[LON-CAPA-dev] Draft of Release Notes for 2.9.0

Stuart Raeburn lon-capa-dev@mail.lon-capa.org
Tue, 30 Mar 2010 21:49:44 -0400

Draft release notes for the forthcoming LON-CAPA 2.9.

Stuart Raeburn
LON-CAPA Technical Director


New Version 2.9.0 Released

Changes from 2.8.2:

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 answers.

- 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 transactions.

- 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 grades.


- 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  

- 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 also 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 Community).

- 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  

- 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 uploading a file to a course, a check to determine if it is an  
HTML file will occur if the uploader had checked the option to look  
for embedded objects.


- Problems including randomlists are now supported for Bubblesheet  
grading (and

- 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 institutional affiliations (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 set empty fields for individual users for  
personal information fields (i.e., name, permanent e-mail address)  
which currently include a value.

- 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 answers.

- Composite pages (.page) containing numerical problems can be printed  
when set to exam mode.

- Composite pages (.page) can be printed for selected students.

- The syllabus can be printed when generating printouts of resources  
for selected students.

- 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 1-17 of LONCAPA-prerequisites

To install this update:

1) You will need to be running Fedora Core 8, 9, 10, 11 or 12,
RHEL (AS|ES) 4 or 5, SUSE 10.3, or 11.1, SLES 9, 10 or 11,
CentOS 5, or Scientific Linux 5. (Fedora Core 5, 6 & 7, and
SuSE 10.1 & 10.2 should continue to work but are deprecated.)

2) Update LONCAPA-prerequisites to 1-17.

(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., fc9.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 10,3,11.1/SLES 10,SLES11:
/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 10.3,11.1/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