Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Quotas in WebLearn and User Import

Last week I started working on supporting quotas in WebLearn. This involved adding support to BuildingSession to allow the getting and setting of the resource and file quota. So now for any resource you can check and set the quota. I also built some pages to allow users to view the quotas and for sysadmins to set them. Next I need to add support to resource creation so that it always checks there is enough quota before allowing he creation, but this is where it gets a little more messy as there isn't on API for resource creation. I had to stop work on the quotas to start work on the new user import tool as we had the new user import files available. At the moment we get our user details from LDAP but due to a redesign in the data contained in LDAP we need to go direct to the source. The files we get will be processed once a day and any new users created and any new group memberships added. It would be nice if we supported the removal of group memberships this time but I think that will have to wait until the end. So far I have got basic parsing of the users going and need to work on the parsing of the colleges, departments and courses. Then I can start doing user creation and then the mapping of attributes to group memberships.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Trip to Wales

Had our first proper short holiday away with Wilf last weekend when we went for an extended weekend to Wales (Tenby). It was really just an escape from the South East for us and so we didn't have a bit list of things todo. Just visited castles, beaches and galleries. Took a few photos and bought a print of a painting to brighten up our house. Traveling was fine with Wilf with the main travelling taking about 4 hours and him sleeping through most of it (waking for a feed half way through each time). As with everything else now things take so long, previously we would have crammed 4 outings into a day and now with Wilf we struggle to get 2, but I don't mind one bit. My brother commented "Your becoming old" when I described our holiday to him, but you can't really go windsurfing, climbing and kite flying with a 10 week old baby, I'll just have to wait a few years. Wilf didn't seem to mind being in a different place and I think we prevented him from throwing up on anyone else's furniture.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

MyWebLearn Bookmarking

Screen capture of the MyWebLearn bookmarking functionality Some more progress on the bookmarking functionality of MyWebLearn has been made which will allow users to bookmark any WebLearn page, adding it to their own space. This is very similar to del.icio.us but is tightly integrated into the WebLearn interface the access controls. Further work needs doing on the internal links inside Bodington to improve the way the links work and are displayed but the basics are there. The reason for developing this is that people often don't want to navigate the whole tree to find the resources that they regulaly use and often don't have a fixed PC so local bookmarks dont work. Hopefully this help solve some of those problems.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Everyones Blogging

Well it seems even my other half Anna has started a blog although I think the subject matter is going to be slightly different to mine.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Trends in VLE/LMS

Using Google Trends you can get an idea about how interested general Google users are in different VLE products. A graph of several popular VLEs shows that while Blackboard leads the race the product that is gaing ground in all of this is Moodle which is just about to overtake WebCT. The sharp dips for all the products are due to everyone stopping work around Christmas and I believe spike each year is just as the new intake of students happens and maybe it is also at that time that people start looking at other products for their own institutions. Interestingly although Sakai has a reasonable ammount of news coverage (Moodle has no news) general users don't seem all that interested in it. Maybe this is due to the type of users/teachers that Moodle attracts compared to the people that are interested in Sakai. Sakai is aimed squarely at large instituinal deployment compared to small departmental systems that Moodle supports well. Despite the annountment that Blackboard and WebCT (12th October 2005) will merge there doesn't seem to be much change to the trends, does this show that the majority of people searching are users of the systems rather than administrators? The VLE that I work (Bodingont) on doesn't really feature at all but maybe it will get better?

Friday, May 12, 2006

MyWebLearn Progress

I am currently working on a development here at Oxford called MyWebLearn which is looking to allow all users to have their own space in the VLE to create content. As WebLearn (Bodington) has very flexible access controls they can also control access to the resource they create. Currently I have written the signup process and the basics are working. The next task is to tidy up all the rough edges.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Spring and Bodington

Currently Bodington doesn't use the typical MVC model and each web request maps directly to a controlling template. This makes handling things like errors in forms and redirects difficult. To try and improve matters I have attempted to integrate the Spring MVC framework into Bodington. This is a quick summary of the current state of play.
  • When a request comes in the normal request handling of loading the resource and permission checking takes place.
  • Extra URL handling has been added that means that any file beginning with bs_spring is handed off to the Spring servlet.
  • The Spring servlet has a Bodington specific mapper that looks for the resource in the request and then attempts for find a bean matching /facilityname/page.
  • Control then passes to the bean which is a normal Spring controller.
  • The controller then returns its model and view which are mapped to a JSP.
One problem is that the Spring code depends on a facility name, maybe it should depend on the resource directly? We also have alot of duplication of the facilityname all over the code, it's in the spring configuration for the bean names and it's in the view names that are returned by the controllers. Maybe we could use the package names to infer the facilityname? However this depends on having utility code that is called as you can't have the view resolved do the work as it only knows about the view string and the locale.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Plusnet and 8MB ADSL (MaxDSL)

I a couple of weeks ago I received an email from Plusnet saying that if I wanted to I could ask to be upgraded to 8MB ADSL as soon as possible. Looking forward to the extra upstream bandwidth I sent a note to Plusnet support confirming that I would like to be upgraded as soon as possible. I got a confirmation back saying it had been received and I would be contacted when the order was placed. Well when I got home to my computer today I found that the internet connection was down so I logged into the ADSL router and was pleasantly suppressed to see the ADSL line sync at DownStream: 6112 Kbps, UpStream: 448 Kbps. This was a nice increase from 2Mbs and all done for free. Looking at the logs I can see that the router has been attempting several speeds and according to Plusnet it could take up to 10 days to settle down. Speeds it has tried so far since about 17:00 today are: * DownStream: 6400 Kbps, UpStream: 448 Kbps * DownStream: 6560 Kbps, UpStream: 448 Kbps * DownStream: 6560 Kbps, UpStream: 448 Kbps * DownStream: 6496 Kbps, UpStream: 448 Kbps * DownStream: 6560 Kbps, UpStream: 448 Kbps * DownStream: 6784 Kbps, UpStream: 448 Kbps * DownStream: 6656 Kbps, UpStream: 448 Kbps * DownStream: 6560 Kbps, UpStream: 448 Kbps * DownStream: 6112 Kbps, UpStream: 448 Kbps * DownStream: 6208 Kbps, UpStream: 448 Kbps * DownStream: 6016 Kbps, UpStream: 448 Kbps While I have been composing this post it has tried the last two on this list. As this adjustment is going on I am seeing a little more packet loss on the line but I'm guessing this is normal. If your looking at this post today you can see a graph of the disconnects I've been experiencing. This graph shows data from the current day will probably be useless shortly... Although the line speed seems to have increased using Plusnets speed tester I am only getting the expected data rate for a 1Mbs line but this may be due to the fact that BT don't adjust the ATM line restrictions as quickly, but it should happen in the next few days. The only thing that would have been useful is if Plusnet would have sent the emails warning me that this would be happening as they said they would.

Create Patch (Eclipse 3.2)

I have been using Eclipse 3.2M6 for a little while now and I finding it a nice evolution of the 3.1 product. One simple feature that I had been wishing for was the ability to create patches but select individual files which the patch should contain. In 3.1 you could only create a patch for a folder (and all the files under it) or just one file. This was never a big problem as I could just drop back to the command prompt and do it manually, but it just means I can spend more of my life in Eclipse. This first appeared in Milestone 3 under the title of Improved Patch Support. I end up using patch support quite a bit as I work on both WebLearn and Bodington which are similar codebase but stored in separate CVS repositories so using patches is the best way to move changes across. Although looking in the new and noteworthy the ability to record refactoring should help to allow changes to easily be pushed across.