[LON-CAPA-announce] New version released - LON-CAPA 2.9.0

Stuart Raeburn raeburn@msu.edu
Tue, 25 May 2010 17:36:16 -0400

New Version 2.9.0 Released

Changes from 2.8.1:

Authoring Resources

- CSS, javascript and plain text files (.css, .js, and .txt extensions) can be edited.
- Assistant Co-authors can browse directories in the repository of published resources 
  belonging to author(s) to whom they are assigned as assistant co-author.
- The "Edit Math" button (which launches a pop-up Math expression editor) is available
  when editing HTML files.
- Adaptive hints are available for reactionresponse and organicresponse types.
- The R statistics package can be used in place of Maxima as a Computer Algebra 
  system (CAS) in mathresponse and formularesponse problems.  R can also be used to 
  generate data sets in problems by using calls to appropriate cas routines within a 
  script block. Example templates are provided.
- Custom Response problems can award partial credit for problems containing multiple 
- In dynamic plots (GNUplot) - x and y axis zero lines can be displayed as regular lines, 
  thick lines, or as dotted lines.
- Checkbox attribute for simple two-option optionresponse type allows checkboxes to be 
  used instead of two item select box (e.g., for True/False). See: SimpleTrueFalse 
  problem template.

Student Interface

- Information about resources for which access is controlled by reservation (i.e., slots)
  is displayed on the "Table of Contents" page (renamed from "Navigate Contents").
- Students within a course can access a "Manage Reservations" utility from the Main Menu.
  This may be used to view and change reservations, and also display a log of reservation
- When a user initiates the reset password process for an internally authenticated 
  account, the e-mail address entered in the web form can now be any of: permanent email, 
  critical notification email or regular notification email.
- Courses with access start dates which were in the future when the student logged in, 
  will become selectable from the courses screen, once the start date has been reached, 
  without the need for logout/login.
- Course Configuration for "Grading" includes a mode to not show total parts when a 
  student displays his/her grading information.


- When rendering discussion posts and other feedback for the web, new lines will no 
  longer be automatically converted to <br /> tags if HTML block elements are detected 
  (suggesting the author had used HTML originally during composition).

Course/Community Management

- A "Course/Community requests" icon is included in the "My Roles" or "My Courses" 
  category if the user has rights to create courses or communities in their home domain, 
  and/or in another domain.
- Course Configuration (previously "Set Course Environment") has been moved to the top 
  level ("Main Menu") and divided into separate sections, with permitted user input 
  constrained by radio buttons, select boxes, checkboxes, etc., in place of unrestricted 
  entry via textboxes.
- The Course Owner can assign the Course Coordinator role in a course to other users.
- The Course Owner can declare other Course Coordinators as "Co-owners", who can choose 
  to accept or deny co-ownership assignment.  (Your institution may use co-ownership to 
  permit access to institutional course rosters by the automated enrollment process).  
  Co-owners are listed in the Course/Community Catalog, and can be used as a filter when 
  searching for courses.
- Alternative titles may be specified for standard role titles (e.g., Teaching Assistant
  etc.) in a course. 
- HTML documents uploaded directly to a course can be edited by a Course Coordinator.
- The template displayed when creating custom roles depends on course type (Course or 
- Coordinators can require all self-enrollment requests to be approved, and can specify 
  which Coordinators should be notified when a self-enrollment request needs approval.
- Coordinators can set an enrollment limit, which when reached will prevent new 
- A link to the course request page is displayed after log-in if a user has no active 
  roles, and has rights to request creation of courses/communities.
- Slot reservation transactions are logged, and Coordinators/Instructors can view the 
  history of reservation changes for a particular slot from the "History" link in the 
  slots table.
- "External" documents which may be included in a course (and display a web page from
  an external site in a frameset within LON-CAPA) are now more robust (e.g., trailing 
  "&" trimmed from query string etc.).
- Coordinators/Instructors are warned if there is a version discrepancy if the same 
  resource is used more than once in a course, and the versions are different.
- When a Coordinator uploads a file to a course, a check to determine if it is an HTML
  file will occur if the option to look for embedded objects was checked. 


- Problems including randomlists are now supported for Bubblesheet grading 
  (and verification).
- When grading Bridge Tasks an additional check is made for consistency of username, 
  domain and resource identifier between the grading key and the data to be submitted.
- The Bubblesheet Data Uploader's upload screen now includes a link to the syllabus 
  for the course selected to receive the data file.  A comparison is made between the 
  student populations in the course roster and in the bubblesheet data (based on 
  student/employee ID), to try to detect uploads to the wrong course.
- For Bubblesheet Data Uploaders picking a destination course, the institutional code 
  textbox is replaced with linked select boxes (e.g., year, semester, department, number), 
  as used in Course Catalog (if configured in the domain). The course owner/co-owner" row 
  is replaced with "Course personnel includes: " row which can be used to search for 
  courses where a specified username:domain has active non-student role.

