the profile.


A list of identifiers for the groups that the person is a member of.


The email addresses associated with the profile.


A list of all the email addresses.


A list of the preferred address or addresses.


A list of verified addresses that are not preferred.


A list of the unverified addresses.

Example profile data

In the example JSON object below is the profile for someone called A Person. The have set a nickname, so the URL to the profile does not contain their profile-identifier. They have two email addresses — with their home address preferred, and no unverified addresses. Finally, the person belongs to two groups: Example, and Test.

   "id": "qK7SgjsTHcLNrJ2ClevcJ0",
   "name": "A Person",
   "url": "",
   "email": {
     "all": [
     "preferred": [
     "other": [
     "unverified": []
   "groups": [

Add a profile

The web-hook /gs-group-member-add.json is used to add a profile to a group. It will also create a profile, if one does not exist for that person already. The hook takes

  • The authentication token (token),
  • A name (fn),
  • an email address (email),
  • A group identifier (groupId), and
  • An action (add).

It returns the profile data of the person that has been added to the group, as well as some details about whether a profile was created, or already existed.

See also

The documentation for the Add a profile web-hook has more details about how the hook works, including examples.

Retrieve profile information

There are three ways to retrieve profile information: information about an individual, and information about people that belong to a site.

Single profile

The web-hook /gs-search-people.json allows you to retrieve information about an individual, using their user-identifier or email address. The hook takes

  • An authentication token,
  • The identifying information about someone (user) — which is either the user-identifier or email address), and
  • An action (search).

It returns the profile data of the person, or an empty object ({}) if no one could be found.

See also

The documentation for the Search for people web-hook has more details about how the hook works, including examples.

Site members

The web-hook /gs-site-member.json allows you to retrieve information about the site members in a couple of ways.

See also

The documentation for the Site members web-hook has more details about how the hook works, including examples.

Remove a profile

The web-hook /gs-group-member-leave.json removes a person from a group. The hook takes

See also

The documentation for the Leave group web-hook has more details about how the hook works, including examples.

If you only have an email-address for the person, then you should retrieve a single profile first to determine the user identifier (id).

The profile is also useful for removing someone from a site. A person is removed from a site when they are removed from all groups on the site: so by iterating through the list of groups (groups) you will eventually remove someone from the site.