Domain Coordination/Domain Settings

- Firewall configuration for traffic between LON-CAPA servers now restricts
  port access to IPs for servers currently in the LON-CAPA cluster.  The nightly cron
  process which checks LON-CAPA connections will update the firewall for any
  changes in membership of the cluster.
- Display of the log-in page for specific servers in a domain can be replaced by 
  automatic redirection to a different server (e.g., to a LON-CAPA load balancer server, 
  used solely for authentication and session switching).
- Domain Coordinators can modify institutional status for users in their domain.
- A new configuration is available to set which users may request creation of: 
  (a) official courses, (b) unofficial courses, or (c) communities. 
- Communities are similar to courses except the Coordinator may only browse areas
  of the shared LON-CAPA repository for which he/she has an author or co-author role.
- Course/Community requests may be set to be processed automatically, queued for approval 
  by a Domain Coordinator, or (for official courses) validated against the institutional 
  instructor of record.
- Domain Coordinators can permit course requests to be made by users from other domains,
  on a user-by-user basis.
- A Domain Coordinator can set which affiliations within the institution (e.g., Faculty, 
  Staff etc.) may create his/her own account (applies to institutional login/SSO only). 
- The course creation menu includes additional links: (a) display course requests queued 
  pending approval by a Domain Coordinator; (b) display requests for official courses 
  queued pending institutional validation; (c) display a log of course creation history.
- The "Edit this resource" link is displayed to a Domain Coordinator in course context, 
  if the domain of the resource author is the domain of the current role.
- The aggregate database of courses in a domain used when searching for a course (e.g., 
  when selecting an ad hoc role, choosing a course to clone etc.) is rebuilt nightly 
  by cron from permanent data stored in each course's environment.db file.
- Domain Coordinators may filter by time elapsed since course creation when using the 
  course picker (e.g., to select an ad hoc role, assign a Course Coordinator role etc.).
- A domain may be configured to automatically assign co-ownership status when a Course
  Coordinator role becomes active in an official course, if the Coordinator is official
  course personnel (requires customization of localenroll.pm).
- Domain Coordinators may delete entries in personal information fields (i.e., name, 
  permanent e-mail address) if a value has been set previously.
- Domain Coordinators may allow users to choose (via a User Preference) to prevent 
  updates to information fields by a nightly automated update which synchronizes LON-CAPA 
  with institutional directory data.
- Nightly removal of stale files in /home/httpd/perl/tmp will descend into sub-directories 
  and also remove stale files from them.

- Printouts of PDF files within a folder (both in a course and in Construction Space)
  can be generated.
- The default font size in printouts can be set by Course Coordinators and 
- Composite pages (.page) can be printed in Construction Space and also printed with 
- Composite pages (.page) containing numerical problems can be printed when set to exam
- Composite pages (.page) can be printed for selected students.
- The syllabus can be printed when generating printouts of resources for selected 
- Printing of tables has been standardized to use the perl LaTeX::Table module.


- New translations and improvements are provided for both the German and Spanish 
- UTF-8 encoding is used for all browsers (including Internet Explorer).
- The time zone of the local server is cached, and translations of phrases are also 
  cached to improve performance.

- An alt attribute (which includes the raw TeX) is supplied for use by screen readers 
  when MimeTex images are used to render math expressions.
- Raw mode (will output raw TeX) is available as an additional option for rendering 
  math expressions.

- More interface standardization using the following display elements:
   - Data tables with rows of alternating light/dark background colors, and a
     colored header.
   - Two column data tables with a colored left column, and light gray right column.
   - Boxes with a thin border used to group similar items together.
- More muted colors, and standard data table used for Roles/Courses screen.

Installation Notes:

To use this release you need to have version 1-18 of LONCAPA-prerequisites

To install this update:

1) You will need to be running Fedora Core 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 or 12,
RHEL (AS|ES) 4 or 5, SUSE 10.2, 10.3, 11.1 or 11.2, SLES 9, 10 or 11,
CentOS 5, or Scientific Linux 5.
(Fedora Core 5 should continue to work but is deprecated.)

2) Update LONCAPA-prerequisites to 1-18.

(a) Fedora
yum update

(b) RedHat Enterprise 4

up2date -u LONCAPA-prerequisites

(c) Red Hat 5/Centos 5/Scientific Linux 5

yum update


Use yast-> Installation Source to refresh the LON-CAPA repository
Use yast->Software Management->Search to update LONCAPA-prerequisites

On all distributions, it is recommended that you check that you have
the correct versions of LONCAPA-prerequisites installed before proceeding.

rpm -q LONCAPA-prerequisites

should report:

(where X is a distro identifier e.g., fc12.lc)

3) Download the new LON-CAPA tarball from
wget http://install.lon-capa.org/versions/loncapa-2.9.0.tar.gz

and untar it

tar xzvf loncapa-2.9.0.tar.gz

4) stop the LON-CAPA system services

/etc/rc.d/init.d/loncontrol stop

5) stop the webserver:

Fedora/RHEL/Centos/Scientific Linux
/etc/rc.d/init.d/httpd stop

/etc/init.d/apache stop

SUSE 10.2,10.3,11.1,11.2/SLES 10,11:
/etc/init.d/apache2 stop

6) Run the UPDATE script as root
cd loncapa-2.9.0

7) restart the LON-CAPA system services
/etc/rc.d/init.d/loncontrol start

8) restart the webserver:

Fedora/RHEL/Centos/Scientific Linux
/etc/rc.d/init.d/httpd start

/etc/init.d/apache start

SUSE 10.2,10.3,11.1,11.2/SLES 10,11:
/etc/init.d/apache2 start

1) Many questions are answered at http://help.lon-capa.org
2) Defects reports, and enhancements requests can be entered at
3) Mailing lists can be joined and left at http://mail.lon-capa.org

Stuart Raeburn